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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Buttercream Frosting

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Sometimes you don't even know what you're looking for until it falls into your lap. Take, for instance, August 31st, 2006 when a lanky, dark-haired guy took a seat beside me in my Development of the Book class at Truman State University. I wasn't looking for a homework partner. I wasn't looking for a boyfriend. I certainly wasn't looking for a husband. Despite that, I soon found myself with all three! (In all fairness, the husband thing took awhile. The homework partner thing was pretty immediate, and the boyfriend thing followed shortly thereafter!)
I don't mean to liken Ryan to a chocolate cupcake, but in much the same way, I wasn't looking for a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. As I explained yesterday, chocolate cupcakes were included in the cupcake order, and I happened upon this one from Cook's Illustrated. As I whisked and mixed and filled cupcake liners, I suspected I had something good on my hands. My suspicions were confirmed twenty-four hours later.
These are deeply, darkly chocolatey. The ganache center (dropped into the batter, not piped in...making it particularly easy!) is a heavenly surprise, adding a richness and a depth to what was already a near-perfect cupcake. I didn't know I needed a go-to chocolate cupcake. Though I'm not anti-cupcake, it is rarely my first choice when it comes to desserts.

I did need a homework partner, boyfriend, and husband. I also needed a go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. Now I have both! Look no further, I'm quite convinced this is the chocolate cupcake recipe YOU needed too!

(Note--I decorated these in line with the Halloween theme requested, using vanilla buttercream that I could color and then create the spiderwebs on. These would be just as good with a chocolate buttercream or ganache frosting!)

Two Years Ago: Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings (crazy sounding but one of the best-received desserts I've ever made!)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Buttercream Frosting
cupcake recipe as seen on First Look, Then Cook (Originally from Cook's Illustrated)
frosting recipe from Baked Bree
*Makes 12 cupcakes
for the ganache-
-2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
-1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 tbsp confectioners' sugar

for the cupcakes-
-3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
-1/3 cup dark chocolate cocoa (I used Hershey's)
-3/4 cup hot coffee
-3/4 cup bread flour
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 tsp table salt
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-6 tbsp vegetable oil
-2 large eggs
-2 tsp white vinegar
-1 tsp vanilla extract

for the frosting-
-2 sticks butter, at room temperature
-3 cups confectioners' sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-2-3 tbsp heavy cream

1. To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a medium-microwave safe bowl. Heat on high until mixture is warm to the touch (20-30 seconds). Whisk until smooth before placing bowl in refrigerator to stand just until chilled (no longer than 30 minutes).
2. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350F and line a standard-sized muffin pan with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium-sized bowl. Pour hot coffee over the mixture and whisk until smooth.
3. Set in refrigerator for 20 minutes to cool completely. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl and set aside.
4. Add the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla to the cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture, whisking until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Drop one slightly rounded tsp of ganache filling on top of each filled cupcake. Bake 17-19 minutes, until cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch.
6. Cool cupcakes in a muffin pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan and placing directly on wire rack to cool completely. Allow to cool for 1 hour before frosting.
7. To make the frosting,  Cream butter in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes.
8. Add confectioners' sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in vanilla and 2 tbsp of heavy cream. If the frosting is too thick, add a little more cream until it is the desired consistency. Use food coloring to tint accordingly.
9. Pipe or spread buttercream on cupcakes. To make spider web cupcakes, spread buttercream evenly on top of cupcakes. Use gel icing to pipe circles on top of each cupcake. Using a toothpick, drag lines from center of cupcake out to the edge, creating spiderweb effect.