Easy, egg-free chocolate cupcakes are paired with a sweet strawberry buttercream frosting for a treat perfect for any occasion.
Everyone has their strengths. Everyone has their weaknesses.
I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when Boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law were preparing to have 25+ people over to their house for their daughter’s first birthday. While I would be obsessing over the food and essentially ignoring until the last second the fact that I would need to actually clean my house, his sister-in-law is the opposite. She would much rather think about cleaning her house than baking 2 dozen cupcakes. In this case, her strength is my weakness, and vice-versa. So when I reached out to her and offered to bake the cake for the occasion, she jumped at the chance to have one less thing to worry about. I jumped at the chance to come up with a new recipe in the name of helping out a friend.
The requested cupcake flavors were chocolate with strawberry frosting and vanilla with chocolate frosting. Great! Except…I didn’t really have a basic chocolate cake recipe. Turns out that a side effect of not ever eating chocolate is not having a big arsenal of recipes using chocolate from which to pull.
And so, I did what any grown woman would do. I texted my mom for help.
In my defense, my momma usually has pretty good answers to life’s issues. And in this case, she had a great answer. After rooting through my great-grandmother’s recipe box, she pulled out this very odd chocolate cake recipe and sent it to me for inspection. Aside from a couple very minor changes (namely using melted butter instead of the called-for shortening and adapting the bizarre instructions), this recipe looked like a pretty good option for a couple of reasons:
1.) It is easy. Sift together a few dry ingredients, whisk in a couple of wet ingredients and bake. Seriously. One bowl. Easy. No excuses.
2.) It is egg-free. Yeah, you read that right. Perfect for the child with an egg allergy, these little cupcakes can even be made dairy-free by subbing in a vegan margarine for the butter. Bam. Vegan. I am also pondering the outcome of using an all-purpose gluten-free mix with this recipe, but have not tried it myself. If you do, please let me know how they turn out.
These cupcakes are even more perfect with a creamy strawberry buttercream frosting. All you need is 1/4 cup of good strawberry preserves to add a perfect strawberry flavor to your frosting. Even though I had chocolate cake and chocolate frosting at the party, this strawberry buttercream was the hit of the evening. Piped into rosettes, it was even prettier – and perfect for a pretty 1-year-old’s birthday party! Or for Valentine’s Day, which is probably more applicable to your life right this moment.
To make the rosettes, just pick up a 1M star tip and pop it into your pastry bag (note: I have also just used a zip-top bag with the corner cut out with success before, so don’t feel like you need to buy out the entire cake decorating store for this) and fill with your buttercream. Starting in the center of the cupcake, hold your pastry bag perpendicular to the top of your cupcake, then pipe in concentric circles, working your way out to the edge of the cupcake. They are actually incredibly easy and super fast – you can frost a dozen cupcakes in just a few minutes once you get the hang of it. Promise. Practice a few on some parchment paper, then scoop the frosting back into your pastry bag when you’re ready to try it on your cupcakes.
Do I have you craving cupcakes yet? Good. Now, go bake some to share with your Valentine. You’ll look like you’re being romantic when really you just wanted chocolate cupcakes.
As always, your secret is safe with me.
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup warm water
- 1½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
- Heaping ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons half & half
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 cupcake tins with liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add the vanilla, vinegar, melted butter, and warm water; stir until just combined.
- Measure about ¼ cup of batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Remove from the tin and cool on a rack before frosting.
- In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and strawberry preserves. Sift in 2 cups of the powdered sugar, then add the half & half and vanilla; beat until combined. Sift in the final cup of powdered sugar and beat until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or half & half as needed to reach your desired consistency. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.