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.
- 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.
- 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.
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!
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!}