Yesterday, some very special visitors stopped by Henry Street Settlement, including someone who, as a young child, had actually met Lillian Wald, the visionary progressive reformer who founded the Settlement in 1893. We were honored indeed to welcome our visitors into our historic dining room. In anticipation, I decided to bake something from The Settlement Cook Book which, though published by a settlement house in Milwaukee, features many of the same immigrant foods served at Henry Street in the early 20th century.
It took just a minute to select a recipe from this 622-page tome, first published in 1901. (My copy dates from 1936.) I mean, what could be more welcoming than old-fashioned chocolate cupcakes? I "cheated" and frosted them with a modern-day vanilla buttercream (from a Magnolia Bakery recipe). But even topped with the creamy icing, the cupcakes looked too plain for our special guests -- until I remembered the gorgeous crystallized violets I had made this past weekend. Et voila, the perfect petit fours!
The cupcakes are truly simple to make. Mix the butter and sugar; add the egg and blend in one square of unsweetened, melted chocolate.
The batter will be rather thick, and I found it easier to pipe from a pastry bag with a round tip. I used mini-cupcake tins, but one pays for their adorableness with the extra time it takes to fill them. Still, I think it's pretty good value.
I also piped the frosting, and then topped each with a violet, a task best done right after piping so that the violets adhere well.
The recipe is on the first page of the chapter entitled Small Cakes, Cookies, Kisses.
Instructions, more clearly, below (with a miner change):
Cream butter and sugar, add egg, and blend. Mix in chocolate. Add flour and baking soda (which have been mixed together) alternately with the buttermilk (sour milk) beginning and ending with the flour. Place in small greased (or paper lined) muffin tins, bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.