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How to make do in baking emergencies

Chocolate-Cinnamon cupcakes

Posted: December 30, 2012 - 1:04am
This photo shows chocolate cinnamon cupcakes, baked frantically on Christmas eve day before a dinner party, using the odd avocado to replace the eggs.  Melissa Griffiths
Melissa Griffiths
This photo shows chocolate cinnamon cupcakes, baked frantically on Christmas eve day before a dinner party, using the odd avocado to replace the eggs.

A baking emergency, contrary to what you may be thinking, is not a fire caused by burnt cookies — thank goodness — it is having to make a dessert for a dinner party on a holiday and not wanting to go to the grocery store (or having the grocery store closed). Some might give up when they discover they are out of eggs. And who actually has buttermilk handy, recipe creators? Not this gal. But this gal won’t give up.

I decided to add cinnamon to a rich, dark chocolate cupcake because I wanted something reminiscent of drinking hot cocoa on the holidays. I also figured chocolate cupcakes wouldn’t show the green from the avocado I used in place of eggs. Sneaky substitutions!

Baking is a science, but it’s not as exact a science as some would have you believe. If you know the purposes of the different ingredients, you can often make a substitution. I used avocado for eggs and yogurt for sour cream and heavy cream in the cupcake and frosting recipes. I also changed some of the ratios for ingredients. If in doubt, you can check out different common substitutions on the internet. Avocado doesn’t come up as an egg substitute in most of the places I checked, but it works, though you get a slightly denser cake.

I altered a couple recipes to get here; I’ll include the original ingredients as well.

Cupcakes

• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon (to taste — and you don’t have to worry about salmonella tasting this batter since you forgot to buy eggs and you are using avocado)

• 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/2 large avocado (it originally called for 3 eggs)

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1/2 cup greek yogurt (it originally called for sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners (or do a bunch of minis — I think I got 36).

Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add avocado, mashed, a little at a time and beat well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with yogurt and beginning and ending with flour.

Pour batter into cups, filling each full (since they’ll be kind of dense). Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes (or about 15 minutes if you make mini-cupcakes, like I did).

Let cool for about five minutes in the pan, then remove to let cool completely. They always say to use a wire baking rack, but who actually owns those? I set mine on the kitchen table.

Frosting

• 1 cup salted butter, at room temperature (the recipe called for 1 1/2, and I hope your butter has been sitting out for a while, because you don’t want to melt it in the microwave)

• The other half of the avocado to make up for the butter — it totally works

• 3 1/4-1/2 cups powdered sugar (called for 3 3/4 cups)

• 1 cup cocoa powder (called for 3/4 cup - I like less sweet, more dark chocolatey flavor)

• 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or more, to taste)

• 3 - 4 tablespoons greek yogurt (I had vanilla flavored yogurt, the recipe called for heavy cream)

• 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (-ish — I just kind of pour a little in)

I got to use my fancy stand mixer, but I have made plenty of frostings with a hand mixer in the past — you can do it! It’s not as bad as whipping egg whites to peaks by hand — I promise. Whip the butter on moderately high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 6-8 minutes, occasionally scraping down sides of the bowl. Add in cocoa powder first, then powdered sugar — you may not use all the powdered sugar — then add the 3 Tbsp yogurt and the vanilla and mix on a low speed until combined. You can always add more yogurt if you need it to be less dense, or more powdered sugar — if you want your frosting to hold its shape, keep it pretty stiff. Once all the ingredients are combined, crank up the speed to get your frosting fluffy.

Since I mixed and matched recipes, I still had leftover frosting, which means I will probably make cupcakes again soon. You should let me know how yours turn out online in the comments.

• The cupcake recipe can be found at http://bit.ly/goU1up and the frosting recipe can be found at http://bit.ly/UdpV28 ­— and don’t be afraid to try new and strange things!

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