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Jan 18, 2009 10:44 AM

Cupcakes are dry. Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.

In preparation for our Obama party Tuesday I tested out my chocolate cupcake recipe last night. I was really excited because I found it on CHOW and it's from Magnolia Bakery in Greenwich Village. I used to stop by there a little too often when I worked in the West Village. They aren't my absolute favorite cupcakes, but they are tasty and offer some good nostalgia. And I love the texture of their frosting.

Recipe here:
The link appears not to work. They are called Chocolate Cupcakes with Butterscotch Frosting. I have not yet made the butterscotch frosting. Have you?

Anyway.. They came out deliciously rich and chocolatey but dry and perhaps a bit too dense. They are fabulous with coffee or milk, but on their own a little too intense. I think generally cupcakes are meant to be had with coffee or milk-- or in much of my past party experience, beer. Cake and beer, what more could a university student want?

Once frosted I expect that they will be better. But I want the cake to be delicious on its own.

Could you give me tips on how to improve this recipe? Density is not a major issue but the dryness is off-putting. The taste is great.

Intending to make bread pudding with these. Since we'll be cupcaked-out on Tuesday. Does bread pudding freeze well?

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  1. my google-ness brought up the magnolia recipe instantly, but since the chow link is broken, i can't tell if the chow version is different.

    could be something so simple as you mixed the batter too much, toughening the gluten in the flour, or baked them too long. aren't cupcakes about the frosting anyway? you could also make filled cupcakes.

    the cupcakes will freeze well by themselves, but baked products with milk don't hold up well after thawing. you could a kind of trifle with them too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Thanks here is the CHOW version.

      * 2 cups cake flour (not self‐rising)
      * 1 teaspoon baking powder
      * ½ teaspoon salt
      * ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
      * 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
      * ½ cup granulated sugar
      * 2 large eggs, at room temperature
      * 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted (see Note)
      * 1⅓ cups whole milk ---------------------> the issue?
      * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      * ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
      * ⅔ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
      * ½ cup heavy cream
      * 3 cups confectioners' sugar
      * 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


      1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12‐cup muffin tins with 18 cupcake papers.
      2. To make the cupcakes: In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
      3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended, and the batter is smooth. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three‐quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
      4. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
      5. To make the frosting: Melt the butter in a medium‐size saucepan over medium‐low heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk constantly for 5 minutes. Gradually add the cream, and continue whisking for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
      6. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, beating continuously until smooth. Add the vanilla and beat well. Continue to beat, on the medium speed, for an additional 5 minutes until very creamy, noticeably lighter in color, and of thicker consistency. Use immediately to frost the cupcakes or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 hours.

      They have a few serious fraction issues. I read the milk to be 1/3 cup milk but now looking at it again, I bet it's 1 and 1/3 cup milk. You think that would be the moisture that I'm looking for?

      Good plan. Easier to just toss them in the freezer anyway.. Then if I wanted I could make bread pudding at a later date. Or just revive them in the toaster oven--- dry them out even more. And frost the hell out of them.

      1. re: sophie.

        the fraction could indeed be the culprit. you could also substitute buttermilk for the plain milk- it gives a moister crumb.

    2. I made the Magnolia recipe too, but I could have sworn mine had buttermilk in it. Maybe not. I also found them terribly dry. Taste was fine though.

      1. I've also experienced a dry cupcake when I used Magnolia's recipe through their cook book. I've never been to their shop and after tasting these makes me wonder what is all the hype about them? Or do they mess up their recipes in the book on purpose.

        2 Replies
        1. re: punk pie

          I'm going to give them a second shot tomorrow. I missed a full cup of milk. That must account for something.

          At the shop the cakes are moist but not spectacular. It's all about the frosting. And just the juxtaposition of that small-town homestyle baking in Greenwich Village. There's an exoticism to it. (While simultaneously it's straight up American nostalgia.)

          1. re: punk pie

            I don't get the hype at all. I'm thinking its because it has been mentioned on Sex and the City. Ive been and the cupcakes were nothing special. The icing was great, but the cake was dry. meh, it seems like an NYC tourist trap now.