Tuesday, October 28, 2008

{TWD} Chocolate cupcakes with mocha filling

The assignment for this week's TWD was "Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes*" on pages 215-217 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, chosen by Clara of I Heart Food4Thought. See that little "*" up above? Here's the footnote for the selection: "*Clara mentioned that it might be fun to decorate your cupcakes for Halloween." This baking group is filled with amazing, creative, and even over-the-top bakers. If you want to see some spook-tacular Halloween cupcake creations, check out the blogs of the other 200-odd TWD bakers. And if you don't have Dorie's book, you can find the recipe on Clara's post.

I knew that I wasn't going to go all-out on Halloween-themed cupcakes, so I picked up some decorative accents in Halloween colors at Marshalls and Cost Plus World Market. A bigger worry came up when I read this week's Problems & Questions post. Lots of bakers were ending up with dry cupcakes - and ones that weren't very chocolaty.

This led to a dilemma for me. Philosophically I am in the make-it-as-written school. This is Dorie's book and I want to see how her recipes taste. But often I just can't resist the temptation to make the recipes a wee bit healthier. And in this case, I really didn't want to spend (a) time, (b) good chocolate, and (c) my weekly sweets allotment on dry cupcakes. So I tried to come up with a compromise: stay close to the spirit of Dorie's recipe while making a few tiny changes that would keep the cupcakes moist and chocolaty.

cook's notes:

the cupcakes

- rather than have a leftover egg white, I used the following equivalent for 1 egg + 1 egg yolk:
1 egg + 1/8 c Eggbeaters

- To boost the chocolate flavor, I used the following:
a heaping 1/4 c cocoa (Scharffen Berger)
2.25 oz bittersweet chocolate (Valrhona Noir Amer 71%)
1 tsp espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp hot water

- To increase moistness, I added (in addition to the buttermilk in the recipe):
1/2 T Lyles Golden Syrup
1 heaping T Greek Yogurt

- I used 4.5 oz for my cup of flour.

- To diminish the chance of overcooking:
I baked them at 340 degrees for 20 minutes

- I used silicone cupcake "papers" which are a dream to work with. They don't require greasing, can be filled separately, and because they are flexible the cupcakes pop right out. I weighed each one individually to ensure the cupcakes would be the same size.

- The cupcakes were springy and moist when I pulled them from the oven. They were rounded but the tops had cracked significantly.

- The recipe made 12 small cupcakes.

the ganache glaze

- I used Valrhona and Callebaut Bittersweet

- The ganache came together plenty thick, almost frosting-like. It was not difficult to spread, and there was the perfect amount for 12 cupcakes.


the filling

- I filled 6 with mocha filling and left 6 plain. The filled ones were topped with chocolate covered sunflower seeds, and the plain ones with orange fruit drops.

- I had never used a pasty bag, but luckily my daughter J.D.E left hers in my kitchen while she's abroad this year.

- When I was filling the cupcakes I could feel them about to crack. I've only sampled one, but there wasn't a lot of filling in that one, and it wasn't down far enough, I think. Clearly, I will need more practice before I figure out the filling technique, especially on small cupcakes like these.

Milk Chocolate Mocha Filling (adapted from this recipe - thank you, Google!)

1. Chop 1 oz. milk chocolate (I used a I used a Chocopologie mocha-coffee milk chocolate bar)
2. Dissolve 1/2 tsp espresso powder in 2 T hot water
3. Pour espresso over the milk chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
4. Stir in 1/2 T heavy cream
5. Set chocolate mixture aside to cool
6. Cream 2 oz (1/2 stick) room temperature unsalted butter
7. Add 1/2 cup powdered confectioner's sugar to the butter, and cream together with spoon until smooth
8. Add cooled chocolate mixture to butter mixture and stir until incorporated.
This makes enough for 9-12 cupcakes.


the verdict

I know there's a rather sizeable cupcake bandwagon riding around out there, but I've never been on it. Believe it or not, I think these are the first cupcakes I've ever made that weren't from a box mix!

I like the way the cupcakes turned out. They were REALLY, REALLY good. They were (thankfully) not dry, but had a fine, dense, moist crumb. They were not overly sweet, but had a deep dark flavor from the bittersweet chocolate and the coffee. They absolutely demanded a glass of milk.

The only one that I've eaten was a filled one. The mocha filling is a great complement to the cupcake and the ganache. The biggest surprise is how good the sunflower seeds are one these - they add a great crunchy note without introducing a separate flavor per se (unlike nuts). It's actually a good thing that these are so small, because a little goes a LONG way. I ate half of one when I was frosting and photographing them, and the other half several hours later after dinner. Really, half was almost too much.

I am pleased to have (a) found a delicious filling, and (b) survived my first attempt at filling cupcakes with a pastry bag.

The rest of the cupcakes are in the freezer. I hope to bring them to book club this Thursday or next. If not, they are going to work with my husband. I do want to sample a plain one first, though.

For portable, tasty and cute finger food treats, it's hard to beat these cupcakes. Happy Halloween, y'all!


{Update, 10/30/08:
I pulled the cupcakes out of the freezer for my book group this evening, and they were FAR BETTER than the day I made them. The crumb had softened although it was still quite tight. The flavor was mellower and richer. Everybody loved them; the mocha filled ones were the best, and the choc sunflower seeds added a great crunch. I might actually consider making these again!}

60 comments:

Karen said...

Yum! Mocha filling! That sounds absolutely delish! I am making mine tomorrow for my Bunco group. Hopefully they turn out as well as yours!

Cathy said...

Nice save in making some changes to keep these moist, Nancy! Mine were definitely NOT moist, which was kind of a bummer, although I did find them to be chocolaty. I love the mocha filling -- great idea! I think your cupcakes have just the right amount of "Halloween" to them! They look great!

natalia said...

Ciao ! I love your cupcakes ! they sound yummy with the mocha filling ! I Must say that I stuck to the recipe and mine came out ..moist ! ( actually I reduced the oven temp)

The Food Librarian said...

Yummy Yummy Mocha filling! That sounds so lovely. Your cupcakes are way cute too!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Your cupcakes look lovely! I really like the way you decorated them. The chocolate covered sunflower seeds sound great! Well done!

Marie said...

Your cupcakes look wonderful and delicious! I love your colourful decorations! Very Halloweenie!!! Well done!

j. d. e. said...

my goodness, those look delicious, mom! i just had an idea: since my apartment has no muffin/cupcake pan, could you send me some silicone cupcake thingies?

HoneyB said...

Great job and they look awesome!

Natashya said...

The mocha filling sounds great! I love your yogurt idea too, wonderful way to keep them moist.

Amanda said...

I was really happy with mine, the only change I made was to reduce the baking time so they didn't dry out. I LOVED LOVED LOVED them :)

Yours turned out fabulous and I am so happy for you finally finding a cupcake you like!

Andrea said...

Nancy, your cupcakes look amazing! I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who took some liberties with the recipe and changed it up a bit to avoid the dry cupcake dilemma. I was so surprised to love these too! And you know, this was the first time I used silicone liners and I am so impressed with how they preformed, I wonder if they too had something to do with our great results? Even if we both didn't do the cupcakes as written I'm glad we ended up with the perfect little indulgent Halloween treat :)

Peggy said...

Oh they look wonderfully delicious. I love the sound of mocha filling. And the sunflower seeds on top - super yummy. Great job.

The DeL Sisters said...

That frosting looks like a better choice then the stuff we made:) YUM!!!

Laura said...

Great ideas on making these moister - wish I'd had the benefit of reading your post first. And that mocha filling - wow! As usual, your work is fantastic!

Lady Baker said...

what festive cupcakes! I love your filling idea...I was thinking I should have filled mine with something--would have helped my dry cake...sigh..ahh well, live & learn (and bake) as they say!

Prudy said...

Ooh that filling. Your changes sound perfect for keeping them moist and light. I love all the bright colors that you used for decorations. They look perfectly Halloweeny.

dharmagirl said...

I really appreciate all of your experimenting and careful note-taking--your cupcakes sound like a dream, and you use my favorite trick of adding espresso powder to chocolate recipes to intensify the flavor:)

CB said...

Love how colorful your cupcakes are. Hmmm... I think I fall in the "over-the-top" category huh? HAHA. way to make the recipe your own with your adaptions. That milk chocolate filling sounds tasty! Thanks for baking with me this week!
Clara @ iheartfood4thought

Maria said...

I love the mocha filling idea!! Glad you gave cupcakes a try. They look wonderful!

MacDuff said...

Honestly, you're really onto it with the mocha filling. I tried the batter and was immediately regretting the fact that we didn't have any instant coffee lying around. It would have saved the day. And I put sour cream in my batter, but considered the Greek yogurt. For next time...

Spike said...

chocolate covered sunflower seeds are one of my favorite treats, love the idea of sprinkling them on cupcakes

Carla said...

Mine were moist too, but the only change I made (and because I had no choice) was regular milk instead of buttermilk. Glad you saved your cupcakes and decorated them cutely. I never would've thought sunflower seeds.

Jamie said...

Oh my goodness, that filling looks divine!

Di said...

I love reading about your recipe tweaking--it appeals to the scientist in me. =) I've really got to get my hands on some of those chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

Beryl said...

I love your tweaks on this recipe. I will definitely try them again your way.

kim said...

your changes sound great! thanks for the filling recipe, MAN that sounds delicious :) cute decorations and great job!

Amy said...

Oooh, that mocha filling is a great idea!! I bet these were amazing!! They look great!

-Amy
www.singforyoursupperblog.com

Candy said...

I like the idea of a mocha filling!

Nikki57 said...

Great ideas on making them moist! They look fabulous

Teanna said...

I LOVE your adjustments and I think I'll have to try your way the next time I make these! It sounds like you fixed all of the problems this cupcake had! And that filling sounds SO good!

chocolatechic said...

I almost put some espresso in mine too, but I went a different direction.

They look wonderful!

Flourchild said...

I love the sound of that filling..yum! Great toppings!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

That mocha filling sounds divine. I love that you're able to freeze them and send 'em packing :) Your notes are flawless as usual. Thanks for taking the time to write them up.

Bridgett said...

These sound so decadent with the mocha filling. I would not be able to stay away from the cake plate! Brilliant idea and I love your decorations as well. Looks fantastic.

Carla said...

Oh he's not my bf. Just a guy friend I work with/have class with :)

Mary Ann said...

I love that you used chocolate covered sunflower seeds! They are my favorite thing to decorate with. I haven't seen any Halloween ones though. Your adaptations sound amazingly delicious!

Katrina said...

Way to read Q&A's about the cupcake before making yours. Mine were a bit dry and not tasty enough. Wish I would have filled them. Glad you loved yours. They look mighty tasty! Thanks for visiting my blog!

Marthe said...

Mocha filling, sounds delicious!! The pup is my brothers, I'm pup-sitting today ;)

Audrey said...

Well, imho there's such a thing as following a recipe, and such a thing as posting pictures of ganache that other people plan to print off and stick on their refrigerator in lieu of making their own ... I haven't tasted either version but I'm voting for yours!
Audrey

TeaLady said...

Glad they turned out for you. I, too, am not a big cuppy fan. Would much rather make a scratch cake and pile it in layers with different fillings/frostings. Yours look great. Love the toppings. Isn't Marshalls the best for finding little foodie things. Next time I will add the extra moisture too, they were a tiny bit dry.

P.S. THanks for visiting.

The Blonde Duck said...

Found you from Prudy's blog. The cupcakes look divine!

Engineer Baker said...

Whoa, mocha filling? Love coffee and chocolate together, so I'm a fan already!

Carol Peterman said...

Good call on your adaptations. I suffered from dry cupcake syndrome. The mocha filling sounds wonderful, and you do need to jam that pastry tip in farther than you think to get the filling in the center of the cupcake. Nice work!

Tammy said...

oh, I wished that we could get candy coated sunflower seeds in NZ!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Beautiful cupcakes. Thanks for the tips on moistening cake batter. I like your description of Cupcake Bandwagon- have you thought about Cupcake Hero blog - I tried it last month. Seems pretty good.

Matt's Kitchen said...

Over and over again, I am amazed, impressed, and envious of your ability to make these creative adaptations. The espresso flavoring works beautifully with chocolate, and the addition of Lyle's golden syrup and Greek yogurt had to add so much more richness and moistness... Plus I love the vibrant colors of the candy garnish. Beautiful!

Prudence said...

Wow, you went for the filling!! God for you! They look wonderful. I like the changes too!!

Pamela said...

They were very, very rich. I'm pretty new to the cupcake wagon, too. I wish I was a little more creative, patient and talented when it came to the decorating. There are some serious decorators amongst us! The filling sounds SO GOOD!

Michelle Ioapo A'etonu said...

gorgeous cupcakes! and the mocha filling--yum!

n.o.e said...

I'll look for some silicone liners for you, J.D.E.! And thanks for the use of your pastry bag.

Cristine said...

Yummy! Looks great!

ostwestwind said...

Your filling sounds divine!

Ulrike from Küchenlatein

Karleen said...

I'm so impressed with your mocha filling! Mmmmm I wish I could taste one right now!

Jules Someone said...

The mocha filling sounds wonderful. Nice work!

~TAMY 3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

That filling is to die for! Thanks for stopping by and I LOVE your blog name. That's how it is around here - I never worry about the floors!

Heather B said...

Your cupcakes look fabulous! Great job!

AmyRuth said...

Like that you made minor adjustments in response to all the TWD baker comments. I too like to use Dorie's recipes as a baseline. After all it is her collection of recipes. Thats what we're doin... duh? : ) Anyhoo, I also like those colorful little sunflower seeds. Busy week in TWD land. Great job
AmyRuth

Sandy Smith said...

Wow, your cupcakes are beautiful! Great ideas on the adaptations, and I love the candy-coated sunflower seeds!

Mine were a bit off the mark - my ganache suffered a seizure so I had to formulate a plan (p)B. The thrills and spills of baking! :)

Happy Halloween!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Mocha filling sounds delicious!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Ooh, I'd love that mocha filling! Your cupcakes look great, and I love the decorations!