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choccupCake is not something I eat very often.  It ordinarily finds it’s way to my plate at birthday parties or other celebratory occasions when refusing a piece can make one look like a party pooper or chronic dieter.  In these cases, the cake is usually dry and tasteless, smeared with greasy supermarket bakery frosting that I end up scraping onto the side of my dish. 

Cupcakes, on the other hand, are a different story.  It wasn’t that long ago that these portable sweet treats seemed like a throwback to another era, something you’d find on a buffet table beside a Jell-o mold and  macaroni salad.  But what is old always becomes new again, and suddenly cupcakes were popping up all over the place.  A bakery that only sold cupcakes opened up in my neighborhood.  I went to a wedding and instead of a wedding cake there were beautifully frosted cupcakes served on a tree-tiered platter.  The cupcake had reached the height of sophistication.

When I first discovered food blogs (not that long ago) I noticed that a lot of people blog about cupcakes. There are even blogs solely devoted to them.  I can see why.  The variations are endless, they’re a lot easier to make than a layer cake, and they allow the baker unlimited creativity.  As a single person, I would never bother making a cake for myself, but I make cupcakes for my own enjoyment.  I halve the recipe and put what I won’t eat in the freezer for another time. They freeze well and make a perfect treat for my little niece when she comes for a visit.

This recipe is one of my favorites, adapted from the pages of a little book I found called Perfect Baking, published in the UK by Parragon. Devils’ Food cupcakes are a double whammy of nostalgia.  The addition of sour cream here makes for a really light and fluffy cupcake–which is probably why I like them so much.


Devil’s Food Cakes with Chocolate Frosting



Makes 18

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup (115g) firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (115g) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup (125ml) sour cream

For the frosting:

4 1/2 ounces (125g) semisweet chocolate

2 tablespoons icing sugar

2/3 cup (150ml) sour cream

3 1/2 ounces (100g) semisweet chocolate for garnish (optional)


1) Put 18 double layer paper cases on a cookie sheet or 18 singles divided between 2 muffin tins. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.

2) Beat the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda and cocoa in a large bowl until smooth. Fold in the sour cream. Spoon the batter into the paper cases, 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch.

3) To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Whisk in the sugar and sour cream until combined.

4) Spread the frosting over the tops of the cupcakes and let set in the refrigerator before serving.

5) To garnish the cupcakes, shave the semisweet chocolate with a potato peeler or simply chop with a sharp knife.

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"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet." -Julia Child

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April 2009
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Photos and text copyright 2009 by Darina Kopcok
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