Our nieces came to visit a couple of weeks ago — they are eight and four — and my husband and I planned a weekend of activities: zoo, pool, playroom. We scouted out the best kid-appealing food, including Shake Shack, Sweetgreen (they loved it), and pizza delivered right to our apartment door. And to seal my husband’s reputation as the Best Uncle Ever, we baked a batch of chocolate cupcakes.
The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa and it’s perfect. The cake is moist with a light crumb, chocolaty, faintly bitter, not too sweet, dolloped with soft clouds of chocolate frosting. I’ve been making this as a layer cake for years, most notably last Christmas when my dad and I transformed it into a souche de Noël, or yule stump, complete with frosting bark and meringue mushrooms. (Behold.) But when you’re a kid, everything tastes better in tiny form (is this true, actually?) and so we decided to turn my trusty chocolate cake recipe into cupcakes.
The recipe is a snap to mix together especially when you forgo sifting the dry ingredients like I do (though I do sift the cocoa powder to remove lumps). The resulting batter is thin and soupy, which makes the task of spooning it into the cupcake liners a bit tedious. I recommend firing up NPR and doling it out as patiently as you can. Instead of baking for 35-40 minutes as the recipe indicates, start testing the cupcakes after 20 minutes. This recipe makes two layers for a cake, or enough cupcakes to feed a small army of nieces (seriously, it’s a lot of cupcakes — around 32 or so).
The Nieces loved the cupcakes and we loved watching them eat them. (Other highlights of the weekend included seeing a giant panda gorge on bamboo (me), wheeling toy cars in the playroom of our apartment building (the four year old), and swimming timed laps in the indoor pool (the eight year old). But after The Nieces and their parents had gone, we found ourselves with armfuls of leftover chocolate cupcakes. It turns out even the most enthusiastic chocolate cupcake consumers can only consume so many. What to do?
Thus began the great chocolate cupcake giveaway, as my husband and I walked around the lobby of our apartment building on a Saturday night handing out dessert. The driver idling in his taxi outside? Yes. The doorman? Yes. A woman walking her dog? Yes. The guy at the front desk? He ended up with four of them. Never have I seen so many happy smiles. Never have I felt so popular. I urge you to try it. Win a few friends and influence a few people yourself with this recipe for Beatty’s Chocolate Cake, straight from the Barefoot Contessa.