Happy Earth Day, friends! To celebrate in a delicious and educational way, I thought I’d make some compost cupcakes. Ok, ok, don’t leave just yet-these are made with chocolate and coffee to look like compost, not actually made with it. But, PSA: You should compost. Did you know that most of the waste in landfills is compostable food scraps? Most of what we throw away can be put back to direct use in our environment. Think how much cleaner our earth would be if we all composted! By the way, you can bring your compost to the microfarm, just be sure to look over what can and cannot be included. Here is a super nifty diagram to help get you started.
Moving on to the cupcakes now… I tend to post healthy recipes using what we have at the farm, but every once in a while you gotta break the rules. The base is a rich chocolate cake and its topped with coffee buttercream frosting, crushed Oreos, and a herb “sprout”. Both the base and the icing are from Baking Book from Cook’s Illustrated. This is no store bought mix, and you may not go back to buying them after trying these cupcakes. It’s more fun, anyway, making them from scratch.
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 3/4 hot, brewed coffee
- 3/4 cup bread flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 6 Tbs vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp distilled white vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Coffee Buttercream Frosting:
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 4 sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into quarters
- 3 Tbs instant espresso powder
- ~10 finely crushed Oreos, just the cookie part
- Mint or oregano stems
For the cupcakes:
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, making sure the rack is in the center. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2. Place chocolate and and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot coffee over the mixture and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Whisk gently and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
3. Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. Whisk the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into a cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake until just firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes, rotating the muffin tin at the half way point.
6. Allow to cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for ten minutes. Then take the cupcakes out of the tin and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
For the frosting:
1. Combine the eggs, sugar, and salt in bowl of a stand mixer and set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water (but not touching the water). Whisking gently but constantly, heat the mixture until thin and foamy, registering about 160 degrees.
2. Fit a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add butter one piece at a time (After adding half the butter, buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth with additional butter).
3. Dissolve the espresso powder in 3 Tbs warm water. Add to the buttercream mixture after all the butter has been added and increase speed to high. Whip until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours, then whip until smooth.
1. Dollop a couple of tablespoons of icing in the center of the cupcake. For a more rustic look, don’t spread on the entire surface of the cupcake.
2. Dip the iced part in a bowl filled with the crushed Oreos to coat.
3. Make a little plant out of a mint stem and stick in the center of the cupcake. Voilà!
Pro-tip: Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour the batter in the muffin tins. It should come just below the edge of the cup. This is the perfect amount per cup for this recipe-the cupcakes rose but did not overflow.
Pro-tip: Check on your cupcakes one or two minutes before the minimum time needed to bake. This ensures they won’t get burned.
Pro-tip: This icing is dang good, but admittedly, a lot of work. Any icing recipe will do.
Pro-tip: To be even more earth friendly don’t use cupcake liners! But be sure to butter the heck out of your cupcake tin. Using a non-stick spray is usually not enough when it comes to baking.
As a side-note, I think the movie Interstellar is a terrific motivator for living sustainably and creating environmental change (the good kind). If you haven’t seen it, go watch it now! It’s only, like, my favorite movie. Here are some additional resources on how to be environmentally friendly and its benefits 🙂
- Benefits of Composting
- Composting in Austin
- 50 Ways to Help the Planet
- How to be Biofriendly
- Why is Sustainability Important?
- Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
- The Story of Stuff (video)