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Bitches in the Kitchen: Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

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Both my parents are phenomenal cooks, however, my mom was never much of a baker. When she did bake, she most often made yellow cake with chocolate frosting—and always from a box of Betty Crocker and a tub of Duncan Hines. A sugar fiend at a young age, I looked forward to special occasions to dig into a thick slice of what I believed was my mother’s signature cake.

Photo credit: Cori Sue Morris

Nowadays, I know better. For starters, I’m the baker in the family. Perhaps it’s the Type A daughter in me that enjoys following directions explicitly, measuring the ingredients out evenly, and baking desserts perfectly. I also balk at the idea of processed food, particularly cake from a box, and prefer to always do things from scratch.

Suffering from boredom from Sunday’s super bowl frenzy and a lack of baking inspiration, I decided to try to recreate the traditional Morris family celebratory cake—this time from scratch and in cupcake form (better for sharing and transporting). I borrowed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Best Yellow Layer Cake

  • 4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

“Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.”

Photo credit: Cori Sue Morris

However, Smitten Kitchen was baking a cake rather than cupcakes, so she suggested baking for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees. (And, of course, grease your cake or cupcake pans). Knowing cupcakes bake faster than cakes, I set my first batch of cupcakes for 30 minutes, and they came out rather burnt. I baked the next batch for 22 minutes, which worked perfectly. I suggest 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven (mine’s hot), and watch them carefully. The recipe yields two dozen cupcakes.

Photo credit: Cori Sue Morris

As far as the frosting, I had my heart set on fudge, so I vetoed Smitten Kitchen’s sour cream chocolate frosting and decided on this chocolate fudge icing recipe, adapted from The Food Network.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 100% cocoa
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla extract

“Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave two to three minutes on medium heat or over the stove, let cool. Whisk in vanilla. Slowly beat in the confectioner’s sugar, adding it in 3 parts.”

Photo credit: Cori Sue Morris

The frosting was perfect, but, despite the buttermilk, the yellow cake was a bit dry. I may add another ¼ cup of butter to the batter next time. But if you find the perfect combination, do let me know!

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