Thursday, December 16, 2010

DC, why so cold??? AND Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream

Last night 6x6 and I put my winter running theories to the test and ran outside. In the cold.

Those of you in colder places are probably thinking Pish-posh, DC is practically the South! While those of you in warmer places are gloating (I’m looking at you Dad). To both of you I say Have some sympathy! I currently have wind-burn on my face thanks to a lunchtime grocery store trip. (True story. But I needed a snack!)

After getting over the initial shock of leaving my warm apartment, it really wasn’t that bad. You’d be amazed at the difference a fleece and headband and gloves can make.

Basically, they make being outside possible. Because the last think I want to do after a long day of inside-working is spend more time inside working on a stationery bike.

We ran the Mall and around the National Christmas Tree. And we saw Santa! (Though we all know the real Santa is in Stanford…)

THIS JUST IN: It’s snowing outside! Bring me some hot chocolate and sing me a Christmas carol – happy winter!

Anywho, sorry for this super-disjointed post. With running and complaining and snow out of the way, I can get to the important part. Cupcakes! For installment #3 of Sister1’s wedding, I bring you the Best Chocolate Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream. (Read Part 1 and Part 2 if you missed them.)
What makes them the best? The cake is light enough not to feel muffin-y, but rich enough to make you say Oh yummm I love chocolate! Plus it’s VEGAN. Gasp! And don’t forget the Mocha Buttercream. Very few things in this world aren’t improved by mocha buttercream.

The Easiest Chocolate Cake (from Joy the Baker)

makes 24 cupcakes or two 8 or 9-inch round cakes

recipe from Organic and Chic

2 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour

2 cups organic cane sugar

1 cup organic unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon organic vanilla extract

2/3 cup organic canola oil

2 teaspoons organic white vinegar

2 cups cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, water, vanilla extract and vinegar.

Slowly whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients being careful not to overmix. The mixture will be quite wet, but that's ok.

I poured my batter into a plastic pitcher to better divide the batter between the cupcake cups. You can also bake the batter in two 8 or o9-inch round cake pans.

Pour the batter until the cups are two thirds full and place in the oven for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cup comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack until completely cool before frosting.

Mocha Buttercream Icing (from Epicurious)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more as needed

1/3 cup sifted unsweetened natural cocoa, such as Hershey's regular

5 to 6 tablespoons extra-strength coffee or espresso (or 1 tablespoon instant coffee

powder dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make icing:

In a food processor or the large bowl of an electric mixer, preferably with the paddle attachment, process or beat the butter until soft. Add 2 cups of the sifted sugar and beat until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and blade or beaters. Add the remaining 4 cups sugar, plus cocoa, 5 tablespoons coffee, and vanilla, and process or beat until completely smooth and creamy. Add more sugar or coffee if necessary to bring the icing to spreading consistency. (The icing can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, covered; bring to room temperature and beat until smooth before using.)

Spread icing on cooled cupcakes with a knife, or use a pastry tube to pipe it on.