Devil's Food Cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 Tbsp, plus 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
2. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester (or toothpick) comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar is dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes. (Food coloring may be added if desired.)
Alissa's notes: So I know these cupcakes are NOT AT ALL diet friendly, so sorry to all of my "dieting friends". They are loaded with butter, but I think I have a little bit of a butter obsession, kind of like Paula Deen! The cupcake recipe calls for Dutch-process cocoa powder. If you cannot find that, you need to add more cocoa powder (about 1 full cup instead of 3/4 cup) to get a rich, chocolatey taste. I didn't do this, and mine weren't quite as chocolatey as I would have liked them to be, but still yummy. Don't be intimidated by the icing recipe. It is actually very easy, as long as you have a stand mixer. If you aren't sure about the whole "stiff peaks" thing, this just simply means that when you lift the attachment away from the mixture, a little peak will form and it will stay there without flopping over. I added pink food coloring to my icing. I started off slowly, just adding one drop at a time and letting the mixer blend it in. Keep going until you reach your desired color. I started off using little decorator tubes to pipe the icing onto my cupcakes (as seen in the above photo), but then just switched over to a ziplock bag with a little whole cut in the corner to save time. I actually just purchased the Easy Accent Decorator from Pampered Chef and can't wait to get it! It will make icing cupcakes a breeze next time!