My favorite chocolate cupcake/cake recipe

Remember my 12 days of Christmas baking? Yeah, sorry I let you down. It got crazy around here with Christmas parties and concerts, and I just couldn't keep up. I actually baked 12 things, but I haven't had the chance to post the recipes yet. So I am going to continue posting my favorite recipes over the next few weeks as I find time. 

I don't like cake. I don't. I'll eat a slice here or there, but I'd much prefer a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pie any time. BUT, I love this chocolate cake/cupcake recipe. I have probably tried 10 chocolate cake recipes, but this is the ONE. My mother-in-law actually suggested this recipe several years back, but I semi-ignored the suggestion because I just couldn't believe that the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa container could beat the one I had been using, but I was wrong. I'm not sure why this recipe is so much better than the others I've tried, but I tend to think it's because of the boiling water. (I even found a new white cake recipe using hot water because this one changed my whole perspective on cake.) I started making this cake 2 years ago for Tim's birthday, and it is now the most requested cake/cupcake recipe in the house.

The perfect chocolate cupcake/cake (and my vanilla frosting)
2 c. sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. boiling water

Heat oven to 350. Grease 2 9-inch round pans or put paper cups in 2 muffin tins. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat until just mixed. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin) and pour into pans/muffin tins. Bake 30-35 minutes if making a cake. Bake 22-25 minutes if making cupcakes (makes about 30 cupcakes if filled 2/3 full).

My vanilla frosting (I don't actually measure my frosting ingredients anymore, but I did for this recipe just for you)
1 c. softened butter (2 sticks)
3-4 c. powdered sugar (Buy the better powdered sugar. It's only a 20 cents more than the generic, but it makes a difference)
2 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. heavy cream
a pinch of kosher salt (essential ;))

Combine all ingredients.

If you're making a cake and want chocolate frosting, I use the following recipe:
1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients.

And Tim prefers this cream filling for the layers of his favorite chocolate cake. I usually make a four layer cake and add this to every layer. Again, I give all credit to his mother, who is an amazing baker.
Cream Filling for a chocolate cake
1 envelope (1 Tbsp) unflavored gelatin
1/4 c. cold water
2 c. heavy whipping cream
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a very small bowl, dissolve gelatin in cold water. Let stand until gelatin thickens. Place gelatin (still in small bowl) in a larger bowl of very hot water; this will make the gelatin clear and thin. (Both his mom and I use a small measuring cup with a handle to dissolve in cold water because the handle makes it easier to maneuver). While the gelatin is sitting in hot water, start whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla in a separate bowl. When the cream starts to thicken, start to drizzle the thinned gelatin in to the cream and whip until thick. It is important not to put all the gelatin in at once because it will cup into jello. Just drizzle it slowly as you whip the cream. Lather it heavily on the layers of the cake.

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