Chocolate Cupcakes with Quick Chocolate Buttercream
There’s a part of parenthood that I feel like is largely forgotten about these days – the village. I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” There was a time when multiple generations all lived together or very close together. I’m not talking like hundreds of years ago, either. I spent the night with my grandparents many times as a child, and I recall being picked up from school by them occasionally, too. Even ignoring the fact that I grew up with family nearby, I remember moms helping other moms. I rode my bike all around my neighborhood, and someone’s mom was usually around to check on the gaggle of children that gathered at the end of the street.
My village is filled with people both near and far. My sister. Eric’s sister. Friends I’ve made from blogging (love you gals!) and friends from my moms group. All of them, unfortunately, are far away. I’ve been lucky, though, to find a village closer to home – my friends and neighbors. Not all of us are in the same life stage. Some of us still have little ones, some have kids in high school, some don’t even have kids, and others are recent grandparents. Yet we all have the best time when we’re together (there’s almost always wine and food involved, so these are clearly my people).
I get asked all the time if it’s hard living away from family. The answer is complicated, but it’s made easier when I think about the family – our village – we’ve created here. When I expressed concern over planning for someone to care for Clara while I was in labor, many of them volunteered to be on our call list, and just knowing I had people who could be over at a moment’s notice relieved so much of the anxiety I felt as my due date approached. After Leo was born, several of them brought us meals for those hazy first weeks. It’s hard for me to put into words how truly grateful I am for each of them. If you have friends that love your kids like family, then you get it.
My friend and neighbor Jill ended up coming over the morning Leo was born. It happened so quickly, but she was here minutes after Eric called. I remember telling her something about what options there were for breakfast as I was having a contraction and trying to get out the door, and she said, “Go. I got this.” After the delivery, Eric texted her to say he would come get Clara to bring her to the hospital, but Jill offered to drive Clara so that Eric could stay with me and Leo. And then she showed up with our favorite doughnuts. So when there was an impromptu gathering for Jill’s birthday last week, I knew I had to make something festive. I didn’t have much time, but cupcakes are one of the easiest things for me to whip up. I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe and topped it with a quick chocolate buttercream that comes together with just a few pulses of the food processor. These are my favorite cupcakes, not too sweet and intensely chocolatey, and I’m glad I got to share them with some of my favorite people.
- YIELD: 24 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⅔ cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream
For the frosting:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups powdered sugar (sifted if lumpy)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of fine sea salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350º. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the cocoa powder and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes or until the mixture is cool. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla and cocoa powder and continue mixing until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
With the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition until just incorporated, then scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.
While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting. Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Scrape down the bowl and continue processing until the frosting is smooth and fluffy. You can certainly do this with a hand mixer or stand mixer, as well. Just beat the butter and sugar together first, scrape down the bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and whip until fluffy.