Category Archives: Scientific Food

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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Zebrafish cupcakes

I made these cupcakes for a colleague of mine after he got tenure!  They depict Zebrafish embryonic developmental stages. I used my favorite Fudgy Chocolate Mocha Cake recipe but iced them with white icing and bought blue icing to pipe with!   They were delicious!

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