The weather in Maryland has been unseasonably crazy lately, with weekly snowstorms blowing in and out. When the weather is cold and snowy outside, there is nothing better than making some fresh baked goods to pass the time. With another snowstorm brewing (and an excuse to bake!), I decided to delve into the world of desserts to find a perfect cupcake.
If you are looking for a decadent and fun dessert, look no further: this cupcake is for you! I have been searching for a go-to cupcake recipe for a while, and this does not require a lot of work and yields excellent results. These cupcakes have a smooth chocolate ganache baked within and a tangy-sweet, light frosting on top. They are a perfect balance: the cake is moist and tender, but does not crumble when you bite into it, and the cream-cheese frosting balances with the chocolate cake and ganache. Using hot coffee to melt the chocolate allows for a deeper, richer chocolate flavor; it is difficult to taste the coffee in the cupcakes, but it brings out the other flavors. Using bread flour creates a cupcake that holds its shape well, but is not dense or bread-y. Using vegetable oil rather than butter puts more focus on the deep chocolate flavor, and the vinegar reacts with the baking soda to create a light and airy cake. Baking the ganache filling into the cupcake creates a truffle in the center of each cupcake. All these elements combine to create a perfect treat!
Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
Yield: 12 cupcakes
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
¾ cup brewed coffee, hot
¾ cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, cold
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1. For the filling: Microwave chocolate, cream and sugar in a medium bowl until the mixture is warm to touch (about 30 seconds). Whisk until smooth, then transfer bowl to refrigerator and let sit until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
2. For the cupcakes: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners, or grease with non-stick baking spray. Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium heatproof bowl, and pour the hot coffee over the mixture. Let sit, covered for 5 minutes. Whisk the mixture until smooth, and then transfer to refrigerator to cool completely.
3. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Place 1 slightly rounded teaspoon of the ganache filling on top of each portion of batter. Bake cupcakes until set and just firm to touch (but still gives a little), 17 to 19 minutes.
Let cupcakes cool in muffin tin until they are cool enough to handle, then lift each cupcake up and set on wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
5. For the frosting: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cream cheese. Beat on high for 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally.
Add the rest of the ingredients, and beat on high for an additional 2-4 minutes. Let refrigerate slightly to firm up. When the cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe frosting on top of each cupcake to taste.
Some ideas to spice up the recipe:
-Replace the chocolate ganache with a chocolate hazelnut ganache. Combine in a microwave safe bowl 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, ½ cup (4 ounces) chocolate hazelnut spread, ½ cup (4 ounces) heavy cream, and a pinch of sea salt. Microwave until warm for about 30 seconds, and then whisk briskly to combine.
-Replace the cream cheese frosting with a salted caramel or chocolate frosting. For a salted caramel frosting, boil ¼ cup granulated sugar with 2 tablespoons water over medium-high heat without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber, about 6-7 minutes. Remove from heat and add in ¼ cup heavy cream and 1 teaspoon. Set aside to cool. In a stand mixer, combine 12 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter with ½ teaspoon fine salt, and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, increase speed and beat. Add caramel, beat frosting on high speed until airy, about 2 minutes. Frost cupcakes with the salted caramel frosting, and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Comment below with your favorite ways to stay warm during the winter, or with your favorite baked goods recipes!