Monday, August 13, 2007
Baking out of necessity
Maida Heatter’s Book of Chocolate Desserts Copyright 2006
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 1/3 ounces (10 2/3 tablespoons) sweet butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two pans of cupcake forms, each pan with twelve forms and each form measuring 2 ¾ inches in diameter. Sift a bit of flour over the pans, invert, and tap to shake out excess. Or line twenty-four 2 ¾ inch forms with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa, and set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter. Add the vanilla and sugar and beat to mix. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition, and scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary to keep the mixture smooth. On the lowest speed, alternately add the sifted dry ingredients in three additions with the milk in two additions. Continue to scrape the bowl with the rubber spatula and beat only until smooth. Do not overbeat.
Spoon the batter into the prepare pans, filling the forms only two-thirds to three-quarters full. There is no need to smooth the tops – the batter will level itself.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops spring back lightly when pressed with a fingertip. Do not overbake.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 2 or 3 minutes; then cover each pan with a large rack and invert. Remove the pan and turn the cupcakes right side up to cool on the rack.
Since my son is allergic to peanuts, he needs to bring his own cupcake whenever other children bring cupcakes for their birthday at his daycare center. I keep a stash in the freezer but I realized that the ones I had in there had been in there since my son's birthday in January. So it was time for a fresh batch.
I had to keep it simple although it really didn't matter. He rarely eats the cupcakes - just whatever frosting and candy I put on top (which is a dilemma in itself - you don't want to outshine the birthday kid's cupcake but you don't want your peanut allergic child to feel like they got shafted). I went with this plain chocolate cupcake from Maida Heatter - an icon in the dessert world. The copyright date says 2006 but this was first published in 1980. Her lead-in says that if called upon for a bake sale item she usually made these cupcakes or brownies. For someone so involved in dessert making, I thought that said a lot.
These were good but not out-of-the-ordinary good, but ordinarily good chocolate cupcakes are still pretty damn good, you know? I froze a bunch for my son, plain, and topped the rest with a basic frosting made with light butter. They were best fresh.
I really need to really dig into this cookbook but it just seems so dangerous! She certainly presents a large variety of chocolate recipes. It's not a very visually stimulating cookbook but it still has a very drool-inducing effect.
Thanks for all of the kind comments on my 500th recipe post. I appreciated every one of them.
Blast From The Past: Creamy Frosting from October 2005. I almost made a version of that recipe since I thought I was out of powdered sugar and you can also use granulated in that recipe. But I found some powdered sugar in the cupboard.
Question of the Day: Did you get a lot of treats in the classroom in school?
Back in my day we may have been given a treat (by the school, sometimes the teacher - never parents) for a Halloween or Christmas party, not for birthdays. Why is it so common for parents to send treats now? Where do teachers find the time to stop and have a 'birthday party', if the parent sends in treats to be eaten in school?