This recipe for the most delicious of chocolate cupcakes with pink American buttercream — piped into rosettes with an Ateco 867 tip — is from my friend Amanda Faber’s new fab cake book, Cake Portfolio. Amanda is a cake “artist,” in case you did not know, and the book is filled with different cakes, frostings and design ideas that you can mix and match to your heart’s content. In fact, Amanda does not have a recipe in the book that calls for her chocolate cake (in the form of cupcakes) with her American buttercream (in the color pink) piped into rosettes. In other words, I went rogue peeps, and I think Amanda is more than okay with that (she basically insists you do so).
So, I developed this double chocolate zucchini cake recipe a few weeks ago, in anticipation of a farm dinner at which I was expected to bring dessert. I posted a pic of my efforts on Instagram, and sight-unseen, I had folks demanding the recipe. Awfully nice when that happens, and so I felt obliged to post about this cake a wee bit sooner than I had intended.
Okay, so the making of this cake came about at a friend’s request. I am not — nor have I ever been — the person who would, left to her own devices, make a gluten and dairy free birthday cake. I’ve nothing against either the gluten-free or dairy-free sweets movement, but when I think about a sweet I want to make, I tend not to go in the what-can-I-“free”-this dessert-from direction. I think more about “with what can I encumber it?” More brown sugar? More egg yolks? More heavy cream? You get the idea.
My chocolate whoopie pies got a xmas make-over, peeps, and suffice is to say my ten-year old taste tester went kind of berserk. And I mean that in the best way. Chocolate and peppermint are his favorite flavor combo, candy canes one of his favorite candies, these particular peppermint Newman O’s, his favorite store-bought cookie, and the peppermint chocolate icebox cake from the book Icebox Cakes, his favorite cake. (Full disclosure: his mom wrote said book and he’s likely a tad biased).
I have never been a big fan of pumpkin. I don’t fancy a pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, a pumpkin cheesecake, or even a pumpkin bread. But a pumpkin whoopie pie? Those, I have to say, I kind of really love. Whoopie pies are hands-down one of my favorite things. I adore the ratio of filling (ie: frosting) to pie (ie: cake). I love the size, the portability, and the easy prep. When I worked at the bakery, we made a lot of whoopie pies. Back then (yes, this was about 100 years ago) whoopie pies were just beginning their comeback (although, in my mind, they were never gone) and Baked offered a variety of flavors (as they still do). Chocolate whoopie pies were, of course, my favorite, but I have to say the pumpkin ones totally won me over.
It’s no secret that I have a soft spot for a cake made from a mix. I went into some detail about my love for boxed cakes here, but what I have not yet shared with you is my affection for a particular cake-mix cake — one that is no longer available, and one that I ate growing up (and by “growing up” I mean before, during, and after college). The cake in question was Betty Crocker’s Stir’n Frost and it appealed to me on a myriad of levels: It was an incredibly delicious fluffy, moist cake, with creamy sweet frosting (I was partial to the chocolate one with the vanilla icing). It came with its own pan, AND with a packet of frosting. You made the cake right in the pan by adding water to the mix and stirring (hence the name) and then frosted it with the packet once it emerged from the oven. Truth be told, I ate many a Stir’n Frost cake when it was still warm and the frosting kind of melty (umh, yum). This chocolate sheet cake with old-school buttercream frosting is my ode to the Stir’n Frost.