I had the pleasure of making these Chocolate Cupcakes with blue Italian Meringue Buttercream for a baby shower this weekend. The cupcakes bake up with flat tops, making them the perfect platform for festive swirls of the silkiest, best tasting buttercream you can imagine.
The cupcake recipe will make 36. You'll have to double the buttercream recipe to decorate them all, but you'll be left with a few cups of buttercream to freeze for another day.
To start the recipe, we need to combine Dutch-processed cocoa and boiling water. Whisk them together until smooth.
Then set it aside to cool, keeping it covered to prevent it from drying out.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade attachment, cream room temperature butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla extract.
Then add the reserved cocoa mixture, buttermilk, flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
The batter will make 36 cupcakes - be sure to bake just one batch of 12 cupcakes at a time. Cover the bowl of batter with plastic wrap and allow it to sit on the counter until you're ready to bake the next batch (being sure to allow the pan to cool before filling). I use a #20 scoop (3 tablespoons) to fill my cupcake liners so every cupcake ends up being the same size.
The Italian Meringue recipe and photos can be found here. Make 2 separate batches to frost 36 cupcakes (a double batch is too big to make in a 6-quart stand mixer, but single batches will fit in a 5 or 6-quart mixer fine). Note: you may want to use clear vanilla if you plan to tint your buttercream. I use pure vanilla extract 99.99% of the time, but I make a rare exception when I tint buttercream a light color that would otherwise be affected by the slightly ivory tone pure vanilla extract naturally lends to buttercream.
For this blue shade, I tinted the buttercream with this gel coloring. I also used these round sprinkles, and the piping tip I used was the 2nd smallest star tip from this set of large Ateco polycarbonate piping tips. I love polycarbonate tips and prefer them to metal because they don't bend out of shape, you can see air bubbles through them, they don't rust or discolor, and they don't have a seam so they're super easy to clean. Love them.
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in center position.
Line muffin pan with paper liners; set aside until needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until smooth; cover with plastic wrap and cool until needed.
In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside until needed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a BeaterBlade attachment, cream butter and sugar for a couple minutes until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, vanilla, and salt; mix until combined.
Add cooled cocoa mixture, flour mixture, and buttermilk; mix just until combined.
Use a #20 scoop to fill cupcake liners and tap the pan on the counter to even the level of batter before baking.
Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool cupcakes in pan for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Note: be sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting with Italian Meringue Buttercream (recipe and photos found here). You'll need to make 2 batches to frost 36 cupcakes.
adapted from recipegirl.com