Donna’s Black Bottom Cupcakes

For more tasty bakes, see my collection of family specialties:

You Can’t Have Dry Coffee: Papa’s Excuse to Have a Nosh And Nana’s Perfect Pastries

My daughter told me that I see the world with my stomach, and I think she has a point. I connect food with people and experiences. That’s the case with these unusual cupcakes. Whenever I eat these I think about my exceptional friend, Donna, who first made them for me and Doug, in her kitchen in Alaska.

Doug and I had been married for six months when we moved from Chicago to Colorado. Doug had lived there before and with his long connection to wilderness adventures he was anxious to show me the sites he had loved. Once in Ft. Collins, we quickly unpacked our boxes and then got on a plane to Alaska. This would be our last grand vacation before the arduous years of Doug’s PhD work. We chose Alaska, where I had lived and worked for two summers, so I could show Doug the places I had loved.

Donna and I had both graduated together on June 6, 1980, and the day after graduation we were both on a plane for Anchorage. I spent two summers living and working there and then returned to my familiar world in Chicago. Donna never left Alaska. She and her family had a home just outside of Denali Park, and that’s where Doug and I headed for our vacation. We stayed in their friend’s cabin down the road, and joined Donna’s family each night for dinner. It was there that she made us these cupcakes. After growing up eating all of my mother’s delicious baked goods, it was unusual for me to be surprised by a dessert, but after the first amazing taste I wondered why in the world no one had told me about these before! I’d never tasted a cupcake that used two different batters—one like a chocolate cake, and the other like chocolate chip cheesecake. I seem to remember that Donna whipped up two more batches of these during the week.

Now when I make these, I am transported to Donna’s kitchen, her drawer filled with large bags of baking supplies, the snow in the woods, and I remember what an exceptional person she is and what a wonderful friend she has been.

Black Bottom Cupcakes

For the chocolate batter:

Mix together:

  • 1-1/2 c. flour
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix together:

  • 3/4 c. water
  • 1/3 c. oil
  • 1 Tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Add the liquid mixture to the dry, stir until blended. Using a 1/3 c. measure, spoon this batter into cupcake pans lined with paper cups.

For the cheese filling:

Beat together:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Stir in:

  • 1 c. chocolate chips

Top the chocolate batter with a generous spoonful of the cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins., or until the tops are just touched with a tiny bit of golden brown.

This is what they look like before baking.

Cautionary note: this is one recipe where you really must use paper liners.