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.
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.
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.
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.
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.