Christopher and I received some wonderful (and useful) gifts for our wedding—new dishware, glassware and flatware; new cookware and bakeware; and a new gas grill (I promise a post on my new kitchen tools soon.). We also received a Cadillac…I mean…a beautiful, red KitchenAid stand mixer.
We’ve worked in chunks to unpack and put away our gifts, and all the while, I have been dying to unpack and use the new mixer.
I finally did that last night. I knew that cupcakes would be the first thing I would make, and I knew that the first person who would receive a few of those cupcakes would be my dad (who gifted the mixer). I decided I wanted to do a twist on basic chocolate cupcakes—a twist my dad would appreciate and enjoy.
I turned to the baking goddess that is Jessica at How Sweet It Is and found a great recipe for chocolate cupcakes. I took the twist into my own hands. I decided on a Mexican spin and planned to add cinnamon and ground dry chili to both the cake batter and the buttercream frosting.
Here’s the cupcake recipe (slightly adapted from here):
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground dry chili (or cayenne pepper)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and mix with a fork until no clumps remain. Set aside.
In mixing bowl attached to stand mixer, add brown sugar and egg and mix until smooth and creamy (work your way up from speed 2 to speed 6 or 8 at the very end). Turn off mixer.
Add vanilla, milk, heavy cream, melted butter or margarine and sour cream and mix until smooth and well combined (work your way up from speed 2 to speed 6). Turn off mixer.
Add dry ingredients, one half at a time, and mix until batter is smooth. Add spices and mix until incorporated.
Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners and add about 1/4 cup batter to each cup. Distribute any remaining batter evenly among all the cups. Bake 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely, transferring cupcakes to a cooling rack as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
Here’s the cinnamon-chili buttercream recipe:
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk or heavy cream (I used cream because it’s what I had on hand. I used the last of the milk for the cupcakes.)
3/4 to 1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground dry chili (or cayenne pepper)
In mixing bowl attached to stand mixer, add softened butter or margarine and powdered sugar and mix until relatively smooth (work your way up from speed 2 to speed 6). Add vanilla and milk or heavy cream until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add spices to taste.
Place frosting in pastry bag fitted with small tip or plastic zipper bag with small corner cut off and pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Smooth frosting with knife.
Christopher and I had to do some quality control and sample the final product. The verdict? Amazing! The cupcakes are moist but still have a perfect crumb. The cinnamon shines through just enough—the cupcakes taste chocolatey but have a little something extra that some people might not be able to put their finger on—but the chili is not as prominent as hoped. The buttercream frosting is perfectly sweet yet warmed by the earthy cinnamon and the spicy chili.
I LOVE how these turned out, and I can’t wait to share a few with my dad. I definitely will make these again (and turn up the volume on the spices in the cake batter), perhaps with a chocolate ganache and chili sprinkle. Oh boy.