Puppies and Kitties and Cupcakes! Oh my!

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

If you had of asked me a month ago if there was a way to make cupcakes even sweeter and more perfectly wonderful than they already are, I would have scoffed, shaken my head, and said attempted to utter the word “naaaahhh” through a giant mouthful of fluffy cake and rich, silky buttercream.

But boy, oh boy, was I ever wrong!  This year, I am so honoured to have been asked by the Ontario SPCA to be their champion for National Cupcake Day™!  Now in its sixth year, the nation-wide annual campaign runs throughout January and February, culminating on Monday, February 26 – the sweetest day of the year! 

In 2017, animal lovers across Canada raised over $600,000 in support of their local animal welfare societies and, this year, I’m hoping to help them surpass that number and add to the outstanding $2.45 million raised to date!

To get involved and “bake a difference,” visit www.nationalcupcakeday.ca to register to host a Cupcake Day Party on a date that’s convenient for you.  Plan your National Cupcake Day™ Party for home, work, school or anywhere you think people would enjoy eating cupcakes (so, literally anywhere!).

Invite your guests to donate through www.nationalcupcakeday.ca to help raise critically-needed funds for animals that are abused, abandoned, neglected or no longer wanted.  Proceeds from National Cupcake Day™ help the Ontario SPCA support our furry friends, big and small, who have been abused, abandoned, or are in need of help.

If you're in need of a little cupcake-y inspiration, give these little babies a try!  They are super chocolatey, rich, crazy simple, and oh-so perfect for any and all cupcake and kitty/puppy lovers!

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Makes 24 large cupcakes (or 36 regular)

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups good quality cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat your oven to 350F and line two or three 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

In a bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Give it a bit of a stir to combine and set aside.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil together for 1 minute.  Add the eggs in one at time, beating well after each addition and continuing to beat for 2 minutes or until the mixture looks a little lighter in colour.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the vanilla extract and espresso powder.  Add that to the buttermilk and set aside.

When the oil and sugar mixture is nicely creamed, add approximately a third of the dry ingredients and beat together until almost combined.  Add in half of the buttermilk mixture and, again, beat just until almost combined.  Continue with this wet/dry method, ending with the last third of the dry ingredients.  Be careful not to over mix after the last addition!  Over mixing will lead to peaked and potentially cracked cupcakes!

Scoop about ¼ cup of batter into each little cupcake liner and bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean, about 20–25 minutes.  While cooling, whip up a batch of chocolate buttercream and get ready to decorate to your heart's content!


Chocolate Buttercream

1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup good quality cocoa powder
5 cups icing sugar
½–¾ cup whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon espresso powder
½­­–1 teaspoon kosher salt

Beat together the butter and cocoa powder and gradually add in the icing sugar.  The mixture will be a little crumbly but that’s where the whipping cream comes in!  With the mixer running, slowly stream in the whipping cream, starting with ½ cup then increasing to ¾ cup if necessary.

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla extract with the espresso powder and add it to the buttercream mixture.  Beat in the salt and use immediately.