Sunday, August 22, 2010

Flash-in-the-Pan Cupcakes

Henry and I are grandparents waiting to happen.  We're of the age where some of our friends are experiencing the joys of "grandparenthood" and frankly, we're jealous.  We are so looking forward to spending time with our grandchildren, being the good guys by spoiling them, giving them chocolate, cookies or anything else that will induce a catastrophic sugar high, then giving them back to their poor, unsuspecting parents.

Oh, but wait.  We're not even close.  Not. Even.

Of course, given the above comment, should either one of our kids ever have children, they will probably hide that fact from us until we are too old to care.

So in the interim, we console ourselves by opening up our house (and kitchen) to some of the kids who live on our street.  Gray and Sidney, you know who you are!

Actually, they are two of the cutest and most entertaining little girls you will ever meet.  The first time they visited our house, they were enthralled with all of the beds (because I believe more is better when it comes to piles of pillows, shams, down comforters and the like).  Suffice it to say that the beds in our house are really inviting.  Those girls ended up jumping on every bed in the place and no one enjoyed it more than I did.  If my kids ever read this, I know they will think, "Who is this woman?  That didn't happen when we lived there!"


The girls showed up last week, late on a Saturday afternoon because their dad and I are working on a project (that would be a photo show about the plight of children in Cambodia - stay tuned).   Henry was charged with the job of entertaining them.  Since he had to give up his Saturday afternoon nap to do it, I decided to give him a break and provide an activity he could supervise.  I figured decorating cupcakes would do the trick.

Good thing I have a ton of decorating supplies in my arsenal!

Problem was, I hit upon this strategy at the last minute, which left me about 10 minutes to get cupcakes in the oven before the girls showed up.  No problem.  I turned to my tried and true recipe for chocolate cupcakes.  It's easy.  It's a cinch.  It can be mixed up in seconds.  It's even vegan so you can make it for your friends who follow that persuasion.  It's the recipe we used when I worked at Star Provisions and it's delicious!


2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Droste)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons white vinegar
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Grease cupcake tins or line with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.  Use a whisk to blend well.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together water, vanilla extract, vinegar and vegetable oil.  Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill prepared tins.  Fill each one about 3/4's, as these do not rise too much.  Bake at 350-degrees for 14 to 16 minutes (depending on your oven) or until just firm on top.  Cool briefly, then remove to a baking rack to cool completely before frosting as desired.

Yield:  2 dozen

At the restaurant, we would remove the tops, scoop out the centers and fill them with vanilla buttercream.  We would then replace the tops, dip in ganache and decorate with a white squiggly line on top - our very own version of  Hostess Cupcakes!


  1. What a treat, to see my girls have a blast while I hiked in Colorado! Thank you to Liz and Henry for making my girls feel 'at home'. I miss seeing you both! d

  2. Feel free to use these two to practice your grandparenting skills at any time. Specifically from the hours of 6-8 a.m.