Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cake:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 extra-large egg *
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbl instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 325°F with the rack in the middle. Fill a cupcake pan with twelve liners.
Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk by hand to thoroughly combine.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the egg, milk, oil, vanilla extract and espresso/water mixture. Whisk by hand to combine. Pour this mixture over the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Pour this batter into a large measuring cup or a small pitcher, or anything with a spout. Pour the batter evenly into the cupcake liners, filling each about 2/3 full.
Bake until puffed and springy, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, then using a butter knife to lift the cupcakes, remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool on the wire rack to room temperature.
* I most always find myself with only large eggs on hand, which can make for a sticky situation here. Rather than using one large egg, which would be too little, or using two large eggs, which would be too much, I try to use one and a half eggs. It sounds a bit sketchy, I know, and there’s no exact science to cutting an egg in half, but just try your best. It’s not the end of the world if you just want to use two large eggs in place of the one extra-large egg. But I always like the challenge of splitting the egg :).
For the white frosting:
2 Tbl butter, room temperature
2 Tbl shortening, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbl water
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbl light corn syrup
Wait until the cupcakes are room temperature before starting the frosting. Add the room temperature butter and shortening to the bowl of a stand mixer. (I can’t tell you how important it is that these are room temperature!) Mix on high until well blended and creamy, about two minutes. Add the powdered sugar, water, vanilla, salt and corn syrup. Beat on low speed to combine, then beat on high for five minutes until very fluffy.
Scoop the frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a medium-sized pointy tip. Stick the tip into the top center of each cupcake and squeeze to fill the cupcakes with about a tablespoon or so of frosting. It’s hard to tell for sure how much frosting gets in there, but I usually squeeze it until the top of the cupcake just begins to crack. Reserve the rest of the icing in the pastry bag, for the squiggle on top.
For the chocolate frosting:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Combine the cream, espresso powder and salt in a small sauce pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place the chocolate chips in a medium mixing bowl. When the cream boils, remove it from the heat and pour it into the mixing bowl over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it set for about 3-5 minutes, until the chocolate melts. Mix with a rubber spatula, stirring until smooth. (At this point, the mixture looks a little too thin for frosting, but once you frost the cupcakes, it will stiffen up almost immediately.)
Liberally frost the cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. Change the tip on the pastry bag to a smaller circular hole tip, then pipe the white frosting in a squiggle pattern across the center top of the cupcake. Keep at room temperature, in an air-tight container until ready to serve. These are best served the day they are made.
SERVED AT THIS DINNER PARTY