Learning to bake fearlessly <3

Posts tagged ‘dark chocolate’

Flowers and Chocolates: Rose macarons with dark chocolate ganache


flowers and chocolates

This is one recipe I’ve been excited about for ages. I looooooooooove love love love LOVE rose-flavored things. My first experience with the flavor was sweet, cold gelato, and I’ve been infatuated ever since. It’s definitely not a taste for everyone, but I feel like a princess or pixie, daintily snacking on flowers. (My favorite perfume is rose too–go figure!) But, rosewater isn’t readily available around here (few things are–I live in the middle of nowhere, we just got a Trader Joe’s late last year), and since I was out of a job til recently, I didn’t want to spend the money on shipping. But for Christmas, I got all sorts of fun kitchen goodies! Rosewater, lavender extract, chocolate extract, all manner of sprinkles–eeeeeeeeeeee! Santa was so good to me. And so these were finally realized. They’re sweet, floral, and pair marvelously with the chocolate, though you may want to put a thinner layer than I did so the rose isn’t overwhelmed.

rosewater

Macarons are another thing that have scared me for a while. Measuring by weight, and the list of borderline magic tricks to make them work… But if you know what you’re doing, they’re really not hard! I measured by volume and they ended up just fine. I’ve also made them on humid or rainy days without trouble. Just make sure they bake thoroughly–this is one time you’ll want to err on the side of overbaking, rather than under. In both senses, actually. Shells will break, I’m telling you now, so be prepared with more than you need. And if they’re not cooked through, the insides will fall out on the cookie sheet–gah! So frustrating. You also want to make sure they’re fully cooled before trying to take them off.

tiny feet

Feel free to fill the cookies with whatever you like–strawberry jam sounds delicious with roses!

Rose macarons with chocolate ganache
6 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar (superfine is generally used, but I’ve always used granulated sugar for meringue without trouble)
3 cups powdered/confectioner’s/icing sugar
2 1/4 cup almond meal (you can buy it at Trader Joe’s, or grind your own in a food processor from slivered almonds)
3 tsp rosewater
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
food coloring (if desired)

To start with, preheat the oven to 375 F and line a cookie sheet with a silpat (I got three for Christmas! Looooooove it) or parchment paper. Next, whip your egg whites with the whisk attachment of a Kitchenaid on medium high (about a 6) til foamy. When it’s nice and frothy, add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat for a minute or two. Gradually add the sugar, and when it’s all in there, turn it up to a 7 or 8. Whip into stiff, lush peaks.

Sift in your almond meal and powdered sugar, and add your coloring, rosewater, and vanilla bean paste or extract now. Fold the mixture together, but there’s no need to be gentle–we’re trying to deflate the batter a bit. You want it to be thick, but if you drop a ribbon of batter into the bowl, it should disappear within ten or so seconds. Otherwise, your shells will turn out bumpy.

rose macaron cup

Pipe dollar coin sized circles onto your baking sheet. You can also make nickel-sized baby ones, or pretty shapes, pretty much anything you want! Once they’re piped, let the sheets sit for at least 45 minutes to an hour. This creates the “feet” on the bottom of the macaron.

Put the sheets in to bake with the oven door cracked (put a wooden spoon in the door to hold it open just a bit), and immediately decrease the temperature to 325 F. Bake 10-15 minutes, checking for browning on the tops. If you see it, take them out, but they’ll be done in the middle even without browning. Let sit until completely cool, and make your ganache.

heart rose macaron

Dark chocolate ganache
8 oz semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream

Chop (or I usually run it through the food processor) your chocolate finely and place in a heat-safe bowl. Heat cream on the stove on medium til simmering, watching carefully to see that it doesn’t boil over–it’ll escalate more quickly than you think. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir til smooth.

Wait a bit for it to thicken, and then fill and sandwich macaron shells. Enjoy!

You’ll notice I don’t have a recipe for the white chocolate ganache–I tried to replace the semisweet chocolate with white chocolate chips in the above recipe. Don’t do that. It went badly. Oh well, live and learn!

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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!

A milestone: Chocolate layer cake with mocha fudge filling and kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream


My birthday’s coming up fast! I’m about to turn 21, the last of the “Oh boy! Now I can do things!” birthdays. It’s a milestone I’ve been looking forward to for a while, truth be told. There’s a kind of chocolate wine at the grocery store I’ve been eyeing up for ages. ;) And another milestone is coming with it! I’m making my own birthday cake this year. It’s kind of intimidating, but I think I can do it. And if I can’t, not a huge deal! That’s part of what this blog is about–learning to get past my mistakes and keep on baking fearlessly.

My original idea was to make a boozy cake, but I knew my little sister wouldn’t want to eat it then. So it became the practice cake. Funnily enough, I found the perfect filling recipe only about an hour before I decided to start baking! It was like it was meant just for me, decadent fudge with just a little bit of coffee to it. And the swiss meringue buttercream was an absolute must. I haven’t made it in ages, and it was high time to start again with it. I played with the recipe a little because I didn’t have quite enough eggs for my usual one, and I ended up liking it a lot! Note: the black flecks you see in the frosting are ground coffee. I threw some in, but I would omit it next time since it gave some bites a weird gritty texture. I’ve omitted it in the recipe. It comes out gorgeous, light and fluffy and deliciously tasting of kahlua. The chocolate cake is the first recipe I posted on the blog. The character on top is Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, done in homemade marshmallow fondant (recipe to follow in another post). I’m on a huuuuuge Legend of Korra kick after the finale, so I’ve been rewatching both series lately. :D All together, it’s heavenly. And while it’s not perfect-looking, it’s pretty good for a first try! I’m completely satisfied. And I can only get better from here!

Dark chocolate cake
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
Makes enough for two thick 8″ layers or three regular ones

Adapted from Sweetapolita

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or butter&flour your cake pans. Whisk together the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand 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. Pour into your pans and bake around 37 minutes for a thick layer or 28 minutes for a thin one. Stick these in the freezer (if you plan to stack them, wrap in plastic wrap first) while you make the frosting and filling.

Kahlua espresso swiss meringue buttercream
8 large egg whites (set one yolk aside for the mocha fudge filling)
2 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp kahlua coffee liqueur
1 tbsp instant espresso (I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to frost and fill an 8″ layer cake

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 may look 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. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Add your kahlua, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. Transfer to a separate bowl and clean out your mixer for the next step!

Mocha fudge filling
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso (again, I used mocha flavor)
Makes enough to fill between three layers of an 8″ cake

From Ina Garten

Chop and melt your chocolate in a double boiler or heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, then set aside to cool. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip your butter on medium high til it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and keep beating until they’re completely mixed in, about three minutes. Slow your mixer to low speed and gradually add your powdered sugar until it’s completely incorporated and creamy. Then make sure your chocolate has cooled to room temperature, and add it and the espresso (dissolved in two tsp of hot but not boiling water) to the filling, and mix on low speed.

Assembling the cake
Remove your cake layers from the freezer and slap a ring of frosting on the cake board to keep the cake in place, then place the first layer in the middle of the board. Pipe a ring of kahlua frosting around the very edge, then fill the middle with mocha filling, smoothing it. Stack the next layer on top (if you plan on doing three layers, repeat the filling step and place the top layer on), and smooth a very thin layer of frosting over the cake, making sure to cover it all. It’s all right if you get some crumbs in it. This is called crumb coating, and it’s important if you want a pretty, crumb-free finish. Stick it in the fridge for about half an hour to an hour to set up. Once it’s set, smooth the final layer of frosting over, decorate with fondant or frosting as desired, then pipe borders around the top and bottom. I used a small closed star tip for the top (and the flame in Azula’s hand) and a round tip for the bottom, with frosting tinted blue.

Perfect vanilla cupcakes with chocolate meringue


I had a strange dream last night. I usually do, vivid dreams that are almost more movie than imagination. Part of last night’s entertainment was, a kid visited me at my house and wanted to make vanilla cupcakes with chocolate meringue filling in a heart shape. Always up for a baking challenge, I attempted it–only to make a silly rookie mistake with the meringue and fail.

I woke up full of purpose, ready to redeem myself by excelling in reality. The vanilla cupcakes came out amazingly, the recipe’s definitely a keeper. The first batch of meringue…less so. But that was 100% because of a faulty recipe. It called for 1/16th the required amount of cream of tartar. I hate that. But it tasted good at least! Undaunted, I googled around and more or less came up with my own approximation of a recipe. And it turned out great! I filled the cupcakes, stuck the failed meringue in the freezer (hey…it tasted like chocolate popsicles, maybe it’ll turn out like a chocolate sorbet?), and the unused successful meringue got turned into cookies. All in all, a very successful day of baking. And if there’s a kid out there that dreamed of meringue cupcakes–this one’s for you!

Perfect vanilla cupcakes
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature, separated into 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup
2 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted (I used a conversion, 1 cup of cake flour = 3/4 cup all purpose flour plus 2 tbsp cornstarch)
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter (3 sticks), at room temperature and cut into cubes

From Sweetapolita

Makes about 2 dozen cupcakes

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line your cupcake pan with cute liners.

In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Grab your stand mixer and stir together the flour (or substitute), sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl. Add the butter and remaining milk and mix together on medium til well combined, about a minute and a half. Add the egg mixture in three batches, scraping down the mixer bowl and mixing until just combined. Scoop your batter into your baking cups and bake 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake! This is a delicate recipe.

Chocolate meringue
6 egg whites
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

Original recipe

In the wiped-down clean bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar, and whip on medium-high til the egg whites begin to build. In a separate medium bowl, mix the sugar and cocoa powder together, then add it to the egg whites in three batches, continuing to whip, scraping down the sides between additions, and mixing until completely combined. Let the meringue build to stiff fluffy peaks, then use to fill cupcakes. Take a heart-shaped (or any shape, really!) cookie or fondant cutter and make a well in the top of the cupcake, then fill liberally with meringue.

Leftover meringue can be spooned onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and baked for roughly an hour at 200 F to make meringue cookies!

Better Than Sex cupcakes with vanilla pastry cream and chocolate ganache for the Scorpion


Welcome to my games, you gay and lucky souls! Er…I mean my blog. You see, I’ve been listening to The Devil’s Carnival soundtrack endlessly for the week it’s been out. I’m addicted. The voice talent in this movie is tremendous, and the soundtrack manages to paint a vivid picture of the plot before you even hit a theater. I can’t decide which is my favorite, but Trust Me, the Scorpion’s song, is definitely waaaaay up there. The man has a gorgeously angelic voice, and the lyrics are shiveringly intense.

The Scorpion

So for his cupcake recipe, I wanted to preserve that sweet and dark quality. And I think I managed it! Better Than Sex cake (devil’s food cake, with toffee mixed in and caramel sauce on top, allowed to soak into the cake), topped with sweet vanilla pastry cream and bittersweet chocolate ganache. It ends up perfectly satisfying and delicious. I topped it with a tiny fondant scorpion, and put edible glitter on some. I mean, the blog is called Sugar and Spice and Everything Sparkly—I gotta start living up to the name! ;) And everything’s better with glitter.

That said, this recipe (fittingly) gave me hell. The cupcakes and ganache went fine, but oh my god the pastry cream. It just would not thicken! I know what I did wrong, though, and I’ll discuss it in the recipe. I finished around midnight and promptly collapsed onto my bed—but not before grabbing a cupcake. Worth it? 100%. And now I know how to do it right for next time!

This recipe is in several parts, so I’ll write them in the order they need to be made.

Better Than Sex cupcakes with vanilla pastry cream and chocolate ganache
Makes about 18 cupcakes, topped
Recipes from Tumblr, Allrecipes, and Annie’s Eats

Vanilla pastry cream
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup sugar, divided into 6 tbsp and 2 tbsp
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1½ tsp vanilla extract

Heat the half and half, 6 tbsp of sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring once in a while, until simmering. Things I learned yesterday: cream takes forever to heat up. While you’re doing this, mix the egg yolks and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a medium bowl. Add the cornstarch and mix until uniform. When the half&half mixture is done simmering, add it slowly to the eggs, whisking so you don’t scramble them. Transfer the mixture to the pan again and heat it on the stove on medium, whisking, until the mixture is thickened and bubbling a little. This is where I screwed up. The recipe I used says about 30 seconds, but by then my cream was nowhere near simmering or thick. I figured it was better not to burn it, and that it would thicken up in the fridge. I was wrong. Simmer it as long as it takes to thicken up. Then take it off the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla. Once they’re incorporated, strain it through a wire mesh and chill it in the fridge (with plastic wrap over top so it doesn’t form a skin) for at least three hours before using.

While that’s chilling, make your cupcakes.

Better Than Sex cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
9 tablespoons dark (dutch-process) cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup milk
1 cup toffee bits (I used 1/2 cup, but I feel like it needed more)

For the caramel drizzle:
3/4 cup caramel sauce
3/4 cup heavy cream

Line your cupcake tin and preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk together your cocoa, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. Cream your butter and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Then add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides to make sure everything’s incorporated. When that’s a pale yellow paste, combine your coffee and milk in a separate cup. Add first half your flour mixture to the mixer bowl, mix it up, scrape the sides, add your coffeemilk, scrape the sides, and then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until combined. You should have a nice thick batter. Fold in the toffee bits, then scoop into cupcake liners and bake 22-25 minutes.

While they’re baking, make your caramel sauce. Heat the cream and caramel sauce in a saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, until combined and thin. Cut slits into the tops of warm cupcakes and spoon a bit of caramel ganache on top while they’re still warm (not too much, or you’ll soak your liners).

Chocolate ganache
9 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

You’re in the home stretch! Chop your chocolate and place it in a medium heat-safe bowl. Heat the cream over medium-high heat to a boil, but watch it carefully so it doesn’t boil over. Pour it over the chopped chocolate and stir til it’s melted and smooth. Let it cool for a moment.

Smooth your pastry cream over the cooled cupcakes and pour chocolate ganache on top. Then grab a cupcake to enjoy because you deserve it, and pop over to The Devil’s Carnival forum, buy the soundtrack so you can swoon over Trust Me, or buy your tickets to the road tour!

Decadent dark chocolate brownie pudding


My friends (Kessie and Shi) and I are planning something daring and lovely and shiveringly terrifying. The thought came to us the other night and still sounded good in the morning (how all good plans are hatched)–we’re going to groupie the Devil’s Carnival road tour from Kansas aaaaall the way to Sacramento, and then go see another dear friend in LA! I’m so nervous I’m trembling a little, but at the same time I’m excited as hell, no pun intended. This is very possibly the coolest thing I’m going to do in my 20’s, and I can’t wait!

By the way, that carnival? Have you checked it out yet? Please tell me you have, because I have a feeling this is gonna be a Thing for me, and you’ll be hearing about it a lot in this blog. And you won’t want to miss this tour! The creators are taking it around the country and showing the movie and schmoozing with the fans. There’ll be shows and cosplaying and special guests from the film, the guys are absolute dolls, and the people who’ve seen it so far have given rave reviews. I haven’t seen it myself yet (ohmygosh 13 more days!), but the soundtrack is delicious, true earcandy and so lovely. I die over Trust Me and Beautiful Stranger every time.

How does this relate to baking, you ask? Easy. This dark chocolate brownie pudding is sinfully good. As one friend put it, “I feel like I’m going to hell for eating this.” And as TDC shows us, Hell is the place to be right now, so eat up, drink a cup of scorn with me, and fa la la, it’s off to decadent chocolate hell we go!

Dark chocolate brownie pudding

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup dark (dutch process) cocoa powder
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 325 F and spray a 2-quart baking pan with nonstick cooking spray, or whatever method you like best. Melt your butter and set it aside to cool. Things I learned when making this: if your butter is overflowing your cup in the microwave, it will not, in fact, melt smoothly into said cup; it will make a nervous-making mess that I did not need to deal with when baking on a time constraint. So learn from my mistake and make sure your butter fits nicely into your melting receptacle.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream your eggs and sugar together on medium-high into a smooth, pale yellow liquid. Whisk your cocoa and flour together in a separate bowl; add those to the mixing bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. While the mixer’s still going, add your vanilla and butter, and mix further until just combined.

Pour the batter into your 2-quart pan, and then sit that pan in a larger pan. We’re going to need a water bath. Fill the larger pan up with hot tap water, about halfway up the side of the smaller pan. Bake for 60 minutes. The center will still be completely molten; that’s what we want. It’s somewhere between a large chocolate lava cake and a pan of brownie batter, and it’s soooooo good.

Note: I realized after the fact that, being flustered, I ended up putting in a full cup of cocoa instead of the 3/4 cup called for in the original recipe. I ended up loving how chocolatey it was and wouldn’t change it next time.

Cup(cakes) of Scorn


I’m not generally a horror-movie girl, but about three years ago, I fell in love with a movie called REPO! The Genetic Opera. It’s a rock opera set in a dystopian future where organ repossessions are legal and surgery, a fashion statement, and it follows the ascent of a young girl into adulthood over the course of a single tumultuous day. It’s an amazing movie, and if you have a stomach for a little gore, I would definitely suggest checking it out, but through it, I found a much greater treasure–some of the best friends I’ve ever, ever had. That’s what’s kept me into it.

And a few months ago, we added a new bunch of friends to our chat group–you see, the guys who made Repo have nearly finished work on a new creation, The Devil’s Carnival!

It’ll be airing as a road tour next month, and I’m super excited. So this recipe is my nod to one of the characters: the Painted Doll, played by the lovely Emilie Autumn!

“Cup of scorn” is a phrase that’s been tossed around the fandom, so I asked myself, what would scorn taste like? Sweet and enticing, but dark and deep, with a bit of spice and a wicked bite. And this is what I came up with: sweet, dark molasses and bittersweet chocolate, seductively smooth and silky nutella, cinnamon’s sweet spice, the burn and bite of good bourbon, and a bit of hellfire in the form of cayenne pepper. I garnished with a half-heart slice of apple, a nod to the Doll’s character. And the verdict? Sooooo good. Dad kept sneaking to the mixing bowl for a bit of frosting. I’d say that’s a winner!

Dark chocolate molasses cake
Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 of a 4.3 oz box chocolate pudding mix
1 egg
1/2 cup black coffee
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon molasses
Small amount of bourbon (to brush)

Makes roughly a dozen cupcakes

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. Allow to cool, then brush with bourbon.

Nutella cinnamon swiss meringue buttercream
Ingredients
9 large egg whites
2 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 sticks (2 pounds) unsalted butter, not cold, cut into cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup nutella
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Cayenne pepper (for sprinkling)

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. Eventually, it will turn into creamy, smooth loveliness. Taste a little of it now—isn’t it just knee-weakeningly good? But it’s going to get even better!

Add vanilla, nutella, cinnamon, and salt, and whip it a bit longer, until they’re evenly incorporated. And don’t be afraid to play with different flavors or proportions. Pipe onto cupcakes, but make sure you have a little left over to eat with a spoon! ;D Sprinkle with cayenne, to taste.