Watermelon-Chocolate Ice Cream Cupcakes27

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Watermelon (Sunday August 15, 2010 at 3:00 pm)

watermelon-chocolate ice cream cupcakes

It’s summer. And in most parts of the US when it is summer, it is warm. Maybe even *hot*. In San Francisco, it’s foggy, drizzly, and 55 degrees. Despite the fact that I have to wear a jacket and scarf when heading out in the morning, I am still thinking of summery things – like ice cream. I have been itching to make an ice cream cupcake and finally got around to it this weekend.

I have done these before – yummy concoctions consisting of layers of cake, ice cream, and frosting – but for my two previous attempts, I made my own ice cream or sorbet. This time around I was hoping to be inspired by my favorite ice cream shop – Humphry Slocombe.

humphry slocombe sorbet for the latest cupcake project

Humphry Slocombe is walking distance from my house. For a while there Naomi and I would head over just about every other Saturday for a cone. We stopped by Friday evening to pick up a couple pints for the cupcake project. (It’s a good time to go, around 6pm on a weekday, there is no line…) The color of the salted watermelon sorbet immediately caught my eye. I confirmed with the guy behind the counter that the fudgsicle sorbet would pair well – he had tasted the combination earlier in the day.

Indeed this cupcake combo is a winner. I am surprisingly pleased with how the watermelon buttercream frosting turned out and the watermelon-chocolate combination, even with a hint of salt, is wonderfully tasty. It feels like summer almost!

The recipes below will make you 12 to 14 ice cream cupcakes with some ice cream and frosting left over.

Chocolate Cake
1 sheet pan / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona brand
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2 Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Spread the batter evenly onto a sheet pan that has been covered in parchment paper and greased well with butter.
7. Bake for about 20-22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: Let the cake cool fully in the pan. After about 30 minutes, I flipped the cake on to a second sheet pan and then removed the parchment paper. This seemed to make it easier to cut the rounds, but may have been unnecessary.

smoothing out batter

Watermelon Syrup

~ 2 cups fresh watermelon meat

1. Peel and chop the fresh, seedless watermelon.
2. Using a blender or food processor puree the watermelon.
3. Separate at least 2/3 cup watermelon juice from the pulp by pressing it through a metal sieve.
4. Bring at least 2/3 cup of watermelon juice to boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and boil the juice for about 10-15 minutes or until reduced by almost half.
5. Once again separate the juice from any solids by pouring the a metal sieve. Allow to cool.

peeling fresh watermelon

Watermelon Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup watermelon syrup

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy.
3. Add watermelon syrup and beat to combine.
4. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.
[optional] Add pink food coloring and beat to combine.

Candied Watermelon Rind Rounds

leftover watermelon rind
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

1. Using a small circle cookie cutter (about 1/2″ diameter) stamp out 14-16 watermelon rind rounds.
2. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil.
3. Add the rounds, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes.
4. Take off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes.
5. Remove the rounds and place on a wire grate to cool.
6. After cooled, roll the rounds in sugar.

stamping out circles

Assemble
Something like this setwill come in handy when making these sorts of cupcakes. As will the type of cupcake papers I use. You will also need room in your freezer to freeze the cupcakes in between steps.

1. Find the right sized cutter to get a cupcake round for the bottom and top of the cupcake. I had to use to very different sized cutters.
2. Eyeball how many cupcakes you can get out of the sheet pan before you start cutting. I eyeballed about 14 which is what I got.
3. Stamp out the bottoms and tops.
4. Fill each cupcake paper with a bottom round of cake.
5. Take your first ice cream flavor out of the freezer and transfer it into a bowl. Mix it with a wooden spoon to soften.
6. Scoop a small scoop of ice cream into each cupcake. Smooth out with the back of a spoon. Transfer the cupcakes to the freezer to chill for 20-30 minutes.
7. Now repeat with the second ice cream flavor and chill again for about 10 minutes.
8. Now top with the last cupcake round and chill again for 10 or so minutes.
9. Now top with buttercream frosting and a candied watermelon rind round.

Note: Store cupcakes in the freezer. Let them sit at room temperature for 10 or so minutes before serving. Firm ice cream works best for these projects otherwise the ice cream gets very melty…

ice cream cupcake cross section

Bacon Cupcakes Two Ways17

Posted by chockylit in Bacon, Chocolate, Corn, Experimental Recipe, Maple (Thursday October 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm)

chocolate, toffee, bacon cupcake

I have tried my hand at bacon cupcakes before and some of my coworkers were huge fans. I was planning some celebratory cupcakes for work and I decided on bringing back the bacon. I was tentative with my inclusion of bacon last time around and I was looking for a chance to push it a bit more.

The frosting is subtle enough that it works on both cupcakes. But to be frank, if I do the sweet corn version again, I want to find a way to nicely push the maple flavor. I am thinking maple candy chunks in the frosting. The sweet corn version is great though. The corn was super juicy and the bacon flavor just enough. I also really liked the chocolate version. It’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and toffee anyway, but the salty, smokiness of the bacon took it to another level.

Sweet Corn and Bacon Cupcakes
~24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or any tasteless vegetable oil)
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon maple syrup
5 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup corn kernels, fresh, cut off the cob
4 slices cooked bacon cut into chunks

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, water, and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until ingredients are incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This will lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Gently fold in the corn kernels and bacon.
9. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake at 350 F for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

corn

Bacon, Toffee, Chocolate Cupcakes
~20 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona brand
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/2 slices cooked bacon cut into chunks
1/3 cup chopped chocolate covered toffee, Poco Dolce or other brand

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2 Add egg and beat until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Gently fold in the bacon and toffee chunks.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 1/2-2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

yum, bacon

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

2-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1 stick butter
5-8 cups sifted powdered sugar
~1/4 cup maple syrup

1. Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours.
2. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.
4. Add 3 cups of the powdered sugar and maple syrup. Beat until combined.
5. Add more maple syrup and confectioners sugar until you get to the flavor, consistency, and sweetness you like.

sweet corn, maple, bacon cupcake

Assemble
1. Frost cooled cupcakes.
2. Top with a piece of maple sugar candy or crispy bacon.

chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache and frosted with chocolate glaze and buttercream50

Posted by chockylit in Berries, Chocolate (Monday April 28, 2008 at 8:55 pm)

chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache frosted with chocolate glaze and buttercream

Here is another simple cupcake recipe. This one was for a 2 year old’s birthday party – Naomi’s cousin. While it’s not super exciting, the resulting cupcake is very tasty, a crowd-pleaser, and relatively easy to put together. I also did a small batch for a small group. The recipes could be easily doubled or quadrupled without any problems. One pint of strawberries is all you will need to both top the cupcakes and to chop for the filling.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
~8 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, room temp
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder like Valrhona brand
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
2 Add egg and beat until well combined.
3. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
4. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Strawberry Ganache Filling and Ganache Glaze

4.5 ounces (128 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt
1/3 cup strawberries, diced

1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
3. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
4. Add vanilla and salt. Stir until combined.
5. Divide the ganache in two approximate equal portions. In the first portion, mix in the chopped strawberries. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill.
6. Leave the second portion on the counter to cool down. You want the filling to thicken up before the glaze. Once the filling is think, fill the cupcakes with it. Then glaze with the glaze. See assembly instructions below.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar

1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy.
2. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat at low speed, occasionally stopping to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar to arrive at the consistency and sweetness you like.

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the strawberry ganache filling using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Spoon a tablespoon of glaze on each filled cupcake and smooth.
3. Top with buttercream frosting and a strawberry.

chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache frosted with chocolate glaze and buttercream

pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream35

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Pear, Vanilla (Sunday March 30, 2008 at 10:18 am)

pear & vanilla bean filled chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream

I made these here cupcakes for the first ever bay area cupcake meetup that happened this weekend. A lovely group of people showed up at Dolores Park in San Francisco with creative and tasty cupcakes to share. We talked shop and caused a bit of a scene. Apparently the idea of a group of people meeting up in a park to eat cupcakes is unusual. Go figure! If you are in the bay area sign-up for the meetup we plan to meet seasonally. The next gathering will be sometime this summer.

Back to the cupcakes… I often think of fall when I think of pears (much like apples), but I hadn’t worked with pears in a cupcake and was eager to do so. I decided to “spring them up” a bit and paired the pear with vanilla bean. I enjoyed the combination and all in all consider the cupcake a success.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
~30 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temp
2-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temp
1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 1/2’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: As mentioned previously with this recipe, if you overfill the cupcakes, they will overflow and then sink. To be on the safe side I am now recommending that you fill the cupcakes 1/2 full. With a big batch you may still have some problems with one or two of them, but the majority should work out just fine. Your oven must be for sure hot enough, so it doesn’t hurt to get an oven thermometer and make sure it’s at the correct temperature. These cupcakes are temperamental, but the resulting cake is worth it.

chocolate cupcake
chocolate cupcake

Pear Filling

1 good sized pear, pealed, pitted, and chopped into small dice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 vanilla bean

1. Add pear and water to a medium sized pan. Cook for 10 minutes over medium-high heat.
2. Stir together sugar and cornstarch then stir into the pears.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the pears.
4. Cook until thick, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Note: The filling can be made a day in advance and stored covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

pear filling
pear filling

Soft Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy.
2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixer bowl (right on top of the beaten butter). Beat to combine.
3. Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds to the frosting.
4. Add the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined.

Pear Chips

1 good sized pear

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Using a mandolin or very sharp knife, slice thin cross-sections of pear.
3. Place on a baking sheet making sure that the slices do not touch.
4. Let them dry in a 200 degree oven for about 1 hour (depends on how thin the slices are) flipping 2 or 3 times until they are dried out and no longer soggy.

pear chip
pear chips

Assemble
1. Fill the cupcakes with the pear filling using the cone method. This post has step by step photos of the method.
2. Frost with frosting and top with a pear chip.

cupcake meetup cupcakes
cupcakes from the meetup

Plain and Simple Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes78

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate, Vanilla (Monday February 25, 2008 at 6:40 pm)

vanilla and chocolate cupcakes

We are being visited by out of town guests this week. The visitors include three youngsters who happen to be very plain and picky eaters. I definitely wanted to treat them to cupcakes, but knew that I couldn’t veer far from very straightforward flavors. I decided to do four recipes – a basic chocolate cupcake, basic vanilla cupcake and chocolate and vanilla frostings – but with quality ingredients. It was also an opportunity to further tweak my basic recipes as I am on an apparently never-ending quest for the perfect chocolate and perfect vanilla cupcake.

I am especially pleased with the chocolate one this time around. I started with my old-fashioned recipe and tweaked it some mostly bumping up the cocoa and cutting back on flour. The cake is soft and fluffy with a nice deep chocolate flavor – irresistible in my book… The vanilla cake recipe is different than my usual. It’s less dense than my usual vanilla cupcake and a bit sweeter. Both frostings are simple and came out nice.

UPDATE: Someone posted about the vanilla recipe asking if its correct in its ingredient amounts. Normally I would say confidently, yes. Sometimes I get instruction slip-ups but never ingredient amounts. Well, I looked at my spreadsheet of vanilla recipes and to be honest, I am not sure now. So, to be safe, I am removing the vanilla recipe until it can be retested.

UPDATE: Slight adjustment to remove baking soda which should help with this recipe.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cupcakes
14 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temp
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temp
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoons vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Beat butter until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well combined.
4. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder into a small sized bowl and whisk to combine.
5. Measure out the milk and vanilla and stir to combine
6. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk/vanilla and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
7. Scoop batter into cupcake cups about 2/3’s full. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake cupcakes for about 22-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Note: I try to use the best quality cocoa I can find. It makes a huge difference. For this recipe I used Valrhona cocoa. Its so dark that the batter is almost purple.

Note: This cupcake recipe is the kind that will result in a flat cupcake (not domed). One thing you must be careful of is over-filling the cupcake paper. I did just that with the last cupcake and the result was a sunken hole (see photo below). If the cake continues to rise and has no where to go and will one over flow and two start to sink back on itself as it doesn’t have the structure to hold the excess batter up. So, stick to 2/3’s full and don’t be tempted (as I was) to squeeze that last bit of batter into one of the papers.

what not to do
what not to do

Chocolate Frosting
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

5.3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons boiling water
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool for 15 – 20 minutes.
2. Dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Scrape the bowl.
4. Add powdered sugar and beat to combine.
5. Add cooled, melted chocolate and beat to combine.
6. Add cocoa paste and beat to combine.

frosting and sprinkle close-up
shiny, tasty frosting

Vanilla Cupcakes
removed until it can be retested

Soft Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

1. Beat butter at medium-high speed until creamy.
2. Sift powdered sugar into the mixer bowl (right on top of the beaten butter). Beat to combine.
3. Add the vanilla and the milk. Beat until combined.

Note: This makes a softer, less sweet buttercream that is good for swirling on but not for piping as it’s not stiff enough.

simple vanilla/vanilla cupcake
creamy frosting

Assemble
1. Spoon about a tablespoon of frosting onto each cooled cupcake. The frosting recipes make just enough for about a tablespoon each.
2. With a small offset spatula, smooth the frosting into a swirl.
3. Top with sprinkles.

I frosted some vanilla with vanilla and some with chocolate and vice versa. I ended up with 4 combos total. My favorite was the chocolate cake with the vanilla buttercream frosting. Yum!

Pequin Chili Chocolate Cupcakes35

Posted by in Chocolate, Spices (Monday February 11, 2008 at 9:52 pm)

mini chili chocolate cupcakes

Finally! Today! After weeks of waiting and a few too many hundred dollars, the oven is fixed. I baked these cupcakes over the weekend, though, and in a neighbor’s oven. The change of scenery threw me off. I made an ill-advised substitution (baking powder instead of baking soda) and the cupcakes didn’t rise enough. I should know better! The recipe, which I have made before, works, and so I am posting it here correctly. Yet another lesson… this one to take my own advice and follow the recipe!

Despite the rising issue, the cupcakes still tasted great – rich and chocolatey with a warm and spicy finish. Pequin chilies are super hot (I got mine from Penzey’s) and the quantity that I call for below will result in a spicy, but not super spicy cupcake. So if you really want to shock someone, maybe you should double the quantity. It’s definitely a lot easier to adjust for heat with the frosting.

Now that my kitchen is back in action I hope to be back soon with a more exciting recipe.

kitchen (messy)
scene of the crime

Cupcakes
~24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 cup water
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground pequin chilies
2 sticks butter
1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Boil water in a kettle then measure out 1-1/4 cup.
2. Combine chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium sized bowl, add boiling water, whisk until smooth, set aside.
3. Sift flours, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Add the ground pepper, set aside.
4. In a standing mixer, beat butter until creamy.
5. Add the brown sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
6. At medium speed, add eggs one at a time, beat well between each.
7. Add sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined.
8. Add about a third of the flour mixture, beat briefly until combined.
9. Add about half of the chocolate mixture, beat briefly until combined.
10. Repeat, adding flour, chocolate, then flour. Beat until just combined. Scrape down bowl if needed.
11. Fill cupcake papers about 3/4s full. Bake at 350 degree oven for 22-25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Chili Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1-1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon ground pequin chilies
12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar, optional

1. Heat the cream over medium heat until it bubbles around saucepan edge.
2. Place pepper and chopped chocolate in a medium sized bowl.
3. Pour heated cream over the chocolate
4. Let the mixture sit for about 30 seconds then start whisking it until smooth.
5. Add butter in pats and mix until combined.
6. set aside mixture and stir occasionally with a wooden spoon until cool.
7. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Optionally you can add sifted powdered sugar and beat until combine. This will sweeten the frosting and make it less rich and intense. Also helpful if you are low on chocolate and want to stretch the frosting a bit further…

Assembly
1. Frost cooled cupcakes.
2. Top with something red.

chili chocolate frosting

All About Frosting – The Recipes42

Posted by chockylit in Cheese, Chocolate, Step-by-Step Photos (Tuesday December 11, 2007 at 11:13 pm)

chocolate ganache

I get many a question about frosting. I thought I would compile my thoughts on the subject in two part series of posts – a sort of one stop shop for all things frosting… from my perspective, of course! First up… the recipes.


Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache frosting is one of my favorite frostings to use. Why? Let me count the ways. One, because I love chocolate. Two, because the taste is very “adult” and not too sweet. Three, because it’s practically no fail and adaptable to what I have on hand.

Reviewing my posts, I apparently have as many ganache recipes as I do posts with ganache recipes – a testament to its versatility. If I get one point across about ganache it is that ganache is indeed adaptable to your personal taste and preference.

Ganache is typically made by bringing heavy cream to a simmer then pouring over chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, stirring to combine, and then adding remaining ingredients – pretty straightforward.

The typical ganache recipe I use contains the following ingredients:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

I have used as little as 6 ounces of chocolate with 1 cup of cream, as that is all I had on hand, and it worked out fine. I have also interchanged various types of chocolate, bittersweet, semi-sweet, different brands, etc. It changes the flavor of the ganache but not the outcome. The exception is with milk and white chocolate which don’t come up to spreadable consistency using this basic ingredient list.

I like to use Valrhona, 61% cocoa or higher, for its intense, full-bodied, earthy chocolate flavor. I have tried to stay local and use Scharffenberger, which I like to eat on its own, but I find it too bright and tangy to bake with. I have used Ghirardelli in a pinch. While I don’t like the flavor as much as Valrhona it’s an acceptable alternative and readily available in most grocery stores. The brand is really up to you, but the quality of the chocolate makes a big difference in flavor so spring for the good stuff if you can.

How I treat the ganache depends on the cupcake I am making. If I want a very adult flavor I will stick to the basic recipe (see above) and either pour it on, spread it on, or beat it then spread it on.

Poured Chocolate Ganache

Poured chocolate ganache results in a gorgeous, shiny layer of frosting that is very dramatic and very grown up. I used the method for my version of an “Opera” cupcake. Just let the mixture cool slightly and pour it onto the cupcake (or cake) before it starts to thicken. It will thicken in place and stay very shiny if you don’t touch it. Top it with something special – white chocolate dipped candied ginger, an edible flower pedal, or a smuggled dragée. Very classy…

Spread Chocolate Ganache

Cupcakes often form an attractive dome rising over top the cupcake paper. I like this look (more cupcake!) but it doesn’t support the poured ganache method. When spreading ganache, let the mixture come to room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it’s spreadable. Then spread a relatively thin layer on to the cooled cupcake with a small palette knife. To get a smooth finish, dip the palette knife in hot water, wipe dry, and then smooth the frosting.

I use this method when I want a small, but intense quantity of frosting… when I want to have the flavor of chocolate without overwhelming whatever else is going on. See examples of this method here, here, and here.

Beaten Chocolate Ganache

If you want the intense flavor of a straight up ganache, but still want to pipe it on because, well, it looks so nice piped on, then beat the cooled ganache with an electric mixer fixed with the paddle attachment for a few minutes. This will incorporate air and increase the volume of the frosting without diluting the flavor. The ganache will lighten in color compared to the unbeaten version. See an example here.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

I have been exploring a variation on ganache that is sweeter than the simple version just discussed. I use this when I want the cupcake to appeal to child and adult alike. It’s more akin to a chocolate buttercream, but with a more intense chocolate flavor. I have experimenting with various versions of this approach.

Version 1 – Basic Ganache but with Butter and Powdered Sugar

This is basically a mixture of ganache and buttercream. Most chocolate buttercream recipes use cocoa or just a small amount of melted chocolate beat into the butter and sugar. This method of making the ganache first then beating in butter and sugar makes for a more chocolate tasting frosting.

See examples here and here

Version 2 – A Totally Different Take

I first saw this method in a book by pastry chef Emily Luchetti. I have definitely tweaked it significantly since I first tried it many years ago. The recipe includes bittersweet, semi-sweet, and unsweetened chocolate and can be tailored to your personal taste by simply adjusting the quantities of the various chocolates while keeping the overall quantity the same. For example, to make it sweeter, increase the semisweet by a couple of ounces and decrease the bittersweet or unsweetened. The unsweetened chocolate imparts a rich cocoa flavor, the bittersweet gives the frosting bite, and the semi-sweet sweetens the whole thing up.

See examples here, here, and here

There are other recipes and methods out there, of course. I plan to try recipe on David Llebovitz’ site which uses water instead of cream. I know that dairy products mellow the flavor of the chocolate, but I have also been hesitant to combine chocolate and water for fear the chocolate will seize. I hope to post about my attempt soon.


Buttercream

cherry-vanilla cupcakes

There is nothing more frustrating to many readers than buttercream frosting. A classic and main stay, buttercream is also one of the sweetest frostings of the bunch often too sweet for the average adult. I however love American-style buttercream especially paired with a simple cake and in moderation. This post has a pretty typical recipe for American-style buttercream. I understand though that not everyone is a fan. So if I am serving cupcakes to adults I typically do not use buttercream! The only exception I have found is with this recipe, somehow the mint makes the frosting more palatable.

American Style Buttercream

American-style buttercream is simply butter beat with confectioners’ sugar and a little vanilla and a little milk. In order to get to a piping consistency a lot of sugar is required. This results in a very sweet frosting. Like I said I actually like this. I have a sweet tooth though and not everyone does. There is no way I know of to decrease the sweetness of this frosting.

Swiss and Italian Style Buttercream

There are less-sweet alternatives to American style buttercream, Swiss and Italian style buttercreams for example, but these frostings have a different quality that I simply don’t like. They leave a film in my mouth and taste as though they are made with vegetable shortening even if they weren’t. I can’t stand them! Just like I can’t stand Génoise cake, but that is for a different post. But you might like them. Its worth trying for yourself before ruling these styles of buttercream frostings out of your repertoire.

The bad news is that I don’t have any recipes for Swiss or Italian style buttercream frostings. In this case, google is your friend.


Cream Cheese

sweet corn cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting is my friend. It is my very favorite frosting to use. It’s always a crowd pleaser and balances out the sweetness of any cake well. I work with two versions. One has a higher proportion of cream cheese. It is tangy, on the soft side, and my preference for recipes where I want to really taste the cream cheese (carrot cake, hummingbird cake, red velvet, etc). The second version has less cream cheese. The cream cheese tang is more subtle and its really just there to balance the sweetness of the sugar. I use that recipe as an alternative to buttercream for just about any cake.

Cream cheese frosting takes on flavor very well. Just to give you an idea, this recipe uses Thai Ice Tea as a flavor, this recipe uses citrus, this uses ginger and this uses tarragon. But there are more, just peruse the table of contents to find other flavor suggestions.

I have jut started using the “buttercream alternative” method. Here are some examples, one with matcha and one with salted caramel. But any of the above cream cheese recipes can be adjusted to this method by simply decreasing the amount of cream cheese and increasing the amount of butter.


Meringue Frosting

The thing I love about meringue frosting is how easy it is to have a dramatic presentation. It’s sweet, but not sweet as butter cream. It takes flavor well, but don’t try to add a substantial amount of liquid. It will collapse. Small amounts of extracts (vanilla, mint, lemon), spices, very thick flavored simple syrup, or crushed things (like red hots). And the best thing about meringue is that you can take your culinary torch to it.


Whipped Cream

I don’t use whipped cream very often. It’s just not terribly exciting. I pair it with a cupcake that is plenty exciting on its own like this one. It is very easy to adjust the sweetness though. So, if you have a very sweet cake, whipped cream is a good option. Beware, it doesn’t hold well. So if you use it, keep the whipped cream refrigerated until you are ready to use it and frost the cupcakes just before serving.

There are of course other frosting options, but this is all I have for now. Part 2 of the series will cover frosting technique, frequently asked questions, and more on flavoring frostings.

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