Published March 1, 2005.
Why settle for faint flavor from a mix when homemade cupcakes are not much more work?
Store-bought mixes don't deliver rich chocolate flavor, but homemade versions can take a lot of time.
We wanted the consummate chocolate cupcake--one with a rich, buttery flavor, a light, moist, cakey texture, and just the right amount of sugar--but we wanted it to be almost as quick and easy to make as the cupcakes that come from a box.
In the test kitchen, we'd already discovered an incredibly easy and quick melted-butter method for mixing muffins, quick breads, and brownies--a method that requires no mixer and no time spent waiting for butter to soften. The same procedure won out over the more conventional creaming method for our cupcakes, delivering a light texture with a tender, fine crumb. Moving on to tackle our desire for deep chocolate flavor, we found that a combination of cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate worked best and that mixing the cocoa powder with the butter and chocolate as they melted (rather than adding the cocoa to the dry ingredients) made the chocolate flavor even stronger and richer. Sour cream gave our cupcakes moistness and a little tang, while just the right amounts of baking soda and baking powder helped them rise to a gently domed shape that was perfect for frosting.list of recipes