Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Split Decision Cupcakes

Vanilla is the love of my life. It’s creamy, complex floral aroma... It’s sweet, luxurious addition to any baked good… It’s uncanny ability to enhance the flavor of whatever else you use it with (coffee, caramel, chocolate)…

Yep, in this house, vanilla most definitely rules. 

But I’m not the only taster in this household. The other love of my life gets first dibs on most treats. And he’s just gotta be difficult and be a chocolate fan. (And he really prefers chocolate cake heated up and covered in butter…)

So what do you do when you want to make everyone happy, but not have to make four dozen cupcakes? Of course, Split Decision Cupcakes!

Now that’s satisfaction in cake form.

With the opposing sides of vanilla and chocolate, I needed a frosting that would go with both.

I love chocolate covered cherries. He loves chocolate and butter. I love maraschino cherries on vanilla ice cream. He loves chocolate and butter.

So cherry Swiss meringue buttercream works perfectly. He gets the buttery deliciousness to top his half. I get the cherry creaminess to top my half.

Normally I make everything using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It’s my underappreciated workhorse. The other other love of my life. But with two batters and a frosting to make, it’s not worth the time to wash it. I used a handheld mixer for these cakes, saving my stand mixer for the frosting.

But you don’t have to be like me. And if you like using multiple bowls just because you can taste test as you go, I won’t tell. It’s called “quality control” for a reason.

Split Decision Cupcakes

For the vanilla cake: 
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a medium bowl (or in a stand mixer), cream butter and sugar until pale yellow in color. Add egg and yolks, one at a time, beating well between additions.
4. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter/eggs. Scrape well and add buttermilk and vanilla. Add remaining flour mixture.

Set batter to the side and prepare chocolate cake.

For the Chocolate Cake: 
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c granulated sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 c warm water
1/2 c buttermilk
1 large egg (or 2 egg whites – from the vanilla cake)

1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk or fork to remove any lumps.
2. Add all liquid ingredients. Mix on medium speed for approximately 3 minutes or until batter is smooth and glossy. (Batter will be considerably loose compared to the vanilla batter.) 
3. For better control, pour batter into a large liquid measuring cup. 

For divided cupcakes: 
1. Using either a small disher (size 100) or two spoons, fill cupcake liners with approximately two tablespoons of vanilla batter. Make an effort to keep the batter on one side of the cup.
2. Pour an equal amount of chocolate batter on the other side of the cup.

3. Repeat with remaining batter. If you use all of one batter before the other (I had extra chocolate), fill liners two-thirds full.
4. Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

I used this Swiss Meringue Buttercream (divided in half), with the substitution of 3
tablespoons of kirschwasser (or kirsch), a cherry brandy, for the vanilla extract.

So spread a little Valentine’s cheer. Keep you both happy.