A Sweet-Sassy Finish to the 2010 Olympics: Cayenne-Cocoa Cupcakes with Citrus-Cream Cheese Icing

Cayenne-Cocoa Cupcakes with Citrus Cream-Cheese Frosting

Just before the Olympics started, I baked cupcakes for my friend K’s birthday. The one I chose was a variant of Martha Stewart’s one-bowl cocoa cupcake recipe and La Martha’s cream-cheese frosting.

Citrus olympic rings

Citrus rings bid adieu to the 2010 Olympics

I decided to adapt this never-fail one-bowl very-hypenated recipe to make it spicier (cayenne) and create more depth in the cake (my favourite addition of espresso powder). As I had made Martha’s recipe before in addition to a Mexican hot chocolate cupcake, I decided to synthesize the two for this sassy-zesty variant. To top it off – literally and figuratively – I adapted a classic cream-cheese frosting by adding both lime zest and juice.

With all those words beginning with “C”, the math geek in me decided to rename this combo as “2x C3″: Cayenne-Cocoa Cupcakes with Citrus-Cream-Cheese Frosting. If you are seeking an unexpected yet perfect end to a Mexican/Latin American or spicy Asian meal with chili and lime, look no further.

Baked cupcakes cool

This easy-to-make batter bakes up light and moist

Cupcake gender issues – and the recipe

I will leave you with the latest in the cupcake-craze, sweeping the world (even Paris is in on it now). Yesterday, I came across a New York attempt at “masculinizing” cupcakes: Butch Bakery. They state “their objective” as, “We’re men. Men who like cupcakes. Not the frilly-pink-frosted-sprinkles-and-unicorns kind of cupcakes. We make manly cupcakes. For manly men.” Who knew there were such complicated gender-issues confronting the cupcake world?

I find this idea particularly amusing, as it parallels an idea I had – a couple of decades ago – for a bakery-coffee shop to be called “Stud Muffin”. Think of servers, dressed in the ironic-hyper-butch costumes of the Village People, serving muffins and cupcakes…maybe with disco, playing in the background. Oh, well, Butch Bakery beat me to the punch, with their allegedly masculine cupcakes (do camouflage-patterned chocolate disks really make a baby-cake manly?!?). Regardless, I bet you will find that my 2 x C3 Cupcakes pack a manly spicy-citrusy punch.

A spicy cupcake with a puckery frosting

2 x C3 Cupcakes, or, Cayenne-Cocoa Cupcakes with Citrus-Cream Cheese Icing

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Ingredients: Cayenne-Cocoa One-bowl Cupcakes
Makes about 18 cupcakes.

· 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
· 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
· 1 1/2 cups sugar
· 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
· 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
· 3/4 teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder – or more, depending on how manly you are
· 2 large eggs
· 3/4 cup warm water
· 3/4 cup buttermilk
· 1 tablespoon espresso powder
· 3 tablespoons safflower oil (I used canola)
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Dissolve espresso powder in warm water by whisking. Add water, eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed. Note that it is a very wet batter.
2. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

A very wet batter pours into liners easily

Ingredients: Citrus-Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 5 cups (or way more than you need for two dozen cupcakes)
· 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
· 3 (8-ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
· 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, or more, if needed for the correct consistency
· 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime (or other citrus of your choosing) zest
· 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or substitute other flavour of citrus)
· Pinch of salt

1. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more.
3. Add the remaining ingredients, and beat 5 minutes more.
Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days. It can be frozen successfully, as well, in an airtight container.

16 responses to “A Sweet-Sassy Finish to the 2010 Olympics: Cayenne-Cocoa Cupcakes with Citrus-Cream Cheese Icing

  1. bravo for the olympic spirit !! cheers from France (11medals;;!)

  2. that’s interesting – cayenne pepper? does it make it spicy? i like your adaptation of the cream cheese with lime… tangy and zesty!

    • Hi, Krissy. Thanks for asking.

      Think of a Mexican hot chocolate with a bit of a kick. The spiciness is subtle but definitely there. I created this combo to follow the wonderfully easy shrimp in ancho-lime sauce from The New Best Recipe. These cupcakes make a great finish to any Latin/Asian meal with lime and heat, as a variation on a theme!

  3. Deliciously creative. I love a bit of heat in chocolate, and well, in just about anything!

    And the lime/cream cheese icing makes it an ideal pairing.

  4. Dan,
    I think the photos look great, love the ones of the batter bake cupcakes, the before and after. Purple and chocolate and grey metal are such a great trio, would be great wallpaper! Wallpaper does not, of course taste so good, glue anyone?

  5. I had a gender studies prof once say that leather-clad “manly men” are only butt-less leather chaps away from a Pride Parade. I am entirely unable to not giggle maniacally at groups of motorcyclists now.

    That’s besides the point. I haven’t always had good experiences with spicy chocolate but I really think the subtly of these cupcakes might have brought me over to the dark side!

    • Thanks for making me laugh with your reply (and I completely concur about motorcycles and masculinity, but who am I to comment,what with posts about sassy cupcakes?).

  6. I’m still giggling over ‘Stud Muffins’ – you’ve GOT to do it. I would hop on a transatlantic plane ride just to be served cupcakes by a shirtless (yes they have to be shirtless) hunk. You see, as opposed to Village People, my mind immediately conjured up Chippendales. The foodie answer to Hooters. Really, you must do this. 😉

    • Thanks very much, Ruby. I hadn’t thought about the shirtless, Chippendale-esque option (as the Hooters counterpart!!), but this approach could justify a pricey muffin! Perhaps it could become a franchise even….

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