I saw an opera cake recipe on the epicurious homepage a couple of weeks ago that inspired the latest cupcake recipe. I took the recipe from the site and made some changes. Overall the cupcake was fine, due to two of the three components being extremely tasty. I was not happy with the almond cupcake recipe though, which I found to be too eggy tasting. I recommend substituting the almond-based recipe with just about any recipe that goes well with coffee and chocolate that you like.

I was visiting my parents in the east coast for the holidays. It’s always tricky working in an unfamiliar kitchen, but they have a great setup so it all went well. Taking pictures proved difficult though as it was an overcast, rainy and dreary day – perfect for cupcake baking but not for available light photography.

12 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 eggs, room temp
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons flour
2 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1. Beat 2 eggs for 2-3 minutes.
2. Add almond meal and flour. Sift in powdered sugar and flour.
3. Beat until combined.
4. In another bowl, beat egg whites with the whisk attachment until foamy.
5. Add cream of tarter and salt and whisk until soft peaks form.
6. Gradually add sugar and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
7. Stir in one third of the egg whites into the batter mixture.
8. Fold the batter mixture gently into the egg whites. Then fold in butter.
9. Scoop into cupcake papers about half full (we don’t want the cupcakes to come out over the top as we want to pour ganache into them).
10. Bake for 12-15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

ready for baking

Coffee Buttercream from Epicurious

2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (available at whole foods)
1/4 cup plus one tablespoon water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and softened

1. Stir together espresso powder and 1 tablespoon water until powder is dissolved.
2. Bring sugar and remaining 1/4 cup water to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
3. Boil, without stirring, washing down any sugar crystals on side of pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, until syrup registers 238°F on thermometer (soft-ball stage)
4. While syrup boils, beat yolks in a large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium speed 1 minute.
5. Add hot syrup to yolks in a slow stream (try to avoid beaters and side of bowl), beating, then add coffee mixture and beat until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes.
6. Beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until thickened and smooth.

coffee buttercream

Valrhona Ganache

6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
2 3.5 ounce packages of 71% cacao valrhona chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Melt the chocolate and half the butter over a double boiler.
2. Remove from heat and stir in remaining butter and vanilla.
3. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Watch it though, as the ganache will start to thicken and you want to pour it before that point.

1. Fill cooled cupcakes with coffee buttercream.
2. Pour ganache over the cupcake to the top of the paper. If you are using regular cupcake papers, put the cupcakes back in their pans before pouring in the ganache.
3. Decorate as you wish. I had planned to top the cupcakes with a marizpan star (rolled out marzipan cut with star shaped cutter) dusted with silver dust. But I left those things behind in San Francisco.

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