Half-Birthday Cupcakes

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Babies are cute. I oughta know, I’ve had three of them. My latest installment was a baby boy, six months ago. His name is Miles. He’s been the sweetest, cutest and most patient of my three. He smiles and giggles at anything and sleeps mostly through the night. You couldn’t ask for much more out of a baby other than that he sleeps through the night, trust me. Sleep-deprivation is not fun.

I have breastfed my babies exclusively for the first six months of their lives (and weaned at 18 months), and on their six-month birthdays I have given them their first tastes of solid foods. Yesterday, the 24th, was Miles’ six-month birthday and we had a great day.

Miles had mashed bananas as his first food.

Well, he at least tried it. Not much of it got in. But generally the entire experience was a blast for him.

We spent the morning making cupcakes for the occasion as well, of course. We went pretty simple with chocolate and vanilla, but we made them a little bit more fancy by adding dark chocolate pieces to the chocolate cake batter, and adding vanilla bean paste to the buttercream. The tiny blue sugar hearts were the finishing touch. You can find these at Little Betsy Baker.

These were so cute, and tasted great too. I used Green & Black’s organic cocoa powder to make these cupcakes, which is the first time I’ve used anything organic in my cupcakes. Honestly, I’m skeptical about higher quality cocoa making baked goods taste better. I couldn’t taste anything exceptional in these cupcakes when compared to a standard cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s.

The method of preparing this cupcake batter is similar to that of making a muffin, and for me, the resulting cupcake is more muffin-like rather than cupcake-like, if you know what I mean.

What do you think about high-quality versus average-quality cocoa powders? Does it make a difference in the taste?

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Woolworth’s Fresh magazine
Makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, chopped

Method
Preheat oven to 200C (400F) .  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Melt butter and 100g coarsely chopped dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Cool.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter and chocolate mixture, eggs, milk and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined.  Pour into flour mixture along with 100g chopped dark chocolate.  Stir gently, just until combined.

Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake 15-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes enough to generously frost 12-16 cupcakes

Ingredients
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Method
Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high). Add vanilla, and beat until buttercream is smooth. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days (bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using).

Happy half-birthday to my little boy, I look forward to many more!

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Comments

  1. sue says

    The very very best time I had with my kids is when they started to eat solid food.It’s so funny to see the faces on them when they try something good,or something they don’t care for :)
    your cupcakes look yummy,I think I’ll have a go!

  2. Memoria says

    The first photo of your son is hilarious!! I’ve had those moments before. Too cute!!! Happy 6-month birthday to your son!!

    I have tried high-quality chocolate vs. low-quality chocolate, but not different chocolate powders well except for Droste dutch cocoa. I notice a difference in taste with different chocolates. The high quality versions taste more pure; you don’t taste anything but (what seems to be) pure chocolate. It has a less chalky taste. However, I still don’t like Scharffenberger, but I love Callebaut and Valhrona.

    As far as the difference between Droste dutch cocoa and cheap, regular cocoa, I’ve never tasted a difference. The dutch cocoa just looked darker and made my desserts darker. I’m sure a chocolate connoisseur would quickly disagree with me, though haha.

  3. Amanda says

    Adorable. :)

    Cute cupcakes too. And… I made blue velvet cupcakes this weekend with a friend. She had Valhrona cocoa and we used that… I didn’t notice a different but we didn’t use all that much either.

  4. Carolyn Jung says

    I think you taste the difference more in cocoa powders the more of it you use in a recipe and the fewer other things that embellish it. For instance, a cup of cocoa or a plain chocolate cake without frosting is when I think you can really taste the depth of chocolate flavor a really good cocoa powder can have.

  5. harcout breton says

    This is absolutely sinful. I like the hint of vanilla beans extract here. I could I imagine the scent, just mouth watering. Thanks for the recipe, definitely gonna give it a shot.

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