The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook: More Than 80 Recipes for Irresistible, Old-Fashioned Treats, by Jennifer Appel (Simon & Schuster, 2001)

Gothamist's addiction to cupcakes has been well documented. At the risk of turning Gothamist into a cupcakes blog, along the lines of Slice, here's another entry devoted to Gothamist's favorite food.

2004_09_buttercup.bmpWe were thrilled to pick up The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook for half price at the Strand, since we always visit Buttercup to pick up cupcakes on the way to see friends on the UES. Its owner (and the author), Jennifer Appel, started Buttercup after (along with Allysa Torey) she founded the Magnolia Bakery and coauthored The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.

Luscious cover art aside, the cookbook doesn't devote itself to cupcakes. In addition to special sections devoted to breakfast treats and holiday specialties (Gothamist's friends can look forward to some White Fudge with Walnuts and Dried Cranberries this Christmas), Appel focuses on full-size traditional desserts: Caramel Cake with Brown Sugar Frosting, White Layer Cake with Chocolate Chips, German Chocolate Pie, and Butttercup's signature Lady Baltimore Cake.

2004_09_food_redvelvetcupcake.jpgWe adapted the Red Velvet Cake recipe to make cupcakes for Blogger/Poet Cheryl B's birthday party. Everyone's trying to drop a few pounds these days, though, so out of respect we tried to make these a little healthier by substituting Splenda for some of the sugar, which we had never tried before. We were skeptical, but they turned out great! We enjoyed the somewhat surreal experience of making these: the batter is bright red, like melted lipstick, and at times in the baking process we looked as if we had just finished a serial killing spree.

Also in a nod to our low-carb compatriots, we topped the cupcakes with dark chocolate glaze rather than the traditional frosting; both recipes are provided.

The Recipe

1/4 cup red food coloring (approx. 2 bottles)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar (or substitute 1/2 c. Splenda for 1/2 c. sugar)
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 1/4 cups cake flour (regular flour was fine too; for low-carb you might try soy flour)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
I teaspoon apple cider vinegar
I teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line your cupcake tins.

In a small bowl, whisk together until well combined the food col­oring, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. Add in the salt. Beat in the cocoa mixture until thoroughly incorporated.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter at the end, making sure to mix well. (This is weird but it works).

Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 20 to 25 min­utes, or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

When cupcakes have cooled, ice with Red Velvet Icing or Chocolate Glaze.

For Red Velvet Icing:

Whisk 2c. milk and 3/8 c. flour in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until smooth & thick (12-18 min.). Let cool for half an hour; take the skin off the top. While it coole, cream 2c. butter & 2c. sugar, add 2T vanilla extract, and when the milk mixture is cool, add it in in thirds, beating well after each addition.

For Chocolate Glaze:

Melt 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate with 1/2 stick butter or 4T cream in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, take off the heat and add 1-2T of liquor (brandy or rum). Drizzle over cooled dessert; allow to set for 15 minutes.