Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

I was very excited to make these because I was using my newly ordered Valrhona Cocoa Powder and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (both ordered from Amazon!).  
Valrhona is a French chocolate made from 100% dutch processed cocoa. It is real delicious in cakes and desserts and considered to be one of the best (if not the best) chocolate/cocoa in the world.The Recipe Makes 18 cupcakes (I halved the recipe to make 9).


For the cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar bourbon
1 cup whole milk (I used 2% milk)
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with 12 baking cups, and a second pan with 6 baking cups.
2) Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
3) Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar
4) Add the eggs one at a time.  Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
5) Reduce the speed to low or just use spatula to mix. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then add one-third of the milk mixture. Repeat in thirds until all of it is used up. 
6) Add the cocoa powder, beating (on low speed) just until incorporated.  Be careful to use a mixer on low speed or else the powder flies all over. 
7) Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter, so that the wells are two-thirds full. 

8) Bake for 16 to 17 minutes (start checking at15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 30 minutes.

For Strawberry Frosting (I cut this recipe in half)
1/2 cup whole frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1) Puree strawberries in a small food processor
2) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. 
3) Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. 
4) Add vanilla and 3 tablespoons strawberry puree (save any remaining strawberry puree for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Frosting the Cupcake:
Take a butter knife (or offset spatula) and gently slide the icing over the cupcake. 
You could also pipe the icing on with a bag (I used a ziplock bag).  Simply scrape the frosting into the bag with a spatula, twist the bag at the top and snip off the corner. Make a small snip to retain some control on the flow of the icing. 


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