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This morning I was flipping through an old recipe binder. My eyes fell on a typed recipe card. Most of the other recipes were cut from magazines so this one really stood out. I knew it was an old recipe since I don’t even know anyone who owns a typewriter anymore. It turned out to be my Nana’s recipe for Black Joe Filled Cupcakes. I still remember eating these at Nana’s house when I was little. The cake was so rich and full of chocolate flavor. The icing was creamy and sweet. Nana would make these special cupcakes for birthdays and holidays. No matter the occasion, they never lasted long.
I decided that I wanted to try to make Nana’s filled cupcakes myself. After looking over the list of ingredients, I realized that I had almost everything I needed. The only things I was missing were Crisco and a cup of strong, black coffee. I decided to just use extra butter in place of the Crisco. (I don’t recommend this, and I’ll tell you why later.) Coffee isn’t something I make at home. Luckily, there is a McDonalds right down the street. I jumped in the car and drove through the McDonald’s drive through. Once I had my small coffee, I headed home ready to get started.
Making the Cake
I pulled all of the cake ingredients from my pantry and refrigerator. After looking at the recipe, I realized that I would be able to make the cake batter in one bowl. I pulled out my favorite kitchen gadget – my Kitchenaid mixer. The flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and baking powder all went in first. I turned the mixer on low to combine the dry ingredients. Then, I added the eggs, oil, coffee, and milk. Those ingredients mixed with the dry ingredients for about a minute on the mixer’s medium high setting. It created a really dark brown batter with a runny consistency. Most of my cake batters are usually thicker. I was a little worried but decided to keep going with the recipe. Hopefully Nana hadn’t typed the recipe incorrectly!
I started filling the cupcake liners with a ladle, like I usually do. However, I was making a mess. The runny batter was dripping down the sides of it and onto my cupcake pan. I decided to put the rest of the batter into a measuring cup. Then, I was able to easily pour the batter into the liners with no more mess.
Once all of the cupcake liners were about 3/4 full, I slid the cupcake trays into the 350 degree oven. The cupcakes baked for 30 minutes. Waiting for them to be done was the hardest part. The delicious smell escaping from the oven had my kids asking when they would be done every five minutes.
Nana also made the Black Joe Cake as a regular cake instead of cupcakes. It’s equally delicious that way.
Making the Icing
While the cupcakes baked, I started on the icing. This is the only icing recipe where I have ever cooked part of the icing. I put 1 cup of milk into a small saucepan and added 5 teaspoons of flour. Stir the mixture until it boils and thickens. Then, set it aside to cool.
Next, I rinsed out the bowl of my Kitchenaid Mixer. I creamed a cup of butter and a cup of sugar until it was smooth. This is where I was supposed to use 1/2 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of Crisco. Then, I added one teaspoon of vanilla.
Once the flour mixture was cooled, I added it to the mixer and combined everything on low speed. Of course, I had to try the icing to see if it tasted the way I remembered. The taste was the same, but the consistency was a little bit softer. I think this is where the Crisco would have been helpful. It must have been the ingredient that held the icing together. Either that or the heat was making the butter melt. It was really hot today. Either way, next time I will be sure to buy Crisco.
Assembling the Black Joe Filled Cupcakes
Once the cupcakes are out of the oven and cooled, you are ready to assemble your cupcakes. I know that today most filled cupcakes have the filling piped inside. However, Nana was from the Coal Region of Pennsylvania so there was no fancy piping for her. In keeping with tradition, I made these cupcakes Nana’s way. She would cut a round section out of the top of the cupcake and spoon the icing into the hole. Then, the top goes back on the icing.
The first bite of the Black Joe Filled Cupcake took me right back to my childhood at Nana’s house. I was so excited to share this special treat with my own kiddos. Miss M pulled off the top piece of cake and licked all of the icing out before devouring the rest of the cake. Yummy! Miss M and J both loved the cupcakes and wanted more. Luckily, the recipe makes a large batch so we’ll have some for future desserts. I also remember Nana freezing these cupcakes and just pulling them out when she needed dessert for us. Maybe I’ll freeze a few so I have them next time I get a craving for Nana’s Black Joe Filled Cupcakes.
What are your favorite food memories from childhood?