Devil’s Food Cupcakes

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

J:  Erik found this recipe on The Wednesday Chef, and as soon as I saw it I needed no convincing to make these delicious cupcakes.  I’ve actually not made cupcakes since I started on my foodie journey, so this was a fun little deviation from the usual desserts in the form of various types of cookies or brownies.  It’s kind of a long process, just because there’s a fair bit of waiting between steps to let the cupcakes cool and then do various sinfully delicious things to them (because clearly they weren’t already sinful enough).  But it’s so worth it!  These have such an absurdly rich chocolate flavor.  The cream filling is really a must; when they were finished, they kind of reminded me of Hostess cupcakes, being cream-filled and all, but they are worlds better, both in taste and in ingredients (not that either of these things would be terribly hard to achieve).

not as delicate as it looks! these things get messy

So, in case the description and photo weren’t enough to convince you, read on: once you get to the end of this recipe, I’m pretty positive that you’ll want to make these as much as I did.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes
(original recipe found here)

For the cupcakes:
3/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 c cake flour
2/3 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 c plus 2 tbsp buttermilk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350, and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.  If you have more than one muffin tin, you’ll need it — this recipe makes 14-16ish cupcakes; we ended up with 14 1/2 cupcakes.  If you don’t have an extra muffin tin or you think using an extra tin for a grand total of 2 1/2 cupcakes is a little silly, line a few ramekins with cupcake liners instead and have those standing by if you need them.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp warm water so it comes together in a paste-like consistency.  Stir this occasionally so that it doesn’t set; or, since it doesn’t take very long, you can feel free to do this step while your mixer is at work a bit later on.

mmm, cocoa powder

In a separate bowl, sift/stir together the dry ingredients: cake and all-purpose flours, baking powder and baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the butter and dark brown sugar on low-to-medium speed.  You want them to be pretty well combined — no bits of butter should be visible here.  When they’re mixed together, add in the cocoa paste.

looks kind of like a graham-cracker crust

Beat all of that together as well, and then add the egg and egg yolk.

i am totally going to make through-the-mixer photos a thing

I think you know the drill by now, folks, go ahead and beat in those eggs with all your heart.

Next comes the mixture of various white powders! (Read: flours, baking powder/soda, etc. What other kinds of white powders would I be talking about?) Add this in three batches, and alternate with adding in the buttermilk and vanilla, also in thirds.

careful this doesn't go everywhere

Your final result will look a little something like this:

this. is. delicious.

Try not to eat it all!  Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each about 3/4 of the way full.

maybe a little too full, nothing wrong with that

Bake these tasty little things for 20-25 minutes.  When they’re done, the tops should spring back if you poke them gently, and a toothpick or knife inserted into one should come out clean.

voila! cupcakes!

Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack, and let them cool just about completely.

You know, these really don’t need anything else.  They’re kind of amazing just as they are — so chocolatey, lovely and moist in the center, what more could you want?  Well, how about a cream filling and an easy ganache topping?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

For the cream filling:
1 c heavy cream
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Using your mixer with a whisk attachment this time, combine all three ingredients.  Beat on low-to-medium speed until the cream forms soft peaks — about 4 minutes.

looks like soft peaks to me

Now comes the fun/tricky part: getting the cream into the cupcakes.  This was a two-person job for us, but that was at least in part because we didn’t have a pastry bag, so we used a pastry nozzle held over a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.  It didn’t attach very well, and… well, let’s just say it got kind of messy.  Also, this cream starts to get a little melty if it gets too warm, so once you finish filling these, you should probably put them in the fridge while you work on the ganache.

So, how exactly do you fill cupcakes?  Cut a small slit in the bottom of a cupcake, inserting the knife about 1 – 1 1/2 inches in.  If you’re lucky enough to have a pastry bag, use a small piping tip; place your fingers on the top of the cupcake, insert the piping tip into the slit you made, and squeeze in filling until you feel a slight pressure on the top of the cupcake.  Do this slowly, because as we discovered, if you squeeze in too much cream, it’ll explode the top of the cupcake a little bit.

all cream-filled and waiting for the ganache!

Fill up the rest of the cupcakes.  Again, you might want to pop them in the fridge just to keep the filling cool while you get the finishing touch ready.

For the ganache:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

The original recipe also has corn syrup in it, but Luisa at The Wednesday Chef didn’t use it, and neither did we, and we honestly didn’t miss it.  The ganache is super-rich and just sweet enough without it.

To make the ganache, put the semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat up the cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil (as with any time you’re heating cream, keep a careful eye on it).  We didn’t actually bring ours to a full boil — you just need it to be hot enough to melt chocolate.  When it gets there, pour it over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the two ingredients are combined completely.

Very carefully, dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache.  Erik developed an expert hand at this: our technique was to immerse just the top of the cupcake into the ganache, rotate it gently, and then twist it as you lift it out to try and minimize drips — similar to the way you might twist a wine bottle as you bring it up from pouring.

Let the ganache set (about 30 minutes, though you could likely speed this up in the fridge) and then dig in.  We did not have the willpower to wait the 30 minutes before trying them: and why on earth would you when you could have a cream-filled chocolate cupcake covered in gooey melted chocolate??  So, if you want to sneak a cupcake before the ganache has set, go right ahead.  I won’t tell.

dangerously innocent-looking

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