Valentine’s Day Cupcakes

Before I came to the other side of the world, I was lucky enough to visit New York City several times. And like any good tourist, I stood in a very long line for a very overrated (though, to be honest, phenomenal) cupcake. Yes, I’m talking about the famous Magnolia Bakery, and yes, that is where I get most of my favorite cupcake recipes (and one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes, but we’ll get to that). Whatever you might think about the place itself, they’ve yet to lead me astray.

lone cupcake

So, the cake itself. Magnolia Bakery’s Devil’s Food Cake. In my mind, these will always be the cakes I made for national treasure Richard Wilbur on his 90th birthday. He only ate the tops and the icing, because when you’re a 90-year-old national treasure you’re allowed to do that, but he swore he liked them. Today, though, they’re getting pink white chocolate icing (because it’s Valentine’s Day…but mostly because I have some food coloring to use up). And they’re miniature, so this recipe made me somewhere between 50 and 70.


Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Adapted from More from Magnolia.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius)

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside

3. In another bowl, cream the butter until it’s smooth and light in color. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy.

4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.

5. Add the dry mixture and the buttermilk and vanilla in turns, mixing after each addition until just combined. I always do three additions for each: 1/3 of the dry, mix, 1/3 of the buttermilk and all of the vanilla, mix, 1/3 dry mix…you get it. As long as you don’t over-mix, the thirds method tends to create the perfect consistency.

6. Spoon into lined cupcake tins, filling each cup about 3/4.

7. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean – about 25-30 minutes for full-size, or about 15 for minis. Cool in tins for five or ten minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. For normal size cupcakes, you should end up with about 30 cupcakes. I got 60-odd mini ones.

And then the icing. I went with white chocolate buttercream – I knew I needed something light enough to dye pink, but wanted something other than vanilla. If I made these again, I think strawberry white chocolate icing would take them to the next level. But for the time being, this was still delicious.


Pink White Chocolate Buttercream

350 g unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
250 g white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pink food-coloring

1. Melt the white chocolate in a double-boiler. If you don’t have one, a big metal bowl perched on top of a pot of simmering water on the stove will do the trick. You can also microwave it, just be very careful not to burn it. Set aside to cool.

2. With a hand- (or if you’re lucky, stand-) mixer, beat the butter until very light and fluffy. Add the milk carefully – might be easier to do this by hand so it doesn’t spatter everywhere.

3. Beat in the cooled white chocolate.

4. Beat in the powdered sugar. Make sure you’re scraping the sides of the bowl and getting everything well combined.

5. Add in the vanilla and the food-coloring and beat again. I started with five drops and then totally lost count, but if I had to guess I’d say about 15-20 drops. It’s a lot of icing. But there’s no danger of over-beating here, so don’t be afraid to add the color in as many additions as it takes.

6. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.



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