While this isn’t the first time I’ve made cupcakes, it is the first time I’ve ever made a double batch of multiple flavors. My good friend was having a birthday party, and I wanted to make sure that 1. there would be enough cupcakes for everyone and 2. there would be variety, so that each person could choose his/her preferred flavor. I personally like to try one of everything, and I’m sure there are others like me, so that was another reason to make a large, mixed batch. Because I wasn’t sure who was going to be at the party (and thus not sure if any one had any food allergies), I decided to play safe with the flavors and went with chocolate and vanilla. But, to play up the chocolate a bit, I used a handful of cherries I had on hand.
I chopped the cherries and removed the pits by hand. After dicing them to a fine pulp, I placed them in a small saucepan with 1/3 cup of water, a dash of marsala wine, and 1 tablespoon of sugar over medium heat to make a compote. I let the mixture come to a boil and then dropped it to a simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the compote.
While that was simmering, I started on the. I used 2 bowls, one for vanilla and one for chocolate. I measured 1 cup of flour for each, plus baking soda and baking powder. The interesting thing I noticed was that the basic recipes I used for the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes were not identical; the baking soda and baking powder measurements varied for each. In fact, the vanilla cupcakes had more baking powder than baking soda, while the chocolate had more baking soda instead. I had figured that the recipes would be identical, with the exception of cocoa powder added for the chocolate. I’ll have to do some research to see if I can figure out why this was so.
Mixtures and Substitutions
At this point, I pre-heated the oven to 350˚ F. For the wet ingredients, I worked in 2 batches, first for the vanilla batter and then the chocolate. The vanilla recipe called for buttermilk, but since I never have that on hand, I added 1 teaspoon of vinegar and a dash of lemon juice to 1 cup of regular milk. I let it sit for 10 minutes to allow it time to curdle. To a small bowl I added 1/3 cup of vegetable oil, 1 and 1/4 cups of white sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and the cup of now-buttermilk. I whisked it together and added it to the vanilla bowl. For the chocolate recipe I also used 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 cup of milk (I usually use soymilk), 1 and 1/4 cups of white sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. When the cherry compote was done simmering, I let it cool and then used a strainer to separate the cherries from the liquid. I added the cherries to the wet ingredients for the chocolate cupcakes, plus 2 teaspoons of the compote. I added the wet to the dry ingredients and gently combined. The vanilla cupcake recipe called for 1/4 cup of almond meal, which I didn’t have, so as another substation I added an extra 1/4 cup of flour at this point instead, because the batter looked very liquidy, even more so than pancake batter, and I was worried it wouldn’t have good results.
I placed fun little cupcake liners into the red silicone cupcake molds I have (which I love by the way–what a great idea!), and lightly sprayed the insides with cooking oil spray. Then I filled them 2/3 of the way with the vanilla batter, and placed them in the heated oven for 18 minutes. The cupcakes weren’t done at 18 minutes, so I added 2 more minutes to my timer. Twenty minutes wasn’t enough either (the toothpick I used to check on the them was clean, but the cupcakes themselves were a little pale I thought), so I added another 2 minutes, and then another 2 minutes, for a total of 24 minutes in the oven for the vanilla version. Next, I switched to chocolate, and those took 22 minutes to bake.
Side note: I currently only have 6 silicone bake cups, and no muffin/cupcake tins, so I have to bake batches of 6 at a time. For this double batch (24 total) of cupcakes, this took a very long time. I recommend having at least 12, if not more, cups to make it easier on yourself. The good part is that while the last batch is baking, the first batch is usually cooled enough for eating, which makes the waiting more enjoyable, and palatable!
Mixing It Up!
Since I was working with basic chocolate and vanilla flavors, I thought I’d get creative by making layers. After the first two batches of plain vanilla and chocolate, I added a tablespoon of chocolate batter to vanilla batter. This ended up baking into a cool pattern, with the chocolate spreading down through the middle of the cupcake, which you could see once you bit into the cupcake. I also tried a batch where I filled the liner half way with chocolate batter, baked it for 10 minutes, then added 2 tablespoons of vanilla batter and baked for another 12 to 14 minutes.
As the cupcakes were cooling, I worked on the homemade icing–1 stick of room temperature butter, 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, and 2 tablespoons of milk. I usually don’t think ahead enough to take butter out of the fridge an hour before I need it, so I use the microwave to achieve room temperature. I just place the butter on a plate and heat in 10 second intervals, checking in between each interval to make sure I don’t end up with a puddle of butter. Two or three intervals is usually enough to make it soft. I added the powdered sugar by the half cup and fully mixed it in before adding the next, to make it easier and to prevent a mess of powder on the floor. At this point, I separated about half of the icing to a another bowl because I wanted to make two different flavors: chocolate for the vanilla cupcakes, and vanilla for the chocolate ones.
I don’t yet have proper icing tips to make cool designs, so I had to make do with a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off to ice my cupcakes. I used a fork to swirl the icing and give it some texture. I can’t wait to get real icing tips and practice my hand at some intricate designs–stay tuned!
After all that work (two different recipes, four batches in the oven…), it was really nice to see the finished product all laid out and ready to be enjoyed by the birthday party guests, especially the birthday girl herself, who always looks forward to when I bake and share. The cupcakes were a hit at the party; I got some nice compliments about the flavor, as well as the unique chocolate and vanilla layer cupcakes. That’s always my favorite part of baking, sharing what I’ve made with others and knowing that people enjoy my creations!
Inspired by Love and Olive Oil: The Go-To Vanilla Cupcake Chocolate: The Go-To Chocolate Cupcake