I have a strong antipathy towards cupcakes, for no other reason that they became so popular and I never quite understood why. A cupcake is just a piece of cake baked in a cup with frosting on top. Like cakes, they come in all sorts of flavors and decorations and colors. And, since the cupcake craze started, ridiculous looking and ridiculous tasting options have proliferated.
I find a slice of cake, or an individual tart, much more elegant and satisfying but, clearly, I am in a small minority. Mostly, I object to the high-robbery prices baking shops can command for such quick work. True, I also benefit from the inflation, with my profit margin much higher on a cupcake than on a pie, which requires twice the work.
I don’t remember the last time I purchased a cupcake for myself but this weekend I was reminded of the “perfect” chocolate cupcake I make now and then. While baking for a school graduation, I used my light chocolate cake recipe as a base which I topped it with a chocolate buttercream frosting But, at home, my frosting of choice is a silky ganache, maybe infused with some cognac or bourbon. Not your kiddies’ cupcake by any stretch of the imagination.
And, of course, baking this as a whole cake is clearly an option.
RECIPE – Adapted from The Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg – Yields 12 cupcakes
1 C AP Flour (128 g)
3/4 C Sugar (150 g)
1/2 C Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
5 oz Butter, room temperature (142 g)
1/2 ts Baking soda
1/4 ts Baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 C Milk (180 ml)
For the ganache
8 oz Semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped (227 g)
1 C Cream (235 ml)
1 T Cognac or bourbon
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and mix well.
- Combine the dries (sift the cocoa powder if lumpy) and, on low-speed, alternate adding dries and milk in three additions. Mix thoroughly making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
- Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill them 2/3 of the way.
- Bake at 350F/180C for 20 minutes or until they spring back when pressed in the center.
- In the meantime, make the ganache by heating the cream in a small saucepan on medium heat. Do not let it boil.
- Pour it over the chopped chocolate, wait a couple of minutes and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and looks glossy. Add the liquor. Let cool for two hours until thick enough to spread or place in the refrigerator, stirring every so often to make sure the edges don’t harden faster than the center.
- Spread over the cupcakes and enjoy.