vanilla cupcakes with dark chocolate buttercream


First, a little history lesson: I've known Elyse Winter, fashion expert and founder of Winter Rae, since we were kids... some would even say for a while we were practically attached at the hip. Aside from being the hard working friend and huge goofball that I used to play dress-up with, Elyse is also a force to be reckoned with when it comes to fashion and aesthetics. She's got a great eye for what works (and what doesn't), and is an inspiring self-made success in the fashion world. If you haven't already visited her site you should definitely go take a look (and while you're at it, book her to help you find your signature look or whip your closet into shape!).

So, here's where I come into the picture: Last month Elyse excitedly reached out to me about doing a collaboration with Winter Rae, so naturally, I was all ears. After recently inviting me to shadow her in her element (closet design/organization, personal shopping, and styling), I brought Elyse into my world (the land of dirty aprons and never enough spatulas). Since Elyse is planning a launch party for Winter Rae in the coming months, we decided to create a series of tasty branded treats. We also wanted to keep true to the brand's aesthetic, which ultimately led us to create some beautiful greyscale ombre cupcakes.

And now is where you actually get to see the how to make these little beauties:

What you'll need: 2 eggs, 1.5 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, a pinch of iodized salt, 1 cup unsalted butter at room temp, 1 cup white sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 cup milk (any fat content is fine), 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream. You'll also need a stand mixer or hand mixer with a paddle attachment.

So, first thing's first, line your cupcake tins and preheat your oven to 350º. Also, mix the cream and the milk together in a bowl and set aside.

Next, add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a bowl. Whisk it to mix and fluff up the flour. (Helpful hint: if a recipe calls for sifted flour and you don't have a sifter, just whisk the flour in a bowl and then measure it!)

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sugar to the butter. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Once the eggs are mixed in and the butter mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and beat until fully incorporated.

At low speed, add half of the flour mixture. Beat for 30 seconds, then increase speed to medium and add half of the cream/milk.

Repeat by adding the rest of the flour at low speed, then increasing to medium and adding the remainder of the milk. Beat until smooth, pillowy, and well-mixed. (the batter will have stiff peaks and hold its shape)

Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4, and smooth out the tops a little bit with a spoon. Bake at 350º for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (these cupcakes are best when they don’t get too browned)

Next step, frosting! (as always, make sure your cupcakes are cooled before icing them)

-full recipe at bottom of page-

DARK CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING

I often find frostings way too sweet. For me, frosting can really kill the flavor of the cupcake, or become cloying. Luckily, this frosting does none of that! I used 62% bittersweet dark chocolate, which gives the frosting a nice semisweet chocolate taste that won’t hurt your teeth or overpower the cake.

NOTE: The recipe below only makes enough frosting for these cupcakes, however the pictures show the making of and ingredients for a double recipe. (...I needed the extra frosting for another project...)

You’ll need: 1/2 lb of unsalted butter at room temperature, 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, 3/4 cup of dark chocolate chunks (recommended: 62% cacao), 1/2 cup of powdered sugar.

First, melt the chocolate in the microwave until smooth, stirring after every 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn it!

Then, add the cream and stir until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the butter (with the whisk attachment) until smooth.

Once the chocolate/cream mixture is slightly cooled (10 minutes), add it to the butter and whip at medium/high until well mixed.

Slowly add the powdered sugar at low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to high and whip until desired texture has been reached. (I generally check it every 20 seconds and I’ll stop whisking once it’s thick enough to pipe.)

NOTE: The cupcake in the red liner below shows the frosting in its natural state. Elyse and I decided to add some black food coloring afterwards to make the ombre grey/black ones.

Voila! Enjoy!

VANILLA CUPCAKES

Servings: 18-20

Time: 45 minutes

Difficulty: intermediate

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Large Eggs

  • 1 1/2 cup Flour

  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1/8 tsp Iodized Salt

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature

  • 1 cup White Sugar

  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract

  • 1/4 cup Milk

  • 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

METHOD

  • Line your cupcake tins with 18-20 liners and preheat your oven to 350ºf.

  • Mix the cream and the milk together in a glass and set aside.

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk it to fluff up and sift the flour. (Helpful hint: if a recipe calls for sifted flour and you don’t have a sifter, just whisk the flour in a bowl and then measure it!)

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth.

  • Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sugar to the butter. Beat on medium-high until the mixture is light and fluffy.

  • Next, add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Once the eggs are fully incorporated and the butter mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and beat until combined.

  • At low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Then, increase speed to medium and add half of the cream/milk.

  • Repeat by adding the rest of the flour at low speed, then increasing to medium and adding the remainder of the milk. Beat until smooth, pillowy, and well-mixed (about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do not over-mix. (The batter should have stiff peaks and hold its shape.)

  • Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 to 3/4, and smooth out the tops a little bit with a spoon. Bake at 350ºf for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. (These cupcakes are best when they don’t get too browned.)

  • Note: Make sure your cupcakes are cooled before icing them.

DARK CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM

Servings: 18-20 cupcakes worth

Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 lb Unsalted Butter, room temperature

  • 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

  • 3/4 cup Dark Chocolate Chunks (recommended: 62% cacao)

  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar

METHOD

  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave until smooth, stirring after every 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn it!

  • Add the cream and stir until fully incorporated.

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the butter (with the whisk attachment) until smooth.

  • Once the chocolate/cream mixture is slightly cooled (10 minutes), add it to the butter and whip at medium/high until fully combined.

  • Slowly add the powdered sugar at low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to high and whip until desired texture has been reached.

  • (recommendation: check the texture every 20 seconds and stop whisking once it’s thick enough to pipe.)

  • Pipe or spread frosting on cooled cupcakes.

  • Enjoy!

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