Since you can probably tell I’ve been pretty good at sticking closely to the Paleo lifestyle lately, this post may come as a shock; not unlike the insulin shock these sugar-bombs had on my system at 11pm last night, keeping me up past my early-workout bedtime! However, this weekend is my ultimate best bud / step-sister, Ashley’s birthday, and birthdays always call for indulgent treats!
These rich and sinful delights come from the awesome cookbook, Baked Explorations, but I decided to make cupcakes instead of the beautiful 3-tiered creation in the book so that Ashley could more easily share these at work. The result is a not-too-sweet, rich but delicate chocolate cake, topped with an oh-so-fluffy coffee buttercream (made with a technique I’d never heard of before, but will gladly try again!). I opted to dip the cupcakes in the ganache before frosting them which is not only easier, but it looks great and ended up hiding any imperfections in the cupcakes due to some of them rising over the edges of the pan and breaking apart a bit (lesson learned: don’t try to make a perfect 3 dozen if it means you’re putting too much batter in each one! No harm in making an extra few!)
So, enjoy the chocolatey goodness, and most importantly HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ASHLEY!
Chocolate & Coffee Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache
adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Makes 3 dozen.
For the Chocolate Cupcakes
- 3/4 cups dark unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1″ cubes, softened
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Coffee Buttercream
- 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons coffee extract
For the Chocolate Glaze
- 8 oz. good-quality (60-72%) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 3 dozen chocolate covered espresso beans
Make the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, line 3 cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1-1/4 cups hot water and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10-15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.
Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with dry.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans, filling each cup about 3/4 of the way full. Bake the cupcakes for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack or trivet and cool for 5-10 minutes, before carefully removing the cupcakes and setting them onto a clean work surface.
Make the Coffee Buttercream
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool, 7-9 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about another 1-2 minutes.
Add the vanilla and coffee extracts and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
Make the Chocolate Glaze
Place the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in the top of the double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat.
Once all cupcakes are cool, carefully dip each on into the glaze, using a slight swirling motion to let any excess drip off neatly. If you need to, use a spoon to fill in any gaps. Place glazed cupcakes on a tray and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to allow the ganache to set.
Once ganache is set, use a piping bag fitted with a wide tip to frost each cupcake, and top them with the chocolate covered espresso beans.
You can store your cupcakes at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but bring them to room temperature before serving.