Yellow Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Frosting


Ah, yes, the classic yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. It’s the Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines cupcake that us Americans grew up with. For a recent potluck, I volunteered to bring a batch of cupcakes. However, I didn’t want them to be out-of-the-box type of cupcakes. I wanted to be inspired by the classic combination, but not recreate them with their cloying sweetness. So instead I turned to my copy of Joy of Cooking (which I am finding to be indispensable these days).

I like the cake recipes in Joy of Cooking because although many of them contain an extra, slightly annoying step, they produce much better results than other cake recipes. This extra step involves separating the eggs and whipping the whites into a meringue before mixing them into the batter. The method introduces more air into the batter, thus allowing for more leavening during the baking process. It’s worth the extra bowl and beaters to wash!


Four-Egg Yellow Cake | Joy of Cooking

Three 8- or 9-inch round layers, (or 24 cupcakes)
This is a slightly modernized version of the old 1-2-3-4 Cake.
Have all ingredients at room temperature, about 70°F. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8 x 2-inch or 9 x 2-inch round cake pans or line the bottoms with wax or parchment paper.
Whisk together thoroughly in a bowl:
2 2⁄3 cups sifted cake flour
2 1⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Combine in another bowl or in a liquid measure cup:
1 cup milk
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus 1⁄2 teaspoon almond extract

Beat in a large bowl until creamy.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Gradually add and beat on high speed until light, 3 to 5 minutes:
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
Beat in one at a time:
4 large egg yolks
On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, beating until smooth. Using clean beaters, beat in a large bowl on medium speed until soft peaks form:
4 large egg whites
1⁄4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Gradually add, beating on high speed:
1⁄4 cup sugar
Beat until the peaks are stiff but not dry. Use a rubber spatula to fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Divide the batter among the pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.

Chocolate Mouse Frosting | Joy of Cooking


  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s or icing sugar)
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped or grated
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, and salt. Set the bowl in a large skillet of barely-simmering water and heat it, stirring constantly, until it reaches 160º F.

Remove the bowl from the heat and add the butter, chocolate, and vanilla extract, stirring until melted and smooth.

Set the bowl in an ice bath. Beat it on high speed until the frosting cools and begins to hold shape – the frosting will become a light brown.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to four days. Soften and beat smooth before using refrigerated frosting.


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