Like most bloggers, it is hard for me to make something "plain", especially when it comes to cupcakes. I cannot remember the last time I made a cupcake that was just one flavor. Since the opportunity is there to combine flavors, I take full advantage of it.
Take these cupcakes, for instance. They are a double-decker of chocolate and strawberry flavors, in the cake part as well as the icing. Fruit, due to their acidity, do not make a good addition to cake batters. Unless I am making a bread or fruit like cake- I never use fresh fruit in cake batters. Imitation fruit flavor is also something I try to refrain from.
In order to get a good fruit flavor, there are 2 choices. You can either use dried fruit powder or natural extract. For these cupcakes I used natural extract, Olive Nation brand. Regarding the chocolate, there are many brands to choose from...., Valrhona, Ghirardelli, Callebaut..etc. As usual, quality ingredients mean quality taste.
The cupcakes are moist and airy, and deliver that chocolate covered strawberry flavor that we all love. The topping is a repeat of the same flavors-just a bit stronger and sweeter. The chocolate ganache swirled with strawberry icing adds the right touch of sweetness to the cupcake. Since it is lighter than regular buttercream icing, the cake flavor stands out more.
This recipe makes about 24-28 cupcakes.
1 1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 egg whites, room temp
1/2 cup butter, room temp
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 oz melted and cooled bittersweet chocolate
2 tsp strawberry extract
red food coloring ( optional if you want a pink tint)
1 cup plus 2 tsp heavy cream
1 tbs butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pea sized chunks
1 tsp strawberry extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
milk (measurement based on desired consistency)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the top edge of muffin tins and line the cavities with baking cups.
Start on the cupcakes by filling a medium bowl with the butter. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla. Blend the mixture on low speed until evenly distributed. Set aside.
Using another medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Then pour 1/4 of the egg whites into the sugar butter mixture and beat for 30 seconds. Repeat this process until all egg whites are incorporated into the batter. After this, you will blend in 1/3 of the sifted ingredients, running the mixer on low speed. Then pour 2/3 cup of buttermilk into the batter and beat on low. Follow the same stages with the sifted ingredients and buttermilk, ending with the the dry ingredients folded into into the batter.
At this time, measure out half of the batter and put into a clean bowl. Using 1/2 of the batter, mix in the melted chocolate until evenly blended. For the other half of the batter, add 2 tsp strawberry extract or dried fruit powder and stir. If desired, mix in a few drops of red food coloring until the pink hue meets your expectations.
Take out 2 scoops for spooning the batter into the cupcake cavities. Use one scoop for the chocolate and one for the strawberry batter. You can spoon the chocolate batter on the bottom and strawberry on top, like I did or do side by side batters, whichever you prefer. The cavities should be filled to the 2/3 mark, with an even distrubution of strawberry to chocolate batter.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Remove and place pan on rack for 5 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to rack to finish cooling.
To make the chocolate ganache, place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl with a wide bottom, I used a pasta bowl. Spread the chunks out to a even layer on the bottom of the bowl.Then, place a saucepan over medium high heat and pour in heavy cream and add butter. Cook until butter is melted and mixture comes to a boil. Once boiling, remove and pour over chocolate chunks. Let sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes and then stir mixture is smooth.
At this point, you can dip the tops of the cupcakes into the chocolate. Make sure that you take time to let the chocolate drip off before standing upright and that the cupcake paper does not get any chocolate on it. Once all the cupcakes are covered with the ganache, then start on making the strawberry swirl.
Sift confectioners sugar into a medium size bowl. Add 1 tsp strawberry extract or dried strawberry powder and 1 tbs of milk. Whisk until a smooth icing is formed and stir in a few drops of red food coloring (if desired). Continue to work to achieve a piping consistency to the icing, either by adding more confectioners sugar or more milk. Once the consistency is right, fill a piping bag and pipe a decorative line or swirl on top of the cakes.
Let stand at room temperature for about an hour before serving or storing so topping will set.
Tips and Notes:
1. Due to the egg whites and the baking soda/powder, act quickly when creating the separate batter and spooning into the cavities. My two layers came out with some air between the two when baked.
2. The thickness of the ganache is a personal preference, so how much liquid you use can be altered. However, bear in mind that you want to "dip" the tops, not have to use a knife to cover the cupcakes.
**LAST YEAR: Alfredo Bread**