The bizarrely named Elodie's Chocolate Cake recipe on Epicurious is the perfect easy birthday party cupcake recipe for parents in a pinch who don't want to use mix. We even had the perfect amount of chocolate in the form of 70% Valrhona bricks I've needed to burn. I doubled the batch and wound up with about 45 springy and chewy, moist cupcakes. Bake at about 20 minutes in foil cups. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or make the following butter cream from How to Cook Everything.
Mark Bittman has been doing right by us this week, between the winter squash "more sauce, less pasta" pasta, and this save-my-ass-at-the-last-minute-when-the-other-batch-of-frosting-failed. I generally find these recipes to give you way more than you need, so I halved it and made as given below, which exactly covered 35 cakes (the full recipe is for 2 dozen cupcakes!). The remainder went near naked for the frosting-phobes.
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream the butter in a mixer, add vanilla, then add the sugar and cream gradually. I also sifted the sugar, which made a big difference.
The result was smooth and thick as can be, making for a sweet birthday shared by family and friends. James even got his first teeny tiny taste of cake. A special day, indeed. And I'm really tired.