Chiffon Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Buttercream

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day when our thoughts turn to…chocolate.  It just so happens that I have a meeting in the office tomorrow too so it’s the perfect time to try out a new cupcake recipe.  I love cupcakes for eating, but I gotta tell you I’ll be glad when real cakes are back in vogue.  They’re a lot less labor intensive and a little more forgiving.  Still, these are charming and most importantly no plates or forks required.

For a while I’ve been wanting to try this Chiffon Cupcake recipe from Alton Brown, but it’s a fair amount of trouble so I’ve held off until now.   I had leftovers for dinner so that left me enough time to take this on.  I mostly steer clear of Alton Brown.  I find him to be pretty condescending and annoying on TV.  This recipe is a little annoying too.  I know it’s supposed to be better to measure dry ingredients by weight than by volume, but let’s be real – that just makes things harder. 

The bother starts right at the beginning.  You have to separate 5 eggs and beat the yolks with the sugar.  Then in a separate bowl you make a meringue with the whites.  The recipe instructs you to mix up the batter in your mixer, then transfer the batter to another bowl so you can use your mixer to whip the egg whites.  That’s a whole nother level of trouble.  If you’ve got a stand mixer and a hand mixer I’d do the batter in your stand mixer and use the hand mixer on the whites.  Oddly enough I find myself without a hand mixer at the moment.  Fortunately I do have an immersion blender with a whisk attachment.  I put the whites in a large measuring cup and used the stick blender.  Just be sure that your egg whites bowl is large enough.  When you whip all that air into them they quadruple in size.  The next bit of trouble is that this batter is so airy that it doesn’t pour out of the spoon very well.  You have to shake it out.  I used a ladle to help measure out the batter so the cupcakes would be the same size.  Don’t do that.  It’ll go faster if you use a large spoon.  You can fill the cups about 3/4 full.  There’s so much air in the batter as it is that they don’t puff up very much.

They are a beautiful golden brown when they come out and the tops are very smooth.  If you’re into fancy decorations these cupcakes will make a good surface for your frosting decor.  Honestly I think this batter baked in a cake pan and cut would probably make lovely petit fours.  They are light as air but seemingly sturdy so I think you could use about any frosting.  The batter isn’t overly sweet so they can take a fairly sugary frosting I think.  Honestly they’d be beautiful with Seven Minute Frosting on them.  Anyway, I’m kind of into whipped buttercream right now so I decided on a chocolate version of that.

I’ll just refer you to the peanut butter version of this frosting for the details, but I do want to share a few things I learned this time around.  If you leave the milk and flour mixture in the fridge to cool it more quickly you should put plastic wrap right down on it.  If you don’t it will get a skin just like pudding.  No amount of whisking will get rid of that skin.  If that happens just peel the skin off and throw it away.  Now, for the chocolate.  Use baking chocolate and not chocolate chips.  Chips have just a touch of paraffin or wax in them to help them keep their shape.  This frosting is way too light to overcome that waxy texture.  Don’t bother with a double boiler.  A glass bowl in the microwave works just fine.  Just melt your chocolate in short intervals and stir it good between intervals.  If you try to melt it all the way down at one time you’ll burn it.  It will actually be done before it looks like it’s done.  You’ll be surprised how quickly the last of the lumps disappear with a few good turns of a spoon.

I haven’t eaten one of these yet.  It seems tacky to show up with 23 cupcakes.  But they’re lovely and really, how bad can they be?  I’ll let you know tomorrow.

Good? Let’s hope so. (Not so much.  Spongy and a little dense.  Frosting rocks).
Easy? Not at all. (And not good enough to make them worth the trouble).
Good for company? Of course. (Choose another cake recipe.  Keep the frosting).
Special shopping? Nope. Standard baking components.

Chiffon Cupcakes


5 1/4 ounces cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large eggs, separated
6 ounces sugar, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5/8 teaspoon cream of tartar


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place paper liners into 2 (12-cup) muffin tins and set aside. If you prefer, set 12 ovenproof coffee mugs on a half sheet pan and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Place the egg yolks and 5 ounces of the sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes pale yellow and ‘ribbons’ when lifted. Add the water, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and whisk just to combine. Transfer the batter to a mixing bowl while you whisk the egg whites.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar into a clean bowl and whisk on high using the whisk attachment, until it becomes foamy. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the remaining ounce of sugar. Increase speed to high and continue whisking until stiff peaks form, approximately 2 minutes.

Transfer 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter and whisk until well combined. Add the remaining egg whites and fold in gently. Transfer batter into prepared muffin tins or coffee mugs, evenly dividing the batter between the cups. Place both muffin tins on the middle rack of the oven or, if using mugs, place all of them on a half sheet pan and set on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or the cupcakes reach an internal temperature of 205 to 210 degrees F. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Whipped Buttercream

Follow the original directions, but leave out the peanut butter.
Add 4 ounces of room temperature, melted baking chocolate to the butter and sugar mixture before whipping in the flour and milk mix.


One Response to “Chiffon Cupcakes with Chocolate Whipped Buttercream”

  1. 1womanskitchen Says:

    These cupcakes are a little spongy for me. I like a more tender cupcake. I won’t be making the cake part again, but the frosting rocks!

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