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Cupcakes: Recipes & Decorating

La Niña

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Dorie Greenspan's chocolate cupcakes

The recipe used volume measurements (at least the online version - I don't own the book). I must admit that this was a little disappointing, although this seems to be the norm in the US. The instructions were very detailed and made more sense (e.g., mixing the cocoa powder with the other dry ingredients). I had to make one substitution - I had forgotten to buy buttermilk so I used milk with a little white vinegar.

I had a small issue with the melted chocolate re-solidifying very rapidly before being mixed with the other ingredients. So in the end, there were a few little chunks of solid chocolate in the cupcake, but this was not a bad thing and I may want to replicate that in the future based on feedback from my daughter, who thought that this was a great surprise.

As is apparent in the pictures, my liners are not the right size and therefore they make these weird folds. Since I have a thousand of them (literally), I am using them for my trial runs. I will use correctly-sized brown Regency liners from amazon for the birthday party; hopefully they will look nice.


The top are cracked; but so far all of my batches have had the same issue. I am not too worried about it because the frosting will cover any flaws.

Here is finished product.


They are a little difficult to frost because the ganache solidifies quite rapidly.

The cake itself was much better than the recipe from Confession of a Tart: less crumbly (but still a little too crumbly), more moist, overall a very nice flavor. It was a nice cupcake, but nothing especially memorable. I liked the ganache frosting from Dorie's recipe a lot, but everyone else preferred the much richer buttercream frosting from Sprinkles (and I have to agree that it looks more festive). Dorie's recipe seems more restrained, more refined maybe (more French dare I say it?). But my "client" is my daughter and she is not looking for subtlety. :laugh:

Cross-section (minus test bite)


I am starting to think that macarons are easier to master than cupcakes. I made two batches of Pierre Herme chocolate macarons so far without any major issues (keeping my fingers crossed)...

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FrogPrincesse - I had the same reaction to Dorie's cupcakes. The cake itself really wasn't memorable, but I have used the ganache quite a few times. I really like it for topping hostess-style cupcakes. What I've used so far is the revised double chocolate cake recipe here in the 'finding the best chocolate cake' thread, post 598.

I've not made Kim Shook's chocolate bar recipe, so it's on the list with all the recommendations!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I made the strawberry cupcakes a few more times since my last posts. I made the Sprinkles recipe as is again, but using a fresh jar of baking powder since the one I had used in my first attempt was only a few weeks away from expiry.

There was no difference - excellent taste and very good frosting, but the cake itself was still quite dense.



After that, I had to bake a couple of dozens so my daughter could take them to school. I tweaked the recipe as much as I could (without making any drastic changes) - adding a little bit more baking powder, slightly more liquid, etc). But in the end there was no noticeable difference. So I concluded that it was just the type of cake that was not to our taste. I believe we would prefer the cupcake with a different type of cake that is inherently lighter, such as maybe a genoise/sponge cake. It's still a pretty good recipe and the frosting is great.

I baked a dozen of them for the actual birthday party. Everyone seemed to love them and the natural light pink color is very pretty. I would be curious now to buy them again from the Sprinkles store and see how they compare. I am more or less convinced that the recipe that they have made available to the public is not what they use.

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So after all this experimenting with the strawberry cupcakes, I did not have any time left to tweak chocolate cupcake recipes before the actual birthday party. I was not satisfied at all with the two recipes I had tried and did not feel that modifying them would give me the result I was looking for. So I was looking for a recipe that I could trust. In the past I found that David Lebovitz had consistently reliable recipes so I decided to use his devil's food cake recipe. (Surprisingly the recipe is by volume - as he explains it is a good recipe if you have to bake but your scale does not work).

I made it as is, using the best cocoa powder I could find (i.e., Scharffen Berger). He gives the option of using coffee or water as the liquid and I opted for water since I was baking them for a kids birthday party.

There were no surprises. The batter used considerably more liquid than the recipes I tried before (see upthread) so it was less dense. So this all looked very promising.



They rose well and cracked a little, but much less than the other recipes.


The recipe yielded 2.5 dozens cupcakes.

For the frosting, I used the dark chocolate frosting recipe from Sprinkles since it is so decadent, with Trader Joe's pound plus 72% dark chocolate. And I used the chocolate "flakes" on top, which are square-shaped sprinkles made with real chocolate, and I was relieved to find them in a local store (although they cost more of less their weight in gold. If I make the recipe again I will try to buy in bulk!).

The finished result and cross-section.


One of the two platters we had at the birthday party. Some slight damage during transportation and handling, but nothing too bad.


Well I have to day, David Lebovitz is a genius, because this was really fantastic, The cake was moist and delicate, more or less crumbless, and had an intense chocolate taste. I could not have been happier and here ends my quest for the perfect chocolate cupcake. :smile:

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FrogPrincess, thanks for your reports and fabulous photos of your cupcake testing. I'm glad you found a good recipe.

I too enjoy searching, tweaking, sometimes it is easy to get obsessed with discovering the *perfect* recipe and very rewarding when that happens.

"I'll just die if I don't get this recipe."
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