Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

16 Jun

I caved. Yes, I did.

Driven by the fear of being “that mom” who rains on every party and won’t let kids enjoy their sugar fix and makes others feel guilty or annoyed by my holier-than-thou eating habits…and because my son asked very nicely to have a special treat…for Leandro’s birthday celebration at school, we made cupcakes. Chocolate Cupcakes. With Buttercream Frosting. Go big, or go home.

Mini-muffin before frosting

Mini-muffin before frosting

In my feeble defense, I also made fruit kebabs (which went over as well as, if not better than, the cupcakes) and we actually went little, making mini-cupcakes so that they were  a tiny treat rather than an exercise in excess, but BE IT KNOWN: I am not immune to peer pressure and I am not a complete whole food Nazi.

Mind you, making it all homemade is also a form of penitence for sins of sugar and spice. I put a lot of time and effort into it and was not always thinking gracious thoughts. Particularly about the moms who just pick up a box of Dunkin’ Munchkins for class celebrations and call it a day and don’t give that much thought to what children consume or what maniacs like myself choose to do with our precious time, but who are not going to waste their precious time making desserts for five-and-six year olds, when kids are just as happy with a Dunkin’ drive-by.

That buttercream frosting is NAUGHTY! and nice....

That buttercream frosting is NAUGHTY! and nice….

It’s that same grim satisfaction some of us get from pointedly and conscientiously using our directional when driving, as if anyone would care to learn from our example, or as if there was some direct HOV lane to heaven for courteous and law-abiding drivers. Underneath it all, I know no one gives a rat’s posterior. But the girl can’t help it.

Fruit kebab with marshmallow left over from s'mores on our latest camping trip

Fruit kebab with marshmallow left over from s’mores on our latest camping trip

However, the birthday boy and I were very pleased with our little Martha Stewart selves (and in fact, I adapted the cupcake recipe from a Martha publication). The kids asked for seconds on fruit and enjoyed the intense chocolatey-ness of the mini-cupcakes. Most importantly, my son felt very happy and proud that he had made the cupcakes himself (pretty much) and that his birthday celebration was The Best.

Pretty fruit kebabs!

Pretty fruit kebabs!

So kindergarten ends on a relatively satisfactory note. I have not effected change over the school’s eating habits as I sometimes  fantasize about doing, but my little guy has eaten well all year and liked it. And we both survived. Cave canem.

Am I or am I not "a dab hand" at frosting? You make the call,

Am I or am I not “a dab hand” at frosting? You make the call,

Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from Everyday Food)

makes 48 mini-cupcakes or 12 standard cupcakes

¾ Cup unsweetened cocoa powder

¾ Cup unbleached white flour or all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¾ Cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 Cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

½ Cup sour cream

Butter Cream frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line four mini-muffin trays with paper liners (this totals 48 mini-muffins. If using standard muffins, prepare a 12-cup standard muffin tin)

Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Cut room temperature butter into small squares, then beat with a wooden spoon until relatively smooth. Add sugar and with a fork, smush sugar into butter. Then beat again until light and fluffy (you can also use electric beaters on medium for this last bit). The butter should be twice its original volume. Stop when it gets shiny.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in vanilla. Add half the flour and beat in (on low if using mixer). Add the sour cream and beat in. Then add the rest of the flour mixture and beat in.

Spoon batter into cups filling to ¾. Bake until a toothpick stuck through the center comes out clean, about 13 minutes for mini-muffins and 20-25 minutes for standard cupcakes.

Cool in pan 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread with buttercream frosting, using a table knife or angled spatula. Top with sprinkles if desired.

Easy Buttercream Frosting

(makes about twice as much as you need for this recipe. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze the rest)

1 stick butter (4 oz) at room temperature

1 lb. confectioner’s sugar

1 Tbs vanilla

3-4 Tbs milk to thin

Cream the butter until smooth (cutting stick into small squares first) in a medium bowl. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth, adding milk to thin as desired.

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9 Responses to “Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting”

  1. Bluejellybeans June 19, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Tienen un pinta estupenda Natalia. Me encanta que hayas decidido hacer uno de cada: una merienda sana y otra un poco menoa… 😉 pero las dos preciosas. Felicidades a Leandro

  2. cquek June 17, 2013 at 11:04 am #

    Absolutely delicious!

  3. Mad Dog June 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I think it’s a good thing and better controlled by you, his mom. Brilliant for Leandro to be cooking, especially when it’s proper cooking and not cakes from a ready mix packet 😉

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy June 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      He’s wonderful in the kitchen! We just did a cooking demonstration for a school where he made hand-ground pesto inf front of at least 100 people. Not a quiver…he was brilliant. But I have yet to figure out how to approach the school system about providing better food choices and eliminating sugary snacks. I need the stones of a Jamie Oliver…

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