I have a confession to make--I'm a big fan of boxed chocolate cake mixes. Since I've taken an interest in cooking and baking my own stuff, I haven't used a mix in a long while and I kind of miss it. I've tried to make chocolate cake from scratch, following a couple of different recipes, but they've all been wrong, wrong, wrong for a variety of reasons. They weren't moist enough, not sweet enough, not chocolately enough, not fluffy enough. The list goes on.

My search for just-the-right chocolate cake recipe continued this past Tuesday when I made a chocolate cake base for the ice cream cupcakes that I put together for my mom's birthday. This time I followed the chocolate layer cake recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I had pretty high expectations of Mark Bittman; he's a NY Times Dining columnist, he has a blog I visit fairly often, and he wrote a book (the one in question) that people compare with the Joy of Cooking.

Did the recipe live up to the hype? No, but that might have been my fault. I didn't realize that each square of the Ghiradelli chocolate baking bars were only 1/2 ounce instead of one ounce, so I added half the chocolate that the recipe required. I cut back on both the butter and sugar, and I used reduced-fat sour cream. Plus, I'm not sure if my folding technique was up to snuff. The end result of all these factors was bad cupcakes. They looked beautiful and puffed up perfectly, but the taste and texture were off. They were dry and didn't have enough chocolate flavor. I'll try this recipe again before I came to a final verdict, but I'll have to follow it much more closely.

Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcakes (adapted from How to Cook Everything)


  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two regular-sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Melt the chocolate, and stir until a smooth consistency is achieved.

Cream butter, and then gradually add the sugar. Beat until light and fluffy before adding the egg yolks, one at a time. Once the egg yolks are incorporated, beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add these dry ingredients into the wet mixture, alternating with the sour cream and stirring by hand. Stir until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Then fold them into the rest of the cake batter. Divvy the batter into the lined muffin tins. Bake for about 14 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack until the cupcakes reach room temperature.


  1. Megan said...

    Ok girl, try these!

    I made them yesterday side by side with the vanilla recipe and they taste wonderful - not dry, but chocolately and fluffy.

    Let me know if you like them.

    I'll help you break your boxed mix addiction!!!  

  2. Cecilia said...

    Thanks for the lead, Megan! I will try out this recipe ASAP.  

  3. rebekka said...

    You know, you're so right! It is reallly hard to find a good from-scratch chocolate recipe. The ones I use are pretty low on flour so they're almost fudgy...and always with both cocoa powder and melted chocolate. But still...so hard to get right! Your cupcake sure looks precious though :)  

  4. Dylan Solesbee said...

    Chocolate cupcake and fresh milk combined? Breakfast solved! Well, about your cake baking, it usually comes down to trial and error. Sometimes, the recipes that you make will fail to satisfy your taste. A simple tip for that: follow your taste and your heart. I hope you're getting it right now. Cheers Cecilia! :)