Tag Archives: blog anniversary

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: The Last Five Years

Leading up to this site’s five year anniversary earlier this week, I spent some time scrolling through my archives in search of my absolute favorite E2 Bakes recipes. I stand by them all, of course, but there are over 500. I have favorites. There, I said it.

For context, these favorites are the ones I return to time and time again, or those that are simply the best I’ve ever had in various categories. After going through the recipe index, this list was 50 recipes long! I could absolutely write a little blurb about each of them, but I didn’t want to subject you or myself to that. I’ve painstakingly pared it down to ten twelve fifteen. So here they are: fifteen recipes to encompass the last five years.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsCocoa Brownies

Of all the brownie recipes I’ve made I’m the last five years, these are my favorites. Even with a cocoa base, they’re fudgy as can be. Oh, and they’re easy too—you can mix the batter right in the pot you use to melt the butter, sugar and cocoa! These were my first post (and my 544th!), and I can guarantee you that I’ll still be obsessed with them when I hit a thousand posts and beyond.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsOvernight Yeast-Raised Doughnuts
I grew up near a truly excellent doughnut shop, and have been surprisingly disappointed in the quality of doughnuts in New York City. (For your safety and mine, let’s never discuss The Doughnut Plant.) I’ve found one (!) doughnut that I like in thirteen years of residency. One! That’s unacceptable. Long story short, I started making my own yeast-raised doughnuts and never looked back. These are legitimately the best doughnuts I’ve ever had. Ever. In my life. And I know, because I have used this recipe over and over to make twists and cinnamon roll doughnuts and…again, they are *the* best doughnuts I’ve ever had in my life.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsBanana Pudding Cookies

These cookies were my first baking Everest. Inspired by the phenomenal Banana Pudding Pudgies at Evelyn’s Kitchen in East Harlem, these took me a year to perfect, but it was entirely worth it. These soft, chewy cookies are beyond delicious, and they taste *exactly* like banana pudding. Exactly.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsBrown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Cookie cake is probably one of my top five favorite desserts ever. I mean, who wouldn’t love a giant, sliceable soft-centered cookie with a buttercream border? It’s the dream.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSour Cream Waffles

These are the best waffles I’ve ever had. Period. Every time I have leftover egg whites or sour cream, these are the first things that get made. This means I have an ample freezer stash for waffle emergencies, of which there are many. Many many many.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsNeapolitan Cake

Confession: I have never worked with fondant and am actually kind of afraid of it.

Another Confession: I don’t quite get the obsession with super tall cakes with an absurd amount of buttercream and drips and all that. Just give me the cake! I don’t need all the stuff.

All that said, this Neapolitan Cake is probably as close as I’ll get to any intricate layer cakes. Checkerboard inside, heavily piped outside, and not a drop of food coloring—that strawberry pink is the real deal. This one is super fun to make, even if it is a labor of love.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsPretzel Shortbread

Last fall, I heard about Lost Bread Co.’s pretzel shortbread, and instead of being a normal person and ordering some, I made my own. That sort of stubbornness is kind of my thing, and how I got into this whole baking racket in the first place! Made with crushed up pretzels in the dough and then pretzeled themselves (much easier than it sounds), these little cookies are salty, sweet and fabulous, just like me.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsWedding Cake Trilogy {I, II & III}

There is no single recipe for this wedding cake. Instead, it was made with my go-to vanilla cake, filled with alternating mocha and caramel puddings, and frosted with creamy Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Oh yeah, and it was served to hundreds at the Central Park Boat House back when we used to go do things inside together and the idea of attending a wedding didn’t give me heart palpitations. But for real, this is one of the proudest accomplishments of my baking journey, and I was honored to have the opportunity.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSweet Cherry Rhubarb Galette

While Cocoa Brownies were the first recipe to appear on this site, a tiny Sweet Cherry Rhubarb Galette was the first baked good to be pictured. Three years later, I still loved it and posted the recipe. Fast forward two more years and I’m looking forward to spring so I can make this simple sweet-tart galette again!
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsHot Fudge

This is a warning that if you start making your own Hot Fudge, you will be ruined for all other hot fudges forever. This stuff is dark and glossy and sooo much better than anything you’ll find in stores.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsPumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies

Making these Pumpkin Oatmeal Creme Pies was the first instance in which I didn’t feel like a food blogging impostor. I knew what I wanted, I knew how to make it, I knew how I wanted it to look, and then I freaking did it. Five years later, I’m still over the moon for these soft pumpkin oatmeal cookies and their perfect marshmallow filling. Little Debbie who?

(If pumpkin isn’t your thing, I’ve got a regular version too.)
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsSlow-Roasted Pulled Pork

I get so overwhelmed by holiday baking every year that I’ve taken to mostly posting weeknight meals every January. I’ve never publicized it this way, but I personally refer to this time of the blogging year as “Savory January,” because by that point, I can barely stand to look at dessert. There are lots of meals in my archives (scroll to the Savory section at the bottom!), but this Slow-Roasted Pulled Pork is probably my favorite. It’s perfectly seasoned throughout, and where some slow cooker pulled porks get soggy, this version has crispy cracklings and is moist but never wet. Seriously, it’s the best pulled pork I’ve ever had. And while it takes time and preparation, it’s shockingly easy and makes enough to freeze for later. You know, for when you feel an enchilada craving coming on.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsButtermilk Biscuits & Chocolate Gravy

Chocolate…gravy?! You better believe it. My grandma made this classic southern combo for my sisters and me every chance she got. Super flaky, savory biscuits and sweet chocolate gravy are a match made in breakfast heaven.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsToasted Oat Graham Crackers {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

If you had told me five years ago that I’d have a startling number of vegan, gluten-free recipes on this site, I wouldn’t have believed you. I previously saw leaving out dairy, eggs and flour as near-impossible limitations, but now I look forward to the challenge of developing these recipes…and the dessert. Especially when it’s s’mores made with these delicious Toasted Oat Graham Crackers.
Friday Favorites: The Last Five YearsChocolate Mousse Pie {No-Bake}

This is one of the easiest pie recipes on this site, and also maybe ever…? It’s deeply chocolaty with a smooth, light texture and an Oreo crust—oh, and it’s no bake. So, like, best pie ever? You tell me.

What are your favorite E2 Bakes recipes? Tell me in the comments or on social media! I want to know what you love to bake!Friday Favorites: The Last Five Years

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}E2 Bakes Brooklyn is five years old today! Yep, this little blog is exactly half a decade and 544 posts old. I can’t believe it.

This post, lucky number 544, has the distinction of being my very first repeat. I mean, I’ve used the same chocolate cake in a few different recipes and I have repurposed the same sugar cookie dough at least five times, but this is my first straight-up repeat recipe.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Today, I’m remaking the Cocoa Brownies that I posted on day one: October 21, 2015. They are a twist on Alice Medrich’s stellar recipe, and though I have made many more brownies in the intervening years, these are still my favorites. They’re dark, dense and fudgy, and so chocolaty, you’d never guess that all their flavor comes from cocoa powder.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}But still, do they warrant a repeat? Even on an anniversary? Well, call me nostalgic, but yes. And for the record, I’m not just revisiting my first post for nostalgia’s sake. As my favorite writer/comedian/Deranged Millionaire/actor/podcaster/celebrity crush, John Hodgman, likes to say, “Nostalgia is the most toxic impulse.” What that means is that you need to live in the present. And in my present, I’ve got unfinished business with my Cocoa Brownies.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}I mean, I like my first post and the recipe, but the photos? Yikes. They’re not my worst ever, but they’re not great. I’ve gone back and re-done the photos on a few posts in the last couple of years, but it seems wrong somehow to mess with the first post, even with its weird formatting and stilted instructions. 2015 Liz was super proud and excited about finally starting this blog, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way. It was a moment in (my) food blogging time.

That said, today is another a moment in (my) food blogging time—a moment in which Cocoa Brownies finally get the photoshoot they deserve. While I am not a pro food photographer or stylist, I have learned a lot while photographing 544 posts, all on iPhones and nearly all with the same Carrara marble pie board as backdrop.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}And baking? I’ve learned ten times as much about baking in the last five years as I have about photography. Still, these Cocoa Brownies didn’t need much of an update recipe-wise. In remaking them, I only made one major adjustment: I mixed them right in the pot where I bloomed (melted together) the butter, cocoa, and sugars. You can, of course, just mix the batter in a bowl, but why add more dishes if you don’t have to, am I right?! I simply waited for the cocoa mixture to cool a few minutes so I could add the eggs without scrambling them, then stirred in the dry ingredients. Then I just transferred the batter into an 8-inch square pan. Et voila!Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}I decided to top this pan of goodness off with a pecan mosaic. My dad, the primary brownie baker in my family, always uses pecans to write something on his brownies—initials, greetings, silly words–and I like to as well. I think today warrants a “5,” don’t you?Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies bake in 30 minutes and cool in about an hour, making them the perfect simple treat for celebrating one of my biggest accomplishments to date—one that I couldn’t have done without you. This blog has helped me make new friends, reconnect with old ones, strengthen existing relationships, and interact with so many people that I truly would never have met if it weren’t for this compulsive home-baking and over-sharing habit of mine. Thank you for the kind notes, laughs, likes, questions, comments, and social media posts—for just being a part of this community. It means the world.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}

Cocoa Brownies
adapted from Alice Medrich’s Cocoa Brownies
makes one 8- or 9-inch square pan

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
2 large eggs, cold
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
pecan halves for decorating, optional

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter the inside of an 8- or 9-inch square pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

In a small pot over medium-low heat, melt butter, granulated and brown sugars, and cocoa powder together, stirring frequently, until a thick, grainy mixture forms. Remove from heat and let mixture cool 5-7 minutes.

Add vanilla and eggs to the pot, and stir/whisk to combine. Add flour and salt and stir/whisk to combine. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread to the edges. Tap the full pan on the counter a couple of times to release any air bubbles. Top with pecans, if desired.

Bake brownies 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Slide a knife around the edges of the pan before using parchment overhang to lift brownies onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice brownies into 16 or 25 pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. These may also be layered with wax paper or parchment and frozen.Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}Cocoa Brownies {Five Year Anniversary!}