These cupcakes were born of necessity.
Originally this batch of cupcakes was intended to be a full fledged cake, but due to my rather appalling laziness the pans I had intended to use were dirty when the urge to bake struck. When I say dirty I mean stuck on, needing a good soak, burnt on sugar dirty. I was forced to formulate a plan ‘B’ as I was not in the mood to wait until the pans were clean. Digging through my pans I realized I had two options. First, use a pan the next size up, in this case a 9-inch pan. Second, I could make cupcakes. Cupcakes won the day because I wanted to use my cute new blue and chocolate brown liners. I think, all things considered, this was BETTER than a whole cake. Those liners make me swoon with delight.
These cupcakes can be made into a cake, if you prefer. Just bake it in two 8-inch pans for 25 to 30 minutes and double the frosting so you have enough to frost, fill, and decorate the cake. This cake can also be lightly soaked with white rum, if you like, but remember a little goes a long way. Two or three tablespoons should be enough for the whole recipe. Just be sure to add the rum after the cupcakes have cooled slightly so the moisture does not evaporate away. Traditionally Italian Wedding Cake is frosted with cream cheese frosting. If you prefer cream cheese you could use this chocolate cream cheese frosting recipe, just fold in the coconut and pecans at the end. All that said, the tangy, slightly sour, flavor of the frosting compliments the chocolate very well and I encourage you to give it a try.
Chocolate Italian Wedding Cupcakes with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Yield 2 dozen
For the cake:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons crushed cocoa nibs
For the frosting:
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup (about 6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
Heat the oven to 350 F and line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth but not fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well, then add the melted chocolate and mix until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Once sifted whisk in the salt.
Alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk into the butter, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Stir in the vanilla, coconut, pecans, and cocoa nibs.
In a clean bowl whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions making sure no streaks of white remain in the batter.
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed in the center. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the oven on.
While the cupcakes cool prepare the frosting.
Spread the coconut and pecans on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes, until the coconut and nuts are toasted. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate and butter. Microwave for 30 seconds then stir the mixture. If the mixture is not completely melted return to the microwave for 15 seconds bursts, stirring after each, until smooth. Allow to cool for five minutes.
Add the sour cream and vanilla and whisk to combine, then add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the remaining powdered sugar a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is thick but not too stiff. The frosting will stiffen further as it sits. Reserve 1/3 cup of the toasted coconut and pecans for garnish. Stir the remaining coconut and pecans into the frosting.
Pipe or spread the frosting on the cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle the tops with the reserved coconut and pecans.