Before I say anything else, I have to say one thing: wow. You guys are something.
I still get a little choked up when I think about your comments on that last post—from you who, for the most part, do not know me or my family. You hear bloggers saying all the time how overwhelmed they get when these readers—strangers, in a lot of ways—come around them and wrap them in kindness and empathy and friendship, and I feel like I understand that now. I just can’t say thank you enough, so, again, thank you.
That said, you’ve been so kind to take part in the giveaway (two more days left! ending Saturday!) and to talk with me about Grandma, and the whole time with not a recipe in sight, so that here it is Thursday already, and I’m pulling out these cupcakes, so believe me when I say, these are not just any cupcakes.
First, they’re made with POM Wonderful juice—do you know it? The people behind it sent me a case last week, along with three typed pages detailing the health benefits (to name a few: antioxidants, better blood flow, decrease in arterial plaque in elderly patients, good for your overall heart health), and that alone was enough to make me curious. As far as taste, it’s reminiscent of cranberry juice, or it has the texture of cranberry juice, which is strange to say because I didn’t realize there was a distinct texture to the juice until I tried this, and there’s almost a slight fizzy quality, even though it’s totally and only 100% POM Wonderful juice (Wonderful, by the way, refers to the type of pomegranate).
And as if health benefits and good taste weren’t enough, this juice has one more thing going for it, and it’s a thing you’re going to guess pretty easily: it makes some really good chocolate cupcakes.
As someone who makes just fine cupcakes on a regular basis, what I’ve been needing, I’ve thought for a while now, is a recipe that is as easy as baking cookies but with results far better. And, thanks to the makers of POM juice, I’ve found it.
I am so excited about these cupcakes. For one thing, they’re easy, easy, easy. You don’t even need a mixer (Did you hear that, a certain non-baking, we-don’t-even-have-sugar-in-our-house, but-I-inspire-the-world-with-my-vegetables friend? This is the baking beginning! The first step in something great!). Also, they’re flawless—moist and dense without being heavy, chocolatey with nuances of something akin to cranberry or cherry. And when you bring one to your mouth, pulling its fluffy little dome out of the paper wrapper, the wonderful bakery smell all over your kitchen, you will forget every bad cupcake you’ve ever made, I swear.
(Interruption: My Le Creuset Lucy has a friend, pictured above and name to be determined, that my mom found at a knick-knack shop, Tuesday Morning, recently, from where she called me, saying it was on sale and did I want it? Then later, when I tried to pay her back, she wouldn’t let me. Moms are great.)
The cupcakes themselves require no eggs and no butter, but you’d never know it from the moist and rich insides, and, bonus, you can lick the pan to your heart’s content! (and I did!) The frosting, also made with pomegranate juice, does require butter, but you could substitute if you’d like, and the whole effect is just, well, wonderful—ha! I couldn’t resist.
POM Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from PomWonderful.com
Juice from 2-3 large POM Wonderful pomegranates,* or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water, heated to boiling
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Pomegranate Chocolate Frosting:
Juice from 1 large POM Wonderful Pomegranate,* or cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
6 tablespoons butter
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
milk (if desired, to thin out frosting)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in the center.
If making your own pomegranate juice, prepare.* Place a paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-sized muffin cups.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients to combine well. Set aside.
In a very large measuring cup, combine pomegranate juice and boiling water. Add oil, vinegar and vanilla to the pomegranate juice mixture. Add this to the flour mixture all at once and whisk to combine; you’ll notice the batter seems thick and a little lumpy.
Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, about half (or a little more) full each. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and free of crumbs.
Let cool completely before frosting.
Pomegranate Chocolate Frosting:
If making your own, prepare fresh pomegranate juice.*
In a saucepan, bring pomegranate juice and butter to a boil.
Remove from heat, and stir in the chocolate chips. Next, add vanilla and powdered sugar, stirring until the mixture is like the consistency of frosting. (You can add milk to thin it out, if needed; I either used very little or none at all, and I’m sorry I can’t remember more specifically!)
* For each cup of juice, you’ll want to cut 2 to 3 POM Wonderful pomegranates in half and juice them with a citrus reamer or a juicer, then pour it through a cheesecloth-lined strainer/sieve.