2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) softened unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
For the icing:
2 egg whites
2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice, plus more as needed
Black or dark brown food coloring as needed
Preheat an oven to 350°F. Butter 12 muffin-tin wells or line them with paper muffin cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each one about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack and let cool to room temperature.
To make the icing, in a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and orange juice and continue to beat until thick and shiny. The icing should spread easily. If too thick, add more orange juice. If too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.
Transfer one-third of the icing to a small bowl and color with black or dark brown food coloring. Spoon this dark icing into a pastry bag fitted with a tip, or pour it into a plastic squeeze bottle.
Now, ice the cupcakes and make the cobwebs: Spoon some of the white icing into the center of a cupcake and spread with a small spatula or butter knife. Starting at the center of the cupcake, pipe a spiral of the dark icing from the center to the outer edge. Then drag a sharp knife point from the center of the spiral to the edge of the cupcake. Wipe the knife clean, move about 1/2 inch to the left or right, and drag the knife in the opposite direction from the outer edge to the middle of the cupcake. Continue in this way until you have worked your way around the cupcake and formed the cobweb. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Date: September 27, 2002