Monday, June 16, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Orange or Mint Frosting

These cupcakes were the dessert I made for the potluck I threw this weekend. The cupcakes have a hidden layer of bittersweet chocolate ganache in between the frosting and the cake. Instead of my regular full sized cupcakes, I decided to make these minis. I sometimes like to do that if I’m making multiple flavors, because that way people can try both without feeling too guilty (of course I know plenty of people who would just take two full sized cupcakes to try both flavors). I think these came out really well, with a nice, deep chocolate flavor. I made them the day before I served them, and I noticed that in the day between making them and serving them the bitterness of the bittersweet chocolate ganache had mellowed a little, which I liked. I tried to use mandarin orange to flavor the frosting, but I don’t think it came through, so regular orange juice would work just fine. I preferred the mint cupcakes, but everyone else preferred the orange.

This recipe has some rather odd measures, this is the result of it having come from a recipe I first divided in half, and then decided to make 1 and a half times of (that’s 75% of the original recipe for those keeping track).

Dark Chocolate Mint and Orange Cupcakes

Makes about 60 mini cupcakes

1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1/3 + 2 Tbs cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark)
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (I used 60% cocoa bittersweet)
½ cup + 1 Tbs warm water
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
3/8 cup well shaken buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
½ tsp mint extract
½ tsp orange extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in cocoa powder and chocolate chips, combine until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the water and mix until smooth.

2. Remove from heat. One at a time, mix in sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Sift it over the liquids and mix to combine.

4. Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. Whisk the mint extract into one bowl, and the orange extract into the other.

5. Use a tablespoon measure to fill the mini-muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

6. Make sure to find a way to keep separate the mint and orange cupcakes, so you don’t swap their frostings.

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

½ cup heavy cream
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate

1. Heat the cream and the butter over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk the mixture. Allow the mixture to heat until it is at a near boil.

2. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute, then whisk.

Orange Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

3 egg whites worth of egg white powder (I think this varies depending on the brand you use, the package will tell you)
Enough orange juice to reconstitute 3 egg whites worth of powder (The package will tell you how much this is. For me it was 6 Tbs)
1/3 cup sugar (this recipe relies on the orange juice for the sweetness, and so has less sugar than the mint)
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
¼ tsp orange extract
Food coloring (optional)

1. Whisk together the egg white powder and the orange juice. Once combined, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites. Once the mixture becomes foamy slowly add the sugar. Place the mixture over a double boiler and whisk just until the sugar has dissolved (test by rubbing a small amount of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger).

2. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, and resume mixing with the electric mixer. Beat until stiff peaks form, and the mixture is completely cooled.

3. Add butter one Tablespoon at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the orange extract and food coloring.

4. Once all the butter is mixed in, the frosting will look soft, and like it will never hold a peak. Keep beating! You’re going to want to give up, don’t, keep beating. For my the orange frosting first became curdled, and then as if by magic became a nice, thick, and pipe-able consistency.

Mint Swiss Meringue Butter Cream

3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp mint extract
Food coloring.

1. Whisk together the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler. Keep whisking until sugar is dissolved, and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees F).

2. Remove from the heat and begin beating with an electric mixer. Beat until the mixture has stiff peaks, and is completely cooled.

3. Beat in the butter one Tablespoon at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Beat in the mint extract and the food coloring.

4. This frosting also takes a long time of beating to really come together. Unlike the orange, it never seemed like it went through a curdled stage, but maybe I didn’t notice. This one also definitely took longer than the orange to come together.

This is what it looked like with butter added before all the beating

This is what it looks like after all the beating (also food coloring was added)


Use a pastry brush to paint the ganache onto the tops of the cupcakes. Let the cupcakes rest for a few minutes so the ganache can harden. Once the ganache is solid, frost the cupcakes with their respective frostings.

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