Black Bottom Cupcakes
There were a few things I remember vividly from our large family gatherings in Michigan where I grew up. I remember being the youngest cousin of the bunch, which was both a curse and a blessing all at once.
My Mom was the youngest sibling of seven sisters and a brother so being the youngest cousin meant a few different things. It meant I had some advantages because I was the baby, like getting the first pick of the crispy skin off the Thanksgiving turkey my Uncle Harold always made in his kitchen in the basement. While all 20 of us were pulled in by the savory aroma at different times asking if it was ready yet, I may have milked the “I’m the baby” thing a bit when it came to the crispy skin.
However, It also meant that my cousins got to go places I didn’t, and sometimes, they teased me by telling me there was an imaginary rabbit under the table when I ate black olives and left the pits on my plate.
Don’t ask me why I didn’t connect the dots that I had just eaten the olives, but for some reason I always looked for the rabbit.
Thank God for public schooling and an education. My cousins may have scarred me for life.
Not really, I love my cousins dearly. They were all pretty darn nice to me, except for the fake rabbit!
The greatest thing about family gatherings was that all my aunts (and some of my uncles) always brought the most delicious food to our almost weekly gatherings. As kids, we eagerly awaited the arrival of each of my aunts and the goodies they were bringing. My aunts were known for their individual special offerings, like My Aunt Rae’s Fabulous Fudge, and My Aunt Odie’s bright bowls of finger jello in all the colors of the rainbow…
And there were my Aunt Janie’s Black Bottom Cupcakes.
Black Bottom Cupcakes or simply “Black Bottoms” as we always called them, are the best of both worlds.
From their fluffy and moist chocolate bottom (hence the name), to their cheesecake topping to the chunks of rich dark chocolate pieces that fall in between, do not be deceived by their rather ordinary look. Instead, sink your teeth into one of these lusciously moist treats and you’ll make them again and again.
You’ll need two mixing bowls for this recipe. One for the chocolate portion and one for the cheesecake topping. I usually use my power mixer for the cheesecake portion so as to get it nice and creamy and smooth, but the chocolate portion requires nothing more than a whisk and a good strong arm.
So let’s start out with the cheesecake portion.
Toss one 8-ounce package of cream cheese (room temperature) into a mixing bowl along with one egg, a third of a cup of sugar, a pinch of salt and one cup of chocolate chips. My grown-up taste buds prefer the rich, dark variety instead of the milk chocolate ones, but you can use what you like best!
Now for the chocolate portion of these, you can just use a whisk and a simple mixing bowl. No need for dirtying up a hand mixer or washing out your previous mixing bowl. Just throw all these ingredients into a large bowl…1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 cup sugar, 1/3 c. canola or vegetable oil, 1/4 c., 1 t. salt, 1 cup of water, 1 t. soda, 1 T. apple cider vinegar, 1 t. vanilla.
Yes I said vinegar and there is a reason for this insanity.
Vinegar and baking soda react together to make a light and springy devil’s food chocolate cake batter so just trust your friendly food blogger and do it. You won’t taste vinegar at all. I promise.
Take a whisk and just make sure everything is stirred up well, but don’t over-mix this part or you won’t end up with luscious, light and tender devil’s food batter. Just mix it minimally, maybe one minute tops!
I used an ice cream scoop to fill each muffin cup halfway with the chocolate mixture. I would advise to be sparing with the batter at first. This should make 18 cupcakes. You can come back and add more later if you have some left over to each cup but just keep it even.
After you fill all 18 muffin cups with the chocolate batter, now you’ll need to place a dollop of the cream cheese in the center of each cupcake. There is a lot of fuss and worry over placing it directly in the center and if you’re one of those OCD types, you could use a pastry bag to pipe it precisely into the center of each cupcake. We never worry much about that in our family because if it looks less than perfect, it will still taste just divine.
I would say you’d put a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half into the center of each cupcake. Then take some sugar and lightly sprinkle the tops of the cupcakes before you pop these into a 350º oven for 30 minutes (or if you poke the chocolate part, it should spring back!).
My aunt’s recipe also calls to sprinkle them with “nuts” (chopped pecans, I’m sure) but I don’t remember there ever being nuts on the ones Aunt Jane made, due to, I’m sure, someone not liking nuts, but you could certainly add those as well. Funny thing is I’m so used to the rich creamy texture of them, I don’t think I would like the nuts…but who knows?
Tasting these cupcakes the other night, made a warm flood of memories come back.
Memories of nights at my aunt’s house where my cousins and I flopped down onto sleeping bags all across the house and giggled. Memories of playing Operation and Clue and The Game of Life on the floor in my cousins’ room while jumping and screaming when our attempts at being surgeons caused the Operation game to buzz loudly while a red nose flashed.
Memories of sinking my teeth into a moist cheesecake filled chocolate cupcake that tasted like heaven. The little crunch of the sugar on top?
The best of memories.
- 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 egg
- ⅓ c. sugar
- ⅛ t. salt
- 1 c.dark chocolate chips
- 1½ c. flour
- 1 c. sugar
- ¼ c. cocoa
- 1 t. salt
- 1 c. water
- ⅓ c. oil
- 1 t. soda
- 1 T. vinegar
- 1 t. pure vanilla extract
- ¼ sugar (for sprinkling)
- ½ c. chopped pecans (for sprinkling)
- With electric mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth about 1 minute. Add chocolate chips and stir in gently by hand or with mixer on very lowl
- Sift together dry ingredients and add into bowl.
- Add wet ingredients and beat with whisk only until incorporated, a minute or less. Don't over mix or the batter will be tough!
- Line or spray 18 muffin cups with baking spray.
- Fill muffin tins half full with chocolate mixture but make sure you divide it up evenly with the batter. Start small and add more later if you have leftover.
- Using small teaspoon, dollop cream cheese mixture as best as you can into center of chocolate mixture.
- Bake at 350º for 30 minutes or until you press the cupcake and it feels springy.