Y’all, we’re ’bout to have a royal wedding this weekend and that warrants the best cupcakes with THE BEST icing known to man. Every celebration merits them. I made these cupcakes years ago for my son, James’, school bake sales. They were legendary and sold in a flash…for big bucks. I’ve always been a cake person, scraping off the icing and pushing it to the side of my plate or peeling off the cupcake liner, turning the cake upside down in the liner thereby avoiding the usual sickeningly sweet and way too fluffy frosting. Doesn’t matter the flavor, I don’t want it. Unless it’s this icing. Mercy! This icing is thick, with the ample and generous flavors of vanilla and butter it delivers just the perfect amount of sweetness. I couldn’t stop swiping teaspoon after teaspoon from the bowl as I crowned each cupcake. The cupcake, as well, is equally astounding. It falls somewhere between the crumb of a layer cake and a pound cake. The flavor is of unadulterated, flawless butter. It is the quintessential bake sale, afternoon snack, birthday or wedding cupcake. And when Prince Harry and Ms. Meagan Markle wed early this Saturday morning, my bff, Andrea, and I will be celebrating with hot cups of freshly brewed coffee and these little royal fairy cakes. Best of wishes to all the brides out there!
Yes, I’ve been gone a while. I can blame it on all manner of events and situations. I was in the Holy Land…okay, so that accounts for two weeks. I help my 95-year old father. THAT is a constant but one that I typically enjoy. I have tons of yard work. I truly do and love getting dirt under my fingernails but the fact of the matter is I got tired. And discouraged. And my creativity ran dry, Dry, DRY! However, with summer being firmly ensconced in South Florida, my mind tends to run to hot weather food…and dishes I relished as a child and as a young adult. Recalling meals I discovered in my early days or travels has me hovering over the butcher block, knife in hand or in front of the oven pulling out a cake pan to test for doneness. That brings me to this cake. During my college days in Georgia, I was exposed to all manner of dishes; from brains to cheese grits to chocolate mayonnaise cake. Made popular in the early 20th century, mayonnaise was the perfect substitute for pricy eggs and milk. While the Hellman’s company didn’t invent the chocolate mayo cake they most certainly made it popular. Here in the South, a loved mayonnaise is Duke’s and that’s what I use here. Keep in mind, you are not including the moisture of butter and milk so, regardless of the brand of mayo you use, do not make the mistake of using non-fat or reduced fat. You will find this cake to be incredibly moist and tender. It is the stuff of dreams. Also, if you’re not a fan of dark chocolate, regular unsweetened cocoa may be used in both the cake and the icing and you’ll still have a magnificent work made by your own two, capable hands. No one will ever mistake this cake for a boxed cake or, even worse, a grocery store cake. And since mayonnaise is essentially eggs and vegetable oil there is no tell-tale taste…nothing more than a drop dead, gorgeous, mouth-watering chocolate cake!
2/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, SIFTED. If the cocoa powder is not sifted you will have lumps that are impossible to get out.
7 tablespoons boiling water, plus more is needed
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, SIFTED, plus more is needed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a large mixing bowl add cocoa powder and boiling water. With a wooden spoon, stir by hand until the cocoa and water is smooth and completely combined.
Using an electric beater on low-speed add the softened butter and mix until completely combined
Add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla and beat on low until most of the sugar has been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating on medium until the frosting is smooth. The longer the frosting is beaten the lighter in color and the more fluffy it becomes. If it too stiff add hot water one teaspoon at a time. If the frosting is too loose add more SIFTED confectioner’s sugar one tablespoon at a time.