a recipe for delicious living
Devil's Food Cupcakes or Cake Layers
(June 7, 2007)
...submit your question to Lauren!
Judy asked Lauren:
Love all your cupcake ideas, but need a little extra advice of how to
make and ice 200 cupcakes for a Saturday afternoon event when we'll be
crazy busy starting Friday noon. How early can we bake the cupcakes? How
early can we frost or ice? What's the best way to store the finished cupcakes?
We're thinking of two kinds of cupcakes: carrot and chocolate. Do you
have any good (and easy!) chocolate cupcake and frosting recipes? Would
icing be faster, easier than frosting? Any other decorating tips to make
the cupcakes easy but elegant?
Hope I haven't asked too many questions.
Well, since I'm not a caterer, I'm not really the best one to give long-winded
advice on baking and icing 200 cupcakes for an event. I will say, though,
that since I've always made my chocolate cupcakes from my homemade
Buttermilk Pancake Mix, it makes sense for you to do that too, since the mix can
be made way ahead, saving you some time when you want to make the actual
cupcakes. The best part is that this mix makes the most delicious chocolate
cupcakes (and layer cakes, too)! Having said this, although highly convenient,
you don't need to make the mix in bulk since I also provide the incremental
ingredients to achieve a single batch.
Before we talk about icings versus frostings, let me address the
timing involved with baking such a large number of cupcakes, in the most
time and energy efficient way. If using the mix, since doubling
"baking" recipes can be tricky, I suggest making several individual batches
of batter over a two day time period, since the cupcakes can be stored
well covered, at room temperature, for two days before serving. If you
have the room, you can also freeze them for up to one month, stored in
layers, separated by sheets of wax paper, in a rectangular plastic tub.
(Although this is a helpful tip when making cupcakes ahead for a child's
birthday party, it's highly unusual for a person to have enough freeze
space for 200 cupcakes.)
As far as which is easiest, frosting cupcakes or glazing them, I'd have
to say glazing is best, when looking to do things ahead. Since many frostings
are perishable, you'd need to have a lot of refrigerator space to accommodate
so many cupcakes. Glazes, on the other hand, are quick to apply (no spreading,
just dunking the tops), they're easy to decorate and, when "set" they
are able to be kept out at room temperature until serving. Glazed cupcakes,
once fully set, can also be individually wrapped, without the risk of
the glaze sticking to the plastic. This is very helpful, if planning to
sell the cupcakes at a school fair, etc.
Keep toppings "fun." Unless you're making cupcakes for
a home-based party, I suggest keeping the decorative toppings to things
considered whimsical as opposed to elegant. Personally, I've made chocolate
cupcakes, glazed in chocolate and topped with fresh raspberries (a gorgeous
presentation) but, since any fresh fruits, edible flowers, etc. are considered
perishable and need to be refrigerated, combined with the fact that any
decorative adornments need to be applied to the tops of glazed cupcakes
when the glaze is still wet (or they won't adhere), this option would
only create more last minute havoc on your timing for this large, out-of-home
Some unusual and nonperishable toppings for glazed cupcakes:
Crushed cookie crumbs, chopped cocktail peanuts, quartered Reese's Peanut
Butter Cups or crushed Heath Bar candy (but know your audience, because
of allergies), gummy bears (or worms), jelly beans, gum drops, colored
jimmies, toasted coconut, and or grind one or two cupcakes in the food
processor and cover the glaze with the crumbs for a "furry" effect, crushed
Here is the recipe for my Devil's Food Cupcakes (and Cake Layers)
with two different glazes. Enjoy.
Devil's Food Cupcakes or Cake Layers
Yield: 18 to 24 cupcakes or two 9-inch layers
Buttermilk Pancake and Cake Mix proves to be the hero. Whether
the cocoa-laced batter is baked into two dark cake layers or lots of tender
cupcakes, you won't be disappointed. When baked, this batter tastes like
a "Devil Dog"… Oh, if you ever run out of batter when making cupcakes,
just fill the empty cups half- full with very hot tap water and they'll
bake just fine. When wanting to top cupcakes with a shiny glaze instead
of a fluffy
Chocolate Butter Frosting, I've provided instructions to make
both, a Chocolate and Vanilla Glaze at the end of this recipe. Any time
I've suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that's
unfamiliar to you, you can go to
to get more information.
For the cake or cupcake batter:
- About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, for brushing or use
flavorless vegetable spray
- 2 tablespoons plain cake flour, to dust the cake pans
- 2 ½ cups prepared
Buttermilk Pancake & Cake Mix or see the end of this recipe
- ½ cup sifted non-alkalized (not Dutch-processed) unsweetened cocoa powder,
sifted before measuring (see the sidebar)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 extra-large eggs, made tepid by submerging in a bowl of very hot tap
water for 10 minutes
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ cups buttermilk, for cupcakes and 1 1/2 cups for cake layers
- 1 ½ cups semisweet mini chocolate chips, chopped a bit smaller in the food
processor (optional and only for cupcakes)
1) To make layer cakes: Brush two 9-inch
cake pans (1 ½-inches deep) generously with melted butter and line
them with a round of parchment. Grease the paper, and then dust the pan
with flour, tilting to coat the interior evenly. Shake out the excess
flour by rapping the pan, hard, on the side of the sink.
2) If making cupcakes: Spray the tops of two standard
12-cup muffin tins (or one 12-cup and one 6-cup tin) with vegetable spray
and line the cups with paper liners. (The number of tins needed will depend
on whether or not you're using the optional chocolate chips. Also, if
you're not using the prepared pancake mix and instead, you're using the
dry mixture offered at the end of this recipe, you'll yield 24 cupcakes.)
If using one oven, and making cupcakes, position the racks to the upper
and lower shelves. If making two cake layers, try to fit them on the center
shelf together. If working with a double oven, it's also best to bake
the cupcake tins separately, in the center of the oven. Either way, preheat
the temperature to 350°F.
3) To assemble the batter: Whisk the pancake mix with
the baking soda and sifted cocoa, or assemble the dry mixture at the end
of this recipe. Using an electric mixer, beat the softened butter and
shortening with the sugar, eggs, and vanilla (all at once), until light.
Stop the machine and, using a sturdy rubber spatula, scrape up the butter
mixture from the bottom of the bowl and beat again, briefly. Turn off
the machine and, all at once, add the dry mixture and 1 ½ cups
buttermilk for cake layers (or 1 ¼ cups for cupcakes), and beat
on low for 1 full minute, to incorporate well. Stop the machine and scrape
down the sides of the bowl, then beat on a moderately high speed (setting
#6 on a KitchenAid) for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, until very light and
fluffy. If making a large number of cupcakes, and not using the homemade
"mix," it's best to make several individual batches of batter, as opposed
to doubling the ingredients.
4) If making cupcakes: Fold in the mini chocolate chips
and use a medium-sized ice cream scoop or a large spoon to ration the
batter between the cupcake tins, filling each cup only ¾ full,
(if you have a few unused cups, fill those half full with very hot water).
Bake cupcakes for 20 to 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out "just
clean," without allowing them to become dry. If baking both cupcake tins
in the same oven, switch their positions half-way through baking. Remove
the tins from the oven and let them sit on a rack, for 5 minutes. One
by one, carefully lift each cupcake out and let them stand on a rack,
to cool before applying a glaze or frosting to the tops.
5) If baking cake layers: Divide the batter between your
prepared cake pans and, using a small metal spreader, smooth the top.
Bake the layers in the center of the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes
(cakes will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and feel springy
at the top center. Don't worry if the tops look a bit irregular, since
they will be inverted and used flat- bottoms up.) Place two wire cooling
racks, preferably nonstick and without a center pleat, on the counter.
Place the cake layers, in their pans, on 2 additional wire racks (any
kind) and let them sit for 5 minutes, before inverting them, bottoms up,
onto the nonstick racks. Cool cake layers, completely, this way.
If you don't have the pre-assembled pancake mix: Whisk
2 ½ cups of cake flour with 2 scant teaspoons baking soda,
½ teaspoon salt, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and ½ cup nonalkalized
cocoa powder. Sift this into another bowl. Increase the sugar to 1 2/3
Chocolate and Vanilla Glazes for Cupcakes
For the Chocolate Glaze:
1) To make the chocolate glaze: Place 3 ½ cups of sifted powdered
sugar in a glass mixing bowl. Melt the chopped chocolate either in the top
of a double boiler over barely simmering water stirring constantly, or in
the microwave, on high, for about 1 minute, stirring after heating until
perfectly smooth. Stir the chocolate into the sugar along with the light
corn syrup, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in 5 tablespoons boiling water.
If too thick to spread, add more boiling water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
If it ever becomes too thin, stir in some more powdered sugar. When right,
the mixture should be dark and thick but pour-able and very smooth and shiny.
Set this aside.
- 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sift before measuring), or more,
- 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 6 generous tablespoons light corn syrup, or more, if needed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons flavorless vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 5 to 7 tablespoons boiling water, as needed
For the Vanilla Glaze:
- 3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (sift before measuring), or more,
- 3 generous tablespoons light corn syrup, or more, if needed
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons milk, or more, as needed
2) To make the vanilla glaze: Place 3 ½ cups of sifted
powdered sugar in a glass mixing bowl and add the light corn syrup, vanilla,
and milk. Mix until perfectly smooth. If too fluid, add more sugar or, if
too dry, add a more few drops of milk. When right, the mixture should be
bright white, quite thick, and very smooth and shiny. Set it aside.
3) To apply the glazes: Tear off two long slightly overlapping
sheets of wax paper and lay them on your counter. Place two wire cooling
racks over the paper and stand the cupcakes, side by side, on the racks.
Working with one cupcake at a time, lift and dip the top of a cupcake into
the glaze of your choice. Turn the cupcake right side up and place it on
the rack. Continue with the rest. Starting over, re-dip each cupcake (starting
with those dipped first) and place them back on the racks. When finished,
each cupcake should be lavishly coated on top with one of the glazes. (If
desired, make both glazes (cutting one of the recipes in half) and use the
smaller batch to drizzle decoratively on top of the first batch of glaze.)
4) To adorn glazed cupcakes: If planning to place colored
jimmies, gumdrops, shredded coconut, etc. on top of the glazed cupcakes,
do it while the glaze is still wet. Once set, these toppings will no longer
5) Let the glaze on the cupcakes set: If planning to wrap
individually, let the glazed cupcakes sit on their racks, uncovered, until
the glaze is completely set (it will feel firm and no longer sticky), which
can take a few hours, even on a dry day. When set, the cupcakes can be wrapped
individually in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to two
days. Alternatively, if planning to frost the cupcakes,
or if glazing them and wanting to store them in groups, place the cupcakes
in a single layer in a cake boxes or rectangular plastic tubs, with enough
headroom for the cupcakes to sit freely without touching the top of the
box or tub. If using a whipped frosting with perishable ingredients, the
cupcakes can be kept at a comfortable room temperature for a several hours.
Refrigerate for longer periods and bring to room temperature before serving.
Timing is Everything
- Always having the pancake / cupcake mix on hand is a real time saver.
- The cake layers and cupcakes can be made one day ahead of applying frosting (and
then one more day, after being glazed) and kept at room temperature (refrigerated if
using a perishable frosting), covered well with plastic wrap. Place the cooled cake
layers on two separate cake discs (keeping them bottoms-up) before covering them.
- The cake layers or cupcakes can be made 2 weeks ahead (not glazed or frosted) and
kept in the freezer, well covered. Keep cupcakes right side up and in layers, in a
securely covered rectangular plastic tub, in between sheets of wax paper. Thaw
overnight at room temperature, in their original container.
- The glazes can be fully assembled one day ahead and kept refrigerated, well covered.
Bring the white glaze to room temperature before using, and reheat the chocolate glaze,
very briefly, whisking, just to loosen it to a spreading consistency.
Questions for Lauren Groveman's Kitchen:
Lauren Groveman recipes have been featured
in many national magazines and local newspapers. Her books "The
I love to Cook Book: Rediscovering the Joy of Cooking for Family and Friends"
and "Lauren Groveman's Kitchen, Nurturing Food
for Family and Friends" are available through
For in depth information on Lauren Groveman as a writer, teacher, TV &
radio host, as well as her recipes and cooking tips visit her website at
Lauren is a Larchmont resident. She is happily married and
blessed with three wonderful children.