Not to worry, there will be no photos of my first attempt at David Lebovitz’s Black Bottom cupcakes, lest I cause someone to lose their lunch at one look at them. I will, however, make you privy to how my family reacted to them. My sister said they looked like age spots while my dear mother said that they looked like they were moldy already.
While I do think my mom was a bit harsh on my cupcakes, I do concede that they were not the most appetizing-looking things I’ve ever made. Ok, fine, they were ugly. I didn’t push in the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of the cupcake enough, as I assumed that it would sink on its own. I was wrong and the cream cheese mixture that I left on the top of the cupcakes stayed there instead of forming a deep cream cheese pocket in the middle of the chocolate batter. The end result was not unlike Smitten Kitchen‘s first attempt at it.
While I was disappointed at how they turned out aesthetically, the real test should and always be the way something tastes, right? And since this recipe had chocolate, cream cheese AND was by David Lebovitz, I need not have worried.
Silly, shallow me. Who cares if they looked like living organisms have started to grow on them (or that they are growing on a living organism, for that matter) if they are delicious? The chocolate base was moist and chocolate-y and provided the perfect contrast to the creamy and slightly tangy cream cheese filling. And the solid chocolate bits in the filling just added that additional layer of texture, and was a great surprise in the mouth against the moist, mushiness of the cupcake.
I got them tasting perfect, but I was determined to get them looking perfect. Not just because I’m stubborn like that, but also because if I do serve these to people outside my family, I wouldn’t like them to think that I’m serving them mold-infested food.
The commenters on the Smitten Kitchen post suggested chilling the cream cheese mixture in the fridge first so that it’s less runny when you spoon it into the chocolate batter. Deb also suggested using a piping bag, but I was too lazy to get mine out. I made the cream cheese mixture first and stuck it in the fridge while I was making the rest of the cupcake. It probably needed a little more time than that, since it was nowhere near the melon-baller-friendly consistency they commenters referred to. But I already had the oven going and didn’t want my batter to sit around in the heat so I went ahead anyway. I tried to keep the mixture as compact, vertical and in the middle as possible using my measuring spoon (1tbsp) and a butter knife and this was how my second batched turned out:
I got them perfect looking from the top but I was also concerned about how they looked inside, since I think that black and white cross-section is part of the charm of these little babies. It’s a little sad how happy I was when I sliced into one saw this:
Wheeeeeeeeeee! So pretty, no? No one would compare these to those things you see in anti-aging cream commercials now! And apart from just being prettier, I do think that having the cream cheese sink into the center and not just pool on the top makes for a better cupcake. You don’t have two distinct layers of flavors. Instead, you get bites that are more chocolate than cream cheese or vice versa, or all cream cheese or all chocolate.
Don’t worry, though, if you do try these out, and they don’t turn out looking like the photo the first time (duh, even Deb from Smitten Kitchen messed hers up the first time, so we’re in good company) or EVER, even. The important thing is that they are delicious and make you go “Mmmmmmmm…” after just one bite. As hackneyed as it sounds, don’t judge the book by it cover. Or, in this case, don’t judge the cupcake by its moldy-looking top layer.