Mocha kahlua cupcakes

Over the last week or so I’ve been working on a post about hand pollination in the garden and since it has become a investigative study rather than a quick and simple guide, I decided I better drop a small post and recipe for continuity. Not that I even have more than a single consistent reader (thanks dad 💚), but I could use the practice. After all, I haven’t stopped feeding the family and taking crappy pictures of it with my phone…

Tucker texted me last week with a request for a dessert for his boss’s birthday. He knows I’m always looking for a reason to mix pounds of processed sugars and butterfat together in the name of “research,” so I happily obliged. When he first started at the golf course, his boss gave him a bottle of kahlua, for reasons I’m still not clear about, and it has since been sitting in the bottom of the fridge door. I am not a fan. I mean, not even the fact that it is coffee flavored and 40 proof can get me to like this stuff. So I decided I would make something out of that nasty swill and start feeding it back to him, in small amounts if I must, over the course of the life of this bottle of liquor. I wanted it to be easy and fast, as it was a last minute request and I needed to get it there by mid afternoon. I have this one bowl chocolate cake recipe I use in times like these, easy enough, and a pretty simple buttercream I like to use, so I got to it.

Baking is actually my second love in the kitchen, because first I am a cook. I love food, especially vegetables. I would take a bowl of caramelized Brussels sprouts and cauliflower over a fruit salad any day. But I also love to eat Paula Deen amounts of butter and sugar. I am fully aware that baking is a science, but it does not stop me from experimenting. But, while

science

and

experiment

go together well, respectively, in a sentence, it is no indication that it will also do so in a cake. Which is why I think I got chewy cupcakes. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup of coffee, so I substituted 1/4 cup for kahlua because I’m trying to get that stuff out of my house. I’m not sure how alcohol affects the texture of a cake, but they were a little different than I remember. They were not at all bad, except for the aroma of aforementioned liquor, just slightly more springy. It could also have to do with preparation, the temperature of the ingredients, or something else entirely that I’m not aware of, but kahlua was the variable in this experiment, so I’m assuming that’s what it was.

There was a bit of a panic for a moment while making the buttercream, which happens especially with meringue Frostings. When I added the kahlua, the whole thing broke. Alas, having the attitude that this was not an option, as I was getting dangerously close to being out of butter and used two sticks for this frosting, I was able to bring it back with a little extra powdered sugar and cornstarch. The cornstarch I added for stability and because the frosting was sweet enough already. If you’ve ever checked the ingredients in powdered sugar, cornstarch is the other one. It is also used to thicken sauces and gravies and being the rule breaker I am when it comes to baking, I attempted it without research or any knowledge of what the outcome would be. It worked! I put it in the fridge for about 15 minutes, paddled it until it reincorporated, added the extra ingredients and whipped that shit until it it was nice and smooth.

If I’m being honest, I’m really unsure where I found this recipe, but it was adapted and saved from somewhere on the internet. This was before I ever knew I would need a reference, but Martha Stewart is probably the one I need to credit. I know I’ve made hers before and this recipe is almost exactly the same, cut in half.

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup Sour milk (1 tbsp lemon Juice and remainder milk)
1/2 cup cooled coffee
1/4 cup kahlua
3 Tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

One bowl chocolate cupcakes

Preheat oven to 350 and prepare cupcake tin with liners. This made about 18.

Add cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined.
Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, kahlua, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Fill liners 2/3 full and bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.

Kahlua and coffee buttercream
Be sure to start with room temperature ingredients..
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup butter
2 oz cream cheese
3 Tbsp kahlua
1 Tbsp instant espresso
2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions
Place instant coffee, cream and kahlua in a small bowl and stir. Set aside to allow espresso to dissolve.
In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes, then add cream cheese and beat until evenly distributed. Scrape down the bowl. Begin adding powdered sugar in 1 cup increments, beating until fully incorporated and scraping down the bowl in between additions.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream in cream/espresso/kahlua mixture. Raise speed to medium and continue to beat for 2 minutes more. If necessary, add more cream until desired consistency is reached.

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