These chocolate raspberry cupcakes are proof that you can flavour American buttercream with a fruit purée, as long as you are smart about it. The trouble with fruit-infused frostings is the fruit. Fruit and berries (like raspberries) have a high water content and the flavour is rather weak if you stir the raw fruit directly into a frosting or buttercream. For a strong flavour, you would have to add a ton of fruit to properly flavour the buttercream, but that would probably curdle the frosting because fruit contains a lot of water.
Ways to add raspberry flavour to frostings and buttercreams
There are a few ways to make raspberry flavoured frosting without compromising on texture or taste:
- Emulsions and extracts: Just like vanilla extract, you can buy fruit emulsions, flavour oils, and extracts. For example, there's a raspberry emulsion you can find on Amazon for flavouring baked goods. These provide an easy way to add flavour without having to add tons of fruit. Extracts and emulsions can be added in the same way as vanilla extract, in teaspoon amounts.
- Cooked purées and jams: if you bring the mashed fruit to a boil (with or without sugar), you can cook the mixture to reduce it and remove much of the water. The cooled fruit concentrate or jam can then be added to a buttercream or frosting, without affecting the texture too much. Concentrated fruit purées and jams are a good way to add berry flavour to buttercream. For this method, both fresh and frozen raspberries work very well.
- Freeze-dried fruit powders (like this freeze-dried raspberry powder on Amazon): this is another great way of adding flavour without adding water. Freeze-dried fruit are sold whole or in powder form. I'd get the powder if I had a choice. With a freeze-dried raspberry powder, all you have to do is add it to your buttercream recipe by the spoonful. This is a great way of adding raspberry colour and flavour to a frosting.
Making raspberry buttercream with fresh or frozen raspberries
The frosting recipe involves cooking/mashing fresh (or frozen) raspberries in a small saucepan so that they release their raspberry juice. Then you strain the juice and put it back on the stove to cook it down into a thick raspberry concentrate that is used to colour and flavour the cupcakes. It's genius. The frosting tastes intensely of raspberry. The colour is genuine, from the fruit. No dyes or food colouring needed. I would do this again with other berries for sure. Oh and I saved the leftover raspberry pulp to spread on buttered toast with a drizzling of honey or maple syrup. Yum. This is an American style buttercream, meaning it's made from icing sugar and butter. This differs from an Italian meringue buttercream, which is made with egg whites, a sugar syrup, and butter. This technique of making a concentrated raspberry purée would also work to flavour Italian meringue buttercream, as would freeze-dried raspberry powder.
How to make moist chocolate cupcakes
The moist chocolate cupcake recipe (adapted from Martha Stewart one-bowl chocolate cupcakes) is what I refer to as a cake mix cake recipe. Well, it's cake mix made from scratch, of course. It is the easiest chocolate cupcake recipe you can make and doesn't require a mixer! You combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl. Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl. Then mix the two together. Very easy. If you are feeling lazy, you can even just measure out the wet ingredients and place them directly into the bowl with the dry ingredients, in a one-bowl process. Super easy. You can do this with a mixer, but a spoon or whisk will also do the trick. This is the same mixing method as for muffins.
Chocolate cupcake recipe with oil not butter
Normally, I'm an all-butter kind of girl, but I find with chocolate cakes, butter-based recipes, sadly, can be a bit dry. Oil makes a great baking substitution in cases like this because it provides a little more fat and because it's liquid at room temperature, oil gives baked goods a more moist texture. So, this cake recipe calls for oil, not butter, but it yields a light, moist cake that everybody loves and its texture makes up for the absence of butter. Of course, if you have a moist all-butter alternative for me, do send it my way! I'd really appreciate that. In the meantime, here is an easy moist chocolate cupcake recipe that works every time.
I love the combination of chocolate and raspberry. These cupcakes are a perfect example of why this works. If you are a fan of this flavour pairing, here's a raspberry chocolate tart that you can also try, or a berry chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting.
Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting
- 69 grams (¾ cup) Cacao Barry extra brute cocoa powder sifted
- 195 grams (1½ cups) bleached all-purpose flour sifted
- 300 grams (1½ cups) granulated sugar
- 7.5 mL (1½ teaspoon) baking soda
- 3.75 mL (¾ teaspoon) baking powder
- 3.75 mL (¾ teaspoon) Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt
- 2 large egg(s)
- 178 grams (¾ cup) buttermilk (1 % fat)
- 178 grams (¾ cup) warm coffee or warm water
- 45 mL (3 tablespoon) canola oil
- 5 mL (1 teaspoon) pure vanilla extract
- 340 grams (¾ lb) fresh or frozen raspberries
- 115 grams (½ cup) unsalted butter room temperature
- 400 grams (3¼ cups) icing sugar sifted
- pink sanding sugar optional
To make the chocolate cupcakes
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, coffee (or water), canola oil, and vanilla.
- Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients in the mixer bowl, and mix them on low until the batter is liquid, glossy, and without lumps.
- Transfer the batter to a measuring cup (or a bowl) that has a spout, and pour it into each of the liners until they are evenly filled to about ¾ the height of the liner.
- Bake the cupcakes for about 12–15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out completely clean. The cakes should spring back when tapped lightly.
- Let the cupcakes cool partly before transferring to a wire rack. Only frost them when they are completely cooled.
To make the raspberry frosting and decorate
- In a small saucepan, heat the raspberries on low to extract the raspberry juice, mashing with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.
- Strain out the seeds and fruit pulp using a fine-meshed sieve and transfer the strained juice back to the pot. Save the raspberry pulp for breakfast!
- Heat the juice on medium to cook it down to about ¼–⅓ cup. Let cool completely before using.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with about 230 grams of icing sugar. Cream them together on low, then add the concentrated raspberry juice.
- Adjust the consistency of the frosting with the last 170 grams of icing sugar, beating well to make sure that it is smooth.
- To decorate: fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip (like a 1M tip you can get on Amazon) with the frosting. Pipe a rosette of frosting over each mini cupcake. Top with a pinch of sprinkles if using. Please note that the frosting will change colors slightly as it sits.
- Cocoa powder from Cacao Barry on Amazon
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