For those of you who do not know–me up until a week ago–the Scharffen Berger factory in Berkeley is now closed. I was always planning on going for the factory tour but never got around to actually doing it. It was one of those things that I took for granted, assuming it would wait for me until I had more time. I visited Berkeley a little over a week ago, fully planning on doing all of the Berkeley things I had not had time to do as an undergraduate. Then I visited the site and learned that I was too late. Contrary to my egotistic reasoning, the Scharffen Berger factory was not waiting for me to come visit. It had moved on.
In the words of my eloquent apartmentmate, sadness.
I was so sad. Ask anyone. What a wake-up call.
So my roommate and I scheduled a tour to Charles Chocolates, located in Emeryville. It was clean, modern, colorful and informative. We sampled the dark chocolate covered Fleur de Sel as well as the milk chocolate molded caramel. The factory was small, well-kept and obviously loved. It reminded of the classic “I Love Lucy” episode in which Lucy and Ethel go to work in a chocolate factory. The famous scene with the conveyer belt never fails to crack me up. If you need a laugh, watch it here.
I made some cupcakes last Christmas, and I wanted to share the photos. My friend wanted to make music themed cupcakes for her music class. We decided to go with a black and white motif, so I did some major chocolate cupcake research. I was torn between recipes from Martha Stewart, Cupcake Blog and another source that slips my mind at the moment. I opted for the old-fashioned chocolate cupcake recipe from Cupcake Blog since it was slightly healthier than the others. She actually has a few different recipes under the same name, but this is the one I used.
Doesn’t it look like a box of chocolates? We decorated using Betty Crocker chocolate and vanilla icing, “piped” using ziploc bags that exploded periodically. We also used shredded coconut, Ikea pearl sugar, powdered sugar and cocoa powder. I had a lot of fun experimenting with textures.
It was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of finals. We covered the kitchen table with newspaper, poured the decorations into bowls, rolled up our sleeves and dug in. I felt like a child again.
Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
14 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
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