Between the Sheets – Black Bottom Cupcakes

My parents met between sheets and underwear.  My mom wouldn’t stand for my dad’s treatment of his bed linen.  (Sheets are meant to be folded gentlemen.  Not stuffed into pillowcases and carted back to your apartment.)  Their budding relationship continued over Friday nights spent collating on my dad’s office floor.   Somewhere between the single-sheet photo copier and the manual typewriter, on which my mom plugged away, they eloped.  Their marriage was quick.  It had to be.  The judge needed to feed his chickens.

This story is not a fairytale.  In fact, it is filled with lean months living out of the bank.  It is made of simple dates spent reading on a couch.  It was forged by my mom’s cold feet warming on my dad’s legs during winter nights, while he howled in protest.  See, it didn’t end with a kiss at sunset.  It continued then as it does now.  It grew on the foundation of two people who stood by one another unconditionally.

a small prayer for the day
Would that I should that I live to find love,
I pray he looks upon me,
the way my dad looks upon my mum.
I pray I find my partner
My best friend.
I pray I find a man
Strong enough to battle life, with me to the end.

February 14 is not a day I like very much.  In fact, I have quite a few objections to it.   Primarily, there are 365 days a year.  If you love someone, you should tell them on each and every one.  That being said, there are two things I like about Valentine’s Day.  First, even when times were lean my dad bought my mom a dozen roses, every year except one.  On one of their first Valentine’s Days together she asked him not to buy her roses, because, “They just didn’t have the money.”  After a lot of pestering and pleading he agreed not to buy her a dozen roses.

On Valentine’s Day, a dozen-and-one roses arrived at their front door.

I discovered the second redeeming quality of Valentine’s Day my freshman year of college – Black Bottom Cupcakes.  They arrived in a care package, slightly smooched and sticking to the sides of their Tupperware container.  Thanks to Lara Louise’s mom, I always looked forward to Valentine’s Day in college.  “Would that I should that I live to find love,” a dozen-and-one roses would be beautiful.  For now, Black Bottom Cupcakes are wonderful.

Black Bottom Cupcakes
From The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz
Makes 12 cupcakes (Note: I found this makes 12 huge cupcakes, which bake up and out of the muffin cups or 24 normal size ones)

I don’t have Momma Jones’s recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes.  It is another thing on my list of, “Items I Misplaced in My Move North.”  I am in hot pursuit of it again, as I have enlisted Lara Louise’s help in asking her mom for it.  In the meantime, Lebovitz’s recipe was a fabulous stand in.

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature (regular or reduced fat)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 ounces chocolate chips (bittersweet or semisweet)

Beat together cream cheese, granulated sugar, and egg until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips and set aside.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 TBS natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 TBS cider vinegar (white vinegar can be used as a substitute, but I preferred cider)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Adjust rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line it with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl ,sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth.

Note:  If you over stir the batter, the cupcakes won’t be tender.

Divide batter among the muffin cups.  Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, and divide evenly.

Note: Lebovitz says this will fill the cups almost completely and he’s not joking.  When I baked them, they grew up and out of the muffin cups.  I found filling each cupcake cup only half way up with batter and adding only 1 TBS of filling to each cupcake was a lot better.  Not only did it make more cupcakes, but they were easier to handle and store.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed.  Allow to cool for one minute and then remove from muffin cups and transfer to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Note: It is helpful to run a butter knife around each cupcake, between the muffin cup and the cake, and then use the knife to help gently lift out the cupcake.

Recipe in print-friendly format

13 Replies to “Between the Sheets – Black Bottom Cupcakes”

  1. I loved your story about your parents- very touching. I have been married to a wonderful man for 10 years and my parents for 40 years. I don’t think there is any such thing as “the right one”- just two people willing to stick together and make it work. Some days it’s easier than others, but there must be the decision to stay together through thick and thin and work to keep the relationship alive. I hope you are fortunate enough to find someone special to spend your life with.

    I loved the recipe- am going to try these for sure!

  2. I am so glad to hear you are with such a wonderful man. It is always inspirational to see couples who in love and work to stay that way. I hope you like the recipe. Happy baking!

  3. your parents’ love story is beautiful – now that’s true love. you have a wonderful example in them – i’m sure you will find your guy one day soon!

    this version of black bottom cupcakes sound pretty similar to the one i tried from bon appetit – they really overflow out of the cupcake pans! the cheesecake topping looks yummy – you definitely got more with this recipe.

  4. That’s such a cute how-they-met story… I love those! Your parents are really lucky, and so are you that you have their example to show the way. And you’re right, you’ll know it in his look that says “I’m the luckiest guy in the world.” And you won’t need a Hallmark holiday to tell you that he’s right!

    Can’t wait to see the “real” cupcake recipe when you find it! ; )

  5. what a sweet story about your parents, and what a sweet treat with those delicious black bottom cupckaes!
    I would love to try a few of those sweet treats

  6. Thank you. Momma Jones sent me her recipe. It’s fabulous! You might not want to tell anyone if you’re making them, or maybe you will to save you from yourself 😉 Either way, here’s the recipe:

    Makes 24 cupcakes.

    1 cup cream cheese (8 oz)
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 unbeaten egg
    1/8 tsp salt
    6 oz chocolate chips (I use mini size)
    2 ¼ cup flour
    1 ½ cups sugar
    ¼ cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
    1 ½ tsp baking soda
    ¾ tsp salt
    1 ½ cups water
    1/3 cup + 3 tbsp oil
    1 ½ tsp vanilla

    Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and salt until smooth. Add chocolate chips and set aside.

    Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add water, oil, and vanilla and mix until smooth. Fill paper muffin cups 1/3 to ½ full of chocolate batter. Top each with a heaping teaspoonful of cream cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

    Note: even when using a tablespoon of filling in each cupcake I usually have some filling left over. “Heaping tsp” should probably be at least a tablespoon.

  7. Mmm, black bottom cupcakes! This is one of those things I’ve always loved, but completely forgot about. Thank you for the reminder, they look so good!

    Such a sweet story about your parents. A dozen and *one* roses. Sassy! Love it. 🙂

  8. Thanks! He is sassy when wants to be. Normally it’s things like this, where he is skirting around what you’ve asked him not to do, so he can do something wonderful 😉

  9. Mikaela, I so enjoyed the story (and picture!) of your mom and dad! 13 roses delivered to their door- LOL!
    The Black Bottom Cupcakes sound incredible. Chocolate cupcakes with cheesecake topping? Oh, my goodness! 🙂 Thank you for a recipe I want to try very soon!

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