This week's assignment for Baked Sunday Mornings is Devil's Food Cake with Angel Frosting. The recipe is written to produce a two-layer, 8-inch round cake, but it also contains a note that it produces a great cupcakes. Since I was suffering from a bit of layer cake exhaustion (having already brought one into the office earlier this week to celebrate a birthday), I decided to go the cupcake route.
As far as recipes from Baked Explorations go, this one has a relatively low degree of difficulty. To make the cake, you cream together butter, sugar, and dark brown sugar, add in three eggs and vanilla, and then alternately incorporate sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt), with the remaining liquid ingredients (hot coffee poured over bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder, with milk whisked in). I was able to make 19 standard-sized cupcakes from one batch of batter, and they finished baking in 24 minutes at 350 degrees.
This frosting is unlike any I've ever made before -- first of all, it's fat free! It's very reminiscent of marshmallow, made by beating egg whites to soft peaks, adding sugar, and then slowly incorporating a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, and water that has been heated to 235 degrees. (I would not advise trying this without a candy thermometer -- there is no visible change in the heated sugar mixture to indicate that it has reached the proper temperature, and the recipe specifically warns you not to let the mixture exceed 235 degrees.) You whip the frosting for about 7 minutes until it's shiny and thick, and stir in vanilla at the end.
The recipe makes an enormous quantity of frosting. Usually when I convert a cake recipe to cupcakes, the amount of frosting that will fill and cover a 8- or 9-inch two-layer cake will also frost around 18 cupcakes. I made a double batch of cupcakes (over three dozen), and a single batch of frosting was sufficient to cover them all. I didn't put much frosting on each cupcake (mostly because I baked my cupcakes in deep tulip liners and was trying to keep the frosting from touching the liners), but after the tasting the finished cupcakes, I thought that the ratio of cupcake to frosting was about right.
The frosting is dense and creamy, bright white, sweet, and tasted a lot like the marshmallow filling that I use in a recipe for chocolate cupcakes with cream filling. Eating these cupcakes gave me the sensation of eating a cream-filled cupcake, except with the cream on top. At first, I thought the cupcakes looked a little boring with just pure white frosting, so I tried adding some chocolate shavings -- but there is also something very elegant about the stark contrast between the dark cupcake and the light frosting, so I think these look good even bare.
The cake is moist and tender, with a very deep chocolate-y flavor, certainly worthy of the devil's food moniker. Although the recipe states that the frosting tastes best within four hours of being made, I frosted my cupcakes the night before serving them, and they still tasted great the following morning. However, the frosting had definitely deteriorated by the end of the second day -- it still looked shiny and beautiful, but did not maintain its lovely creamy texture. So if you try this recipe, make sure you have enough willing and able tasters around to ensure that there will be no leftovers!
Recipe: "Devil's Food Cake with Angel Frosting" from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at BAKED Sunday Mornings.