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The Delicious Appreciations of Pick Yin

Not exactly predictable.
Has enough brains for codes
(but can be completely clueless on other more important matters).
Likes her Joe (and her man?) black, her chocolate dark and her food spicy.
“Quam bene vivas refert, non quam diu.” — Seneca

Total Posts   191      Last Updated   23 November 2015 12:00 PM (GMT +8)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Double Chocolate Cupcakes and Swiss Meringue Buttercream

A couple of weeks ago I went on about making these cupcakes as one half of an order for a friend. The other half of it was to be chocolate and originally I wanted to make these again - my in-laws were in town and I thought a tried-and-tested recipe would avoid any unforeseen coronary inducing surprises. But then it occurred to me that she had eaten those root beer ones on several occasions and I've long wanted to experiment with turning this cake into 30-ish little dark chocolate cuppies. So I decided to suck it up and deal with some chopped chocolate and brewed coffee instead of just some cocoa and root beer.

After all, this is the famous Gourmet magazine featured cake with more than a thousand reviews on Epicurious and the cake a good friend started baking to sell after it sent her to chocolate cake heaven on her birthday last year. It didn't disappoint in smaller incarnations. Grab a plate and sit one on it. Sit yourself down and peel off the liner. For the next few minutes lose yourself savoring mouthfuls of moist, tender and immensely dark chocolate crumbs. Then try to convince yourself not to reach out for another one; as cupcakes, unlike a big layer cake, doesn't require further knife actions to get yourself another serving.

Had my client agreed to paying the price for fancier things, I would've hollowed out the centers and injected some raspberry filling into them, just as their layered cake version was adapted by Deb. I highly recommend these as filled cupcakes, along with some berry flavored Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC) to play the glorified icing role. SMBC you say? Yes, apparently it's doing so well it has earned an acronym in the baking world. I tweaked yet another SMBC recipe for the frosting over my batch of last-minute-before-leaving-for-yet-another-business-trip Magnolia vanilla cupcakes. By now you'd expect that packing a suitcase to leave for Shanghai the next day wouldn't stop me from making more cupcakes and whipping up some purplish frosting. Not since I've only had a quarter of a cupcake the last time.

Doubling this recipe, I cut the sugar and used even less butter. The resulting buttercream was much lighter on the buttery taste and the reduced sugar was balanced out by the sweetness of the blueberry puree. I can't wait now to make chocolate and citrus SMBCs for future projects. If you haven't ever tried SMBC though, there's a chance that you may not like it, especially if you're used to heavier sugary buttercreams or cooked flour frostings. Light, silky and almost marshmallowy in texture, it pipes well and remains very stable at room temperature, even in the hot and humid conditions of my equator kitchen. It's quite forgiving and could be revived just when you think you might have screwed it up. It chills, freezes and defrosts well, serving as a good base for flavoring to match most cakes.

As I'm writing this from my hotel room far from home; missing my oven, stove and a cupcake (or two), I urge you to try this much buzzed about chocolate cake and the equally revered Swiss meringue buttercream if you haven't already because really, I wouldn't spend an entire post to repeat a recipe and talk about frosting if it won't be worth your while now would I?
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
Cake recipe from Deb's Smitten Kitchen, previously here as a layered cake.
Yields about 33 cupcakes.

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate

  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee

  • 3 cups sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

  • 3 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300°F, if using convection oven, set the temperature at 250°F. Prepare two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer).

Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them up almost to the brim as this cake doesn't rise much. Bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes - you can check at the 25 minute mark just to be sure. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack before icing.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adjusted from Annie's Eats's recipe through Emma Gardner's Poires Au Chocolat, previously used here to frost a layered cake.

  • 340 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 5 large egg whites

  • 220 grams granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

  • 1/3 cup blueberry puree

  • pinch of salt

Combine the egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk frequently, keeping it over the heat, until the mixture reaches about 160°F/70°C and the sugar has dissolved (rub some between your fingers - if it feels grainy, it hasn't dissolved). In making all my Swiss meringue buttercream past and present, I've never used a thermometer (I’m lazy) so if you don't have one, no worries – just dip in and feel for a fairly hot and smooth mixture.

Transfer the mixture to a mixer with a whisk attached and beat on medium-high for 8 minutes, until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture has cooled to room temperature. Turn down the speed to medium and start adding small chunks of butter, checking that it has incorporated before adding more. Keep beating until it comes together, this will take about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and blueberry puree, beat until just combined.

Do ahead: Cupcakes can be made up to 3 days before, store covered at room temperature. Swiss meringue buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated till needed. Bring to room temperature and whip to a smooth consistency before frosting. The buttercream requires no refrigeration for up to 5 days. It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks and in the freezer for at least 3 months.

25 Comments on Double Chocolate Cupcakes and Swiss Meringue Buttercream

That meringe looks HEAVENLY and those cupcakes look sinful. I'm making these. ASAP. I better find an excuse to consume about 10.

Posted by Anonymous Rachel @ Bakerita, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:41:00 AM  

The intricate garnishing is just mind blowing!

Posted by Anonymous Myka Iyer, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:41:00 AM  

This couldn't have come at a more apt time really! I just tried out the Magnolia recipe you posted a while ago and I'm a convert! I can't imagine why it failed me the first time because the cuppies turned out delicious this time round. I'm definitely gonna try this recipe out too, since it got glowing recommendations from you ;p

Posted by Anonymous Janine, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:41:00 AM  

Rachel: 10 over 5 days is totally excusable I think. Good luck!

Myka: I just threw on some cacao nibs, barely intricate!

Janine: Glad you revisited the Magnolia vanilla and found favor in it again. I can't say this enough, you have to try this chocolate cake!

Posted by Blogger Pick Yin, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:42:00 AM  

Wah, almost missed this one. They do look dark and delicious! Congratulations on your in flowing orders! It's great to be able to make money doing what you enjoy most :)

Posted by Anonymous shirley@kokken69, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:42:00 AM  

ahhh... Pickyin... so 'menggoda'... :D these cupcakes...
I wish I am based near you.. so boleh 'curi2' one or two ;)

Posted by Anonymous Lisa H., at Feb 2, 2012, 10:42:00 AM  

Shirley: Thanks, actually to be honest I prefer baking for fun instead of delivery, less stress! Didn't make much money out of these either, I used premium ingredients and charged normal price. Heh heh....

Lisa: Make lah, very easy these cuppies. If you and I are neighbors I'd be very happy to curi your yummy concoctions and bake for you in return!

Posted by Blogger Pick Yin, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:43:00 AM  

Btw wanted to ask - is the coffee flavour quite prominent in the cake? And what should the proportions in the hot coffee be?

Posted by Anonymous Janine, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:43:00 AM  

Janine: The coffee will not be present at all, it's only there to enhance the cocoa and chocolate flavors. I used two heaped tablespoons of instant espresso in the hot water.

Posted by Blogger Pick Yin, at Feb 2, 2012, 10:43:00 AM  

Ooohhh...i stumbled upon your site today and everything looks so good! I love the tiramisu but my husband is forbiding me from making it anytime soon! Waistline concens! Bahhhh!

I've never been good at making buttercreams but want to give this a go - hoping it'll turn out better. Quick question though, Is the pink frosting on the double choc cupcakes a SMBC frosting? How did you get the color?

Posted by Anonymous Creamdeluxec, at May 6, 2012, 1:50:00 AM  

Creamdeluxec: Yes that is SMBC frosting flavored with raspberry coulis to produce the pink color.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at May 8, 2012, 9:31:00 AM  

Cool! I can't wait to try this out!

Posted by Anonymous creamdeluxec, at May 10, 2012, 3:15:00 PM  

Is there anyway I can adjust this to suit someone who is allergic to eggs?

Posted by Blogger ariane, at Jul 15, 2012, 5:37:00 PM  

ariane: At some baking shops, they sell egg replacers. I can't guarantee the results would be the same. You're better off with naturally eggless cake and frosting recipes.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Jul 17, 2012, 9:55:00 AM  

Hi thank you sooo much for sharing the buttercream recipe. I finally got to try it out last night and the texture turned out better than I expected! *beaming*
I've got 2 questions though if you can help me. Firstly it's the vanilla. I'm using vanilla essence as I can't find vanilla extract. I'm not sure what's the concentration of extract is like, so I just put in 1tsp of my essence. Should I have put more? Would it be too strong?
The other thing is, if I reduce the sugar amount, would it affect the texture of the buttercream?
Thank you!

Posted by Blogger timjaymom, at Feb 21, 2013, 8:41:00 AM  

timjaymom: You can use vanilla essence if you can't locate the extract (extract is originally soaked using vanilla beans, while essence is artificial flavoring). Use enough to give your buttercream vanilla flavor.

It's not advisable to reduce the sugar as SMBC naturally contains very little compared to other frostings. It's better to experiment reducing the butter instead.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Feb 22, 2013, 10:16:00 AM  

Total overflowing disaster. Filled them pretty full, with 1/4 inch to spare...ALL over my oven. Heads up y'all.

Posted by Blogger Amy, at Aug 4, 2013, 4:27:00 AM  

Looks delicious! Question, what would you advise if I didn't want to use the fruit puree (I want my BC to be white). Should I add something instead?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Sep 12, 2013, 6:12:00 PM  

Anon: You can use lemon juice or any other citrus juice for flavoring. The SMBC will remain whitish.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Sep 23, 2013, 11:46:00 AM  

Hi there, I m new to baking. All stuff you baked look gorgeous. What tip did you use for the pink frosting? Does the frosting hold in hot weather?

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous, at Feb 22, 2014, 6:13:00 PM  

Hi Anon, the pink frosting is raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream. It holds well in hot weather.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Mar 10, 2014, 12:38:00 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Posted by Blogger Janet Chew, at Sep 1, 2014, 11:48:00 AM  

Hi pickyin, I would like to make a chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream for a cupcake (12 cupcakes) how can I justify the ingredient? Thank you Janice

Posted by Blogger Janice, at Oct 28, 2014, 7:57:00 PM  

Janice: You can half the recipe here, or make the full recipe and freeze what you don't use.

Posted by Blogger PickYin, at Oct 29, 2014, 10:22:00 AM  

Hi! What were the toppings you use for the cupcakes? The blueberry one as well?

Posted by Blogger Rafiqah Safaruddin, at Mar 22, 2015, 1:51:00 AM  

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