Every spring, I get ready for my annual birthday adventure, when I take a solo trip to somewhere I’ve never been before. I look forward to it every year: indulging in pita and hummus at the bar at Tusk in Portland, exploring Venice Beach, eating my way through Pike’s Place Market in Seattle, a long hike in the great north of Minnesota… some of my favorite moments have happened during these birthday excursions. Of course, this year I’m spending my birthday solo for reasons out of my control, so I’m trying to get creative with how to make this one memorable.
My current plan is to take the day off work and spend time doing some reflecting and working on creative projects, taking a walk to my favorite coffee shop that just reopened for takeaway, and of course, making my own birthday cake. Luckily, my tradition of making my own cake every year is perfect for times like this. (I made this one last year, and it will always remind me of my time living in California.) But given that I don’t have anyone to share the cake with this year and that I don’t necessarily want a whole three layer cake to eat for the next month on my own, I’m exploring some new recipe ideas.
When it comes to desserts, my sweet tooth will pick anything chocolate. It is the ultimate feel-good flavor after all.
It seems that everyone’s been bit by the baking bug these days; not only is it a soothing task, it also gives us a sweet reward at the end. And since finding flour at the grocery store currently feels like a treasure hunt, I’ve been halving different recipes to conserve my ingredients (and keep from having my counters overflowing with baked goods.) I love treats, but don’t really need to consume a full layer cake or three dozen cookies on my own. Enter my favorite new trend of small batch baking that seems to be sweeping the ‘gram.
These chocolate cupcakes require just four tablespoons of flour. Talk about small batch, it’s a drop in the bucket of your flour stash! And the best part is that the recipe uses only one bowl and yields only two cupcakes. So yes, if at ten pm you get a sudden hankering for a chocolate cake, these are the perfect go-to. And if you need to treat yourself or a friend to a sweet birthday bite, I promise these cupcakes will make for the perfect gift.
A couple recipe notes:
- Make sure you use room temperature ingredients. Because there’s coconut oil in these cupcakes, if you use cold milk or eggs, the melted oil will solidify and mess with the integrity of your cake crumb.
- Don’t over mix your batter. Stir everything together with a spatula until it just comes together into a smooth batter.
- I use a 1:1 ratio of butter to cream cheese in the frosting because in my humble opinion, cream cheese frosting is the only acceptable frosting. But if you don’t have cream cheese, just sub with butter for a more classic buttercream frosting.
I hope y’all enjoy!
for the cupcakes:
- 2 tbsp almond milk, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 egg white, room temperature
- 40g of flour (4 tbsp)
- 3 tbsp of granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp of baking soda
- 1/8 tsp of salt
- heaping 1/4 tsp of instant espresso powder
for the frosting:
- 1/2 tsp water
- 1/4 tsp espresso powder
- 2 tbsp of butter, softened
- 2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
- pinch of salt
- splash of vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two tins of a cupcake pan with cupcake liners or parchment paper.
- In a mixing bowl, add the almond milk, vanilla extract, melted coconut oil, and egg white*. Stir to combine. *make sure all wet ingredients are at room temperature.
- Through a sifter, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder, and sift into the bowl with wet ingredients. Stir until the batter just comes together.
- Divide the batter into the cupcake pan, filling the liners just under the top - you can get two large cupcakes or three small cupcakes from the batter.
- Bake for 21 - 23 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and take cupcakes out of pan to cool on a wire rack.
- While the cupcakes cool, prep the frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water and espresso powder to dissolve the espresso. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl. Whip until the frosting is smooth. You'll know it's done when it has lightened in color and gotten fluffy, you might need to scrape the sides of the bowl halfway through whipping to ensure it's smooth.
- Once the cupcakes are cool, frost as desired. Top with sprinkles, cacao nibs, etc. Enjoy!