Summer is totally awesome and all, but it seems to me as if there are way too many light, fruit-based and altogether too-virtuous desserts that prevail during those hot and sunny months. But as the days gradually start to get shorter and cooler, there's a sure-fire antidote, which can be summed up in three beautiful words: Hot Cocoa Cake. This is not a cake for wimps: it's unimaginably rich and decadent. Often, recipes for it call for a fudge-like frosting to be applied directly to the still-hot cake; however, as I've always preferred chocolate desserts that have a flavor contrast, I tried them with cream cheese frosting on a whim. The flavor combination works like a dream; when served at a party, they disappeared rather quickly.
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes With Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cakes (makes about 18; adapted from this recipe):
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cocoa
- 2 sticks (4 oz. ea) butter
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Mix together flour, sugar, and salt.
- In a saucepan, bring the butter, cocoa, and water to boil and pour over flour mixture.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the mixture and stir well.
- Fill cupcake cups 3/4 full.
- Bake for about 20 minutes. Because you won't see the cakes browning at the edges, use a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake to test doneness.
- Once cool, frost generously with cream cheese frosting; if desired, garnish with walnuts.
- 1 (8)-ounce package of cream cheese, softened (do not substitute low-fat; it just doesn't work the same way)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 6 cups confectioners' sugar (depending on your desired consistency)
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt until the butter is completely incorporated into the cream cheese and it has a smooth consistency. Add the confectioners' sugar cup by cup, stirring after each addition, until it has reached the desired consistency.