Chocolate! Cupcakes!! Messy Kitchen!!!

For almost the past year I’ve been on a super-secret mission — one that required patience, endurance and meticulousity (which is a word I have just now made up to mean “what happens when you’re meticulous.”) But it wasn’t only me. Months and months and months ago, cupcake baker and blogger Stefanie Pollack, of Chocolate cupcakesSt. Louis, asked 50 of us bakers/food bloggers/intense cupcake fans to help test recipes as she searched for the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake. She called us “Explorers,” and, I mean, who could resist setting off for the land of Chocolatey Loveliness?  Who among us would pass up the chance for eating tasting sampling making an unlimited supply of chocolate cupcakes? Although I usually resist any effort that involves being in the kitchen any longer than it takes to pull an espresso shot, I enthusiastically joined Stefanie’s quest. I envisioned spending a couple of days immersed in all chocolate all the the time and then wiping the cocoa powder from my hands and leaving the kitchen behind for more profitable pursuits, such as checking out the new handbag shipment at T.J. Maxx. But I was wrong. Why? Because I did not factor in 1) Stefanie’s dogged determination to GET IT RIGHT and 2) the other Explorers’ refusal to settle for LESS THAN PERFECT. Me, I followed Stefanie’s directions, made the first recipe, invited enthusiastic friends and family to taste-test (“Eat chocolate cupcakes and tell you what I think? Yes, please.”) and happily sent Stefanie the results, confident that we’d found the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake and I now could go on to Bakingother projects (see previous reference to “new shipment of handbags”). Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. Apparently I was in the minority of Explorers who were satisfied with Recipe No. 1. Some thought the cupcake batter was too thick. Some too moist. Some too crumbly. Stefanie promised adjustments based on the comments and a couple of weeks later sent us Recipe No. 2. Still enthused about exploring chocolate cupcakes, I cheerfully bought more ingredients, followed the recipe, distributed the cupcakes, dutifully noted all comments (“More chocolate cupcakes? Cool!”) and passed the results on Stefani, confident that this was the one. But, no. Too dry, some of the testers said. Too cocoa-y. Too bitter. So Stefani adjusted accordingly and soon we had Recipe No. 3. By this time my enthusiasm was waning a bit — as you can see from the photos, I am not the neatest of bakers and spend approximately twice the time cleaning up as I spent actually baking — and I was starting to get pained looks from my testers (“Oh, more chocolate cupcakes? What’s wrong with them this time?”). By Recipe No. 4, my husband took to ducking out of the house when it was Cupcake Time and friends started making excuses (“Sorry — I think I’ve become allergic to chocolate cupcakes.”) to avoid taste-testing. By Recipe No. 5, I was down to enlisting casual acquaintances to help out (“Hi. You may not remember me but your sister’s best friend’s cousin is in my book club Cupcake bakingand I’ve baked these chocolate cupcakes …”). When we got to Recipe No. 6, my reputation was preceding me and people literally would hurry out of my way when they saw me approaching with cupcakes. Even the cats ignored me as I started pulling out the mixer and banging utensils around — activity that usually brings them running in hopes of wayward splatters. Finally — finally! — it was Recipe No. 7. I scrupulously followed the directions, eschewing any rebellious thoughts of striking out on my own (My favorite salted chocolate bar instead of plain? Fat-free sour cream instead of full-fat?) and pressured nicely asked friends to taste. Could this be it? Had we intrepid Explorers reached the Fountain of Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes? And, more importantly, would I ever lose the 5 pounds accumulated from months of chocolate-cupcake research? Answers: Yes, yes and not yet. But if we can discover the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake, then anything is possible. Go here to see the recipe and read Stefani’s story of our explorations.

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5 thoughts on “Chocolate! Cupcakes!! Messy Kitchen!!!

  1. Love this post!! It really captured your experience (which wasn’t all that different from mine – only I baked ten times more chocolate cupcakes – imagine my friends!). Thanks so much for being a part of it!

  2. Let me say “Thank You!” I just made these cupcakes, after my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe failed me one time too many. It is wonderful! But now I want to try it with different cocoas and chocolate types….. However, I have to question the friends you keep…. saying NO to chocolate cupcakes?????????

  3. Beth — I know! But just imagine that a friend is CONSTANTLY accosting you with chocolate cupcakes of varying degrees of deliciousness and then standing over you while you nibble, taking notes and demanding answers to questions such as “How would you describe this cupcake’s density?” and “On a scale of one to five, how would you rate the amount of cocoa flavor that you taste in this cupcake as compared to Cupcake No. 4?”

  4. Too funny! :) I don’t know, I think I could cope with being assaulted with multiple rounds of chocolate cupcakes and asked probing questions about the same (but then, I’m one of those weird people who really enjoy taking surveys, so…).

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