I wanted to come up with a clever idea to impress Russ Feingold. I spent a few days coming up with several ideas and I landed on making cupcakes that looked like a grassy front yard with a political sign in them. To do this, I shrunk down a Feingold sign that I found online on his campaign website and glued two toothpicks to each end to make them look pretty close to what a yard sign would look like. This took a little bit of time cutting and pasting, but I'm pleased with the results. Then, I made these really dense chocolate cupcakes that I found on Brown Eyed Baker that I've made before, but altered it a bit given I like to use espresso powder in my cakes instead of coffee. I do this because it's easier when I bake and I can always have it on hand. I also substituted in a Swiss Chocolate Buttercream that is pretty foolproof and delicious. Next, I dipped frosted cupcakes into green sprinkles for the grass and stuck the mini yard sign in them. I think everyone is going to love them!
- 2½ cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon Hershey's Dark cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 1½ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
- 1½ cups water
- 2 TBSP espresso powder
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 4½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. This will make about 36 cupcakes.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, water, espresso powder, oil and vanilla.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for an additional 20 seconds (the batter will be very thin).
4. Divide the batter evenly among cupcake lined tins. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool the cakes.
Swiss Butter cream
This makes enough frosting to generously frost 3 dozen cupcakes.
- 5 large (150 grams) egg whites
- 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 sticks (340 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 2/3 cup melted but cool chocolate
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar to remove any trace of grease. Make a double boiler by placing the mixer bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl no longer feels warm, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add the butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until it has reached a silky smooth texture. If the buttercream curdles simply keep mixing and it will come back to smooth. If the buttercream is too thin and runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes before continuing mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add the vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Next add the cooled and melted chocolate.
- Frost away!