Kneads and Cravings: The cupcake quest

Every person in this life has a mission or a quest or even an errand they’re trying to complete. My mission began after experiencing a truly awful chocolate cupcake from the grocery store. I had been horrified that someone could not only screw up a cupcake in that way (it tasted like burnt sand) but that they had the audacity to sell that nonsense and market it as chocolate.

As part of my ongoing effort to create the perfect chocolate cupcake (a mission I’ve been working on since I was 12) I decided to try making Black Bottom Cupcakes (stop giggling).

These cupcakes are nice and chocolatey, but the cream cheese swirled in the center keeps them from being too rich. Even better, I never bothered to frost them, because why smother perfection with sugar?

Now, are these the greatest chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever made? Probably. You want proof? After presenting them to a family friend with incredibly impressive culinary gifts (I’m pretty sure she had to sacrifice a goat to a Greek god for these talents), she asked me for the recipe. So there you have it.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

8 oz. softened cream cheese

4 eggs

1/3 cup and 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

⅓ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin tins with baking cups. In a small bowl beat the cream cheese, one egg and ⅓ cup of sugar until creamy. Put aside the cream cheese mixture. In a second, large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, ½ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a third bowl, beat the remaining eggs with the buttermilk, oil and vanilla until well blended. Pour the contents from the third bowl into the second bowl and stir until well blended. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins until the cups are 75% full. Then add a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture to each cup and swirl it into the batter with the tip of a butter knife to give it a marbled look. Bake for 25 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool before serving. As these cupcakes are sweet enough on their own, they don’t need any icing, but for those looking to satisfy an extra strong sweet tooth, they may be topped with cream cheese icing.