Along with an official cake-of-the-week (not the very time-consuming Pineapple Pudding Cake, I hasten to add--I'm baking a couple of weeks ahead to allow for my end of the month vacation trip) I baked for the neighborhood block party last weekend. The neighborhood association provided barbecued pork and chicken and asked everyone to bring a side. Gee, I think I'll bake something! The butter cupcakes with chocolate buttercream seemed like a good option (Marie did these very early on, in May of 2009), maybe as mini-cupcakes to be bite-sized. Then there's the cakewalk, a tradition at our block parties--I had a partial can of the pirouette cookies around from the chocolate tomato cake, and that cake with the fancy presentation seemed likely to be a hit for the cake walk even if the cookies were too much for my family's tastes.
Both of these recipes are butter cakes, so the mixing process was very similar. The cupcakes use sour cream instead of the tomato soup, and of course leave out the cocoa, but otherwise I felt like I was making the same recipe twice. I again did a 6" cake of the tomato cake--I didn't want to have to buy two more cans of those cookies, and I also have some sympathy for the parents whose child comes home with a huge cake...or two (either multiple children, or one child with multiple cakes). Oh, and if you recall my post on the tomato cake, you'll not be surprised that I went with a plain ganache, sans tomato soup.
I overfilled my mini-cupcake liners and got flat-topped mushroom cakes. Oddly, the bottom of the cupcake liners felt empty, and in fact there seemed to be airspace under the cupcakes even though there were crumbs on the bottom of the liner. My guess is that as the cakes shrank on cooling, the cake pulled up from the bottom. Very odd...
The chocolate egg white buttercream was not quite so easy. It took a long time to get to anything resembling stiff peaks in the meringue, but it finally got there (or close enough). Then I started adding the butter a tablespoon at a time, and halfway through got the dreaded curdled appearance. Turned up the mixer to high as the recipe instructs...and the mixture got really curdled. However, persistence paid off, and eventually the mixture went smooth again and I could finish adding the butter, then the melted chocolate. By then my energy had flagged, so I squished the buttercream into a large decorating bag with a large star tip, and squeezed out a blob of icing onto each mini cupcake. Good enough.
The cupcakes went over well, even though I got the first batch a little too brown. At a bite or two of cake, max, and a healthy blob of buttercream, no problems with dryness were apparent. They didn't outcompete the homemade brownies in the dessert array but were doing a lot better than the platter of grocery deli counter cookies.
The tomato cake decorated with cookies (and red 'candle flames' this time!) was picked second in the cake walk--the first pick, made by a 7 or 8 year old, was a grocery store cake with LOTS of sprinkles. Can't beat the sprinkles!