Category Archives: Chocolate

Espresso S’mores cupcakes

oh so delicious

oh so delicious

I made these yesterday for my dear friend and colleague that just got tenure. He and everyone at the party loved them, especially his daughter Maya!  I really liked the graham cracker base and meringue  frosting with the piece of Hershey’s chocolate a dust of graham crackers.

Graham Cracker Base

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 20 squares)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mini chips

Chocolate Espresso Cupcake

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon of espresso powder

Meringue Frosting

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1 package of Hershey’s chocolate bars (for decoration)


Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Graham Cracker Base

  1. Reserve 2 tablespoons of crumbs to sprinkle on the top later.
  2. Place remaining graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with butter and mix to combine.
  3. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture to each cup and firmly press crumbs down with the back of a small cup.
  4. Sprinkle the mini chips on top of the graham cracker base.
  5. Bake for about 8 minutes. Cool.


  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. Then combine eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add sugar and mix until combined.
  3. Then add flour mixture. Blend at low and then increase to medium. Beat for 2 minutes until blended and smooth.  Add boiling water with 1 tbsp of espresso powder.  Batter will be thin.
  4. Let batter rest for 15 minutes and stir again gently before using.
  5. Fill liners with prepared crusts three-quarters full with batter.
  6. Bake about 16-20 minutes until done.
  7. Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack to cool completely

Meringue Frosting

  1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without letting the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the saucepan.
  3. Hold the handle of the bowl while whisking the egg white mixture until the sugar is dissolved… about 4 minutes. Then transfer bowl to the stand mixer.
  4. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture, starting on low and increasing to high speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the meringue has cooled, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla and whisk just to combine. Use frosting immediately.


  1. Place the frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a Wilton 4B tip.
  2. Pipe high swirls on the cupcakes and brown the meringue using a kitchen torch and serve immediately.
  3. Using a kitchen torch lightly toast marshmallow frosting.
  4. Place one small piece of chocolate on the top and sprinkle with graham cracker dust.


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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Just in time for Valentine’s Day another Brown Eyed Baker Recipe!  After a while she’s going to think I’m stalking her.  I just love her recipe choices and flavors. I am pretty sure we have the exactly the same tastes. This recipe makes 12 regular sized cupcakes.  I doubled the recipe.  I also found the icing to sweet so I added twice the amount of cream cheese and 1 more cup of powdered sugar to make the frosting more tangy and less sweet. Enjoy!

For the Cupcakes:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons red food coloring
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons distilled white vinegar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 ounces butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a standard muffin/cupcake pan with liners.

2. On medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

3. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter and mix on medium speed until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

5. Again, reduce the mixer speed to low and add the salt, baking soda and vinegar. Turn to high and beat for another couple of minutes until completely combined and smooth.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife or skewer inserted into the center of the largest cupcake comes out clean.

7. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the pan and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

8. To make the frosting: Using the whisk attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Increase the speed to medium high and whip for a few minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary.

*Note: This recipe can be doubled to make an 8 or 9-inch layer cake.

(Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook).


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Genomic sequence cupcakes!

Today is my first day of class for my Intro to Genomics and Proteomics course and it is also my 40th birthday (yes…I’m getting old).  So I had to make my new students something special to celebrate. I baked on of my favorite recipe- the Fudgy Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Mocha Ganache (see below).  Then I decided to decorate the tops with DNA nucleotides:  G, C, A or T. Hopefully they will like them and me!  I always get nervous the first day of class. Anything to break the ice like chocolate cake should work!


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with 2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Bring 1 cup water to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add 2 tablespoons espresso powder; stir to dissolve. Add chocolate; whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
In another large bowl, whisk vegetable oil, sour cream, eggs and vanilla to blend. Add chocolate mixture and whisk to blend well. Add 1/3 of chocolate-sour cream mixture to dry ingredients and whisk to blend. Add remaining chocolate-sour cream mixture in 2 more additions, whisking well after each addition. Divide batter equally between prepared pans or cupcake cups. Gently tap each filled pan atop counter to burst any air pockets.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes (DO NOT overbake). If making cupcakes 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cakes and turn out onto rack. Cool completely.

For ganache:
Bring first 6 ingredients to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Pour ganache into large bowl; cool until thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1-2 hours. Sometimes I stick it into the fridge to cool faster. I often make the ganache first before the cakes so it has time to cool to the right thickness.

I also wanted to show a photo of a sculpture of me that my father, Michael Skop, did a few days after I was born in 1972.  It has always been one of my favorites.  

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