Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes {Six Year Anniversary!}

Chocolate Cupcakes

E2 Bakes turned six years old yesterday. While some things have stayed consistent over the last 634 posts—namely that I keep on posting—one of bigger changes in the last year is that I have finally started to appreciate the art of the cupcake.

Oh, I had cupcake recipes before this year—of course I did—but not many. Making cupcakes takes more time than making layer cakes (the dividing of batter alone…) and, contrary to popular belief, they’re not as simple as divvying up a layer cake recipe into a lot of little bits. Really great cupcakes are a bit more nuanced than that. But nuance doesn’t equal difficulty, and my best ever Chocolate Cupcakes are proof positive of that.

One surefire way to have great cupcakes every time? Don’t overfill the pans. Just don’t. Bigger is not better here—if you want bigger cake, make a layer cake. Lest I need to say it again: cupcakes are their own thing. Once your batter is prepared, fill each well 1/2-2/3 full and absolutely no more. You’ll think “this isn’t enough batter,” but it absolutely is. You can thank me when you pull 20+ soft, tender, perfectly domed little cakes from the oven. None with flat, spread-out tops for me, thanks!

The batter is a simple whisking situation, but there is a secret to getting the most chocolate flavor out of your ingredients: blooming the cocoa powder! Blooming is simply combining cocoa with a warm liquid ingredient to bring out its natural depth. I have bloomed cocoa many times on this blog, including my first post ever, wherein I melted butter, cocoa and sugar together for perfect chewy Cocoa Brownies. I’ve also done it by adding hot coffee to layer cakes and warming the butter and cocoa in my chocolate cookies. Here, the cocoa is stirred into warmed (not hot!) oil before being combined with dry ingredients and buttermilk.

Chocolate Cupcakes

While the recipe will still produce cupcakes if you skip the blooming, they will be oddly unremarkable. Not bad—nothing with a giant plume of chocolate buttercream on top could ever be bad. They just won’t be great. And I don’t know about you, but after six years of baking on here, I think we all deserve great cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate Cupcakes 
makes 20-22 cupcakes

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon espresso granules (optional)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

For decorating:
Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below)
chocolate sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 20-22 cups in muffin/cupcake pans with liners. Set aside.

Bloom the cocoa. Pour oil into a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 20-25 seconds or until warm (but not hot). This step may also be done in a pot on the stove.

Add cocoa to oil and whisk with a fork to combine. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, espresso granules, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar and brown sugar. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together vanilla and buttermilk.

Whisk half the bloomed cocoa into the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add the remaining bloomed cocoa followed by the remaining buttermilk.

Divide batter among the liners, ensuring that they are only 1/2-2/3 full. Tap full pans on the counter 5 times to release large air bubbles, then bake cupcakes 18-19 minutes, or until slightly domed. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Spread or pipe chocolate buttercream on cooled cupcakes. Finish with sprinkles. Serve.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for 1 batch of cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner's sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Load into a piping bag fitted with a tip (I used a star tip here), or spread with an offset icing knife.

Friday Favorites: Apples

Friday Favorites: Apples​

It’s apple season and I am here for it! They were littered everywhere when we were leaving Maine a couple of weeks ago, and it took everything in me not to scoop them up and bring them home to bake! While I wouldn’t trust apples growing in NYC parks (much less on the ground), I definitely trust the ones at the markets! Whether they’re tucked into a pie, folded into a buttery cake batter, or rolled up in yeast dough, baking with apples is one surefire way to get in the seasonal spirit! Here are a few of my favorite apple recipes from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Apples​

Cranberry Apple Pie

This recipe is from the first few weeks of this blog’s existence, but I remade it last year (she needed some Glamourshots), and I’m here to tell you: it’s SO delicious. Sweet and tart and perfectly spiced, this is one to make when cranberries start showing up in a few weeks!

Friday Favorites: Apples​

Apple & Pear Galette

I love pie, but the ease of galettes wins me over every time! Here apples and ripe pears are nestled into a rustic free form pie crust. It’s a perfect autumnal dessert if I’ve ever had one!

Friday Favorites: Apples​

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls

Want the flavors of apple pie for breakfast? Make yourself some Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls! These were my second post ever, and having remade them for a photoshoot recently, I can confirm that they still make all my apple pie breakfast dreams come true.

Friday Favorites: Apples​

Apple Turnovers

I love turnovers! They’re like pop tarts for grown ups. This apple version is made with my go-to rough puff pastry and folded on the bias for the flakiest little triangles of apple goodness you’ve ever had.

Friday Favorites: Apples​

French Apple Cake

This is easily the most popular recipe on this blog, and for good reason. Its pure, buttery cake base and chunks of soft apple have no pie spices to detract from their balance of flavors. I clearly love apple pie things, but this simple favorite is something really special.

What’s your favorite way to bake with apples? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Late summer means stone fruits are out in full force, and while I won’t turn my nose up at apricots, plums and nectarines, none is more iconic than peaches! Anywhere I go right now, I seem to run into them. Peach cakes, scones, cobblers, pies—they’re inescapable, even in my own kitchen. Not that I’m complaining. Here are some of my favorite peach desserts from the archives.

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Peach Pie

It doesn’t get much more classic than peach pie! Mine is made with a just the barest hint of spice and wrapped up in a delicious whole wheat crust.

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Peach Tart

What’s easier than pie? This Peach Tart! It’s a sheet of rough puff pastry topped with a fresh peach mosaic and the tiniest amounts of sugar and butter, assembled in no time and baked to golden peachy perfection.

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Peach Crisp

And what’s even easier than a Peach Tart? Peach Crisp! This classic dessert begins with sweetened fresh peaches, gets topped up with an oaty, nutty crumble and is baked until bubbly and begging for vanilla ice cream.

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Here, a mosaic of ripe sliced peaches are baked underneath a brown sugar batter, then inverted to reveal a sweet, sticky, summery upside-down cake.

Friday Favorites: Peaches

Peachy Paleo Cheesecake

This delicious cheesecake is completely vegan and gluten-free, and sweetened with maple syrup. It’s chilled until firm, then crowned with sliced fresh peaches and another drizzle of maple syrup. It’s non-traditional, but delicious—a no-bake dessert for everyone.

What’s your favorite thing to make with peaches? Let me know in the comments or on social media!

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

I happily bake year-round, but I’ll be the first to tell you that my favorite kind of summer baking is no-baking. Like leaving the oven off. Like letting the fridge do all the work. Like not heating up my remarkably well-insulated New York City apartment on an already steamy day, and still having incredible dessert.

Today’s recipe is a variation on the queen of no-bake desserts: icebox cake! At its simplest, it’s just layering whipped cream and thin cookies (usually chocolate wafers or graham crackers) together and then letting the assemblage chill out in the fridge for a few hours. The cookies soften against the whipped cream and become cakelike—it’s very good.

Icebox cakes have been around for a good long time now, since the advent of the home refrigerator. In all those years—and in all the recipes I’ve tried—I’ve yet to find one that isn’t outstanding. Icebox cakes can be as easy or complicated as you want them to be. Low brow, high brow, whatever. The two ingredient classics are just as delicious as more intricate variations. I guess what I’m saying is that you should absolutely get on the icebox cake train if you haven’t already, and then, once you are a believer, twist up the original recipe and make it Triple Raspberry.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Oh yes, this cool & creamy pink icebox cake is loaded with raspberry flavor. From whole fresh raspberries to spoonfuls of raspberry jam to airy raspberry whipped cream, this cake is about as raspberry as it is possible to be!

All the ingredients are stacked in a loaf pan with plain honey graham crackers to divide the layers. After a long chill, the crackers are tender as can be, making for clean slices.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Can we discuss the cross-sections of fresh raspberries and ruby red streaks of jam? Because those…well, they’re my jam. I mean that in every sense of the word.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake

Like its predecessors, this cake is so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s about as easy as from-scratch summer desserts come, and about as raspberry-forward as it can be! It’s berry good, if I do say so myself.

Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake
Triple Raspberry Icebox Cake
makes one 9x5-inch cake, about 8-10 servings

Raspberry Whipped Cream:
6 tablespoons pulverized freeze dried raspberries
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 cups heavy cream, very cold

For Assembly:
10-12 whole graham crackers (4 sections per cracker), divided
1 6-ounce package fresh raspberries, divided
1/2 cup raspberry jam, divided

Decoration & Garnish:
1/2 cup raspberry jam, strained
2-3 teaspoons pulverized freeze dried raspberries
fresh raspberries

Lightly grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on the long sides. Set aside.

Make the raspberry whipped cream. Place freeze dried berries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

Measure out 2 tablespoons of pulverized berry powder, and reserve any remaining powder for another use.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream).

Gently spread 1/3 of the whipped cream in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Scatter 1/3 of the raspberries over the top and spoon 1/3 of the raspberry jam over, so that there are little globs everywhere. Tile a single layer of graham crackers over the top, breaking the crackers to fit, as needed. Press the graham crackers down *lightly* with your palm to adhere. Repeat layering step 2 more times.

Gentry cover the loaf pan in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, remove the pan from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place a serving plate upside-down over the pan. Holding tightly to both the pan and the plate, flip them over so that the pan is now sitting upside-down on top of the plate. Gently lift the pan up to remove it. Gently peel off the parchment.

Decorate. Place jam in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 15 seconds so it’s a bit loose. Push through a fine mesh strainer (set over a bowl) to remove seeds. Transfer warmed, seedless raspberry jam to a piping bag and snip the tiniest corner. Drizzle the cake with the jam as desired.

Dust cake with pulverized raspberry powder. Garnish with whole fresh raspberries. If not serving immediately, refrigerate.

Serve cake cold. Slice with a serrated knife, wiping it clean between cuts.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

While all of us were inside last year, tie-dye made a huge comeback. It’s a fun and easy way to augment clothes, towels, bedsheets or anything else that will absorb color. Why not take that same bright & twisty aesthetic and apply it to dessert?! We’re talking colorful little cups of cake and clouds of vanilla buttercream with technicolor details. They’re fun and funky, and summery as all get-out!

You’ve seen these cupcakes on here before, but never like this. The base is my favorite vanilla sour cream cupcake batter which has been everything from yellow with Nutella Buttercream to spiked with honey and finished with candy corn to marbled with a streak of red velvet to dolled up for the Easter bunny. Today’s version might be my favorite variation of all. Tie-Dye Cupcakes are beautiful to look at and incredibly fun to make.

Start by mixing together the batter and dividing it into four bowls. Grab a few of your favorite shades of food coloring and dye each bowl of batter a different color. A word to the wise that gel food coloring makes for richer colors and doesn’t threaten to add too much liquid to your batter. That said, if liquid is what you have on hand, use it!

Once your batter is dyed, spoon the colors into your cupcake pans. There are no hard and fast rules on how to do this, except to get all the colors in each cup and only up to 2/3-3/4 full. I like to give mine a little swirl with a skewer before baking, but this is strictly optional. After you’ve got all your batters in your pans, bake your cupcakes and let them cool.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Next up: frosting! These swirly-twirly colorful plumes of buttercream may look intimidating, but they are just regular old vanilla buttercream with a little food coloring. Where most colorful frosting recipes ask you to whip the dye directly into the mix, I take a different approach here.

Before the buttercream is loaded into the piping bag, it’s rolled up in a piece of plastic wrap that has been painted with lines of gel food coloring, then formed into a log. I found it easiest to divide the frosting in half for this step. Once rolled, one end of the log is trimmed off before the whole kit and caboodle is placed in the piping bag and then…well, it’s piping business as usual. You know, except for the part where each cupcake looks different and the edges of the frosting are bright and beautiful!

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

It goes without saying that Tie-Dye Cupcakes are delicious, but let’s be real: these are all about aesthetics. They’re so fun—perfect for summer get-togethers, birthdays, or any occasion that could use a pop (or four) of color and a really spectacular bit of vanilla cake.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Tie-Dye Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 food colorings of choice (I used gel)

Frosting:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
4 food colorings of choice (I used the same gels from the cake)

Special Equipment:
plastic wrap
food-safe paintbrushes
piping bag with a tip and coupler

Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Divide batter into four small bowls (about 2/3-3/4 cup batter in each). Add a different food coloring to each one and stir with forks to distribute the color (I used 5 drops each pink, blue, green and yellow gel).

To achieve the tie-dye effect, spoon a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of each color into each liner, adjusting as needed, until each one is 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking cupcakes for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla & heavy cream until combined. Set aside.

Lay 2 14-16-inch long pieces of plastic wrap on a surface. On each one, use paintbrushes to paint parallel 6-inch stripes of each color of food coloring about 1/2-inch apart. The food coloring may bead on the surface of the plastic wrap—this is okay.

Top each set of stripes with half the frosting. Working with one assemblage of frosting/food coloring/ plastic wrap at a time, use the plastic wrap to roll and manipulate the frosting into a log shape with food coloring stripes going down all sides. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap so that the log looks like a piece of old-fashioned candy. Repeat this process with the other assemblage.

Working with one log of frosting at a time, trim one end and place the wrapped log trimmed-end-down in a piping bag fitted with a tip. Twist the piping bag closed and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. Repeat trimming process with the second log of frosting when needed.

Serve cupcakes. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4.
Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Tie-Dye Cupcakes