Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Espresso Buttercream and Chocolate Ganache

These might be the best cupcakes in the world.  I don't usually like to call attention to things that I do well (which seems a contradiction in terms when posting on a blog, but oh well), but I am not afraid to tell you that these. are. AWESOME.  They are the most requested thing for me to make, all the time.  When I make them, my husband hangs over my shoulder and tries to lick both the batter bowl and the icing bowl-- before I'm even done.  Like most of the cupcakes I make, these guys are multi-step, but none of it is very difficult. (If you scroll to the bottom of this post, there's a picture of the filled inside of the cupcake too.)  Also, the chocolate cake has become my go-to recipe-- it's so pretty and tasty.  I've adapted this recipe to make mini cupcakes, a small birthday cake, and cupcakes without the ganache-- it's nice and versatile.  These are good, friends-- you should try it! :)

Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from Annie's Eats)
Makes approximately 18+ cupcakes

9 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups cake flour (please actually use cake flour-- it makes a difference)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup milk (either whole or 2%)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.  In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the butter and sugar on medium-high speed, until fluffy (about 4-5 minutes).  Add the eggs one at a time-- scrape the bowl after you add each egg.  Combine the coffee and milk in a liquid measuring cup.


Add half the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter and mix until just incorporated.  Next, add the coffe-milk mixture and stir until combined-- the batter will look pretty runny at this point.  Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Spoon batter into cupcake pans with liners-- you should make these no more than 3/4 full, because these cupcakes rise and dome very well-- you don't want them to overflow.  Less is more with filling these cupcakes. :)  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

While these cupcakes cool, I make the ganache and the icing.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
(Adapted from Joyofbaking.com)

5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used 4 oz Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa and 1 oz Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp unsalted butter

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring cream and butter to a simmer.  Pour cream-butter combination over chopped chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes.  This is important!  Don't be impatient and try to stir too early (like I did the first few times I made ganache).  Then, whisk until smooth.  Let the ganache cool-- it will thicken a bit as it cools.  You can also make more or less ganache using the proportions of this recipe, which is nice.

...And after


Espresso Buttercream Frosting
(Adapted from the browneyed baker)

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of solid vegetable shortening (so, Crisco)
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (depending on how stiff you want your icing)       
1 1/2 tsps instant espresso powder (additional powder to taste)
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tbsp milk

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening.  (If Crisco grosses you out, you can use all butter.)  Scrape sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The icing at this point will be very dry and stiff.

In a small bowl, mix together the vanilla and instant espresso powder.  Add to the icing and beat until thoroughly incorporated.  Add milk one Tbsp at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Note: in this house, we like our coffee, so we like a very strong espresso flavor in the icing.  When I add the milk at this point, I usually dissolve another tsp of the espresso powder into it before adding it to the icing.  The amount of espresso powder to add is up to your personal taste-- just be sure to dissolve it in the milk!  Do not add it directly to the icing.

Assembly:  Core the cooled cupcakes (tutorial here).  Fill each cupcake with approximately 1 Tbsp of ganache-- don't overfill or the cupcake hats won't go back on!  Frost using a large star tip on a pastry bag, or a baggie with the corner cut off.  Eat and enjoy!

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