I love birthday surprises! One of the best is a box full of baked fun - cake, cup cakes or cookies. But if your birthday boy or girl lives far from you, shipping becomes a problem.
For instance, I recently wanted to make a birthday cake for a friend, but I had to mail the gift so I decided to make cupcakes with a cream filling rather than an icing - less mess, neater to ship.
My friend is a wonderful person (or he wouldn't be my friend, right) and he deserves a birthday treat which reflects his special self. His favorite cake is chocolate, a solid choice, but he is not a predictable man. He's solid yet mysterious, so his chocolate cake had to be just as complex and intriguing.
The recipe I wanted to use was for a Mexican Chocolate Cake because it already is a chocolate cake with a rich, spicy difference. But, it needed an extra special something - a more complex flavor. The natural choice was chili because it has just the right, unexpected zip, and a bit of savory to balance the sweet.
adapted from www.MarthaStewart.com
Chocolate Chili Birthday Babycakes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup oil
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup 70% bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup water
3 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup sour milk (buttermilk)
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine butter, oil, cocoa, chocolate chips and water in sauce pan. Heat until all are melted and smooth.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, sugar, milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, cayenne pepper and salt in a large bowl, mixing well, then combine with first mixture until batter is smooth. Do not over mix.
3. Pour batter into either a greased and floured cupcake pan or one that is lined with festive paper cups. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, adjusting time according to your oven.
4. Five minutes before the cake is done, prepare a butter cream icing. Let cake cool before you pipe the icing into the center of each cupcake. This is done by inserting the start tip of your butter cream-filled pastry bag into the center of the cake and forcing the icing into the cake's center while slowly removing the tip.
The recipe called for margarine, but like the original author, I prefer the depth and richness of butter. I also wanted to add a bit of a kick to my cake, so I added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne.
Additionally, I didn't think the cocoa powder would give the cake the deep, dark chocolate flavor I was looking for so I added a half cup of melted 70% bittersweet chocolate. The extra liquid meant I had to compensate by adding an extra cup of flour. The recipe didn't call for salt, but I added 1/4 teaspoon for balance. Since I was baking in a cupcake pan, I reduced cooking time to 18 minutes.
To finish my cupcakes, I piped butter cream into the centers after the cake had cooled. Finally, I frosted my cake by brushing the tops with melted butter and dipping them in a mixture of sugar and salt (a 3:1 ratio).
To package my birthday babycakes, I put them in a square airtight plastic container, stuffing the pockets with little poufs of plastic wrap to restrict movement. Ready for overnight mail, they should arrive looking great and put a big smile on the birthday boy's face