Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Dangerously Decadent Cupcakes
I had to come up with a shorter name for these cupcakes because "Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Center and Peanut Butter Frosting Dipped in Homemade Magic Shell" is technically correct but WAAAAY too long, don't you think?
Besides, Dangerously Decadent Cupcakes is also accurate given the various individual and combined components. I'm pretty sure these should come with a warning. Something like: These are so rich and delicious, you are advised to eat at your own risk; death by cupcake is not out of the realm of possibility.
Dwight and I were invited to a cookout last Saturday which gave me the perfect opportunity to test out a cupcake idea on some willing guinea pigs. I've found that most people don't really care that you're testing a recipe on them, especially if it involves cupcakes. And chocolate. And peanut butter. So I looked up some recipes, combined various ideas together and came up with these.
I'll list the recipes below and provide a link for a printable recipe as well (NEW FEATURE ALERT). I plan on adding printable recipes to archived posts, but it'll take me some time. In the mean time, I've condensed the ridiculous amount of photos I took into some collages. Individual photos are at my flickr photostream if you just can't get enough choco-peanut butter goodness.
First things first: The Cake. I found this recipe from Cook's Illustrated featured on a number of blogs. It comes together a bit like homemade brownies, using bittersweet chocolate, cocoa and butter all melted together then added to an egg-sugar mix. Next, you add the rest of the ingredients, the usual suspects like flour and leaveners, but this recipe also includes sour cream. Another level of richness to an already heady lineup of ingredients.
As you can see, the batter is very thick and almost fluffy. It's not like a typical cake batter. I used my large Pampered Chef scoop to get the batter into the paper liners (which are adorable, don't you think? psst...I got them at Michael's).
But did you see what I tucked in the batter? Mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I used the dark chocolate ones, but you can use regular, if you prefer. Based on a suggestion I found while browsing for recipes, you can freeze them for 20-30 minutes prior to baking. I did, but I'm not sure what difference it made. Maybe the centers would melt a bit if left room temp? As it was, mine stayed pretty much "as is" except the outer chocolate melted, creating these cute little divots.
These divots are evident when you cut down the center like I did for the first photo. When you're shoving them in your face, though, you never even know it's there. You could easily pipe a dollop of frosting in there first then pipe the swirl if you just can't handle the thought of there being even a smidge of wasted frosting coverage.
Next came The Frosting. Oh, my. This frosting. It's incredible. It's made of butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar and whipping cream — what's not to like?
I used my Wilton 1M tip, filled a disposable bag, and went to town.
Heaven, whipped into a pale golden fluff.
If I'd stopped right there, these would still be amazing. But I had an idea – take the peanut butter cup idea and apply it to the frosting. Let's dip 'em in chocolate coating. So I went looking for a homemade "magic shell" kind of recipe. I knew they were out there (Google it - there are a number of variations) but what surprised me was that the secret ingredient wasn't paraffin–my suspicion–but coconut oil. Why coconut oil, you ask? Well, because it's solid at room temperature. It's melting point is 76°F so keep it below that, and you've got a (relatively) solid chocolate shell. Granted, it stays much more solid on something really cold like ice cream, but put the cupcakes in the freezer before dipping and keep them in the fridge after, and you're good to go. (Which also means this wasn't the BEST idea for a cookout recipe, but I didn't hear any complaints.)
(Oh, goodness. All of that dipping took me back to my Dairy Queen days—back in the olden days. You know, High School.) The dip was a little thin, but Dwight had the best idea "Why not dip them twice?" Done and done.
I packed them into my (really crappy) cupcake carrier and we headed off to the cookout.
They were a big hit, with kids...
and dogs alike. (Don't worry, she only had a some of the frosting, and a tiny bit of chocolate.)
Now let's get to the recipes!
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (with Reese’s PB Cup Center)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes approx 12 (I got 15 out of it with plenty of batter left on the sides of the bowl for me to enjoy. What?)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
1/2 cup (1.5 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (or regular if that’s what you’ve got handy)
3/4 cup (3.75 oz) All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream (you could use reduced fat, but really…why bother)
12-15 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line tin with cupcake liners.
Combine butter, chopped chocolate and cocoa in a small bowl. Microwave 30 seconds then stir. Microwave at 15 second intervals until smooth. (It only took me the first 30 seconds plus 15 more before it was smooth and glossy.) Don’t overheat! Alternately, you can get fancy and use a double boiler, or a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water.
Cool until barely warm.
In small bowl, combine flour, soda and powder.
In a medium-ish bowl, beat the eggs then whisk in the sugar and salt. Add the cooled chocolate mix, beating until smooth and well combined. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until fully combined. Add sour cream, mixing well, then add remaining flour mixture, whisking till flour is fully incorporated and batter is thick.
Scoop batter into lined tins using you preferred method—spoon, ice cream scoop, measuring cup. Place a mini Reese’s cup in the center of each cake. Press into the batter until nearly level with the top.
Bake 15-20 minutes (original recipe said 18-20 but mine were most definitely done at 15 minutes). Check doneness with toothpick. If it comes out clean, you’re good.
Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack to cool thoroughly before frosting.
Printable Recipe Here
Fluffy Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from browneyedbaker.com
Easily covers 18 cupcakes, and that’s if you have a heavy hand.
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 - 2/3 cup whipping cream (heavy cream) adjust as necessary - add more if it looks like it needs it. Go wild.
Beat peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Add cream and beat until light and fluffy. Give it a few minutes to get nice and pale and lovely. Lick the beaters. No, really. Do it. It’ll make you feel like a kid again.
Spread onto cooled cupcakes or pipe with your preferred decorating tip.
Homemade Magic Shell
Adapted from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen
3 regular size Hershey bars, broken into smaller bits
1/2 cup coconut oil
Combine chocolate and oil in small, deep bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. The oil will have melted, but the chocolate will still be partially solid. Microwave at 15 second intervals until the mixture is smooth. It won’t take long.
Pour over ice cream or dip frosted cupcakes that have been in the freezer at least 15 minutes. Take cupcakes out just a few at a time. If you’re double dipping, place cupcakes back in the freezer for a few minutes before re-dipping.
Enjoy! Sure, it’s not exactly health food, but it’s got to be at least a little better for you than the processed stuff in a squeeze bottle.
Just for the record, I had plenty of this left over after double dipping 12 cupcakes–a good 1/2 cup or more left. It’ll keep in the pantry for a while, but if you put it in the fridge, it’ll turn solid and you’ll need to nuke it before using.
Printable Recipe Here
I hope you made it all the way through that post; it was a whopper. And let me know what you think of the printable recipes. Do you want them with pics, or do you prefer text only. What about the size? Is full page good, or do you prefer recipe cards?
Let me know in the comments!