Alex’s Birthday Cupcakes

I make the cake etc for some of my niece’s and nephew’s birthdays. My niece Alex asked for anything chocolate and strawberry.  I don’t have a particular recipe I love for chocolate and strawberries so I Googled it.  I found the food babbles – keeping life sweet blog. She had a Chocolate cake with balsamic strawberry whipped cream that used the chocolate cake recipe from Sweetapolita – whipping up a sweet life blog. I took the chocolate cake recipe and made cupcakes then added the dark chocolate ganache to the top of each cupcake using the Barefoot Contessa’s technique of dipping the tops of the cupcakes into the ganache. Much tidier. Then I followed Food Babbles recipe for the balsamic strawberry whipped cream and used an ice cream scoop to top each cupcake with the whipped cream mixture. Topped each with a strawberry and sprinkled with espresso sugar from the Spice and Tea Exchange in Winter Park. Went like hotcakes –

For the cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder – extra dark and unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup strong, hot, black espresso
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 cupcake pans with 24 cupcake liners. Brush the top of the pans with oil so the tops of the cupcakes don’t stick if they rise higher then the top of the liner while baking.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; mix just till blended.
  • While the mixer is running on low add the eggs, espresso, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla; be careful the mixture will be very liquidy.
  • Pour into the cupcake liners about 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes; let cool 5 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely.

For the Ganache:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz high quality dark chocolate – at least 72% cocao; finely chopped

Instructions:

  • Heat the cream in the microwave until steaming but not boiling
  • Put the chopped chocolate in a small mixing bowl; pour the steaming cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and shinny

For the Whipped Cream:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, tops removed and quartered
  • Strawberries for garnish; tops removed and sliced
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons espresso balsamic vinegar (you can buy this at The Ancient Olive )
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • espresso sugar (you can find this at Spice and Tea Exchange)

Instructions:

  • Put 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sugar, balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and simmer over low heat until the berries start to break down and the mixture becomes thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. It will thicken even more as it cools
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer place the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, whip with the whip attachment until stiff peaks form
  • add the strawberry mixtures and whip on low once or twice; then remove the bowl and carefully fold (not stir) in the strawberry mixture until blended
  • Using a medium sized scoop put a scoop of the whipped cream on each cupcake, top with a strawberry slice and sprinkle with espresso sugar. Voila!

After making the strawberry whipped cream I realized how easy it would be to make any kind of jam-whipped cream combo. You could make your own jam and whip it in or whip in store bought jam. Peach Bellini jam whipped cream on top of a cake with blackberries! Raspberry whipped cream and chocolate orange cake. Blueberry jam whipped cream and lemon poppy seed cake. Orange marmalade whipped cream. And it’s so easy.

Plus you could mix peanut butter with some powdered sugar or Nutella or Biscoff spread then fold them into the whipped cream. Will definitely post something like that soon.