The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcakes

Fluffy and tender yet deeply chocolatey, these Devil's Food Cupcakes are truly sinful.  The fudge frosting swirls and sprinkles are the quintessential 'icing on the cake' for these all-occasion treats.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

Now that my book is out, I’ve been really trying to focus on improving my overall cooking, recipe development, photography, and food writing.  It’s time to hone in on my photography style, create crystal-clear, workable recipes, and really find my voice.  Story telling has never been my strongest suite, but I yearn to improve upon my food writing.

(Not so) strangely, I've really noticed that actually the more I write the more comfortable and creative I seem to get with the writing process.  I recently considered looking for and enrolling into a food writing course.  I found the perfect online course aptly titled “Food Writing” as part of UBC’s continuing education program.  However, the course syllabise mostly consisted of tasks that I already do professionally – how to write a recipe, basic food photography tips, how to write a query/book proposal, etc.  And by no means do I think I am better than this course, I just don’t think it was made for me (just a few years ago I would have been all over this!!).  For me, I think it mostly comes down to "read, write, read, write - repeat" until I find my voice.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.
The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

I was at Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks over the weekend for a cake tasting/demonstration and book signing for "Layered" (side note – this shop is every cookbook lover’s dream!!).  There was signage on the wall announcing that Dianne Jacob was coming to town later this month.  I had heard about the latest edition of her book “Will Write for Food” a little while back, but I was too caught up in editing my own book to give it much thought.  Now that I have more time to dive in, I must say that Dianne Jacob is a rock star!  I have yet to read the book, but her blog offers a wealth of knowledge for anyone with a food blog or freelance food writing career.  Even though I already wrote my book, I know that I have so much more to learn from her and how the industry in continually changing.  I can’t wait to hear her talk in a few weeks at Books to Cooks!

Speaking of Books to Cooks, I finally picked up the Fall/Winter 2015 issue of Cherry Bombe Magazine.  My dear cake pal, Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land was featured in the issue and I had to buy a copy to keep for when she is (even more) famous one day!  The issue was titled Eat My Words.  I have yet to read the entire issue, but there are some amazing articles covering cookbook, food, and recipe writing from professionals like Ruth Reichl and Melissa Clark.  How perfect for where I am in my writing phase, right?!

One article in particular that I found informative was a piece noting Food and Wine’s Tina Ujlaki’s top 10 tips for writing a (great) recipe.  Some of the tips seem obvious, like make sure to write down and accurately measure your ingredients, but her practices would surely improve accuracy and work-flow.  My favorite was her tip to note sensory clues (color, smell, texture) instead of just going off the oven timer.   Her last tip was not to overpromise and underdeliver – more specifically, stop using things like “best ever” or other click-bait tactics and let the headnotes talk about the origin of the recipe and why someone should make it.  I mostly agree with this statement, but like most everything, there are exceptions.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.
The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

I don’t use definitive terms like “best” and “ever” very often, but it’s true.  These cupcakes are the best.  Like “no need to look any further for a different chocolate cake recipe ever” kind of good - and rightfully so, as I was on a quest to develop such a recipe.   I didn’t have a signature cake that mom made for my birthday each year or a special cupcake recipe that I requested on repeat, but if I did, this would be the one.  An American hallmark turned into individual cupcakes, these guys are the ambassadors of birthdays, office parties, potlucks, and backyard bashes.

Sorry Tina, but without a doubt, these are The Best Chocolate Devil’s Food Cupcakes ever.  Extra moist and superior in deep chocolate flavor, this is the kind of recipe you store, covered in batter splatters, in an heirloom tin for your future grandchildren – even though you’ll probably make it so often that you’ll eventually commit the steps and ingredients to memory.

It must be clear that when I say “best” I don’t necessarily mean simple.  However, just because the recipe isn’t as quick an easy as my other one-bowl chocolate cake recipe, don’t be confused into thinking this recipe is difficult.  While I totally see the appeal of throwing all the ingredients in at once and getting it over with and there are whole businesses committed to such convenience (dump cakes and boxed mixes, I’m looking at you), but sometimes you gotta put in the extra work for the superior taste and texture.  I’m only talking a couple extra steps and few more dirty dishes – don’t worry.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact difference between a Devil’s Food Cake and a regular chocolate cake, but I find that typically a Devil’s Food Cake is made with butter instead of oil and has the addition of coffee or instant espresso powder to bring out the chocolate flavor.  Older recipes call for unsweetened, melted chocolate squares, but many of today’s recipes opt for the convenience of cocoa powder – which incidentally has a more intense chocolate flavor. 

Opposite of an airy Angel Food Cake in both name and flavor, Devil’s Food Cake also gets its name from a sometimes slightly reddish tint (think red velvet cake), due to the alkalizing effect that the baking soda has on natural (not Dutch process) cocoa powder.

The Best Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with fluffy fudge frosting.

Notes
–  Mixing the cocoa powder with boiling water first allows the chocolate flavors to bloom and intensify instead of adding it in with the other dry ingredients.
–  For the butter, make sure it is extra soft.  Since we are not relying on the cream of butter and sugar for lift and airiness (that’s what the baking powder is for here), I just popped it in the microwave for a few seconds until it was almost melty.
–  I used a full-fat coconut milk for extra flavor and tenderness, but any milk should do.
–  I used jumbo cupcake liners and made about 16 cupcakes.  I bet the recipe would yield about 20 to 24 using standard liners.  Adjust bake time accordingly.
–  I prefer my fudge frosting to be very soft (but still spreadable).  When mixing, the frosting should create a well in the center of the mixing bowl instead of clinging to the paddle.  The sprinkles should be able to stick easily and not fall off immediately (if so, the frosting is a bit dry and crusts too quickly).

 

The Best Devil’s Food Cupcake Recipe
4 ounces dark chocolate (about 70%), chopped
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup boing water
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant espresso
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft – slightly melty (see Notes)
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
3 large eggs
½ cup milk (see Notes)

1.     Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a cupcake pan and set aside.

2.     Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and boiling water together.  Stir to combine and set aside.

3.     Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.

4.     Using an electric mixer, combine the super soft butter with the sugars.  Mix for a couple minutes until thoroughly combined.

5.     Add the vanilla, almond, and eggs – one at a time, making sure each in incorporated before adding in the next.  Stop mixing and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

6.     With the mixer on low, stream in the chocolate mixture until combined.

7.     Slowly add in half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stream in the milk.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

8.     Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until combined.

9.     Evenly divide the batter into the cupcake pans and bake until done, about 22 to 24 minutes (see Notes).

10. Let cool on a cooling rack before frosting.

 

Fudge Frosting Recipe
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon espresso powder
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until soft and smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the salt, espresso powder, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and milk until incorporated. Mix on medium until soft and silky, yet not runny, adding more milk as needed.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  Add in the melted chocolate and mix until combined.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts

CocoDonuts10 Yes, you read that right.  Style Sweet CA's first (intentionally) vegan recipe.  No, I am not turning vegan.  And no, I did not swap out ingredients to try to make a crowd pleaser.  I made this recipe because the donuts taste amazing and just happen to be vegan.  You feel me?

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I made these babies on a rainy weekend.  Brett was feeling under the weather and I stole some time to myself to bake for pleasure.  Don't get me wrong, I still like baking and feel blessed every day that I get to do something that I love for work.  I've always had to find the right balance between baking for my clients and baking what I want.  Most of the time, I develop recipes with a client or specific project in mind, so when I can steal a moment to bake just for fun I really try to enjoy the whole process - from initial idea to the very last garnish.

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The fridge/freezer of this freelance pastry chef is always full of 3/4 layer cakes and desperate attempts to keep pastries fresh until someone can take them of my hands.  If I kept up eating what I baked every week, I'd make myself sick.  So when it comes time to develop a new recipe to be enjoyed guilt free on a lazy weekend, I went with a healthy version of a chocolate donut.

First of all, these donuts are baked.  They will never have the same characteristics as a real, fried donut, but they are delicious nonetheless.  Using some coconut oil and a jar of apple sauce from the back of the pantry, I created the chocolatey vegan batter.  To bring out the coconut flavor even more, these Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts were given a non-dairy coconut caramel glaze and topped with coconut flakes.  Like most chocolate batters I make, I added a touch of almond extract for depth and for the love of almonds (almond extract just might be my most favorite scent ever).  Sliced almonds were sprinkled on the other half of the donuts for those of us who don't care for coconut flakes (me, specially - lol).

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The donuts were super moist and crazy flavorful.  And that vegan caramel?!?!?  Incredible.  These donuts turned the whole weekend around.  Brett started to feel better, and by Sunday, we were able to share the leftovers with friends at a sunny puppy play-date. Enjoy!

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Coconut Caramel inspired by Heather Christo.

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Happy Anniversary + Rose Mocha Cake

RoseMochaCake2Today is an anniversary of sorts.  Not of marriage or anything like that, but the anniversary of new adventure.  A year ago, my husband, pup, and I crossed the Canadian border and entered into one of the most exciting years of our lives.

As you might recall the week leading up to our move from this post, a year ago it was time to hit the road.  We packed up the car with the last of our belongings, with Remy in the backseat, and said good bye to our home for the last time.  I had a hard enough time watching the new bakery move into my old shop over the past couple months, so I knew a "no-turning-back" attitude was in order.  Although we had been planning the move for over a year, of course I was still nervous.  I mean, who leaves a perfectly good life, home, and business behind for something completely unknown?

I'll tell you this, if you have a supportive family and a bit of financial wiggle room, you just gotta follow your dreams.  I had just closed my business and my husband was about to start a three-year program back at school, but we knew we just had to go for it.  A year later, I could not be happier that we did.

The first month was like a vacation.  We moved into our chic (yet tiny) city apartment, Brett had weeks before school started, and I was trying to figure out what my next move (career wise) was going to be.  We dined at some of our favorite restaurants, discovered new ones in our neighborhood, and got used to living in a high rise.  This was followed by multiple visits from our families, a summer on the beach, hikes with Miss Rem, living in a city with snow for the first time, and tons of great food.

Looking back, I can't believe what a year it has been.  I started working at a local French patisserie and practicing my macaron skills before settling into my new career.  After owning my cake shop, naturally I thought I should probably be in the kitchen for a while.  It wasn't really what I was passionate about anymore, and I now realize that a job I started at age 24 does not need to define my career forever.  Instead, I started this blog and really concentrated on my photography skills.  I started writing for a few other websites, and everything started to fall into place.  A year later, and I am now writing and developing recipes for brands that I love, experimenting and improving upon my photography daily, and getting ready for some HUGE new opportunities (more on these to come).  And best of all, our visas finally got approved!  That alone is reason to celebrate.

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I have dozens of notebooks...It's kind of getting out of had.  Every time I get an idea or discover a new ingredient, I write it down.  Half the time my scribbles don't even make sense.  I stubbled upon "rose mocha cake" scratched on one of my notepads and was skeptical of my own idea.  I decided to try it out anyways and what a wonderful creation it turned out to be!

Recipe serves 12-15 as a 3-layer 8 inch round cake.

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