Today was our first “off day” in what seems like an eternity.
No workmen in the house. Nowhere we had to go. Nothing we had to do. Almost like a vacation. (For the kids, at least…)
So we invited some of the boys from my oldest’s Classical Conversations group over to have a little Valentine’s playdate. I planned on making cookies or donuts as a treat, but when I got down to it, mini cupcakes seemed like the right thing to do.
(That’s me pretending that a love for chocolate is, in itself, a virtue. If I’m wrong, please don’t tell me.)
Be forewarned that by using dark cocoa and semisweet chocolate, you are guaranteeing that these cupcakes are rich, darkly delicious and not quite syrupy-sweet enough for kids — milk chocoholics that they are (until they get old enough to know better) — to inhale without reserve. They’re really kind of an “adult” cupcake.
For which I say: You’re welcome.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup strong black coffee, cooled
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 scant tsp salt
- Whipped Chocolate Ganache
- candy hearts (optional)
- Put a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
- Combine buttermilk, cooled coffee and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add eggs and mix until well-blended. Add vegetable oil.
- In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
- Add flour/sugar mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low, scraping the sides of the bowl, until combined. Mix on high for 2 minutes.
- Line the cups of a mini-muffin tin with cupcake liners, if desired. Fill each cup with a scant tablespoon of batter, approximately 2/3 full.
- Bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE. (Test with a toothpick, if you're unsure.)
- Remove cupcakes from oven. Remove the cupcakes from the muffin tin (use a spoon to help lift them out) and cool on a wire rack.
- When cupcakes are completely cool, top them with piped Whipped Chocolate Ganache and candy hearts. Store in the refrigerator.
- 18 ozs semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate of your choice
- 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- In a saucepan, heat whipping cream on medium until hot. Do not boil.
- Add chocolate to the hot cream and stir constantly until completely melted and smooth. Cool to room temperature.
- Put the cooled ganache into the fridge and chill for at least 1 hour. The colder the ganache, the faster it will whip. (DO NOT put ganache in the freezer.)
- Transfer the chilled ganache to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Beat the ganache on high for 3-5 minutes, or until peaks form and it begins to hold its shape. To prevent over-whipping your ganache, turn off the mixer and test the consistency every minute or so. (To salvage overwhipped ganached, see Notes below.)
- Spoon whipped ganache into a piping bag and pipe as desired. Store the completed cake and any leftovers in the fridge.
- It can take a leetle practice to learn exactly how much to whip the ganache. It's easy to over-whip and end up with stiff ganache, or — worse yet — chocolate butter. On the other hand, under-whipped ganache won't hold its shape.
- To prevent over-whipping, use FRESH whipping cream; cream approaching the expiration date is more temperamental. Make sure your ganache is good and cold before whipping; it helps to chill your mixing bowl and whisk beforehand — especially in hot weather. Finally, make sure the ganache has your full attention. Distractions are the enemy of good ganache.
- If you happen to over-whip your ganache, don't panic. Grab a spatula and gently fold in a splash of extra cream. Not much. Maybe a 1/2 tablespoon at a time.
- However, if your ganache has turned grainy, I'm sorry. You've made chocolate butter and there's no turning back. Find a biscuit and let me know how it tastes. 😉