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?For the Cupcakes
- 2 cups cake flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cups golden brown sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 3/4 cup hot water (optional - the espresso really ups the richness of the chocolate but if making for a kids party it can be omitted if wanting to decaf the recipe)
?For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 2-4 Tbsp half and half
?For the red simple syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water (this is half the normal amount for a simple syrup as I wanted it thicker)
- Red Food coloring
- Candy Eyes for decoration
To Make the Cupcakes:
- Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325. Place cupcake liners in muffin tins.
- Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt into medium bowl.
- Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
- Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
- Divide batter between pans; smooth tops.
- Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, approximately 14-16 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool completely.
To Make the Frosting:
- Cream the butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and blend in.
- Add half and half until the consistency you prefer.
To Make the Red Simple Syrup:
- Heat the water and sugar on medium high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add desired amount of red food coloring to get the depth of color you want (I use paste but you can use drops as well).
- Pour into a squirt bottle and refrigerate until cool (about 15 minutes)
- Make sure your cupcakes are completely cool. Use a tip with indentations to get a bandage look and swirl a couple of layers on top of the cupcakes.
- Push in two eyes on one side of the cupcakes and drizzle with some of the red simple syrup.
I love homemade cakes and cupcakes but I also have no problem using a box cake mix in a pinch so if you're making these for a crowd, do the same. Just warm the liquid and add the espresso powder (cool before adding the the mix) to get a richer chocolate taste!