Saturday, January 15, 2011

Cooks Illustrated Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

The$e are utterly glorious, although alas far too fussy for all but long weekends. I counted something like six bowls piled up in the sink by the end, all of the too big to fit safely in the dishwasher variety. Note also that these are amazingly tender -- I think it's the bread flour? -- but that also makes them difficult to frost. Getting them out of the cupcake pan is a delicate matter in and of itself, and then they threaten to crumble when one lifts them up to frost.

I also don't recommend the accompanying frosting. Somehow, egg-white based buttercreams never fail to disappoint me; I'd appreciate guidance from someone who has better luck. My first batch was grainy and ugly. I resigned myself to throwing it away and resorting to my more tried and true approach of throwing confectioner sugar, butter, and vanilla into a stand mixer until it coheres into something resembling my Platonic ideal of good icing. At least the latter turned out well.

Ganache Filling
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Chocolate Cupcakes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe Frosting
1. FOR GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

2. FOR CUPCAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

4. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

5. TO FROST: Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center.

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