From my story, “Nostalgia: Not Just for Luddites Anymore”
Yield: 12 cupcakes
I. The Cupcakes
½ cup (1 stick) butter or butter substitute, softened
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/3 cup milk
1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup cocoa powder
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup hot tap water
Prepare a twelve cup cupcake / muffin pan by lining with paper cupcake liners. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter on medium high speed until the butter has lightened, approximately three to four minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until they have absorbed into the mixture, approximately two to three minutes.
In a measuring cup, mix together the vanilla extract, milk, instant espresso powder stirring lightly until the espresso powder has dissolved. Add this to the butter and egg mixture and mix at medium speed until combined.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture, and continue to mix on low speed until the dry ingredients have begun to absorb into the wet ingredients.
Add the hot water and mix on low speed just until the water has combined with the other ingredients and the batter is uniformly smooth. If necessary, scrape the bowl and finish mixing with a rubber scraper.
Fill the cupcake liners to one half full. Bake in the pre heated oven for 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back lightly when touched, or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool for five to ten minutes in the pan, then remove and cool on a rack completely before proceeding.
II. The Chocolate Glaze
3 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate
¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
½ cup milk
On top of a double boiler (or glass bowl set on top of a small saucepan with 1” of simmering water) melt the chocolate.
When the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the sugar and milk until the mixture is smooth and still liquid.
Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes in the glaze, and return them to the rack. Allow the glaze to set, about a half hour. The glaze will smooth slightly and become matte as it sets.
III. Boiled Frosting (Italian Meringue)
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
2 large egg whites
½ tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites and salt until frothy.
In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the sugar and water over medium-high heat until it begins to boil.
While the sugar is boiling, continue whipping the egg whites until they reach the soft peak stage.
When the sugar reaches the soft ball stage, 238˚F on the candy thermometer, carefully transfer it to a glass jug.
Continue whipping the egg whites at high speed while slowly and carefully pouring the hot sugar syrup into the mixing bowl. Let the mixer continue to run for another six or seven minutes.
Add the vanilla extract and mix on high speed just until combined.
Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a #6 plain tip. Pipe a ring around the edge of the cupcake.