These white cupcakes with chocolate frosting are decadent and rich and marvelously old-fashioned in flavor. The cupcakes are made with crème fraîche for extra moistness and the frosting is a chocolate ganache.
These white cupcakes smothered with a rich ganache frosting are sorta the cake lovers’ equivalent of the black and white cookie from New York. Tender and cakey and slathered with sweetness. But you don’t have to be familiar with the cookie to appreciate these cupcakes.–Renee Schettler
White Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
For the cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup crème fraîche* at room temperature
- 2 extra large eggs at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract preferably Madagascar Bourbon
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, ideally containing 82% butterfat at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the topping
- 8 ounces 65% dark chocolate coarsely chopped
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter (ideally containing 82% butterfat) very soft (75°F or 24°C)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract preferably Madagascar Bourbon
Make the cupcakes
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a medium bowl.
- Combine the crème fraîche, eggs, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl and whisk by hand until well combined.
- Put the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until the butter is creamy. Add the granulated sugar and beat until fluffy and pale. Switch the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the egg mixture in 2 additions.
- Using a spoon, divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them about 2/3 full.
- Bake until the cupcakes are puffed, lightly browned, slightly cracked on top, and a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let the cupcakes cool completely.
- Carefully remove the cupcakes and their paper liners from the muffin cups.
Make the frosting
- Put the chocolate in a medium bowl.
- Dump the cream and confectioners' sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook at a gentle simmer for 1 minute and then remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let it set for 30 seconds or so. Then whisk the mixture by hand just until the chocolate melts. Then whisk in the butter until combined. And then whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap so that the wrap is touching the surface, and refrigerate it until the frosting is 70°F (21°C). This will probably take 30 to 40 minutes, but check after 20 minutes.
- When the cream is at the correct temperature, put it in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on high speed until the mixture is lighter in color and less dense.
- Put the topping into a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch star tip. Pipe a swirl on the top center of each cupcake, distributing the topping evenly among them.
- Store in a cool place until serving. Like our other cupcakes, these are best when served the same day they are made.
*What does crème fraîche do in baking?A way of preserving milk and cream, crème fraîche has been cultured with a little lactic acid that prevents it from spoiling and also changes the cream to a thickened, tangier product. Somewhere between yogurt and sour cream, it works a lot like buttermilk in baking. Its high-fat content keeps it from curdling at high temperatures and also adds much-needed moisture to baked goods. And that gently tangy taste never hurt, either. .
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will these cupcakes keep?These white cupcakes can sit, covered, overnight without a problem They can refrigerate them for up to three days, again covered, but need to return to room temperature for the best flavor.
Can I freeze these cupcakes?Yes. Unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for up to 2 months when tightly wrapped in plastic.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
The cake is tender and absolutely delicious. Aside from the creme fraiche, it doesn't require anything special and comes together quickly. (I've sometimes successfully substituted yogurt or sour cream for the creme fraiche, but this will give the resulting cake a slightly different flavor.)
The topping, on the other hand, is a bit more involved. Honestly, you can just take a simple ganache (equal parts chocolate and cream) and whip it to achieve similar results. The confectioners' sugar makes the basic mixture look incredibly lumpy and the added butter makes it look oily. However, everything does come together after whipping.
I don't really think it's necessary to put the ganache frosting in the fridge. Instead, you can just let it cool on the counter and then whip it when it's cooled to warm room temperature.
These were the moistest cupcakes I’ve ever made and I’d like to thank the crème fraîche. The texture of the cake was somehow light and fluffy while maintaining incredible moisture content. They weren’t at all crumbly, which I like. As for the frosting, I could’ve eaten it straight out of the bowl, it was luxurious. The frosting’s slight bitterness complemented the sweet cake to perfection, for me.
After surveying the household, the kids (who enjoy eating dark chocolate straight up), were looking for a sweeter bite and suggested a blend of milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Personally, I appreciated the contrast, but if you’re baking for kiddos expecting a super sweet treat, you may adjust the type of chocolate used. Otherwise, spot on!
Originally published April 23, 2005