Friday, August 23, 2013

Baking the Books: Crown of Midnight Chocolate Cupcakes

Welcome to Baking the Books, where I bake things inspired by my favorite novels! Since I do a lot of reading and a lot of baking, it was only a matter of time before the two things overlapped. It's just part of my evil plot to get books involved in every single aspect of my life.

Previously on Baking the Books: Cinder fortune cookies.

It's no secret that I crazy-love the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. If you need proof, check out my less-than-coherent review of the latest installment, Crown of Midnight, here. That book caused me both extreme joy and extreme heartbreak. It broke my soul and forever ruined my capacity to feel. I'm like one of those Romanian orphans Monica saw on 60 Minutes who have been so neglected they are incapable of love. Crown of Midnight neglected me to the point of emotional damage.

But obviously you should all read it.

A lot of my love for those books comes from my love for Celaena, a badass assassin girl who truly loves nothing more than to curl up with a book and an entire chocolate cake to herself.

I can relate to this.


One of my favorite (NON-SPOILERY) exchanges from Crown of Midnight is about Celaena and her love of chocolate cake:

"Is that... chocolate cake?"
"I thought you might need some."
"Need, not want?"
A ghost of a smile was on her lips, and he almost sagged in relief as he said: "For you, I'd say chocolate cake is most definitely a need."


So, in honor of this most glorious of sequels coming out in less than a week (!!!), I'm going to whip up some devil's food cupcakes. You know, because Celaena's a little dark, and the king is up to some very devilish things in this installment. Also because it's DELICIOUS and I can fantasize about feeding them to Chaol and earning his everlasting love. I mean... um, or something else. Something more normal.


3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cake flour plus 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
OR just use regular flour for both amounts
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon brown sugar
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cocoa Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep muffin tin with liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder with 2 tablespoons warm water into a crumbly paste. Set aside.

 In another, larger bowl, sift together 3/4 cup cake flour, 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon espresso powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar with 5 tablespoons room temperature butter until it's completely smooth an combined, from this: this:

 Add the cocoa paste mixture, scraping with your spatula to make sure every drop of chocolatey goodness makes it in.

Combine until smooth and all mixed in. Add 1 egg and 1 egg yolk, mix until just combined, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Mix 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a measuring cup. BAKING TIP: If you don't have buttermilk (like I didn't), you can cheat by adding 1 tablespoon white vinegar to every 1 cup of milk. So, for this recipe, add half a tablespoon to 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoon regular milk, and let it sit for five minutes while it curdles. It sounds gross, but it's not, really.

In three additions each, add the buttermilk mixture, alternating with the flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake wells, filling them until they're about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.

 Whipped cream time! Don't start this until you cakes are COMPLETELY COOLED, or you will have a sad melted mess on your hands. It will be delicious, and you can lick it off said hands and be happy, but it won't be as gorgeous as you want it to be.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a bowl while using a handheld mixer), beat 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder until mixture holds soft peaks, about 4 minutes. (Soft peaks means, when you lift the whisk, the whipped cream vaguely holds it's shape. If you make little peaks by lifting the whisk, they'll flop over, or be "soft".)

I demonstrated while making Butterbeer Cupcakes how to make a homemade pastry-bag using a regular Ziploc. Using that technique, fill your bag with the whipped cream...

...snip the corner, and pipe it on to your cupcakes! And VOILA! You are done! I added a little dash of sifted cocoa powder on top, just to keep things pretty, but this is totally not necessary.

 Look at the pretties. So gorgeous. Time for them to make their modeling debuts.

Remember, kids, eat responsibly, and wait at least thirty minutes after finishing dessert before  assassinating.


  1. I know what I'm doing tonight...


  2. THAT LAST LINE IS FUCKING GOLD! LKSJDFLKSJDF THE THRONE OF GLASS! LITERALLY! oh my god, I can't even breathe right now. Just no words <3

  3. Yummmmmm and also EEEEEEEEEK. I'm rereading Throne of Glass right now, and finally read the novellas yesterday so now I'm even more excited for Crown of Midnight. And now I'm excited and desperate for cupcakes SO GOOD GOING WITH THAT.

  4. Oh I just adore these recipe posts! I'm going to make these soon. Hungry....

  5. These look SO YUM, Gillian. I love this feature so much. I am definitely going to make these one day - such a nifty idea about the ziploc bag to frost with.

    Plus now I'm daydreaming of feeding cupcakes to Chaol, so. I'm useless for the rest of the day. :D

  6. CHOCOLATE AND CHAOL? You have gotten my attention woman, as anything related to Chaol usually does. I'm harboring a fantasy of sharing these cupcakes with him now. (P.S. They look DELICIOUS.)


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