Ending the semester on a sweet note

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Ending the semester on a sweet note

Devil's food cupcakes. Jennifer Manalili, City Times

Devil's food cupcakes. Jennifer Manalili, City Times

Devil's food cupcakes. Jennifer Manalili, City Times

Devil's food cupcakes. Jennifer Manalili, City Times

Jennifer Manalili

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We’ve reached the end of the semester. Can you believe it?

So take a moment to yourself and indulge a little after surviving all of those lectures, professors and all-nighters. After all, how does that famous saying go? There’s always room for dessert.

These cupcakes are my favorite to take to parties. They’re guaranteed to make your friends or family smile. The chocolate flavor is strong and delightful, partly thanks to the sprinkling of ground instant coffee that goes in. I’ve learned from the past (and many a Food Network show) that coffee helps bring out the chocolate flavor in baked goods, producing a more pronounced flavor that is of course even more delicious.

The recipe makes two dozen cupcakes but is very easy to double, a perfect amount if you’re making them for a large gathering or a surprise birthday party like I did. Make sure to cool them properly —- I usually make cakes a day before I have to frost them —- they’re easier to frost this way.

The great thing about cupcakes is you don’t have to limit yourself to one kind of frosting or toppings the way you would with a giant cake all on it’s own. You can go crazy or fancy, or maybe even go versatile like I did with these babies. One batch was topped with my favorite peanut butter frosting and crushed Nutter Butter cookies. The other batch was topped with chocolate mocha frosting and crushed Oreos.

Have fun with this. After all, the semester’s over and you deserve it. Enjoy.

Devil’s food cupcakes
Adapted from www.chockylit.blogspot.com
(Yields 24 cupcakes)

2 cups of flour
2 cups of suga
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon of ground instant coffee granules
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan with liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix all the ingredients except the eggs with a mixer. Beat on high for two minutes. Add eggs and beat on high for another two minutes.

3. Scoop the batter into the pan using an ice-cream scoop. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Peanut butter frosting
From CrepesofWrath.net

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 creamy peanut butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 more if needed
Crushed Nutter Butter cookies for garnish (optional)

1. Cream the butter in a mixing bowl for about three minutes. Then add the peanut butter and cream that with the butter for another minute or so.

2. Add in the powdered sugar and beat together using the lowest speed. (I used a handheld mixer, it worked fine.) Mix until incorporated.

3. Add in the powdered sugar and beat together until incorporated.

4. Add in the vanilla, then the buttermilk, one tablespoon at a time, until desire consistency has been reached. Beat together until light and fluffy. Top cupcakes with frosting and crushed if cookies.

Mocha chocolate frosting
From CrepesofWrath.net

6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temeperature
1 extra large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons water

1. Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan or pot of simmering water. This acts as your double boiler. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. (If it’s not cooled, you’ll end up with chocolate scrambled eggs.)

2. In a bowl, use an electric mixer (or a handheld one) and beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for three minutes.

3. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the powdered sugar, then beat medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy.

4. Dissolve the coffee powder in two teaspoons of hot tap water. Add the chocolate and coffee into the butter mixture and mix until blended, being careful not to over whip. Spread immediately on cooled cupcakes and top with crushed Oreos.

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