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Black Bottom Cupcakes (Cul Noir Gateaux)

I don’t think people realize the sacrifices I make for this blog.

See these cupcakes? These deep dark chocolatey cakes with far too much cream cheese goodness on top ? I had to eat three before I found my money shot cupcake, the one that looked nice enough to be photographed.


Still slighty warmish, I choked them down with my afternoon coffee and then had to nibble on one more to get the right half-eaten, but still able to see what it is photograph.

This is what I’m talking about. Huge. Sacrifices.

But that’s what I’m here for. That’s what I signed up to do…to make and test and eat again (and again if I must) in order to post the best recipe possible for whatever that’s tickled my fancy at that moment.

And right now, after telling a friend of mine that chocolate is not that big of a deal to me, and that, you know, I could take it or leave it, I’ve caught myself sneaking into the kitchen at night and breaking off yet another square of the superdark chocolate Lindt bar with fleur de sel, while continuing to tell myself that I Do Not Have a Problem.

For proof that I’m Not Addicted to Chocolate, look at this recipe for a moment. Please note that I’ve not even put in chocolate chips, which some people like to do. Besides, the cupcakes themselves are really quite chocolatey on their own. But I might try to add a few chips later. Next time.

Now, if I may just take a left turn for a moment and have a word about the name of these little cakes. Black bottom. The same as my favorite white on the top, dark brown-bottomed French pottery, cul noir. That can’t be a coincidence, now can it?

I mean, what are the odds that there would be a delicious chocolate cake and a hard-to-find type of 18th and 19th century ceramique with the same name? I feel kismet hitting me hard on the head, and there’s really only one thing to do.

Put all of those little black bottom gateaux on one of my 100-year-old cul noir plates…and eat all of them until they’re gone. Then go look for my stretch pants.

Black Bottom Cupcakes (Cul Noir Gateaux)

Makes 2 dozen

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C and line 2 one-dozen cupcake pans with liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Set this aside.

3. Measure out your buttermilk and add the brewed coffee to this. Set this aside, too. You’ll get to this in just a couple of minutes.

4. Cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. Pour in 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and mix this in, too.

5. Keep the mixer running on low speed and add the eggs one at a time, beating about a minute or so after each egg. This’ll help make your cakes light and fluffy, so don’t rush this step.

6. Now add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture in thirds, starting with the buttermilk and ending with the flour. As you do this, just mix each round until blended — this is where you don’t want to overmix or you’ll end up with tough cupcakes — I like to use my long-handled wooden spoon to get anything that’s stuck to the bottom of the bowl stir it in. Set this aside while you make your cream cheese middle filling.

7. Put the egg yolk, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla in your mixer bowl and blend. Add your cream cheese and mix this on low speed just until it comes together.

8. Fill your cupcake liners slightly less than two-thirds full with the chocolate batter, then top with a heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture (you may want to use a knife to swirl this around or push it into the cake batter just a little). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cupcakes begin to crack a little bit. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes or so before you take them out and put them on a rack. Although these are better the next day, I’ve never waited that long to eat them. Once they’ve cooled to room temperature (after an hour or so), I’m usually brewing coffee and snacking on one…or ahem…three.