Saturday, December 31, 2016

Chocolate Tangerine Cannoli Cupcakes

There are a lot of cupcakes out there that are what I call as "whimsical". You know the type, the ones that look like santa claus or are smiley faces. Nothing against those, for those attract a lot of kids and kids are a cupcake eating bunch.

These particular cupcakes are not whimsical at all. In fact, they are very much adult in flavor. Yes, the chocolatey batter full of chocolate chips may be kid appealing, but add the cream cheese/ricotta filling loaded with tangerine zest and we start to get away from the kid appeal. Top with some ganache and a slice of candied tangerine zest and the end result is not only delicious but very appealing to adults.

The chocolate with the tangerine puts this cupcake in a sophisticated, more gourmet category. However, the recipe only makes a dozen cupcakes, so be sure to adjust recipe if you are expecting a crowd.

Chocolate Tangerine Cannoli Cupcakes
adapted from Food Network

Ingredients/Candied Tangerine Slices
3 tangerines (making a total of 12 slices)
granulated sugar

3/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup hot water
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder 

1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
zest from 3 tangerines

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs chocolate chips

Start by making the garnish. Fill the bottom of a frying pan with sugar, making the layer about 1/4th an inch thick. Then lay the slices of tangerines on top, making sure that they do not overlap. Then pour one spoonful of sugar over the top of each slice and smooth out until completely covered. Place frying pan over medium high heat and let cook. As it cooks, take out a cookie sheet and line with parchment paper.

The cooking will cause the sugar to melt and start to change color. Once it reaches a caramel color, quickly remove frying pan from heat. Take slices out of pan using tongs and place on parchment paper. Set aside.

Prepare for the cupcakes by preheating the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the top edges of your cupcake cavities and line with baking paper liners.

Sift the cocoa powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add hot water and mayonnaise and whisk together. Then change the attachment from a whisk to a paddle and add the sugar and beat together. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Take bowl out of the stand mixer and blend the sifted ingredients into the chocolate batter. Lastly, fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter evenly into cupcake cavities. Each cavity should be about 2/3 full. Place pan in oven and bake until tester comes out clean. Baking time should be about 25-30 minutes. Let cupcakes cool in pan on rack for about 3 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely before filling.

As the cupcakes are cooling, the filling can be made. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the cream cheese and ricotta cheese. Beat together until smooth and blended. Add the tangerine zest and sift in the powdered sugar. Beat again until zest is distributed evenly and there are no more streaks of sugar. Set aside.

Take the cooled cupcakes and cut a small core out of the center of each, using a paring knife. Prepare a bag of filling by snipping off the corner of a freezer bag and adding the filling to the inside of the bag. Hold the bag upright, with the open corner of the bag hovering over the empty core of a cupcake and squeeze the top of the bag, filling to the core to the top. Repeat this process until all cupcakes are filled. Set aside.

Make the ganache by filling a saucepan with the heavy whipping cream. Also, pour the chocolate chips into a shallow bowl ( much like a flat bottom heat proof pasta bowl) and smooth them out evenly. Place the saucepan over medium high heat. Once the cream has reached a boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips. Stir until chocolate chips have melted and mixture is smooth. Place in refrigerator about 5 minutes to thicken. Spoon a dollup of ganache on top of the cupcake, to the left or the right of the filling. The chocolate should not cover the white/ cream filling in the core of the cupcake.

Lastly, place the candied tangerine slice on top. It can lay on top, be folded, stuck in the cupcake or stuck into the filling. Depending on how you place the garnish, it may need to be propped up with toothpicks until it sets with the ganache.

Tips and Notes:
1. Both the filling and the ganache recipe were scaled down to eliminate waste. You can always make more if needed.

2. The original filling recipe did not include cream cheese but due to the dry nature of ricotta, the cream cheese was added.

3. Feel free to experiment with other citrus when creating the filling.
                                            **LAST YEAR:Cherry Pie Bites**