Long before pizza parlors created individual pan pizzas and frozen food marketers began offering one-meal portions wrapped in plastic, bakers had figured out how to offer single servings of cake in one attractive personal package that could be eaten out of hand without plates or forks. They called their creation “Cupcakes.”
Bakeries have been serving cupcakes since the early 19th century when enterprising cooks first filled muffin tins with cake batter. While most cooks today use “muffin tins” and “cupcake pans” interchangeably, “muffin tins” come in a variety of sizes, from giant (measuring 3 ¼ inches across) to “gem” size (turning out cupcakes that are only 1 ½ to 2 inches wide at the top). You can also get shallow pans for baking “muffin tops.” All of these can be used for making varying-size cupcakes. Just adjust baking times accordingly and keep a close watch. (This is especially necessary if you’re using dark-colored baking pans rather than the shiny silver kind.)
In case you’re wondering, Hostess chocolate cupcakes were invented in 1919 although the squiggles of icing—there are precisely seven—and the vanilla-flavored “crème” filling were not added until the 1950s.
In France, they call a cupcake un petit gateau, which literally means “a little cake.” In England, cupcakes are called “fairy cakes,” which makes them sound even more magically delicious.
These cupcakes are a luscious hybrid of chocolate cake and a yummy moist cheesecake mixture.
Use standard-size cupcake tins to make them—these aren’t meant to be the bigger-than-your-head cupcake bombs that are in vogue now.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water (room temperature)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 8-oz. package cream cheese
1 egg (unbeaten)
½ cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
Cream the sugar and the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the egg and the salt and mix well.
Putting it Together
Line cupcake tins with paper liners. (You’ll need approximately 20.)
Fill the cupcake liners 1/3 full of the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the cream cheese topping over the chocolate.
Bake for 25 minutes.
Note: These cupcakes don’t require frosting but if you like, you can sprinkle them with nuts or a 6-oz. package of mini chocolate chips.