Chocolate Cupcakes W/Orange Buttercream & A Celebration

IMG_0471So, yeah.  Things have been pretty busy around my house this week.

My husband is off after a long crazy run at work and my daughter is finishing up first grade this week.  I have a birthday in a few days, my daughter has a birthday in a few days, and we are in the middle of completing several random house projects that have needed attention for about a year now!  Add in the fact that we still have to actually live our lives everyday with laundry, schedules, appointments, and plenty of playtime with a rambunctious 1 year old little boy, a blue eyed four year old that boomerangs back and forth between being a dinosaur, a ninja, and a race car…phew!

Oh!  And of course, I moved this little ‘ol blog to a new site!  DON’T FORGET TO ENTER THE AWESOME GIVEAWAY! Just comment on the previous post and you could win a great prize package!  Giveaway closes at noon, May 25th!

I could not be happier with my crazy, hectic, and wonderful life and with all this happening now I feel like I should be celebrating!  I do like to buck convention a lot of the time, but in this case I am sticking to the classics and making cupcakes!Not just any cupcakes.  Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange Buttercream.  And lets see…how do I put this….they are freaking AWESOME!  *ahem*  I mean, super good.

IMG_0454What I think is interesting is that so many other blogs make it a point to post recipes for cupcakes because they are a major crowd pleaser.  Readers love a good cupcake recipe, wether they are actually turning around and baking them or not.  Put a cupcake recipe on Pinterest and you can just stand back and watch the craziness ensue!  Me?  I just don’t make them that often and this blog is a direct representation of what comes out of my kitchen.  But I do like to make sure I let you know when I have a good one.  That is why I have an ultimate Red Velvet Cupcake recipe on this site.  It is the best one I have ever made!  But I am always looking to master the basics, and I have been working on finding the perfect basic recipe for chocolate cupcakes for awhile now.

A few months ago, a friend approached me and requested chocolate and orange buttercream.  So really, it was about the best type of challenge ever!  When  I started testing recipes, I was kind of surprised at how picky I had become with my cupcakes.  If I was going to post a straight up chocolate cupcake recipe here, it was going to have to finally do the leg work and narrow it down to find my ultimate.  I have several cake recipes that I love, but cupcakes sometimes bake up differently, and therefore, often need a separate recipe all their own.  They have to be firm enough for you to pick them up and hold them and without being so moist that they just collapse under the weight of frosting!

And speaking of frosting, all I am going to say on the matter is that orange buttercream made with real orange zest and real ingredients does not compare to anything made with artificial flavoring and chemically dyed orange color.  My version is outrageously good.  Just take my word for it.  A fellow Mom, aka volunteer taste tester, tried it and rolled her eyes to the heavens, exclaiming, “Change nothing!  Its perfect!”  I took her advice.

So that outrageous buttercream is paired here with my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe.  It is THE recipe I use when I want a plain chocolate cake that I can top with anything that suits my fancy.  They are moist, but not fragile; incredibly chocolatey, but not overly sweet. I love them way more than a person should love a cupcake.

So what is your favorite kind of frosting to put on a chocolate cupcake?IMG_0468 IMG_0435One Year Ago: Shrimp Cobb Salad
Two Years Ago: Sweet Potato Salad W/Vinaigrette

Chocolate Cupcakes W/Orange Buttercream
Cupcake recipe adapted from Zoe Bakes, Buttercream recipe by Brittany’s Pantry

3 c sugar
2 3/4 c flour
1 1/8 c cocoa powder, sifted to remove lumps
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 c buttermilk
3/4 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350.
Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla until blended.  Whisk into the dry ingredients until totally incorporated.  Slowly whisk in the hot coffee until smooth.  The batter will be thin.  Pour batter into paper lined, muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  The batch makes about 3 dozen cupcakes!

Orange Buttercream

1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1/2 c vegetable shortening
5 c powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 orange
1/4 c milk, more or less depending on desired consistency

Be sure to zest the orange directly over the mixing bowl!  Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the ingredients until smooth, only adding milk until you get the desired consistency.  Remember, you can always add milk, but you can’t take it back out again!  Frost the cupcakes and store any leftovers in the fridge.