dark chocolate truffle cupcakes

There are a couple of reasons why I made these truffle inspired cupcakes. Firstly, I wanted to spring clean the lazy Susan that is my baking pantry. It got out of control months and months ago like most of my cabinets and closets tend to get. My plan was, while cleaning the pantry, to inspect all my potential ingredients to come up with six different truffle flavor combinations.

Secondly, I bought myself a new toy, just arrived, that I was eager to use – a chocolate tempering machine. My plan was to make a topper for each cupcake that identified the ingredients inside.

Other than providing an excuse to clean out my pantry and an opportunity for low risk experimenting, I also think these cupcakes could make a nice gift. Get a nice box, provide one or two cupcakes per flavor, a legend, tie a nice ribbon around box and you have a pretty nice homemade gift.

Mise en Place
Assemble the ingredients for your six different truffle flavors. I wanted the flavors to be fairly intense so I started with 1 teaspoon of dry ingredients and 2 teaspoons of liquid ingredients. I was generally pleased with the results.

matcha-black sesame: 1 teaspoon each of matcha powder and black sesame seeds

chili-espresso: 1 teaspoon each of ancho chili powder and instant espresso plus a sprinkle of chili flakes

lavender-rosemary: 1 teaspoon each of lavender flowers and chopped rosemary, fresh or dried

mint-raspberry: 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh mint and 2 teaspoons Chambord raspberry liquor

rose-pistachio: 1 teaspoon each of chopped rose petals and chopped pistachios

sour cherry: 1 teaspoon crushed mahlab, a spice made from the pit of a sour cherry and 2 teaspoons Ginja, a Portuguese liquor made from morello cherries

I was most pleased with the first four combinations. All were noticeable and enjoyable, even the rosemary-lavender. The rose-pistachio flavor wasn’t distinguishable and the sour cherry was too intense. I would cut back on the Ginja next time.

truffle ingredients
mise en place

25 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

7 ounces (200 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
3 sticks (343 grams) butter
2-1/4 cups (445 grams) sugar
8 eggs
1-1/4 cups (180 grams) flour
1/4 cup (30 grams) cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Prepare baking sheets by lining with parchment paper and laying out cupcake cups. Using a pencil draw a line to segregate 4 cupcake cups for each flavor and write out the ingredients so you can identify the cupcakes after they are baked. See image above. I did the same with 6 mini cupcake papers so I could taste each combination without having 6 whole cupcakes.
2. Chop chocolate and transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer.
3. Add butter to the chocolate and place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined.
4. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.
5. Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
6. Add one egg at a time, mixing for 10 seconds between each
7. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the mixture, return to the electric mixer, and mix until blended.
8. Separate into 6 separate, but equal batches. I eyeballed it and came pretty close. Mix truffle ingredients into each batch. I got four regular cupcakes and 1 mini per flavor.
9. Scoop into cupcake cups and bake at 350 F for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: If the oven is not hot enough than these cupcakes may over-flow. One way to be safe is to either fill 2/3’s full or another trick I use is to preheat to 375, then drop the heat to 350 once I put the cupcakes in. I also rotate the pans after 15 minutes of baking. It is safe to gently move them at that point and I find the lower back of my oven to be a bit cooler.

Simple Chocolate Ganache

6 ounces (170 grams) Valrhona 85% cacao (or any bittersweet chocolate)
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

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. Let cool until at spreading consistency.

Note: If the ganache gets too thick, like you forget it on the counter or in the fridge, soften over a pan of simmering water just enough to get it back to spreading consistency.

frosting cupcakes
spreading frosting

[optional] Chocolate Decorations

truffle mise en place
4 ounces (113 grams) white chocolate

1. Sprinkle some of each of the truffle ingredients on a silpat or parchment covered baking sheet.
2. Temper white chocolate per machine instructions.
3. Pour chocolate over the truffle ingredients and gently spread with an offset spatula.
4. Let chocolate set.
5. Break into irregular shapes.

ready for the chocolate
truffle ingredients

pouring chocolate
pouring chocolate

spreading chocolate
spreading chocolate

1. Frost cooled cupcakes with a small amount of ganache.
2. Top with an identifying chunk of white chocolate.