Eleven years ago last week the world became a better place with the much anticipated arrival of our daughter, Liv. Liv made her entrance in San Diego early one morning and has been "Living Life" to the fullest ever since. Her zest for life is contagious and I rarely see her without a smile spread across her face.
Yesterday we were lucky enough to have not just Liv's happy smile, but the smiles of 11 additional jubilant young ladies as we celebrated Liv's 11th birthday with a pool party that was so wonderful it actually brought out our elusive San Diego sun! Swimming was the activity of the afternoon, topped off with pizza, fruit and some amazing Chocolate Cupcakes that Olivia frosted and decorated herself. Specially chosen cupcake wrappers were used along with small, yet colorful sprinkles for a simple finish.
Living across the street from a cake baker has it's privileges. One of those privileges being access to some really fantastic cake recipes and baking advice. Claudine Jones, of Frosted, shared one of her successful recipes from Kathryn Kleinman's book Birthday Cakes: Recipes and Memories from Celebrated Bakers. Last month Olivia made this cake for her grandmother's birthday all by herself with impressive result and she knew it would be the perfect recipe for her own birthday cupcakes as well. Ms. Kleinman uses a Fast Fudge Frosting that is a bit more like glaze, not quite as thin as a glaze, but definitely not a thick as a nice butter cream. As Liv likes to use her pasty bag and tips for pretty swirls and designs she chose her favorite butter cream type of frosting for this day.
Cupcakes took the place of a large cake for simplicity and... well because she really likes cupcakes! The cupcakes bake into a beautiful, chocolaty color with a crumb that is tender and moist. Personally, I favor the Fudge Frosting that is recommended with the recipe, but either frosting is a perfect complement.
With the sun shining, girls laughing, and 2 dozen chocolate cupcakes, our celebration couldn't have been better! Note: Girl 11 year old birthday parties are a totally different experience from boy 11 year old birthday parties!
Fastest Fudge Cakeadapted from Birthday Cakes, Kathryn Kleinman
1 cup cake flour
¼ cup plus 2 Tbs unsweetened, natural cocoa
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1¼ cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup hot water
Preheat oven to 350º F. Spray desired pan with cooking spray or line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to blend.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, continuing to whisk until well blended. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, stirring just until moistened. Pour the hot water over the batter and stir until the water is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into prepared pan, pans, or cup cake wrappers. For an 8 inch round or 9 inch square bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. For cupcakes bake for approximately 18 minutes. Remove cake to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. To remove cake from the pan, run a knife around the edges. Invert the cake. Turn cake right side up onto a wire rack and let cool completely. Alternatively, you may leave the cake in the pan and frost!
Makes 12 cupcakes
Fast Fudge FrostingBirthday Cakes, Kathryn Kleinman
5 Tbs unsalted butter
¾ cup granulated sugar
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
¾ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
In medium saucepan melt the butter. Stir in the granulated sugar, cocoa and salt. Gradually stir in the cream. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and hot, do not boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let cool until thickened to desired consistency or use warm for a glaze or sauce. Frost as desired.
Classic American Chocolate FrostingThe Chocolate Cake, Michele Urvater
3½ cups confectioners' sugar
Generous ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1¼ sticks unsalted butter, very soft
1 Tbs vanilla extract
7 to 8 Tbs milk or heavy cream
Sift sugar and cocoa into bowl of a stand mixer, mix until combined. Add the butter and vanilla, mix until well combined. On low speed, add milk or cream 2 Tbs at a time until desired consistency is reached.