Thursday, 29 March 2012

Festive Treats Part 3:  Ooey Gooey Chocolate Cupcakes!
Now I do realise that this time of year is mostly for children - and believe me, my kitchen is full of bunny ears, baskets and painted eggs - but there comes a point when you just have to wrestle some of the goodies back for yourself.  Most festivals are celebrated with either cake or chocolate, so I went all out with one of the chocolatey-est chocolate cakes I could put together.  And seeing as they're cupcakes, there's an in-built serving size (assuming you stop at one!) so my conscience is completely mostly nearly clear.  So, imagine a darkly dense chocolate cake, studded with choc chips, topped with smooth rich ganache, all topped off with a bit of seasonal whimsy made with whipped ganache.  I know they look like kiddy cakes...but you've heard of a wolf in sheep's clothing right?
For the Cupcakes:
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
  2. This is a 2 egg mixture from the cake mix matrix which can be found here.  You need to make the chocolate version (swap 30g/1oz of dark cocoa for 30g/1oz flour), add 4 tblspns milk to the mixture, then stir in 50g/2oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake at 160 C / 320 F for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.  In any event, they should pass the clean skewer test.
  4. Allow to cool completely in the muffin tin.
For the Ganache:
250g / 10oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate.  You must use bar or slab chocolate not chips.
250ml / 1 cup double or heavy cream
25g / 1oz butter
1 tsp instant espresso powder (or 2 tsps instant regular coffee powder)
  1. Break the chocolate up into squares or medium sized chunks and set aside in a heat proof bowl.  Heat the cream and butter together until simmering, whisk in the instant coffee powder, then pour over the chocolate pieces.  Allow to stand for 5 minutes then stir with a spatula until the mixture is smooth and velvety.  Allow to cool for 15-20 mins so that it thickens slightly.
  2. Turn each cupcake upside down and dunk it in the ganache making sure the top of the cake is well coated.  Place (the right way up) on a cooling rack or serving plate.  Allow to set for about 30 mins.  Leave the rest of the ganache to cool while the cakes are setting.
  3. Now, if you use a free standing mixer transfer the ganache to the mixing bowl and (using the whisk attachment) whisk for a couple of minutes until the ganache is lighter in colour and fluffier in texture.  A hand held mixer will do equally well, just make sure you whisk all the ganache and scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently.
  4. Place the whisked ganache in a piping bag and pipe a nest on the top of each cupcake.  I like to use a coupler and 2 different tips (a small open star and a plain one to create the twiggy effect) but a couple of swirls with an open star piping tip would do equally well.
  5. Finally, place a sugared almond chick in the middle of each nest, (there are details on making the chicks here).
  6. Wait until the kids are in bed.  Make a cup of tea.  Have a little piece of decadence all to yourself.

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