It will come as no surprise to any of you who have been visiting us here for a while, that the impetus for this particular recipe comes from our young friend, Muppet. I honestly can’t remember a post on this site that featured the use of chocolate and DIDN”T have something to do with her. To say that she’s been riding me for a while to help her concoct a ganache centered cupcake would be an understatement. It’s fairer to say that our persistent little angel ground me down by hounding me morning, noon and night for weeks in order that I get off my soft, large bottom and get focused on making this dream dessert with her. Mission (finally) accomplished…..
Of course, what she really had in mind as a creation was a three piece, restaurant style dessert comprised of a molten chocolate cupcake, a chocolate dipped strawberry, and a strawberry milkshake with crushed oreos on top. This is Muppet afterall….she of the Pierre Hermé “Triple Chocolate Meringue Ice Cream Puff” fame. I guess once you’ve crafted a PH dessert, a plain old chocolate cupcake seems a bit of a yawn. After a bit of reeling in, we settled on a phased approach to this dessert, and as we had some left-over chocolate buttercream in the fridge, decided to start with the cupcake…and let me tell you, it is an awfully good place to start! As a point of clarification, and much to Muppet’s chagrin, the ganache does not stay molten in the cupcake indefinitely, but rather is absorbed by the cake toward the bottom center of the confection, making for a super-dense interior!
Don’t worry, Muppet eventually recovered from this initial disappointment, as evidenced by her snarfing at least half the batch we made.
This is not an original recipe, but rather a combination of two tried and true favorites, a Cook’s Illustrated ganache centered cupcake, and Ina Garten’s Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. Note: the recipe as printed will make at least twice the frosting you will need for 12 cupcakes, so you have a choice to make. You can either double the cupcake recipe and make enough to win a few new friends (and probably a few stalkers) in the neighborhood. You can make a 1/2 batch of the frosting recipe, or you can make the batch as written and have enough left over for another purpose (if you do that, keep the extra refrigerated in a tupperware container until ready to use, then let come to room temp, and give it a quick spin with electric beaters to smooth it out again).
These are insanely good cupcakes, deep and rich enough to satisfy any chocolate freak (just ask Muppet), and with a frosting that will not just please the kids, but make adults take notice with its nuance used of espresso powder and rum.
Cheers – Steve and Muppet
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
- 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
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup egg whites (3 extra-large eggs), at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- pinch teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
- 2 tablespoons dark rum, optional
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.
- 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.
- Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
- 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.
For Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
- Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
- Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.
- Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum, if using, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again before piping or spreading onto the cooled cupcakes.