I love catalogs.
Both of my parents worked at the post office when I was young. Beyond that it seemed like they were fans of mail in general because it sure did feel like we got a lot of it, catalogs especially.
Remember the Delia’s catalog? Delia’s was the teenage self that I desperately wanted to be. Not quite Hot Topic dark, but with an edge that also said… hey, maybe I’m a girl next door, too.
The Newport News catalog I’d flip through thinking maybe one day I’d have breasts and my own pocketbook with money in it and the free will to wear long flowing dresses on an east coast beach as much as I wanted to.
The large department store catalogs were my favorite. I could flip through toys, browse women’s business clothes, and shop drapes and pillows and comforters and things that jobs and money bought… two things I was sorely lacking as a twelve-year-old, but ooooh I could daydream about consumerism.
As a family I don’t think we ever ordered from catalogs. We went to the mall and shopped the sales and wore off brand tennis shoes because that really was the reasonable thing to do, obviously. But once… let me tell you about the glorious time I remember ordering from a catalog. My parents bought me a sunflower comforter, sunflower printed curtains, and a fake flower sunflower garland that I hung up against my white whicker mirror. My goodness… love is real, y’all. My parents spending their hard earned money on my sunflower obsession? That is love and sacrifice.
Beyond the (MOST AMAZING) bedroom, I also had a hand-made sunflower printed dress and a sunflower straw hat thanks for a mother who owned both a sewing machine and a hot glue gun. Do we even need to talk about Sunflower perfume because I swear, wearing that, I was living my truest truth.
Here I am with cupcakes topped with a frosting version of my truest truth.
The comforter is gone. The curtains have changed. I don’t have an entire room dedicated to sunflowers in my little house… though maybe I should. But I have these cupcakes, and maybe a nearby Urban Outfitters where I can buy an age inappropriate crop top and continue to live my best life.
Here’s what we’ll need for these cupcakes. We’re talking simple, straight-forward, chocolate cupcakes!
• butter, sugar, eggs, whole milk, vanilla, dutch-processed cocoa powder, flour, and baking soda.
Nothing too complicated -aka- you can totally do this.
First we’ll whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
By ‘whisk’ together I mean ‘fork’ together, just aerating the mixture and encouraging any lumps out of the cocoa powder.
Sugar and butter are whipped together to pale and fluffy and eggs are added to gloss up the mixture.
Once the eggs are added, we’ll mix in half of the dry ingredients.
Add all of the milk and the remaining flour mixture.
Whip it up until it’s smooth and glossy and offers a bit of a flop sound as it works its way around the bowl.
I find it easiest to use an ice cream scooper to dollop the cupcake batter into a paper lined cupcake tray though this method does cut down on the batter you’ll have to lick from your fingers which may be a bummer for you.
Three quarters full and oven-bound! We’re making two dozen cupcakes.
I’ve found that these cupcakes have a sensitive stage in the oven about halfway through baking when, if you stomp around the oven or rotate the pans, the cupcakes may have a tendency to sink. Just give them time to set and don’t fuss with the cupcakes until they’re just about done baking.
As the cupcakes cool you can make a ganache.
Don’t let the fancy word fool you. Ganache is a spreadable, glossy, melted chocolate glaze. It’s made my pouring very hot cream + melted butter over chocolate chunks. Allow to sit for several minutes to melt the chocolate and stir until glossy and smooth.
Now listen… start with very finely chopped chocolate to make sure that the hot cream can melt all of the chocolate. If you find that some of your chocolate pieces are stubborn and just don’t want to melt, very carefully microwave the mixture on LOW for just 5 to 7 seconds at a time. Melted chocolate can decide to be finicky and seize.
Cupcakes are dipped head first into the slightly warm chocolate ganache.
Whip up the ganache after you’ve dipped half of the cupcakes, of so. Keep it interested, ya know?
Now let’s talk about decorating these ganached cupcakes into a sunflower!
The center of the cupcake starts with a mini oreo. It’s round and chocolate and really the perfect size for a flower center.
I dipped the top side of a mini oreo cookie in the chocolate ganache…
then dipped the ganached oreo in a mixture of chocolate and gold sprinkles.
Placed in the center of the cupcake- that’s our sunflower center!
Now for these sunflower petals. First whip up an easy buttercream with softened butter and powdered sugar. Add yellow food coloring to most of the frosting and a bit of green to the rest. I used this Wilton Leaf Tip. Start at the base of the cookie, add pressure to the frosting bag and that’s your petal! Go easy on yourself. It might take some practice.
I went around the cupcake with petals once, and then again- adding a second layer of petals on top, between the first layer of petals.
Once the petals are complete, use the same tip and add a few leaves to each flower.
That’s some real summer sunshine- and a sweet chocolate throwback to my truest 90’s self.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup (1 1/3 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- pinch of salt
- splash of pure vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- about 3 cups powdered sugar
- pinch of salt
- splash of pure vanilla extract
- 3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
- 24 mini oreo cookies
- chocolate and gold sprinkles, mixed together in a small bowl
- To make the cupcakes, place a rack in the upper third of the over. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners and set aside.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Finally, beat in the vanilla extract.
- Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Beat until just combined.
- Add the remaining half of dry ingredients and beat on low speed, streaming the milk in as the mixture combines.
- Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Beat on medium speed for just a few minutes to whip the mixture into shape.
- Scoop the batter into prepared cupcake liners, filling them to just under three-quarters full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the cupcakes are puffed and lightly spring back when gently pressed.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack too cool completely.
- Make the ganache while the cupcakes cool. Place chocolate pieces in a small bowl. Add the salt and splash of vanilla. In a small saucepan, combine cream and butter. Heat on medium speed until the cream is steaming and the butter is melted. Pour the steaming cream over the chocolate pieces and allow to sit for about 2 minutes. After a few minutes, stir the chocolate and cream mixture until smooth, well-incorporated, and glossy.
- To make the buttercream frosting, in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together softened butter, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and heavy cream. Beat until thick, pliable, and smooth. Add more cream as necessary to make the frosting more spreadable.
- Take one big spoonful (about 1/4 of the frosting) a place in a small bowl. Add green food coloring and stir for the leaves. To the majority of the frosting add yellow food coloring (and a dash of red or orange to deepen the color). Stir until colored through.
- Spoon buttercream into piping bags fitted with the leaf attachment.
- To assemble and decorate the cupcakes, dip each cupcake in the chocolate ganache.
- Dip one side of an oreo cookie into the ganache then gently dip into the sprinkles.
- Place oreo, sprinkle side up, in the center of each ganached cupcake.
- Starting at the base of the cookie in the center of the cupcake, squeeze the frosting bag creating one lightly rippled petal, pulling the petal slightly up as you release pressure. Continue around the cupcake until the base level of petals is complete.
- Start a second layer of petals on top of and in between the first layer of petals. Go around the cupcake once again. Dot each cupcake with a few green leaves. Allow the cupcakes to rest in the fridge to set the frosting. Enjoy within two or three days!