Sometimes you just need a cupcake. Or a few cupcakes. I feel that I need cupcakes often, but it's rare that I actually need a dozen, full-size cupcakes. Unless I have a party to take them to, making a whole batch of cupcakes can often end in disaster, with me deciding that a cupcake with coffee is a great breakfast, a cupcake with a side of fruit is a perfect lunch, and dinner is best concluded by eating another two cupcakes, and so on for the next few days.
That's why I love small-batch baking.
This delicious recipe for a small batch of easy vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting comes from Asiya at Chocolate and Chillies. I was assigned her blog for my first month participating in the Secret Recipe Club, and had so much fun perusing her recipe index and deciding what to cook (if you haven't heard of the SRC, it's basically a club where each month you're assigned a blog to cook from, and someone else is assigned your blog, and it's a fun surprise on the reveal day to see who had your blog and what they decided to make).
Since Asiya's family is from India, she has lots of great Indian recipes, which I was eager to try since I love Indian food. However, as her blog name indicates, she also has a good number of chocolate desserts, and in the end, I went with these cupcakes. I've bookmarked several of the other recipes to try later, though, since I'm always looking for new savory dishes.
I modified these cupcakes to make them gluten-free and grain-free, so be sure to check out the original recipe if you'd like to make a version with regular flour. I just substituted almond flour and a bit of tapioca starch for the all-purpose flour, and the cupcakes tasted amazing. A couple of important notes: the cupcakes will probably sink a bit in the center, so this is not the best recipe to choose if you want to have unfrosted gluten-free cupcakes. I covered this up easily by starting my frosting swirl in the center and then piping out toward the edges, and I liked how the cupcakes came out looking a bit like flowers. Also, the gluten-free cupcakes don't hold together quite as well as regular ones, so if you eat a cupcake while it's still warm, it may fall apart a little. I didn't have this problem when eating them after cooling completely, but I do recommend using parchment paper liners like mine so the cakes won't stick too much (I use the If You Care brand liners and I buy them at Whole Foods).
I tweaked the frosting a bit by adding a little vanilla and a pinch of salt, since I like to add those things to every dessert recipe I make. I also decided to make mini cupcakes instead of full-size ones, just because they're cuter.
These cupcakes are quick, easy, and made with ingredients you're likely to have in your pantry already, so what are you waiting for?
Yield: 15-18 mini cupcakes or 6 regular cupcakes
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Ingredients (adapted from Chocolate & Chillies, originally from Joy of Cooking):
For the cupcakes:
2/3 cup almond flour, lightly packed
3 tablespoons tapioca starch
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
For the frosting:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted*
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Up to 1/4 cup milk or cream, as needed
*Most powdered sugar is cut with cornstarch, but you can buy organic powdered sugar that's cut with tapioca starch instead at Whole Foods or on Amazon .
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375 and line a muffin pan or mini muffin pan with parchment liners. Whisk together the almond flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a medium bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the egg, milk, and vanilla, and beat until smooth with a handheld mixer or stand mixer. Add the softened butter, and beat on high speed until well-combined. The batter may still have some tiny pieces of butter visible, but that's okay.
Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin tin, filling the cups about 2/3 full. For mini cupcakes, I find it easiest to transfer the batter to a zip-top bag, snip off one corner, and pipe the batter into the liners.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are just set and a toothpick comes out clean. The cupcakes will be golden brown on top and a bit sunken in the middle. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, add all ingredients except the milk or cream to a medium bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat on high speed until smooth, adding just milk or cream a tablespoon or so at a time until the frosting comes together. Spread or pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. I used a Wilton 22 star tip to pipe swirls starting in the center of each cupcake and moving out to the edges. You may have some frosting left over.
The cupcakes will keep for up to two days, covered, at room temperature. If you'd like to keep them for a bit longer, I recommend storing them in the fridge and bringing them to room temperature before serving.
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