Sunday, June 1, 2008

Early Summer Fun: Double Chocolate Cupcakes

This Saturday was a strange and lovely day for me; it began, as most days do, with a plan and the expectation that nothing unexpected would really occur. Much later, at around 7:00, the day had progressed to find me riding my newly acquired used bike through Prospect Park, past the lake, with the wind blowing through my hair and the sun preparing to set, and – I kid you not – a tin of homemade chocolate cupcakes sitting in the front wicker basket of the bike, ready for a friend’s impromptu get together.

As this perfect, serene lake-side moment unfolded, I paused and wondered what city and what time I had possibly found myself in, and how I had wound up there. Although I could go on for pages about the past two days, I’ll refrain; but everything that this weekend has surprised me with has also filled me with the kind of summer excitement that I haven’t felt since I was in school (way before college, of course), when the arrival of June brought the promise of such opportunity: for fun, for adventure, for the unpredictable.

Keeping with this accidental theme of youthful excitement, onto the cupcakes: I had extra buttermilk from the Irish soda bread I recently made, and this was a recipe from Cooking Light that I had wanted to try, but never wanted to go out and specially buy buttermilk for. When my friend invited me over, I gazed into my refrigerator, contemplating what to bring, and my eyes fell on the carton of buttermilk that I had been trying to forget about all week. How serendipitous! And these cupcakes are truly delicious: they’re airy and cakey (as opposed to thick and fudgey), and not very sweet. Because there’s not an obscene amount of sugar in the recipe, and because the chocolate used is so dark, they have a richer chocolate taste than the typical cupcake, which I believe gives them a more sophisticated flavor.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup 1% low-fat buttermilk
1 1/4 ounces dark (70 percent cocoa) chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; stir with a whisk.
Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 3 minutes). Add egg substitute and vanilla, beating well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to granulated sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in chocolate. Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups lined with muffin cup liners. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

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