Why is Life Worth Living? (A Cream-Filled Cupcake Recipe)

I watch this scene from Manhattan whenever I want to be reminded of all the beauty life has to offer.  The simple pleasures–Groucho Marx, the Jupiter Symphony, the crabs at Sam Wo’s.  The exquisite pains–Swedish movies, Marlon Brando, Flaubert.  And while I love Louis Armstrong’s Potato Head Blues, were it my list, I think I’d substitute it with Thelonious Monk’s Blue Monk.  I’d also trade Cézanne’s apples and pears for Matisse’s Bouquet of Dahlias and White Book, Frank Sinatra for Hoagy Carmichael, Tracy’s face for my daughter’s, and I’d have to add my Grandma Helen’s cream-filled chocolate cupcakes.

These cupcakes are a perennial family favorite.  They have made an appearance at almost every birthday party and Fourth of July barbecue my life entire.  I have made one adjustment to my Grandmother’s recipe.  Taking my cues from The Barefoot Contessa, I use fresh hot coffee instead of hot water.  I find this adds depth and intensity and makes what is already an amazing cupcake that much more so.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I always have.

chocolate cupcakes

 Grandma Helen’s Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

 

2 ½ cups flour

2 cups sugar

5 heaping tbsp cocoa

¼ t. salt

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

2 t. baking soda

1 cup strong hot coffee

 

Mix ingredients together except for the baking soda and hot coffee.  Dissolve soda in hot coffee then add to batter and gently stir to mix.  Don’t be alarmed by how liquidy the mixture is.  This is why the cakes are so moist.  Fill cupcake holders ¾ full. Bake at 350F/180C/Gas 4 for 18-20 minutes.

 

FILLING:  

 ½ cup caster or granulated sugar

½ cup milk

2/3 cup Crisco

¼ tsp. salt

1 Tbsp Water

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup powdered sugar

 

Mix caster sugar, Crisco, water, milk, salt, and vanilla together.  Beat for 5 minutes.  Then add powdered sugar.  After cupcakes have cooked, use a pastry tube to squeeze the cream filling into each cake.  Be careful not to fill too much or the cakes will crack.  Frost with chocolate frosting.

Frosting:   

6 oz. dark chocolate (at least 80% cocoa)

1/2 lb unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 c powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in a tsp of hot water

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and set aside until room temperature.  Beat the butter with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the yolk and vanilla and continue mixing for a few more minutes.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Lastly, incorporate the melted chocolate and instant coffee.

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11 thoughts on “Why is Life Worth Living? (A Cream-Filled Cupcake Recipe)

      • Is it wrong that I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t include coffee in their chocolate cake recipes?

      • As you know, we’ve eaten these cupcakes all of our lives. Do you taste the coffee flavor in the cupcakes? I love coffee but that untrustworthy grandmother of yours doesn’t like the taste at all – just wondering if its noticeably coffee or just a deeper chocolate?

      • Sometimes you can taste it–depends on how strong you brew your coffee. I find it’s only really in the frosting that you can get a real coffee flavor. So maybe make them for Grandma but with plain chocolate frosting for her. I mean Helena loves this cake and she can’t stand coffee. The coffee really makes the cocoa that much deeper. Like I said, I got the idea from Ina Garten. Her Beatty’s chocolate cake is the one I use for all birthday cakes these days. You should try it. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/beattys-chocolate-cake-recipe.html

    • Manhattan is one of my favorite films. Never know if it’s because of the great script or Gordon WIllis’ beautiful cinematography. And this is definitely my favorite scene. Glad you like it too.

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