Overall, the cupcakes turned out fine. There are definitely a few things I wasn't thrilled about and a few things I would do differently next time. They were very soft and moist, and had a good, non-boxed flavor. They didn't wow me though. Maybe my expectations were too high just because it was a GC recipe. After all, they were just chocolate cupcakes. But at the same time chocolate can beamazing, right? I know that I over-mixed them. They didn't have a rounded cupcake top, they were flat. I don't have a stand mixer, so I was doing my best with the hand mixer. Aside from my own mistakes which are fixable, I was underwhelmed by their chocolatey-ness. The recipe called for 1 1/4 cups of cocoa, but I think I will also add some melted semi-sweet chips to my batter next time for a richer flavor. I want a nice, dark cupcake and these were very medium brown. The frosting was a simple cream cheese frosting that tasted great, but I wasn't wild about the consistency. For the birthday I intend to pipe it on with a pastry bag and a large round tip, but for my trial batch I just slapped it on there with a butter knife. It was a little thicker and pastier than I imagined a GC frosting to be, so I added a splash of milk to make it more silky and it did help. I'll definitely add a few splashes next time though for a fluffier result.
All that said, I will probably end up making another half-batch with those changes before the official birthday batch so I know if my changes were right. I don't know TONS about baking and all the reactions, or the right way to correct problems with what you're baking. I just kind of wing it, so it's going to be a little bit of trial and error which I'm fine with. All the ingredients are standards so they're just sitting in my pantry waiting to be whipped into cupcakes! Plus I'm sure the published recipe isn't even what they use in the cupcake shop. What sense would it make to go putting that all over the internet? So I will take their silly standard recipe and make it fabulous and maybe I'll start selling my own cupcakes (not likely).