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I actually remember the first time I ever made these cupcakes. It was the summer of 1976, and I was a lithe young thing who never gave a second thought to such concepts as carbohydrates, fat grams, or weight gain. Ah, the ignorance of youth!

I’m guessing at the recipe’s provenance, but it could have been clipped from the (Cleveland, Ohio) Plain Dealer. A recipe prowler even at such a tender age, I was organized enough to type my finds on 5×7 index cards, but not so organized as to include their origins for future attribution. My coinage of the term “scissor-worthy” was decades away. And, since the Internet as we know it was not yet conceived, it would have come as a surprise to me that someday I would be able to share this recipe’s glories with untold readers on something called a blog. Ah, the joys of food-time travel!

For some inexplicable reason, I craved these cupcakes yesterday, and so they became part of our 4th of July menu, which was shared at the home of friends. But you don’t need a national holiday to enjoy their deep, dark, chocolate-y goodness, or the richness of their moist texture. Check your pantry to make sure you have these ingredients on hand, because I promise you: you want to make these. And soon. Enjoy!

Black-Bottom Cupcakes

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
2 and 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 and 1/8 teaspoons salt, divided
1 6-ounce package of semisweet chocolate pieces (I prefer Ghirardelli’s)
3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I used Penzey’s Dutch-processed cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups water
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, egg, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small mixing bowl. Beat well. Add chocolate pieces and set aside.

Combine flour, cocoa, 2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and soda. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. (Batter will be very thin.)

Place muffin liners in muffin pan. Fill each 2/3 full of batter, then drop a teaspoon of cream cheese mixture in the center. Bake at 350-degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack. Yields two to two and one-half dozen small cupcakes or one dozen large cupcakes. The recipe says that these freeze well when wrapped in aluminum foil, but for some reason, I’ve never had the chance to freeze them. I wonder why?