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The Best Chocolate Cupcakes Make mine dark, sinful, rich and gooey. Make me want to lick my fingers. Make me the best chocolate cupcakes ever. But wait! Don’t use any sissy milk chocolate or not-really-chocolate white chocolate in my cupcakes. Make my cupcakes with dark, bold and slightly bitter chocolate. Please. Pretty please. And while you’re at it, add some aromatic full-flavored coffee to the batter. Yes, they will be perfect, down to the very last delicious crumb. Click on the photo to go to chocolate heaven. Mmmmmmm . . .

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe based on Hershey’s Black Magic Cake

INGREDIENTS
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup Hershey’s Cocoa (100% Cacao Special Dark Cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed black coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F (175° degrees C).

2. Grease and flour a cupcake tin or use paper liners.

3. Combine dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl or a stand mixer: flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and make a well in the center.

4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients: eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.

5. Beat at medium-speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin.

6. Pour batter into prepared cupcake tin.

7. Bake at 350° degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

8. Cool on wire rack.

9. Combine frosting ingredients and mix. Spread on cooled cupcakes.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. The moist and rich cupcake batter will saturate light-colored paper liners. See photo above. Not a bad thing, but the next time I make these I will use grease-proof liners.

2. If you prefer to grease and flour your cupcake tin, instead of rubbing butter and shaking flour in each section, make your life easier by using a cooking spray that contains flour.

3. In lieu of fresh brewed coffee, you can use 2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 cup of boiling water.

4. If you don’t have buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to enough milk to make 1 cup (250 ml). Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes.

5. This recipe yields about two dozen cupcakes.

Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe
Adapted from a recipe by Robyn Stone of Add a Pinch

INGREDIENTS*
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
2½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
Pinch salt**

DIRECTIONS
1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.

2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.

4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. *The ingredients as posted make half of the original frosting recipe. I cut it in half because I was making cupcakes and not a three-layer cake. I had enough frosting to decorate 25 cupcakes, with some to spare.

2.** I added a pinch of salt with the vanilla and the espresso powder, because I use unsalted butter.

Enjoy!

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Other than me, my husband’s favorite nut is the cashew. After one bite of these buttery, crunchy, cashew cookies topped with a creamy browned butter frosting, he’ll have to decide which nut rules his heart. Which will it be . . . the baked or the baker?

Browned Butter Cashew Shortbread Cookies
Recipe from Land O’Lakes

Cookie Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped cashews

Frosting Ingredients:
1-1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 to 2 tablespoons fat free half & half or milk

Directions:
1. Melt butter in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook stirring constantly and watching closely, until butter just begins to turn golden brown (7-11 minutes). The butter will get foamy and bubbly. Immediately remove from heat.

2. Pour 1-1/4 cups browned butter into small bowl; pour remaining butter into another small bowl. Refrigerate both bowls of browned butter until cool (1 hour).

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Combine 1-1/4 cups cooled brown butter, brown sugar, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour. Beat until well mixed. Stir in chopped cashews.

5. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1-inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-13 minutes or until set. Cool completely.

6. Combine remaining browned butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in small bowl. Beat at medium speed, adding enough half & half for desired frosting consistency, until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled cookies. Top each with cashew half.

Makes 4-1/2 dozen cookies.

Linnell’s Notes:
1. Make sure to use at least a 2 quart saucepan to brown the butter. The butter will foam up as it is heated and you don’t want it to spill over on your stove top.

2. Cool the bowls of hot browned butter on the counter top before placing them in the refrigerator. You don’t want to lower the temperature of your refrigerator by placing something hot into it.

3. By the time I measured out all the other ingredients, the large bowl of browned butter had cooled sufficiently in the refrigerator to be used in the dough.

4. I used unsalted butter and salted cashews, because that is what I had on hand. I favor low sodium food, so the cookies tasted fine to me. For those of you who like food a little saltier, go ahead and add a pinch of salt to the dough mixture.

5. If the dough is too sticky to shape into balls, place it in the refrigerator for a while. Also, keep a small bowl of water nearby. Wet your hands with water before rolling the dough balls. The water helps to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

6. Because these are butter-rich cookies, I used parchment paper to cover my cookie sheets. Remember you can reuse parchment paper. After the cookie sheets have cooled, wipe down the parchment paper with a wet paper towel. Let dry and store paper on top of cookies sheets in your cabinet.

Enjoy!

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