March 8, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cordial Cupcakes

I woke up last Sunday feeling like I absolutely needed to bake cupcakes.  Cake isn’t my first dessert of choice but cupcakes... those are a different story.  I looked around my kitchen for inspiration and saw that I had an almost-full jar of maraschino cherries, a ½ bag of Ghirardelli white chocolate chips, most of the ingredients for a cake base and my mind started thinking something cherry cordial inspired.

Although I love baking, I don’t love it enough at this point to want to mess around with recipe trial and error.  I’d rather Google “best chocolate cupcake recipe” and find a blogger who has experimented with different recipes and can declare one to be the best.  I found a chocolate cupcake recipe on this site and followed it exactly.  I’m trying to get away from using vegetable oil for baking and I considered substituting butter but figured I have plenty of time to weigh the butter vs. oil dilemma.
The recipe calls for melted semi-sweet chocolate which definitely adds to the rich, dark chocolate taste.  It also calls for baking soda but no baking powder; the chemical reaction of the soda and vinegar allows the cupcakes to properly rise.  

Best Chocolate Cupcake Ever (recipe by A Cup Full of Cake)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's, I know, tisk, tisk!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled (cooled for about 15 min make sure its still melted though don’t want it to harden back up)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp water, heated to boiling ( have a kettle of water on the stove boiling ready to go)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs room temp
2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon vanilla
Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl (and now is a good time to pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.)  When I combine dry ingredients for baking, I use a whisk to get out any clumps and the whisking always gets things evenly distributed.

In a separate bowl add the eggs, milk, vanilla, vinegar and oil and mix well.  Melt the bittersweet chocolate and let cool for about 15 minutes and add it to the bowl of wet ingredients. I combined the wet ingredients with the dry and mixed just until it was all incorporated then added the 1/2 cup boiling water.  I did more Googling to figure out why one would add boiling water to cake batter but all I found were speculative bull-crap answers.  The best speculation was that it helps melt and incorporate the chocolate with the rest of ingredients; makes good sense.
I filled each cup about 2/3 full and baked the cupcakes for about 18-20 minutes and they turned out beautifully.  The tops were very evenly distributed and I loved how they sort of "crackled" on top.
I’m aware of what goes into a basic buttercream frosting but I struggle with how stiff and and gritty it gets after sitting for a certain amount of time.  I want “whippy” buttercream frosting; more dense than whipped cream but not a coarse buttercream made with cup after cup of confectioner's sugar.  My solution in this case was simply to use less powdered sugar and add melted white chocolate; did wonders for the consistency and the texture never really hardened into a sugary state.

For the buttercream I melted about 6oz of white chocolate chips in the microwave and let it cool until it was close to room temperature.  In a separate bowl I whipped the butter for several minutes until it increased in volume and looked silky smooth.  I added the white chocolate and 1 cup of powdered sugar to the wipped butter.  I also grated 20 maraschino cherries in the blender as well as a few tablespoons of cherry juice and mixed it into the buttercream.   After several more minutes of mixing I finally reached my desired fluffiness!  The buttercream had a very rich very buttery taste; fine with me but definitely not a traditional buttercream and also not exactly kid-friendly (this was kid-tested). 
Cherry White Chocolate Buttercream
6oz melted white chocolate (this was all I had, but I recommend an 11oz bag)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar
20 maraschino cherries (grated in the blender)
2-3 tablespoon of maraschino cherry juice, add more or less to intensify cherry flavor
Once the cupcakes were cool I topped them generously with the buttercream and used the rest of the jar of maraschino cherries for additional toppers.

As far as the "best chocolate cupcake ever", well, these were a little dry and crumbly for my liking.  And as with most things, it all comes down to personal preference. I prefer a cupcake (or any type of cake) to be relatively moist and not result in too crumbly of a mess while I'm eating it.  The flavor was definitely there in this cupcake but the texture has left me searching for the "best moist, non-crumbly chocolate cupcake ever".  I may tweak this recipe a bit and swap butter for oil and also add baking powder and omit the vinegar; both of these things could affect the crumb factor.  The buttercream, on the other hand, is a keeper!

1 comment:

  1. I love the color of that frosting! I can't wait to see what you decide on butter vs. oil... :-)