The Chocolate Cupcake Trials

Chocolate Cinnamon CupcakesAfter a spectacular fail in Round 1 and a disappointing Round 2, my chocolate cupcake attempt at Total Fair Domination was not looking so good. I still hadn’t found a recipe that didn’t sink completely or taste overly dry, let alone figured out what kind of frosting to top it with. Time to hit the cookbooks for inspiration and get back into the kitchen for another round. Or two?

Round 3: Chocolate Malt Cupcakes. Boyfriend LOVES malt. Not as much as he loves Peanut Butter, but still a lot. He even bought a container of malt from GFS—you know, the place that restaurants buy from. This isn’t just a small container you’d find in a regular grocery store. This thing is 2 ½ pounds of malt. Why he needs that much malt, I’ll never know… He’s been suggesting malt cupcakes for awhile now, so I figured, why not. He’s got enough to spare for a batch of cupcakes, so I’ll give the Chocolate Malt recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes a try.

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
The verdict? The cupcakes came out pretty good. Moist and tender, not at all dry—the perfect consistency! The only problem? There was hardly any malt taste to it. If you didn’t know they were supposed to be malt, you’d likely think you were eating a regular chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. Grainy vanilla frosting. I didn’t want to put anymore malt into it to up the flavor because it was already like licking sandpaper. So the malt idea was out. But the cupcake—moist and yummy without tasting much like malt—seemed to be a good base to build on. A half victory with Round 3.

Cookies and Cream CupcakesRound 4: Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. This has gotta be the winner! I’ve got the cupcake base finally, and now I just need the perfect frosting to top it with. And who doesn’t love Cookies and Cream? The filling of my homemade Oreos was really good, so I started with that as my idea, fluffing it up and adding cookie crumbs and pieces to it. Great idea in theory, but I wasn’t completely pleased with the result. Appearance wise, I thought it looked a little disgusting. The cookie pieces were too large to fit through my usual star tip, so I tried out my brand new plain round tip. I apparently still need some practice, because everything I piped ended up looking like a grayish swirl of poo. Not at all appetizing. And taste wise—not thrilled. It was good. But not great. Not a knock your socks off wow taste. Honestly, it was just meh. Not good enough to take to a competition.

By this time, 3 days before the fair, I was really frustrated. 4 tries and not a single complete victory. Or even a passable victory. The cupcakes were kicking my butt! Who knew that a stupid chocolate cupcake could be so hard! But I’m not going down without an all out fight. I will not be defeated by you, Chocolate Cupcake. I will not give up. I will take something to the fair. It may not be mind blowing, but I will not call it quits.

Chocolate Cinnamon CupcakesRound 5: Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes. It’s baking day, and I’m just going for it. A coworker gave me a recipe for a chocolate cinnamon cake she always made for her family, so I decided to adapt it to my non-malty cupcake and top it with my Cinnamon Rum frosting and call it a day. No testing, just do it and be done. It’s simple and I know both parts are good, so together they should be at least halfway decent, right? Finally! A point for me! An all around good cupcake! Just a subtle hint of cinnamon in both the cupcake and the frosting. Moist and delicious. But would the judges think they were a win?

Unfortunately, no. These didn’t place at all. But truthfully, I was never really expecting them to. I hate to admit it, but even though I did at least turn something in, I’d kind of given up on chocolate, so I really didn’t care about these at all. I was much more focused on the other cupcakes I was entering because I knew they were actually good. Oh well. There’s always next year. And I think I’ll start testing for it now. That should give me enough time to figure something out!

P.S. – Thank you guys SO MUCH for giving me all kinds of suggestions for my cupcakes! You guys are amazing, and now that I have a whole year to test, I’m totally trying out all your ideas! :)

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes
Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Cinnamon Rum Frosting
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Makes about 30 cupcakes

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 ¼ cups malted milk powder
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons spiced rum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder, until powder is dissolved.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat flour mixture, milk mixture, and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, beating until combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway (using 2 tablespoons of batter). Bake rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted into a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
4. While cupcakes are cooling, make frosting: In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon.
5. Using an electric or stand mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add rum and pinch of salt and mix until combined.
6. Add confectioners’ sugar mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well between additions. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.
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oneordinaryday said...

Sorry you didn't win, but I bet the cupcakes were great. I love a slight background of cinnamon with chocolate cakes. And you decorated them beautifully.

Cupcake Girl said...

I love the colors of the chocolate cinnamon cupcakes.. the red and tan with the flowers are so beautiful :)

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