I didn't have a lot of time to get inventive, so I went for my standard chocolate cupcake recipe. To make it a bit more "birthday" themed, I decided to throw in some mini M&Ms for brightness. I also used a chocolate ganache icing for a change, which turned out to be amazing - so delicious!
Once we got to Jason's place and everyone had arrived, everyone was everywhere (or to be more accurate, all the boys were outside smoking) and it was a total struggle to get everyone inside to do the surprise cupcakes! Liz and I had to sneak off to set up the cupcakes, and I put Alex in charge of my camera to get photos when we brought them out. In this process he took a few random selfies, and I'd be remiss to not share them as part of this post!
Meanwhile we put Kai and Glen in charge of trying to drag everyone inside to do the cupcakes, but as a surprise (ie "everyone come inside for a bit.. just because..") and that took at least half an hour. I respectfully used the time to snoop through everything in Jason's bedroom (hi Jase). Liz had more respect than I did and did significantly less snooping (I'm not sure if it was none though..)
When we finally got everyone inside it went well! The cupcakes looked fabulous all lit up with their pretty candles - and they tasted amazing! So moist, and with the chocolate ganache they were just melt-in-your-mouth-delicious!!
I'd only make one improvement to the recipe - this time I mixed the M&Ms in with the batter, then scooped them into the cupcake cups. They then sank to the bottom, which was still yummy but not as spread out. Next time, I'd add the batter to the cupcake cups, then pop the M&Ms on top right before they go in the oven - gives them more time to sink which means they might not reach the bottom!
1 3/4 plain flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking power
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong black coffee
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 bag mini M&Ms
170 grams milk chocolate
1/2 cup cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
extra mini M&Ms for decorating
Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with cupcake cups. Sift all dry ingredients (except M&Ms) into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add all wet ingredients to the bowl. Mix for 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping the side of the bowl with a spatula as you go. The batter will be liquidy. Throw the bag of mini M&Ms in and mix quickly with a spoon. (Note: Next time I'd wait to put the M&Ms directly into the cupcake cups.) Pour or scoop into muffin tins. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until the top bounces back when you touch it. Cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
For the ganache, place the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate. (Note: Don't take the cream off the stove too early - make sure it definitely is boiling or the chocolate won't melt.) Whisk until smooth. Add the vanilla extract. Let stand until cool but still smooth and glossy.
To frost the cupcakes, spoon a little onto each cupcake and spread with a spatula or knife. Quickly pop some mini M&Ms on top, and refrigerate quickly to set.