The perfect cupcake


Well, I think I can conclude that I am on a bit of a baking kick at the moment.  The irony of course being that following New Year’s, most people resolve to have less sweets in their lives.  But thus far I’ve been doing a pretty good job of “disposing” of the various desserts in places other than my thighs.  Most recently, I made a batch of what has become a staple in my repertoire: chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  It is easily one of my strongest, most mouthwatering offerings.  This is likely due to the lovely chocolate cake recipe I have, entitled “Presto! Chocolate cake” from the Mousewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook, given to me by the Greek’s dear mother.  It is one of many cookbooks distributed by Mousewood Restaurant, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant located in Ithaca, NY.  They certainly have plenty of recipes to spare, considering that their menu changes daily, and just the one cookbook I own comes with many delectable, granola-friendly goodies such as a “Carmelized onion tart”, “Greek stuffed zucchini”, and about five different recipes for grits.

Now, because chocolate is a magical thing, I have tried my fair share of chocolate cake recipes, including one from that calls for strong, black coffee and is denser than lead when finished.  So, I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the matter.  Furthermore, the Mousewood recipe receives, by far, the most compliments for its moistness and chocolatey-ness from the various human guinea pigs I’ve served it to.  It is the unanimous winner!

I struggled with whether or not to publicize their recipe in my blog.  After all, it isn’t officially available anywhere online.  But it has been previously published in at least two other blogs before me.  The recipe also includes a glaze that I don’t include here, I do my own little touches here and there, and I think I give them their due credit.  So, I have decided it is just unobjectionable enough to pass muster (I’m a scientist and am therefore compelled to cite everything: a reflex, at this point, as habitual as breathing!).  The recipe can be found below as well as the link to the frosting recipe I used which uses less butter and a touch of sour cream making it a little more tart than others.  Note: this can be a tad jarring to those more accustomed to the sugar shit you buy in plastic canisters at the grocery store that I clearly have an unfavorable opinion on.  Enjoy!


Presto! Chocolate cake

1 c. unbleached white flour

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 c brown sugar

2 large eggs

¾ c water

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ Cream cheese frosting recipe

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter and dust with flour an 8- or 9-in. cake pan
  2. In large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
  3. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time and blend well after each addition
  4. In small bowl, combine water and vanilla.  Add flavored water by thirds to the creamed mixture, alternating with flour mixture and beating after each addition
  5. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake until a knife inserted in center comes  out clean and cake begins to pull away from the sides, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes

Makes one cake round or about a dozen cupcakes so double the recipe for a layer cake



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