Heavenly Cakes is divided into five main sections: Butter and Oil Cakes; Sponge Cakes, Mostly Flourless Cakes and Cheesecakes, Baby Cakes, and Wedding Cakes. The three recipes I've tried so far have all been from the first section, so it seemed time for me to branch out a bit. I went to the Baby Cakes chapter. And, by the way, there is a handy page toward the back of the book that lists 32 Quick-and-Easy recipes. It may not come as a total surprise to you that most of the cakes I've tried so far have been of the quick-and-easy variety. Although, as I've mentioned before, it's all relative. Not so quick and easy if you're comparing to a box cake or to the infamous microwave cake in a mug.
These cupcakes are also from the Quick and Easy list, and so what, I say. They are, in my completely objective opinion, the most delicious cupcakes I've ever tasted, and, although the frosting is not piped on, or mile-high, or decorated with cute little thingies, it's better than the frosting on the cupcakes sold in adorable little bakeries and coffee shops.
Let me put in a little plug here for measuring ingredients by weight instead of volume. I always liked cooking better than baking because I thought measuring was a nuisance. You're supposed to be precise when you bake, but you never know whether you're supposed to measure sifted flour or measure the flour first, then sift it. And how can you be exact about two tablespoons of honey when half the honey stays in the spoon. I resisted a scale because it seemed too ... foreign, maybe, or too scientific. I love it now. The recipe says 200 grams? I can give you 200 grams, not 199, and not 201.
And, when it's time to put batter in the cupcake tins, I can figure out exactly what 50 grams of batter looks like in the muffin tin:
The batter for these cupcakes is put together the same way as the other butter cakes I've made: dry ingredients mixed together, then softened butter mixed into the dry ingredients; finally, two additions of combined wet ingredients (e.g., eggs, vanilla, sour cream, milk). It's a simple basic procedure that yields--at least so far--a lovely, tender, moist cake.
The frosting almost did me in, though. It wasn't so much that it was hard to make--more that it kept threatening to turn into a disaster. First, my egg whites didn't want to whip. (I think it's easier to beat egg whites in a hand-held mixer than in the stand mixer with the whisk beater, at least when it's only two egg whites). The real trauma came when I was mixing the already whipped butter into the beaten eggs. It was more butter than the poor little egg whites wanted to absorb. The mixture curdled into an unsightly mess. Jim didn't catch the curdling with his camera because he didn't know what it was. I think he may have run out of the kitchen in response to my string of curses. Fortunately, Rose tells you what to do if the frosting starts to curdle, although she could perhaps have been a bit more reassuring. "Do not panic!" for example, or "All is not lost!" And, even though I panicked, all was not lost.
It turned into a smooth, glisteny chocolate mass. And no problem to frost these little babies, either. The frosting went on easily, and was quite malleable. If I were a better decorator, I could have turned out something that looked like the $5 cupcakes you can buy. Even though they're not that pretty, these cupcakes have a $10 taste.
Everyone raved about the cupcakes. There was enthusiasm, though not as much, about the frosting. I'll tell you that there is no point in giving this frosting to people who aren't wild about dark chocolate. It had 5 ounces - which is a LOT of chocolate - of ScharfenBurger 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate. Although the icing looks innocent, it carries a powerful, deep chocolate punch. Most people who ate these cupcakes thought it was a bit much. Me, I thought it was amazing. I have vowed to eat only one piece of cake that I make, but I have to tell you that when I finished my cupcake, I wanted another one. And then when I looked at them before I went to bed, I really wanted another one. Someday I may sit down and eat five or six. But not yet. That way lies madness. Or at least fatness.
Leila: "The cupcake has a good texture--I love the crunchy top. I'm not a big chocolate fan, but the frosting is good: very rich, but light."
Karen: "The cake is moist, light, and very good. Dark chocolate is not my favorite, and it seemed to overwhelm the cupcake."
Joe: "The cupcake's crunchy top was a very nice touch. It's one of the best I've ever eaten--light and fluffy. The chocolate was a surprise. I wasn't expecting the dark chocolate taste. It was good."