Ella and Hailey turned thirteen last weekend, so I took the opportunity to improve my double chocolate cupcake game. In the past, they’ve been good but not great, and they needed some thought and effort beyond just using my standard chocolate layer cake recipe. I’m happy to report, the slight tweaking of ingredients and the addition of the mini chocolate chips did the trick. Super chocolatey and moist (sorry, I know moist is a cringy word for some, but there is no better synonym – I looked), they passed the Ella test with ease.
Of course, I can’t believe my little butterflies are teenagers (insert enormous eye rolls from both girls here). I do, however, feel more ready for this milestone than I anticipated. Slowly, appropriately, they are leaving their little girl world behind and navigating their way into more independence. We’re all learning to pick our battles, set boundaries, give grace, and give lots of space. As with everything, some days are easier than others, but we still all like each other a lot, and you can’t ask for much more than that.
I am grateful for the zillions of photos we took that transport me back to some of the sweetest days of my life. I will try not to be sad those days are gone and, instead, remember them with a light, happy heart. We have many more sweet days to look forward to as a family.
Happy thirteenth birthday, Ella and Hailey! Thanks for giving me my very own, much-needed Return to Pooh Corner on February 1, 2007. Best day ever. (Full disclosure, I’ve had to collect myself from a full-on mama-sob before finishing this post).
Double Chocolate Cupcakes
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use an organic sunflower/coconut oil blend)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips plus more for sprinkling
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar plus 2% or whole milk to equal 1 cup)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1/2 cup hot (not boiling) water or hot coffee
1 batch Cocoa Buttercream Frosting
*Adding hot liquid to a chocolate cake batter helps the cocoa powder to dissolve properly. The coffee will add a little more depth to the chocolate flavor, but water will suffice.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Prepare muffin/cupcake tins (for 24 cupcakes). I like to line them with paper liners then lightly coat the pan with cooking spray to ensure the batter doesn’t spill over and stick to the top.
Combine sugar, butter, and oil in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat well with electric beaters; if you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.
Once the mixture is looking light and fluffy, add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly combined.
In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Place the mini chocolate chips in a small bowl and add about two tablespoons of the flour/cocoa mixture. Stir to coat the chips. (This helps to prevent the chocolate chips from sinking while baking). Set aside to add at the end.
Have your flour/cocoa mixture and buttermilk ready to add to the butter mixture.
Add 1/3 of the flour/cocoa mixture to the butter mixture, beat until thoroughly combined. Then, add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and beat until thoroughly combined. Repeat these steps, ending with the last of the flour/cocoa mixture.
Mix in the vanilla extract and hot water or hot coffee.
Finally, add the chocolate chips, mixing or folding in just enough to combine. You don’t want to overmix the batter at this point.
Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full of batter. A standard size ice cream scoop works well.
Bake in preheated 350-degree F oven for 17 – 20 minutes. (Oven temps can vary so check the cupcakes after 15 minutes. If they spring back to your touch or an inserted toothpick comes out clean, they are done!)
Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 5 – 10 minutes, then remove them, placing them on a sheet pan or cooling rack to cool completely before frosting. If you need them to cool quickly, you may use the refrigerator.
Once cooled, spread or pipe the frosting on the cupcakes and sprinkle them with mini chocolate chips (and colored sprinkles if you like).
Tip: If you’re not serving cupcakes right away, (any cupcakes, not just these), they will benefit from being kept in the refrigerator or even the freezer for a short time. They will stay fresher, and the humidity will add a little moisture. Just be sure to bring them to room temp before serving.