I like cupcakes; I think they're a happy sort of food. That requisite swirl of frosting is just so decadent looking. Unfortunately, the icing can be so sugary that it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. These ones are deeply, darkly chocolate. I think chocolate ganache is my new favourite cupcake topping. Whipping it allows you to pipe it as nicely as any frosting, but it's more sophisticated and less sugar-packed than true icing sugar frosting, and it's faster to make than buttercream. It tastes almost truffle-y.
The base is a devil's food cake. This is an old family recipe that makes a very dark, moist chocolate cake very quickly. You can see that the directions pretty much read like they do off a box of cake mix. The terribly difficult part is measuring everything into one big bowl. If you've got measuring equipment, there's no reason to make cake out of a box when this is SO easy.
Chocolate ganache should be simple. It has two ingredients: chocolate and cream. This magical mixture can be made into truffle centers, poured as a glaze, whipped into mousse, or piped as frosting. It all depends on the ratio of cream to chocolate. I was faced with a challenge though when I chopped up a half pound of good 70% dark chocolate and made it into ganache, only to find out that there really is such a thing as "too dark." The ganache was not sweet at all, and almost offensively bitter. I looked online to determine how to sweeten ganache that's been made and cooled, but no luck.
I believe that food can sense your fear, so if you take charge, things tend to turn out better. Still, chocolate can be quite temperamental: add a drop of water to melted chocolate and it will seize, heat it too much and it'll split. So I was hesitant to beat in a few tablespoons of corn syrup, but was relieved to see that it worked. Adding a dab of raspberry preserves to the center of the cupcake resulted in a delicate balance of bitter and sweet, creamy and cake-y, chocolately and fruity. Adorn the tops with fresh raspberries and present with a flourish.
Raspberry-filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Ganache
1 recipe Devil's Food Cake, baked into cupcakes
1 recipe Whipped Chocolate Ganache
1/2 cup seedless raspberry preserves
Fresh raspberries for garnish
Make a hole in the center of each cupcake: Use a large metal star tip (from a piping bag); push into cake and twist. Remove the center of the cut out.
Use a piping bag to fill each hole with raspberry preserve. Use a large star-tipped piping bag to pipe a swirl of ganache on each cupcake. Decorate with raspberries.
Store in the fridge, up to 3 days. Serve at room temperature.
Makes 20 cupcakes
Devil's Food Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour 2 8" cake pans (or 20 lined muffin tins). In a large bowl blend all ingredients at low speed until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes (20 minutes for cupcakes) or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Yields 2-8" layers or 20 cupcakes.
Whipped Chocolate Ganache
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped (~60%; anything higher and the ganache gets very bitter)
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat whipping cream to a boil. Boil for one minute (important to evaporate some water). Pour cream through a sieve over chopped chocolate. Do not stir; allow to sit for 2-4 minutes. Use a spatula to gently stir in concentric circles (start in the center of the bowl and stir outwards) until thoroughly mixed.
Place plastic wrap directly on top of ganache to stop a film from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.
Whip at medium-high speed until lightened in colour and fluffy. Do not overbeat or ganache will get grainy (to fix grainy ganache, melt the whole thing down, cool, and beat again).
Makes about 2 1/2 cups; enough to frost 24 cupcakes
Note: To fix ganache that's too bittter, beat in 1-2 tablespoons of corn syrup
Ganache recipe adapted from marthastewart.comCupcake and cake recipe and image property of beets and bites