Decadent Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream
My friend Pat asked me to make some chocolate cupcakes for a gathering at her home. I wanted them to have a little extra flair and started searching recipes. I had recently found one that sounded intriguing in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated that featured a dark chocolate ganache filling – they promised to be intensely chocolate with a truffle-like filling. Cook’s recommended a chocolate frosting, but I prefer to balance the chocolate cake with a vanilla buttercream. The Swiss Meringue recipe below is worth the extra work – it’s more like whipped cream than frosting – not overly sweet, with a billowy soft texture. I had some fresh raspberries on hand, so I topped each one with a bright red raspberry.
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
¾ cup hot coffee
¾ cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR GANACHE FILLING:
1. Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
3. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.
TO FROST: Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(you can also use my Easy Vanilla Buttercream recipe - http://bit.ly/bNLmha)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
Pinch table salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 3 to 4 minutes. (Mixture should cool to about 80 degrees) Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, add vanilla; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.
3. The biggest threat a buttercream faces is temperature. If the frosting appears soupy and slippery, it’s likely grown too warm. Plunge the bowl into an ice bath and whisk briskly until the icing becomes silky and cohesive again. If the buttercream resembles fine-curd cottage cheese and slides about in the bowl, it’s likely too cold (from cold butter or a chilly ambient temperature). Wrap a steaming hot dish towel, turban-like, around the bowl to heat it up and whisk or stir it with a wooden spoon to bring the icing back to its shiny, satiny self.