Classroom chocolate cupcakes

The first order of business today is announcing the winner of the cookie cutters and Fudges biscuits. I put the names of all the eligible entrants into a hat and the winner was… Sarah! Sarah, I’m sending you an email.

Now, onto cupcakes for a crowd. Cupcakes are not a common occurrence in my kitchen. I find them a little precious, a little overdone. I’d rather eat a big, fat, honking slice of cake. Sometimes, though, cupcakes really are the best option. Sensibly-sized, individually portioned and easily transportable in the right container, they are perfect for celebrating with a big group, especially a class group.

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With class sizes being what they are these days, a standard 24 cupcake recipe won’t always do. Nope, you’re more likely to need 30 (if not more – eek!). This recipe is perfect because it makes 30 kid-sized cupcakes. Not too big, not too sweet and not slathered in junky, fake buttercream. These cakes were apparently a big hit with the 13 year old girls I made them for, but they would be just as appropriate for an end-of-year party in a classroom full of 5 year olds (or heck, even a university lecture theatre full of adults).

Of course, you’re probably not allowed to bring cupcakes to 5 year olds anymore, are you? On the grounds of ‘health and safety’, gluten and dairy allergies, and all the nutritional evils that can lurk in a cupcake. At least these don’t have nuts in them. I may have no regard for kids’ health, but even I’m not stupid enough to suggest taking nuts to a school!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes 30 cupcakes

I find that there can be quite a bit of variation in the size of cupcake liners between countries. If you are using standard American ones (which measure 2″ across the bottom) then fill the liners a bit more than half full. If you’ve got the slightly smaller size often available in England (about 1.5″ – seen in the photos) then fill them 2/3 full.

2 cups all purpose (plain) flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated or caster sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
3.5 oz (100 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (at least 70% cocoa solids)

Ganache glaze:
7 oz (200 g) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or half bittersweet and half milk chocolate)
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Line muffin tins with 30 paper cupcake liners. If you don’t have enough tins, you can bake the cupcakes in batches.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for about 2 minutes, until everything is blended together. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add half the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear. Now add the buttermilk, mixing until incorporated, then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate and mix it in with the rubber spatula. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling them just over halfway.

Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are dry and springy to the touch and a knife inserted into one of the centres comes out clean. Transfer the muffin pan to a rack and let them cool for 5 minutes before unmoulding. Repeat with the rest of the batter. If you are only making 6 cupcakes in your final baking, you can fill the remaining 6 cups with a bit of water to prevent the pan from scorching or warping.

To make the glaze, melt the chocolate in a saucepan over very low heat, constantly stirring. Transfer the saucepan to the counter and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a small whisk or spatula, add the salt and stir the pieces of cold butter into the chocolate. The glaze may be nice and spreadable at this point; if it’s too thin, refrigerate briefly until it reaches a thicker consistency. Using a knife, ice the cupcakes with the ganache once they are completely cool.