My dad hosted a holiday party for his work team and some of his agency associates last Thursday, so I offered to help at the party, and make some special Christmas cupcakes for the occasion. My mom made tons of delicious food and baked goodies for the party, so my contribution paled in comparison, but the party gave me an excuse to bake mid-week and try a new decorating technique! Even though fall classes are officially over (YAY!), I didn't have a ton of time Wednesday night, so I decided to use a perfect cake-mix cupcake recipe from Hello, Cupcake!
Hello, Cupcake! cookbook
The recipe uses devil's food cake mix, substitutes buttermilk for water, four eggs instead of three and vegetable oil. The buttermilk cuts the sweetness and gives the cupcake the homemade flavor, and the extra egg improves the structure of the cupcake. According to the cookbook, cupcakes made from this variation on store-bought mixes cook up evenly without sinkholes or soft spots in the middle, and you get a nice firm surface that doesn't pull apart when you start frosting. The book recommends that you find a cake mix that doesn't contain pudding in the mix. I wasn't able to find a devil's food mix without pudding, so I went ahead and bought the Pillsbury mix with pudding and thought it tasted great and found it to be very moist. I did notice that the tops of the cupcakes pulled a bit when I frosted them, but if your careful its not much of an issue.
1 box (18.25 ounces) cake mix (French vanilla, devil's food, or yellow)
1 cup buttermilk (in place of the water called for on the box)
Vegetable oil (the amount on the box)
4 large eggs (in place of the number called for on the box)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. Follow the box instructions, putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and using the buttermilk in place of the water specified (the box will call for more water than the amount of buttermilk that you are using), using the amount of vegetable oil that iscalled for (typically, white or yellow cakes call for 1/3 cup; the chocolate cakes usually call for 1/2 cup), and adding the eggs. Beat with an electric mixer until moistened, about 30 seconds Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.
3. Fill the paper liners two-thirds full. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pans, place on a wire rack, and allow to cool completely.
The final result...
I decorated the cupcakes with buttercream icing that I flavored with peppermint extract and bits of chocolate peppermint candy canes. I'll post the recipe for the frosting in my next post. I need to head out to do some Christmas shopping!