Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Apparently, a few weeks ago I had people Googling "ganache" because they didn't know what it was. They just knew it was good, especially on top of peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes. It's good over lots of things, my friends.

But I digress!

This weekend's cupcake drop off (red velvet) went like crazy (gone in less than 48 hours), so I found myself scratching my head last night at 9pm, like I often do, when I don't have a specific baking plan for the next round of cupcakes. I thumbed through Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book. It's a good resource, but it often gives recipes for odd amounts of cupcakes (15! 18! 32!) and I can't always divide three eggs into one and a half (although I could try). Or I should say, I'm not willing to experiment and take a gamble when I'm selling it to someone. If it were home baking, that'd be another story. Another project for another day, perhaps.

So, I bring you this morning's super chocolatey, spicy cupcake. I ended up with this one because I couldn't decide between something chocolate and something spicy. Indecision created a compromise. I upped the ante on the spice amounts, and added cloves where there were none. Also I added a bit of coffee extract because it's the now-not--so-secret ingredient (oops!) that makes all chocolate things taste way better.

Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes)

  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. coffee extract
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup molasses

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and brush a muffin tin with butter and dust with cocoa powder. Alternately, line the tins with paper liners and you're good to go.
  2. Stir the baking soda into the boiling water. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg. Add molasses and baking soda water. Beat until combined, scraping down sides as necessary. Do not panic. The mixture is going to look clumpy, almost curdled, at times. It's ok.
  4. Reduce speed to low, and add flour in stages, mixing until just combined. Batter may still look a little lumpy. Don't fret.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared cups, filling about halfway.  Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool for ten minutes or so, and then remove cupcakes to cool completely on the rack. 

It may be insulting to some that I have put a vegan ganache on top of a not-at-all-vegan cupcake. But I do what works, and this one does. Adapted from the super duper cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup of soy milk (or regular milk; I've used both)
  • 2 Tbsp. agave nectar (original recipe calls for maple syrup)

  1. Heat the milk to just barely boiling over low heat. 
  2. Remove from heat immediately and whisk in the syrup and chocolate until it's dissolved
  3. Set aside until you're ready to use it. You do not want to use a steaming hot ganache on top of cupcakes because it will just run all over the place and make a mess. Wait until it's cooled, but still warm and pliable. Oh, and you don't want to transport or mess with these things until the ganache is set.

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