Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Cupcakes: (makes 18-24)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Frosting: (makes about 4 cups)
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 cups confectioners' sugar
16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
Directions for Frosting:
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low.
*For football cupcakes reserve about a 1/2 cup of the frosting at this point to make the laces
Add the chocolate gradually and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.
If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks.
Using a small star tip in a pastry bag, zig-zag the chocolate frosting in a diamond shape on the cooled cupcakes. Then put the reserved vanilla frosting into a bag with a small round tip and pipe on the laces. Enjoy!