I was invited, recently, to a family birthday party - a small, casual affair, but for someone very special I love very much. I offered to make a cake, and then started thinking about this special person and how to make a cake that would somehow demonstrate how I feel about her. And I thought about all the things we call her – she’s an aunt, mother, sister, and wife with an elegant name (“Kathleen”) which lends itself easily to nicknames. I had the idea to write the different versions of her name on cupcakes, and started looking at cupcake recipes for inspiration. And you know what? Most cupcake decoration doesn’t involve writing. I found this copy-cat recipe for cream-filled chocolate cupcakes and decided instead of that signature curly white line of frosting, I would write all the names we call my aunt.
Now, I can never leave good enough alone, so I adapted the recipe to make it slightly easier to prepare and boost the flavor a bit. I think chocolate recipes always benefit from the addition of coffee (you don’t taste the coffee, but it deepens the flavor of the chocolate) and I thought the filling lacked flavor so I added vanilla. I also used dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet in the Ganache where I subbed milk and butter for the cream.
2 Cups flour
1 Cup cocoa
1 ½ Teaspoons baking soda
½ Teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 ½ Cups sugar
1 ½ Cups buttermilk
2 Tablespoons brewed coffee
1 Teaspoon vanilla
Vanilla Filling and Frosting
½ stick butter, softened
1 ½ Cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla
½ Cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon corn syrup
1 Cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% dark)
Equipment: 24 cup muffin tin, 24 paper liners, stand mixer, medium mixing bowl, 2 cup or larger measuring cup, piping bag with large and small round tips.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, lightly whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and sugar together.
Meanwhile, measure buttermilk into a large measuring cup and add coffee and vanilla.
Add eggs, one at a time, to butter/sugar mixture, beating well after each addition.
Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk mixture, about 1/3 at a time, ending with wet ingredients. Mix just until combined.
Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin cups (I like to use an ice cream scoop) and bake 15-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.
While cupcakes are baking, wash the bowl and whisk attachment of the stand mixer and return to the mixer. Make the filling/frosting by mixing butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla together, adding milk to get to a spreadable consistency. Put ¾ of filling/frosting mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large tip (the shape is not important) to be used for filling. Reserve the remaining ¼ of the frosting for decorating the tops.
In a small saucepan, heat butter, milk and corn syrup to just below boiling, remove from heat and add chocolate chips, stirring until melted.
Once baked, remove cupcakes from oven and cool completely. Fill cupcakes by poking the tip of the piping bag into the center of each cupcake and squeezing out about a tablespoon of filling. Dip the top of filled cupcakes into the Ganache and set aside to cool.
Decorate the top of each cupcake (with a swirly line or the name of a loved one) with the reserved filling/frosting mixture, either by swapping the tip on the piping bag or by filling a Ziploc bag with the mixture and snipping off a small hole in the corner.
This fun treat was well-received by children and adults alike.