Chocolate Cupcakes with Boiled Frosting
When it comes to cupcakes, it's really all about the frosting. Light and fluffy like a marshmallow, a traditional boiled frosting reigns supreme. When baking old fashioned chocolate cupcakes, especially birthday cupcakes, nothing is better.
Sometimes called seven minute frosting (because it requires seven minutes of whipping in order to achieve the desired consistency) boiled frosting has been around forever. I've run across many versions of this recipe in the vintage cookbooks from my collection. If you are lucky enough to be the keeper of your old family recipes, I'll bet you'll find your great grandmother's recipe for this frosting among the notes.
There are a number of different techniques for making boiled frosting; the double boiler method, or the Italian meringue technique are the most common. Using the Italian the meringue method, a hot sugar syrup is beaten into whipped egg whites, and whipped until stiff. The double boiler method is a more traditional approach, and a lot easier for novice cooks. Here, everything is combined in a heat proof bowl and whipped over simmering water until stiff. This is my preferred method.
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
Combine all the ingredients in a heat-proof bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Beat on high speed, using your electric mixer, for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Remove from the heat and beat for another minute or two.
To make my cupcakes, I'm using a simple chocolate cake recipe which dates back to the second world war. Home cooks had to get pretty creative with limited ingredients because of rationing. It's an unusual recipe because it doesn't call for any eggs, the baking soda and vinegar help the cake rise. I've shared a version this cake recipe before, Cockeyed Cake with Coconut Topping, it's an old Dunham family favourite.
Start by preheating the oven to 350F, and gather together the following ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold water
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Use your finger to make make three grooves in the sifted dry ingredients. Pour the cooking oil into one of the grooves, the vinegar into another, and the vanilla into the third groove. Now, pour the cold water over the whole thing. Use a fork to combine the ingredients, stir until the mixture is free of lumps. Portion the batter into the cupcake liners so that they are two thirds full, and bake in the center of the oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. This recipe will yield 8 large or 12 medium sized cupcakes.
Once your cupcakes have cooled, they are ready to frost. Since these are special birthday cupcakes, I'm using a piping bag to create a simple swirl, but for everyday cupcakes, you can always just blob it on with a butter knife. It will taste just as good.
Just like dear old friends, both of these time-honoured recipes will never let you down and always make your day a whole lot sweeter.
Happy Birthday Gaudet!