It’s that time of the year, where American football dominates pretty much everything round here. I mean, we aren’t the biggest football fans, but we live in New England. Whether you love the New England Patriots or hate ’em, you have to admit they are an amazing team. I’m a Chicago Bears fan, and after so many absolutely horrific seasons, I’m still loyal to my home team, but I have to give it up for the Patriots.
Having said that, we are still in the middle of playoffs. Who knows who’ll make it to the Super Bowl, but what I can tell you is that many of us will be spending the next few weekends wrapped up in all things football. And that includes entertaining and cooking. Our next few weekends are booked with brunches and dinners with friends, and I can guarantee that the game (whichever game it is) will be on, and it will be front and center. So, in that spirit, I wanted to make a football themed dessert.
I decided on cupcakes because who doesn’t like cupcakes? And going along with that same thinking, I wanted to make the ever popular chocolate cupcakes. This particular recipe for chocolate cupcakes is a new one from me. It includes all of my favorites in a chocolate cupcake recipe – it’s made with oil, milk, and coffee. I know some recipes say that adding the coffee is optional, but if you want that little chocolate cake to have some depth of flavor, the coffee is a must. Another important reason the coffee is a must, is that it provides the acid in the batter, and since my recipe uses baking soda as the leavener, an acidic component is necessary for the proper crumb and texture for the cupcakes.
From the get go I knew I wanted to plop a big-old football on the cupcake. But what I needed to figure out was what kind of football – a sugar cookie football, a royal icing football, a candy melt football, or a cake pop one. Since I wanted the football to have dimension and substance, a cake pop was the obvious choice.
Plus, making the cake pop was such a breeze because I just used the extra cupcakes to make my footballs rather than having to make a batch of sugar cookies or royal icing just for the cupcake topping. So really this football themed dessert is really two treats in one – a moist, rich, cupcake and a dense, chocolatey cake pop all in one adorable, football package!
- For the Chocolate Cupcakes and Cake Pops: 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil (I used coconut oil, melted and cooled)
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup strong coffee, warm
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbs milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
- For the vanilla frosting: 1½ cups, unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioner's sugar
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbs milk or cream
- For the cake pops:
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 tbs vegetable shortening
- For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with paper wrappers.
- In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk the oil, sugar, oil, eggs, and coffee.
- Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.
- Fill each cup of the muffin tin about ⅔ full.
- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- For the vanilla frosting: Cream the butter and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
- Add the vanilla, salt, and milk. Mix until light and fluffy.
- Set about a scant ¼ of the frosting aside for the cake pops.
- For the cake pops: Once the cupcakes are completely cool, crumble 6 of the cupcakes into fine crumbs.
- Mix in about 2 tbs of frosting. The resulting mix should be malleable and soft, like play-doh.
- Using about 1 tsp of cake pop mix, form the cake pops into a football shape. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and chill for at least an hour.
- When the cake pops are thoroughly chilled, melt the chopped chocolate and shortening.
- Using a toothpick, dip the cake pops in the chocolate. Gently shake off extra chocolate. Place the cake pops back onto the cookie sheet and cool completely.
- While the cake pops cool, frost the cupcakes.
- Once the cake pops are completely cool, place the extra frosting in a piping bag and pipe the football details on each of the cake pops.
- Tint any left over frosting green. Place in a piping bag, and pipe lines in the middle of the cupcake.
- Finally, place one football cake pop on top of each cupcake.
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