Monday, February 23, 2009

[Irresistible] Chocolate Cupcakes

I can't refuse these cupcakes.
No matter what "diet" I am on, I always make an exception. They are labeled as a Can't Refuse Food! because they are the best t
hat I've ever had. Every time I make them, I alter either the recipe or presentation slightly to get the best results. I will share step by step how to achieve the perfect [Irresistible] Chocolate Cupcakes with hints that I have found help tremendously.

They start with a chocolate coffee cake, then they get a homemade dark chocolate ganache filling, and then are topped with a puff of chocolate whipped cream. The flavors don't overwhelm with sweetness like most chocolate cakes, they all work together to create the perfect combination of flavors. I like to eat mine warm with the cool topping... I admit I've burned my mouth on them!

The original batter is complicated and uses a lot of ingredients.
I found in the last batch I made, that it saves a great deal of time [and money] to use a good boxed chocolate cake mix and substitute a cup of the water for a cup of room temperature coffee [I believe in most cake mixes, there is about a 1 cup and 1/3 water, so for instance, add one cup coffee and 1/3 cup water]. It deepens the flavor and even the batter tastes delicious.
However, I forgot I added the coffee then let my two year old son have a bit of the batter with me after we filled the cupcake pans. He was in a really good mood after the chocolate/coffee combination! Lesson learned!

[Irresistible] Chocolate Cupcakes

I box Chocolate Cake
1 cup coffee at room temperature substituted for one cup of water

Combine ingredients
[add coffee at the same time as you would normally add the water]. Then divide batter into 24 cupcakes and bake as directed on package. I have found that using a 1/4 measuring cup to pour the batter into the cupcake tins ensures that they will be the same size and bake evenly.

Chocolate Ganache

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter cut into small pieces
[to make it easy to melt]
3/4 cup of Heavy Cream
8 oz of Semi Sweet Chocolate finely chopped
[or 8 baking squares when each one equals an oz]

1 Teaspoon Vanilla

While the cupcakes are baking, let the butter melt in a warm, but not boiling, saucepan [turned to medium low o
r low, depending on your stove]. Add the other ingredients and continue mixing until the chocolate melts [the finer the cut, the quicker it will melt] and the entire mixture thickens and unifies in color. Turn off heat and move the saucepan away from the burner, you don't want the chocolate to burn or dry out.

I have found that there are a couple ways to add the ganache t
o the cupcakes. You can cut a hole out of the top of the cupcake with a melon baller, and add a teaspoon of ganache, then put the cake back and cover with whipped cream.
The method I prefer, is when the ganache cools slightly [so it's not so hot it will melt the bag], pipe the ganache directly into the cupcakes. I just put the tip right into the cupcakes from the top of the cake, and squeeze in filling about five times for each cupcake [think of it like filling Twinkies]. Then I
use the remaining chocolate to cover the top of the cupcakes [this also hides the holes from piping the chocolate into the cupcakes and helps pull off a cleaner presentation]. The delicious filling makes the cupcakes similar to molten cakes when they are served warm.

Chocolate Whipped Cream Topping

2 1/2 cups Heavy Cream [cold]
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar [sifted]
2 Tablespoons unsweetened Cocoa Powder [sifted]
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Strawberries [optional]

The Whipped Cream Topping is easy to make, but it takes a small amount of planning ahead. I freeze the bowl and whisk that I will be using about 15 minutes to a half hour before I plan to make it. The longer the better. That way, you are working with materials that will help the cream thicken. This is important especially in the summer, when everything is melting. Pour in the cream. Then add the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Turn on mixer to low to allow them to combine. Then turn it to high, add the vanilla, and let it mix until you can see it thicken and when you lift the whisk, the cream has stiff peaks. If you're using cold utensils and ingredients, this should only take a couple minutes.

Before I add the whipped cream, [when I am not serving these c a kes right away], I prefer to warm them up either in the microwave or oven, so that the ganache inside warms up and the cake is warm. Be warned that although it is my favorite way to eat them, the
whipped cream will slide right off the cupcake, so I serve it on the side. Otherwise, take the cooled cake with ganache inside and put a dollup of whipped cream on top and a bit of sprinkled cocoa powder. If you have leftover ganache, you can melt it a bit and drizzle it over top. Strawberries also taste perfect.... make it yours! Enjoy!

Welcome to Military Spice!

I have been wanting to launch this site for a long time so this is exciting! Soon, this will move to I bought the domain last summer, but this project was postponed due to some technical difficulties with my computer. It's taken care of, but I am new to the html and logistics of blogging, so I kept waiting until I had time to get a better grasp of it.
Finally, I just decided to go for it
now and update and refine the layout later.

I am a military wife, my husband serves in the Air Force. Prior to my marriage, I had never cooked anything besides desserts. And I use the word, cooked, loosely. For the first week after we got married, Hamburger Helper seemed like a delicious idea. We didn't have a microwave or a refrigerator that first month, so saving food and heating it up was a problem. Less of a problem than you would think though. We were young and beginning our dream in our first house together. We took pride that it was ours, and didn't mind that there was little inside of it besides... us. Eventually we got the appliances and I began to explore recipes as a complete novice. We retired every flavor of Hamburger Helper from our house, it was no longer so delicious.

My husband didn't join the Air Force until we had been married for almost a year. Our first duty station was Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. Prior to our thousand mile move, I had been in school for graphic design. I quit in a heartbeat to follow my husband, but was a little disappointed that there weren't any design schools near our base. I discovered a connection with cooking because there was little else to do and it was a way to take care of my husband. My family was no longer close, so it was up to me to learn how to make what I loved to eat. I was pregnant, so whenever I had a craving I knew I had to make it for myself.

When we got stationed to WPAFB, I completed my graphic design degree and there was a strong influence of cooking and items in my kitchen in most of my new projects. I enjoyed making food look artistic through photography, but it was also convenient for me since I am a stay at home mom.

I love to write.
I love computers.
I love photography.
I love to cook.
I LOVE to eat.
A cooking blog only makes sense and I am so excited to get started ;]