Georgetown Chocolate Cupcakes and 7 Things

August 11, 2009 at 10:43 am 41 comments

One of the nicest things I did this weekend (which included a two hour shop inside a great Seattle baking store, Julie & Julia, and take out hot wings) was go to a friend’s goodbye party. He’s leaving for D.C., where he’ll be going to Georgetown University in the fall. As much as I love to buy gifts, I decided to make him some Georgetown cupcakes. The letters, hearts, and “13″ (representing his new class of 2013) are made of fondant.

It was my first time working with fondant! It was easier than I expected and tasted a lot better than I thought it would. It was also a lot of fun and I’m starting to picture the infinite possibilities once I master it.

But before I get to that, I’d like to show off my new award, the Kreativ Blogger award. I actually received it from two different bloggers, Cookin’ Canuck and Rachelle of Mommy? I’m Hungry! Thanks to both of you and sorry for not getting around to it sooner.

I’m supposed to give the award to 7 other bloggers, so here we go:

1. Marta of Just Call Me Marta
2. Erin of Erin Cooks
3. Valerie of The Chocolate Bunny
4. Alana of The Good Girl Gone Blog
5. Jesse of Fig Noir
6. Wendy of My Buttery Fingers
7. Marian of Sweetopia

I’m also supposed to tell 7 interesting things about myself.

1. I don’t subscribe to any blogs. I read about 60 different blogs, but I don’t subscribe to any feeds. I can’t quite say why. Firstly, there’s a lot of blogs and I don’t have a lot of time. But also, it would become an obligation. I like to think that I’m reading your blog because I remembered it and want to see what’s new, not because you’ve updated. So I do end up reading every post at one time or another, but this is why I might not comment right away!

2. I love to volunteer. I’ve done a lot of volunteering since I began high school, and I continue to do it because I like it, not just for the hours. I’ve volunteered long term at a therapeutic center, a children’s museum, and a cancer support organization, where I help teach a pre-teen cooking class once a month.

3. I’m half Asian. My mom is Chinese and my dad is a couple European mixes. I think I’ve gotten the best of both worlds: really good Chinese food, holidays, teachings, and at the same time, American cooking and culture.

4. I think I want to be a journalist. I’m still undecided about my future career, although it won’t be one in baking. I really love to write, photograph, and talk to different people. I also love to travel, and at least move around. I don’t think I could stand being in an office all day. Finally, I’d love to believe that whatever my career is, it’ll be something that can really make a difference for people who need help. So journalism is a career I’m considering.

5. 17 and Baking wasn’t the original name. This blog has actually gone through a ton of changes. The first name was The Rosy Chef, which I changed because it really makes no sense. I’m not a chef, I’m a baker, and I have no idea where the rosy part came from. After that, I was Floured Apron for a while until I realized another blog with that name exists. For a short while, I was All Roads Lead to Cake. But it wasn’t until I decided on 17 and Baking that I was satisfied. As far as I’m concerned it’s the perfect name for me, and I plan on keeping it even after I turn 18 and beyond.

6. I am a huge, huge fan of the TV show Lost. Everyone who knows me knows how utterly obsessed I am. Both of my parents watch it too, and we love talking about theories and mysteries. I’ve got every season on DVD  and recommend the show to everyone! The coming season is the last one, which makes me feel very bittersweet. :(

7. 17 and Baking is actually a year old. Sort of. I started this blog way back in August 08, under a different name. After only a few posts, though, I figured no one would ever read me and I just stopped. I don’t know why, but for some reason in March 09 I decided to start blogging again, and I haven’t stopped since (I’m so glad I didn’t quit for good.) Since I wasn’t serious the first time, I’m going to consider March 19th to be my 1 year anniversary, not August 20th.

I have mixed feelings about fondant. On the one hand, it’s beautiful. It really makes cakes look flawless and professional, and it allows so much creativity and possibility. But on the other hand, it doesn’t taste good. And somehow that defeats the purpose for me. Isn’t the whole point of baking to make something delicious? And fondant is just there for the appearance… I don’t like the idea that it has to be admired, but then peeled off before the cake is enjoyable.

Consider the show Ace of Cakes. I respect their talent and creativity, but have you noticed none of their clients ever talk about taste? They ooh and ahh over how fantastic the cake looks, and then the show abruptly ends.

Well, despite all that, I felt fondant was a skill I should learn. Working with the fondant was a lot like working with play doh. Really sweet, soft, beautifully colored play doh. I used cookie cutters for the letters, numbers, and hearts, and the whole thing was reasonably easy. Next time I’ll probably roll the fondant out thinner. But anyway, I was left with a few small balls of fondant and I decided to play around.

Yup, I played with my food!

As for the cupcakes themselves, they were the quintessential American chocolate cake. Moist, soft, and not overwhelmingly rich. The frosting was very chocolate-y and thick, and complemented the lightness of the cake perfectly! Both were definitely keepers, and so easy they might be my new go-to chocolate cupcakes.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes
Makes 20 cupcakes

6 tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp ground coffee
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp coarse salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk together the cocoa powder, hot water, and ground coffee in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and sugar. Continually stir and don’t let it boil. Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Beat on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes to cool the mixture down. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and the cocoa mixture until just combined.

On low speed, add half the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Beat in the sour cream, then the remaining flour until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake 20 minutes, or until risen and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the tin for 15 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store at room temperature.

Rich Chocolate Frosting
Makes enough to frost 20+ cupcakes

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tbsp butter
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream the butter until smooth in an electric mixer, then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat in the vanilla, then gradually add milk as needed. Beat until a thick frosting comes together.

Printer Friendly Version – Georgetown Chocolate Cupcakes

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Double Chocolate Cherry Truffle Cookies Happily Ever After

41 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erin  |  August 11, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    You are so adorable. I just love your posts! In my opinion fondant is simply nasty but it’s so hard to resist when it makes things so pretty and bright.

    Reply
  • 2. Sis  |  August 11, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I agree with Erin, you are just adorable!

    These cupcakes look so yummy and I am in such a chocolate mood that I’m going to bake them right now. :)

    Reply
  • 3. Sis  |  August 11, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    BTW – I made your chocolate marble cheesecake with coconut, lemongrass, and lime, and it was mouthwateringly good.

    Reply
  • 4. Em  |  August 11, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Not all fondant tastes bad. If you’re buying it… Satin Ice is my favorite brand. If you’re making it (which is pretty easy to do) there are tons of good tasting recipes around.

    Besides… if you start with a decent crumb-coat and add a tasty filling between the layers, even if the guests remove the fondant they’re not left with “nekkid” cake :)

    Reply
    • 5. Elissa  |  August 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm

      Em – I almost made it myself but decided I should learn about texture, consistency, etc from the store bought stuff first. Next time I plan to make it… please share any good recipes you’ve found!

  • 6. Deanna  |  August 11, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Those cupcakes look yummy! I totally hear you on the fondant. Similar to Ace of Cakes, I watch Food Network Challenge and just think to myself “yeah it’s cool looking, but it’s not even edible!” I’ve never tried the stuff for that reason. Seems silly to me to cover a cake in something edible that you aren’t going to eat. Why not just use a sheet or plastic?? Haha. I’ve read that the marshmallow fondant tastes better but that it’s difficult to work with. Your last photo is super cute!!

    Reply
  • 7. Madison  |  August 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    I plan to be a journalist as well. I don’t like the way fondant tastes either.

    I have a question: I know that I can change my URL, but is it really necessary? I don’t want people to be confused by another URL. I want them to still be able to find my blog and remember it. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
  • 8. nutmegnanny  |  August 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    What a great going away gift! Editable gifts are always my favorite:)

    Reply
  • 9. cookienurse  |  August 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    I enjoy reading your blog and learning more about you…thanks for sharing. I think you have incredible talent for someone so young!

    Reply
  • 10. Shannon L  |  August 11, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    cupcakes look completely delicious…did you make the fondant or buy it? also the little facts were fun… i had the same problem with the name of my blog… when i first started it it was Baker Bee but i though it was corny and didnt make much sense so i just stuck with using my name but finding somethign to go with it was hard- made by shannon was taken so i settled with the synonym created by shannon, although because i am so indecisive i created a blog with nothing on it called baked by shannon incase i want to change!

    Reply
    • 11. Elissa  |  August 11, 2009 at 6:46 pm

      Shannon L – I bought the fondant from the Seattle cake store that I mentioned. I’m not sure what the brand was or whether the owner makes it, but she refuses to carry Wilton’s because she says it tastes like sweet melted plastic. According to her, the fondant she carries tastes much better. I have nothing to compare it to, but it didn’t taste awful.

  • 12. Alana  |  August 12, 2009 at 12:06 am

    Thank you again for this award! I feel so out of place among so many great food bloggers since I’m well, not actually a foodie haha

    Reply
  • 13. Wendy  |  August 12, 2009 at 1:01 am

    Why, thank you for passing on this blog award! I will include it in my next post, but I’m afraid it won’t be soo soon because I’m drowning in summer work (read: ee) right now!
    And journalism sounds like a perfect career for you…its always good to do something you really enjoy.
    I totally agree with how fondant indeed makes things look alot prettier, but doesn’t taste good, which is the main reason why I haven’t tried working with it before…but I guess as a baker we should always try new things right?

    Reply
  • 14. linda  |  August 12, 2009 at 3:54 am

    i am newbie to your blog & i check in all the time!
    you are a very talented, gifted & oh so creative young woman!

    a good online source for fondant (wilton’s taste/quality not great)
    is cakedeco.com (part of pfeil & holing).

    congrats on your award!

    Reply
  • 15. carolyn  |  August 12, 2009 at 5:55 am

    i always feel the same way at the end of Ace of Cakes!

    Reply
  • 16. Valérie  |  August 12, 2009 at 7:32 am

    Such pretty cupcakes… I’m sure your friend felt very special receiving them. When you gift someone with something made with care, it’s always meaningful.

    Thank you for the award, you are so sweet! And I’m sooo behind on passing these along!

    I’m half-Asian as well, with a Vietnamese mother and a Belgian father. I completely agree with what you said about having the best of both worlds, especially regarding food: I can make spring rolls one day, and waterzooi (a creamy Belgian stew) the next! (And since my boyfriend if half-Italian, we can make pizza the day after that!) And in the bigger picture, growing up between two cultures just helps one keep an open mind, I find.

    Reply
  • 17. Miakoda  |  August 12, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I’ve never worked with fondant myself. Looks pretty though :)

    Reply
  • 18. Jesse  |  August 12, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you so much. Its my first blog award (:

    Reply
  • 19. Monica H  |  August 12, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    I’m not a fan of fondant wither, it’s oddly chewy. But I’ve heard good things about marshmallow fondant, though I haven’t made it yet.

    These cupcakes are too cute and a thoughtful gift for your friend.

    Reply
  • 20. Marta  |  August 13, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    THANKS!!!!!!!!!!
    Really, thanks for the award, it’s moving to receive recognition from bloggers I admire, such as yourself :) And thanks for sharing those 7 things about you!!! I think a career in journalism sounds perfectly fitted to the abilities (besides baking) that you demonstrate here: eloquence, wittiness, artistic sensibility, and critical and original point of view!
    Nice of you to bake you friend a gift. I think gifts from the kitchen beat gifts from a store any day of the week!
    I’m off to Japan in a couple of days, but I’ll come back to read you after!!
    Thanks again,
    M

    Reply
  • 21. Yumi  |  August 14, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Hey~ congrats on finally giving fondant a try! I’ve always wanted to myself (I’m a sucker for cute things and I work with polymer clay a lot, so I’ve always fancied that I wouldn’t be too bad at handling fondant) but I’ve also heard a lot of complaints about the taste and texture. It always struck me as a bit odd that something that was essentially gelatin and sugar could taste bad, though…

    I was a tad surprised to hear that you were only half Asian–I never would have guessed it otherwise. It’s really nice that you get to experience a mix of cultures! Both my parents are 100% Chinese (they grew up in China) and are very traditional, and as such aren’t terribly openminded about everything I want to do (I grew up in the US) so we fight a lot. Count yourself lucky, haha. >w<

    Reply
  • 22. miss Kitty  |  August 14, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Your blog is the Best. The cupcakes came out super cute too! I wish you would have shown how you did the rose.

    Reply
  • 23. Elissa  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    miss kitty – the rose is pretty simple. You form a small cone and that is the center. Then you form small ovals and flatten them between your fingertips to form petals. You press them gently to the cone and keep adding layers of increasingly large petals. I’ll include photos and instructions later this week :)

    Reply
  • 24. Preston  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    These taste. So good. :)

    Reply
  • 25. Darina  |  August 14, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    The only time I ever had fondant was on a wedding cake and I thought it was yummy. I guess is was good fondant.

    I love LOST, too. I started watching in well after the fact and had to go back to the beginng. Can’t wait for the new and final season. Yahoo!

    Reply
  • 26. Lucy  |  August 18, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Congratulations on the award! I’ve never used fondant on my own bakes, but I actually like the super sweet taste! I love the colours of the fondant contrasting with the rich chocolate cupackes :)

    Reply
  • 27. Molly Fassler  |  August 18, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Hey Elissa!
    Haven’t talked to you in a while but just wanted to let you know when your new blog posts and such show up on Facebook, I always like to check them out. What you’re doing is so cool and everything looks awesome. I’m very glad to see that your dog was found. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost my dog. Anyway, just wanted to say nice job on a great blog.
    -Molly

    p.s. I’m an avid ace of cakes watcher and I have indeed heard a few customers say the cake was delicious. Probably cause the only show a few minutes at the end when the customers are actually eating the cake.

    Reply
  • 28. Grandma  |  August 20, 2009 at 12:50 am

    Congratulation on your Krealiv Blogger award. Your cupcakes were cute and knowing you I know they tasted just yummy. I was glad to see you got to use the number/letter cookie cutters. The whole familly felt about Tilly the way you did, but you expressed it so well. we were all glad to get her back and thanks to the wonderful who found her.

    Reply
  • 29. Marian  |  August 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    Interesting! I learned a lot of unique things about you… You definitely seem suited for journalism… Your writing style is engaging and captivating.
    Thanks for tagging me! I’ll definitely get to it, but it won’t be for a little while.

    Reply
  • 30. Andrea  |  December 26, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    You may want to try marshmallow fondant. I’ve worked with Wilton fondant (its tastes terrible) and homemade marshmallow fondant (tastes like marshmallows). I don’t find it hard to work with. Good luck with your pursuits.

    Reply
  • 31. Aimee  |  December 26, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    Do you have any tips for making fondant? I tried but failed. too sticky.

    Reply
  • 33. Christina  |  December 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    I’m from Baltimore and love the show Ace of Cakes. We ordered a birthday cake from there a few years ago (not a big fancy one that would make it on the show). It looked cool but was expensive and not good. The cake was dry and basically naked once you removed the yucky fondant. Not worth it if you’re not in it just for the wow of the things they can create.

    Reply
  • 34. Tanvi  |  January 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Hey Elissa,
    would you mind letting me know what this great seattle baking shop is? i live in the greater seattle area, and id LOVE to check it out!

    -The peanut butter chocolate chip buttons girl.

    Reply
    • 35. Elissa  |  January 3, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      Tanvi – The shop is called Home Cake Decorating Supply Co (9514 Roosevelt Way Northeast, Seattle, WA). It’s really a great place. It’s run by one lady all on her own, and she really knows a LOT about cake decorating. The store is tiny, but absolutely packed, with rows and rows of supplies piled high. As small as it is, there is so much to look at and she has literally everything. Definitely check it out!

  • 36. Juliana  |  January 26, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Hi Elissa, I just love your blog and your skills. You leave me completly envy! lol :)

    I would just like to know what brand are those cutters you own for the letters? Are those Wiltons? I’ve been trying to find cute letter cutters and yours is what I have come to like so far.

    Thanks and keep blogging!

    Reply
    • 37. Elissa  |  January 26, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      Juliana – Thanks! These cutters were passed to me by my grandmother, who doesn’t bake as often as she once did. I don’t have the box anymore and I don’t know how old these cutters are, but I checked for you. Funnily enough, they’re “Jell-o Jigglers” brand! Who knew? :)

  • 38. Juliana  |  January 26, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Oh, thanks! Quick answer lol

    I’ve found the Wilton ones, and they look awfully like yours. But I live in Brazil and they are somewhat expensive, because they are imported and such.
    I guess I will just buy those Wiltons since it’s a well known brand. I don’t think there are Jell-o Jigglers around here!

    Thanks Elissa! Lokking foward to see more cupcake recipes! :)

    Reply
  • 39. Esther  |  March 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOUR FONDANT COMMENT! The first time I had fondant was for my 18th birthday and I was pretty excited to try it. But my first thought when I put it into my mouth was,” …ICK.” It’s pretty to look at, to be sure, but not so tasty.

    Reply
  • 40. Tori  |  June 24, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    Make marshmallow fondant! I put some on a cake for a party and everyone was hesitant to try it, but after some coercing even the people who “didn’t like fondant” tried and LOVED it. It tastes like marshmallows and is very easy to work with. I found myself eating leftovers from the bag for weeks! :)

    Reply
  • 41. ebru  |  June 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Thank you. Today I’ve just baked these cupcakes. The taste is nice, fluffy cake and i am gonna use buttercream frosting for some of them, chocolate frosting and espresso frosting for the rest. ;) ebru

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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