2.20.2011

Cupcake Crush


Easy Chocolate Cupcakes

I thought perhaps the cupcake wave had hit the shore several years ago and receded quietly into the depths of the next "big thing". The love affair with cupcakes is still going strong thanks to TV food channels, cookbooks, and the advent of more and more cupcake shops popping up in neighborhoods around the nation. I'm slow to ride waves, I usually give it a chance to take hold, work out the kinks and then I check it out.
I recently starting paying more attention to cupcakes, mostly out of the necessity to provide easy and quick birthday celebrations at the office (why they put me in charge of that, I'll never know!) Store bought cake and ice cream is OK, but I was getting bored.
I decided to try out the cupcake trend, they are easy to bake and I enjoy sweet little things in their own "containers". No forks, no plates, no knives, and I can even skip the messy ice cream! Pop out a tray of cupcakes at my office for birthday celebrations and no one seems to complain! I found this recipe in a collection from Hershey's Cocoa. As usual, I made my own additions and changes to make them super chocolaty! If you make the frosting while the cupcakes are baking, everything will be ready to assemble very quickly after the cupcakes are cooled.

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch Process cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup veg oil
2 tsp real vanilla extract
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted & slightly cooled
3/4 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare 2 (12 each capacity) standard muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Sift together dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Combine sugar, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, carefully beat in cooled melted unsweetened chocolate and add to dry ingredients. Beat with mixer (hand-held or stand) for about 2 minutes on medium until batter is smooth. Add 3/4 cup boiling water. Batter will thin out noticeably. 
Divide batter evenly among lined muffin tins. Bake 20-25 minutes or until just set and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from pans immediately and let cool for 1 hour.

Fluffy Chocolate Ganache Frosting

16 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips
16 oz heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Bring heavy cream to scald in a saucepan over med-high heat. Turn off heat and immediately add chocolate chips. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir to melt chocolate into cream and add vanilla extract. Let ganache cool in refrigerator for about one hour. Whip with handheld or stand mixer until fluffy. Frost cupcakes by hand with a spatula or by filling a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe frosting onto each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles if you wish!

Note: If you have ganache left over, which you might if you are light handed on the frosting. It will keep several weeks in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Use for another recipe or for a late night chocolate fix....spooned right out of the container!

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A dedicated foodie, with a passion for the best food. Favorite food crushes include; Cheese, Wine, Breads, Seafood, anything made with eggs, ...there's actually no point in a list, there isn't much out there I don't have a crush on. Transplanted from the Northeast at age 18, a whole new frontier of food was opened up to me. I have fished for Salmon, hunted for mushrooms, cracked open fresh oysters from the sea and devoured them on the spot. Figs, pears, peaches, so many indigenous jewels! I dedicate this BLOG to the endless variety this region provides. My hope is to live here for a very long time & continue to discover and experience it's unique bounty! Alas, my life has now taken me to Cincinnati, OH where the food culture is like none I have ever experienced.

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