Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Archive for November, 2012

Chocolate truffle cupcakes


Occasionally, I get genius ideas about things to make. A recipe catches my eye, or I think of a combination based on a character, or someone makes a request. And I figure it up and write it down and plan it out, and then…it sits. And I ask the boytoy what I should make next, and give him a few ideas to choose from, and bless him, he doesn’t really care for sweets or really food in general (he’s more interested in soda), but he chooses one, and then…it sits. And eventually it gets made, and I kick myself for not doing it sooner. But it does get made eventually! That’s the important part.

This was one of those times. I ran across the truffle filling in a tart recipe and…while I’m sure it’s amazing (Annie’s things always are, without fail), I was in a cupcake sort of mood. So I set out to make the richest, most chocolatey decadent cupcakes in the world. And while it’s no Golden Opulence Sundae, these cupcakes are a little slice of heaven. Perfectly moist and fluffy dark chocolate cake, semisweet chocolate truffle filling, and perfectly smooth and satiny and not so sweet as to overwhelm chocolate swiss meringue buttercream…mmmmmm. And they disappeared four and five a day, which means they were a winner with my family as well. Love it!

Chocolate truffle cupcakes
Makes about 24

First: bake the cupcakes

Dark chocolate cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
2 eggs
1 cup black coffee
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pan. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer. Add the wet ingredients and mix on lowest setting with the paddle attachment until just combined, then at medium speed (around 6 on a Kitchenaid mixer) for two minutes. The batter will be thin, that’s fine. Fill your baking cups about ¾ full and bake 15-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean or with a few crumbs clinging to it.

Cool these, then take the center out with a melon baller. While they’re cooling, make the ganache:

Truffle ganache filling
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
12 oz semisweet chocolate (I always use Baker’s, and it’s never let me down)
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into squares
1 cup heavy cream

Chop up the chocolate, combine with butter in a heatproof bowl. Heat cream to simmering on the stove; watch it carefully because cream goes from 0 to simmering happily in a millisecond sometimes. Remove from stove and pour over the chocolate and cream, whisking til smooth.

Reserve about a third for the buttercream and set aside. Carefully fill the cored cupcakes with the remainder, then stick in the fridge to set the filling.

Chocolate swiss meringue buttercream
6 large egg whites
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/8 teaspoon salt
Reserved truffle filling, cooled but still liquid

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be.

Add reserved ganache and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D If you’d like to pipe these high, I’d double the recipe, but I don’t think this recipe needs it, as rich as it already is.

Remove cupcakes from fridge and pipe on frosting. Enjoy!

Pumpkin cupcakes with nutella cinnamon frosting


Aaaaah, autumn. It’s probably my favorite time of year. Falling leaves, dropping temperatures, the idea of snow teasing, Halloween, Christmas shopping, and all the lovely flavors–apple, pumpkin, maple, spice. These were just what I needed to get back into the baking groove–as it turns out, all I really need is one batch of excellent cupcakes to get excited about baking again! And these were definitely it. I’m planning on making these for my family as dessert on Thanksgiving.

I also learned how fun it is to work with foil-lined cupcake papers! They stay so lovely and vibrant. I might never use anything else!

Pumpkin spice cupcakes
Adapted from Crumbly Cookie

Makes about 20 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1¼ cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (one 10-oz can)

Preheat your oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake pans. Beat the sugars and butter together with your mixer on medium til light and fluffy, it might take a bit. In another bowl, whisk your dry ingredients together. Add your vanilla to your milk, and set aside.

When the butter-sugar mixture is ready, add your eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated between each. Then add your flour and milk mixtures bit by bit, alternating and mixing until just combined. Finally, add in your pumpkin, and mix til smooth.

Fill your cupcake liners half to 3/4 of the way (these will rise a good bit, so you can get away with half if you don’t want tall cupcakes). Bake for 20-25 minutes (20 was just about perfect for me), until a toothpick comes out clean or with only a few crumbs clinging to it.

Nutella cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream
6 large egg whites
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Makes enough frosting for 2 dozen cupcakes

I always cube and set out my butter on a plate first thing, and let it warm up while I work on the rest. Wipe out your mixer bowl and mixer attachments VERY well, making sure there’s no trace of grease. The first thing you’re going to do is make a meringue, and any grease could cause it to fail. Heat a large pot with an inch or so of water on the stove until it’s just simmering—we don’t want to cook our egg whites. Add the egg whites and sugar to your mixer bowl and whisk constantly until the sugar is melted and the egg whites are warm.

Stick your bowl on your mixer with whisk attachment and whip the egg/sugar mixture on medium-low (say 3 on a Kitchenaid) for a couple minutes, then switch to medium-high (say 7 or so on a Kitchenaid) until they’re white and fluffy, and the bowl is neutral to the touch. For me, it takes around 7-8 minutes. Voila! You made meringue. But it’s going to get even better still.

When the bowl feels room-temperature, switch to the paddle attachment on low speed and add your cubed butter one or two cubes at a time. This is the tricky part, and where it looks like everything’s gone wrong. At this stage, it is totally okay if your buttercream looks grainy, more like scrambled eggs. Trust me! Just keep whipping it, scraping the paddle clean if need be.

Add vanilla, nutella, cinnamon, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D