To this day, See's is still my mother-in-law's favorite chocolate and a treat for our family, too. When a nice person from See's wrote and asked if I'd like a box of chocolates to play with and blog about, it was a no-brainer to say yes. The only part that required brain cells was what I'd do with the chocolates when they came (besides eat them, I mean). Should I chop them up and stir them into brownies or add them to cookie dough? Maybe slice them and sandwich them between cookies? (Or just eat them. No, must restrain myself!)
When the chocolates arrived and I opened the box, I decided they were too pretty to chop up and hide. So I used them to garnish devil's food cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting (after sneaking just one from the box- mmm). I liked the idea of serving them at a party, so guests could pick their favorite chocolate and get a cupcake, too!
I must say that I had a lot of help with this project. I mean a lot. It seemed like everyone was eager to be a helper when there was an open box of chocolates nearby. And after I was done taking pictures, I had a lot of offers to help with the clean up. Lick the bowl? Check. Lick the spatula? Check. Help eat the chocolates? Check, check, check.
Thanks, See's for the fun treat! But, dear reader, don't be pouty that you're only looking at delicious chocolates, not eating them. I get to give away a $25 gift certificate to See's! If you'd like to win, leave a comment with your favorite treat from See's (or that you've never tried See's candies). I'll draw the winner over the weekend and announce it next Monday. And if you post a link for the contest on Facebook, MySpace, or on your blog, you can come back and leave a comment telling me about it for an extra entry.
Chocolate Box Cupcakes
- adapted from More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey
These are really good cupcakes. Light, yet moist, and very chocolatey.
2 cups cake flour
1 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter; softened
1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1- Preheat oven to 350 deg. F with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line three 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2- Sift together the flour, cocoas, baking soda and salt into a small bowl. Set aside.
3- In a large bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until it's smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4- Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk and the vanilla. After each addition, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake papers, filling them about 3/4 full.
5- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Rotate the pans top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
6- Cool in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Creamy Vanilla Frosting
- also from More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey
This is my new favorite frosting. It's smooth, creamy, not too sweet, without the harsh edge that powdered sugar can impart to a frosting. It's a bit persnickety to make, but totally worth it for the creamy, dreamy taste and texture. I'm going to use it as filling next time I make Twinkies!
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1- In a medium saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and, stirring constantly, cook until the mixture becomes very thick and begins to bubble, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, press waxed paper directly on the surface, and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
2- In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the butter for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating continuously for 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat well.
3- Add the cooled milk mixture, and continue to beat at medium high speed for 5 minutes, until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes exactly (set a timer). Use immediately.
I had leftover frosting and put it in the refrigerator. I set up like a brick. It softens again at room temperature, but I haven't figured out yet if the creamy quality can be regained by beating it again.