Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chocolate Coffee Porter Cupcakes

Yesterday was my 2nd wedding anniversary, so I figured this would be a good week to share with you some cupcakes I made for another wedding.

Matt's brother got married in late June and, as you may have seen, our wedding present to his brother and his wife was the wedding cake.  Well, not exactly.  Instead of a cake, they decided to serve tons of mini cupcakes.

Photo credit: Ryan Ray
I met with the bride in May and, over the course of a half hour and a glass of wine, I came up with a set of three flavors that not only matched their flavor preferences, but also, conveniently, their color scheme of dark brown, mocha, ivory, and pale pink.  With their brown cake, mocha frosting, and pale pink fondant heart decorations, these chocolate coffee porter cupcakes hit all three of those colors and served as the chocolate cake among the group.  The other flavors were carrot-walnut cake with vanilla cream cheese frosting and gold luster dust as well as lemon cake with fresh raspberry buttercream frosting and ivory sugar pearls.  And because I had a feeling they wanted to keep with tradition and have a cake cutting, I made two full-size cupcakes, each on their own stand and topped off with a fondant heart with their respective initials on them.

These cupcakes are based on my vegan chocolate cupcakes and my standard Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  The cakes are a cinch to make because you don't need to wait for butter to come to room temperature and there's no need to cream butter and sugar - just a little bit of whisking.  The frosting is a little more labor intensive than a standard American buttercream, but there's nothing difficult about it.  Together, the fluffy, malty cake and silky, buzzy frosting are a perfect match - and perfect for a wedding.


Chocolate Coffee Porter Cupcakes
makes 12 regular size or 36 mini cupcakes

For the cupcakes
1 cup flour
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder (Ghirardelli is good, but if you can, spring for Valrhona)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup milk (or rice milk or almond milk to make these vegan)

1/2 cup coffee porter beer (my favorite is Sixpoint's Gorilla Warfare, but it's not easy to find, so use whatever is available in your area)
1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly colder than room temperature
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee


Make the cupcakes
Heat oven to 350 F.  Line a muffin pan with papers and set aside.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

Add the granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, milk, beer, oil, vinegar, and vanilla to a medium bowl and whisk well to combine.  Scrape this mixture into the bowl containing the flour mixture and whisk to combine.

Divide the batter between the lined cups and bake until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean, 22-25 minutes for full size cupcakes and 16-18 minutes for minis.

Let the cupcakes cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting
Follow my directions for basic swiss meringue buttercream frosting using the amounts of egg white, sugar, and butter specified above.

Once the frosting has come together, add the coffee one tablespoon at a time, making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.  You may not need the full quarter cup depending on how strong you made the coffee.  It's better to make strong coffee and add a smaller amount of it to the frosting than to make the coffee regular drinking strength, thereby adding more liquid to the frosting - the more liquid you add, the less stable your frosting will be.

Assemble the cupcakes
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.  Pipe swirls onto the top of each cupcake. If you so desire, decorate with small a fondant hearts or other decorations such as sugar pearls or luster dust.
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