I'm helping a friend coordinate the surprise birthday dinner he is throwing his wife tomorrow. I volunteered to bake cupcakes. Since she loves loads and loads of chocolate, I decided to make this yummy Fudgy Chocolate Layer Cake in cupcake form:
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup (less 1 TB) cocoa powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened (but not melted)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Mix flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In another bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
At low speed, alternately beat flour mixture and buttermilk into butter mixture just until blended.
Pour into cupcake papers.
Bake at 350 for about 20 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (these are clearly not ready yet).
Cool on a wire rack - I'm proud of those beautifully cracked crowns.
Instead of the chocolate frosting that came with the cake recipe, which is quite good, I decided to use the Astoria frosting I usually reserve for red velvet cake because it is so incredible. This is a tricky frosting so I will walk you through it. First, the ingredients (my copy of the recipe in my binder is pictured below, before I put it in the plastic sheet, I was a bit reckless with the batter):
5 Tb flour
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole milk (anything less won't work, skim is especially disastrous)
1 cup sugar (note, this is not powdered sugar)
Whisk the milk and flour together to get rid of most of the flour lumps. In a double boiler (I improvise and put a bit of water in one sauce pan and use a smaller pan resting inside), cook flour and milk mix until thick. Watch the heat and stir often so the milk doesn't scald - the double boiler helps prevent this but still needs to be watched closely. The below photo shows the thickness you need to reach, be patient, this can take a while (especially if you use anything less than whole milk).
Cool this mix completely. I generally put the whole pan in the freezer to completely bring the temperature down - it should be pretty stiff and look like this when you take it out.
While the flour-milk mix is cooling, cream the butter (again, no substitutions here, use real butter!) until light and fluffy. Then add the sugar and cream until very fluffy. Add the flour-milk mix and beat until very fluffy. Add the vanilla and you are ready to frost. You need to move quickly at this stage because the butter in the frosting starts melting very quickly and the frosting can turn a bit gloopy.
I fill a pastry bag with a wide tip (no idea what it is called) to swirl it on because I'm not very artistic or creative.
But I didn't stop there. I decided to be ambitious and try something new - a ganache. I've been curious about trying a ganache for a long time so I tracked down this recipe:
8 ounces chocolate
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tb sugar
2 Tb butter (again, I stick with the real stuff)
I chopped the chocolate up (coarser and smaller than in the photo) and placed it in a glass bowl.:
In a small saucepan, bring the cream and sugar just to a boil.
Pour the cream mix over the chocolate and whisk together. Then stir in butter until melted. Mine turned out very shiny (as it is supposed to) but in a strange texture. This had me pretty concerned, I thought I was going to have to throw the whole thing out!
I used baking chocolate with 99% cacao, which is probably as dark as you can get. This forced me to perform a small taste test with the ganache layered under the astoria frosting:The ganache passed my taste test so I smoothed the ganache over the tops of the cupcakes. The funky texture smoothed out pretty readily and I placed them in my brand new cupcake tote I ordered from Amazon. One of the Amazon reviews pointed out that the cupcakes were difficult to get out of the bottom tray once they were frosted so she placed marbles in the bottom to elevate them a bit. I don't have marbles so I improvised with m&ms:
I swirled frosting on top of the ganache and added a dash of the chopped up chocolate:And ate the rest of my test cupcake - delicious!
P.S. The Police were FANTASTIC last night!! Roxanne was definitely my favorite but Every Breath You Take and King of Pain were high on my list of best songs of the night. Shoot, but Every Little Thing She Does is Magic, Don't Stand So Close To Me and Walking on the Moon were excellent as well as Message in a Bottle and De Do Do Do. . . like I said I LOVED the whole thing!