Chocolate Overload Cupcakes

DSC_2280aRECIPE: This is the second time I’ve made this recipe, and I was keen to experiment with the method to see if I could improve it. The first time I made it I followed the recipe and the cake turned out a bit grainy and dry. I didn’t adjust the quantities of ingredients this time, but instead of mixing all the dry then adding all the wet in one go, I used the more traditional method of creaming the butter and sugar first. I then added the egg and vanilla and the remaining wet ingredients before blending in the dry. I didn’t cream it for long, as I didn’t want to incorporate too much air and end up with a cake that was too fluffy and unable to carry the weight of the frosting. The outcome was a much better textured cake. I always use patty pan cake tins rather than muffin tins because in my experience a smaller cake is much more appealing to people. In the smaller size you will get 24 cupcakes. The recipe has US measurements that I had to convert to grams.

COMPONENTS: I adjusted the method for the cake, but didn’t change anything else. The ganache is straightforward but you are likely to have some left over. Either halve the recipe, or save spare ganache for other recipes (there’s lots of ways to use it) or as a chocolate topping for ice cream that sets in a firm shell. You will note that the chocolate frosting uses shortening as well as butter. I noted this as a benefit in a previous post about gingerbread cupcakes as it helps to stabilise the frosting. You’ll also have spare frosting, unless you like to pile it as high as your cake. I prefer more cake than frosting, and don’t forget there’s ganache as well, so it’s already quite sweet!

ASSEMBLY: I cooled the cakes to room temperature, cut out their tops then added a teaspoonful of warm ganache to each. I put them in a fridge to set the ganache before adding the frosting, which would melt otherwise. The other time I made these cupcakes, I added a malteser to the frosting as a topper, which added a nice bit of crunch. Chocolate sprinkles or some form of tempered chocolate would be good too.

IMPRESSION: Great recipe, especially with the more traditional method for the cake that I described above. Went down a treat at work!

Recipe from Life Love and Sugar by Lindsay

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Gingerbread cupcakes

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RECIPE: I was testing recipes for wedding cupcakes and wanted something a bit different from the usual. This recipe was easy to follow and everyone raved about the results. They’ve got a great gingerbread flavour with the molasses creating strong undertones that make them really interesting (and tasty) to eat. The heat of the ginger is balanced nicely by the maple cream cheese frosting. If you’re converting the US measurements, write them down so you don’t accidentally use a wrong measurement halfway through. I topped the cupcakes with gingerbread hearts that I made from a Bourke Street Bakery recipe – any recipe would probably do.

COMPONENTS: The cake is very light and fluffy, and the first time I made it the cupcakes collapsed a little when I added the toppings. I possibly could have prevented this by creaming the butter and sugar for less time. It’s also important to cool the cakes in the tin for long enough that they firm up and don’t break apart during removal. Making the buttercream was straightforward, but it needs to be kept cool. If it’s a warm day, it might be necessary to cool it part way through so it doesn’t separate.

ASSEMBLY: The buttercream has no stabiliser (typically egg), so melts really quickly. It needs to be cooled before applying, and kept cool. I had terrible trouble with what is called ‘broken’ buttercream, which happens when it is too hot or too cold. Some recipes use either vegetable shortening, lard, or egg in some form to stabilise the buttercream so it’s better able to cope with the heat. I’ve tried all these methods and they are all an improvement. The gingerbread hearts were prepared well ahead of time and stored in a plastic container.

IMPRESSION: Great recipe once you get the techniques right. I’d consider swapping some of the butter for shortening, just to help stabilise the buttercream in hot weather. The gingerbread hearts made a great crunchy ‘topper’ for the cupcakes. They were a big hit!

Recipe from A Taste of Home (with US cup sizes)