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Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

July 6, 2010

I have got to stop baking such yummy desserts.  Really, I do.  Maybe I need another coffee cake disaster to curb my enthusiasm (hopefully not, actually, because that was really unfortunate).

Last week it was my boss’s birthday and I asked him which he liked more: chocolate-based desserts or fruit-based desserts.  His response was “chocolate, definitely chocolate,” and that gave me the perfect excuse to give these cupcakes a shot.  They are so decadent and rich, it’s good to have a reason to make them and give them to other people.  Part of what makes them so perfectly yummy is this:

Many brownie recipes call for some instant coffee granules or the like, but never have I seen a recipe that calls for a whopping 3/4 cup of hot coffee (besides tiramisu, of course).  And here’s the interesting part: you can’t even taste the coffee in the cupcakes!  Although maybe that’s because the chocolate overwhelms just about everything else.  Anywho, I don’t have a coffee maker, so I always use espresso when I need to add coffee.  I was liberally pouring the espresso on the chocolate and cocoa when I realized I’d neglected to measure how much I was actually pouring on.  Oops.  I poured what was left into a little cup, poured water into the top of the espresso maker to the level that the espresso usually reaches when it’s finished and then measured how much water I’d poured in (I hope that made sense).  Luckily it was exactly 3/4 cup!

The other thing that makes these cupcakes so absurdly tasty is the dollop of chocolate ganache that you add on top of each cupcake before baking.  The ganache sinks to the middle of the cupcake while it bakes, and then when you bite into it there’s a mound of ganache in the middle of the cupcake.  Incredible.  And the chocolate frosting is the best I’ve ever had.  I’m usually a “melted chocolate + powdered sugar + butter = awesome frosting” kind of person, but I’ve been converted.  This frosting was a bit more labor-intensive and tricky (whisking eggs whites in a double boiler until they reach 150 degrees? Huh?), but it was so worth it.

If you’re looking to make chocolate cupcakes that will knock any chocolate-lover’s socks off, these are definitely the way to go!

Ultimate Chocoalte Cupcakes

(Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)

Supposedly this recipe makes 12 cupcakes, but I got 14 perfect cupcakes.  If I’d gone for 12 they would have all over-flowed.  If you opt to use the frosting recipe below (which you should) beat the egg white mixture after you take it off the double-broiler longer than you think you might need to so that it’s not hot when you add in the butter.  Otherwise the butter melts and your frosting will be runny.  Even if this does happen, not to worry because you can put it in the fridge and it will harden up a little. 

Ganache Filling
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate Cupcakes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine
1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 recipe Frosting

FOR GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

FOR CUPCAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

TO FROST: Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center

Chocolate Frosting

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
  Pinch table salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened and cut into 1-tablespoon pieces
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate , melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place bowl in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1 to 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. (Frosting may look curdled after half of butter has been added; it will smooth with additional butter.) Once all butter is added, add cooled melted chocolate and vanilla; mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 11:57 am

    These are THE best chocolate cupcakes in the world. I am a huge fan of this cupcake. It is just amazing how much chocolate is actually packed into these little beasts. Love it!

    • July 8, 2010 12:10 pm

      Isn’t it incredible?!? And they’re so easy to make! Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂

  2. July 8, 2010 12:47 pm

    these cupcakes look INTENSE. and delicious. and chocolatey. yum yum yum =D

  3. July 8, 2010 2:21 pm

    These look and sound fabulous! I hope to make them soon! Thanks for sharing!!!!

  4. Kirsten permalink
    July 8, 2010 7:00 pm

    these look SO good! as soon as it cools down a tiny bit here (maybe late september?) I’m making them!!

  5. Sasha permalink
    July 14, 2010 1:55 am

    As soon as I saw these I knew I had to make them. I finally had time to today, and they turned out wonderfully. They are so incredibly delicious, moist, and chocolatey. Particularly, I can’t even begin to describe how amazing the frosting is. It’s something you must sample to believe. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

    • July 14, 2010 9:22 am

      I’m so glad you liked them! The frosting was probably my favorite part too– I’m trying to find an excuse to make it again! 🙂

  6. Vanessa permalink
    August 30, 2010 3:08 pm

    Oh My!! It did take me a while to find all the conversions online and convert everything in to UK friendly measurements, but it was soooooooooo worth it! Thank you so much for sharing!!! I only got 12 small sized cakes, but that maybe again because of the difference in muffin size pan?? Not sure, but wow wow wow!!

  7. Molly permalink
    October 3, 2010 2:33 pm

    Would love to try these cupcakes. Is bread flour the same as cake flour or just regular unbleached flour?

    • October 3, 2010 2:53 pm

      Hi Molly! You should definitely try these cupcakes– they’re some of the best I’ve ever made. Bread flour has more gluten than regular all-purpose flour, and all-purpose flour has more gluten than cake flour. All-purpose flour and bread flour can essentially be used interchangeably (but not cake flour), although the gluten in bread flour allows for bread that rises more and is more chewy. In this case, bread flour is used because it makes the cupcake less crumbly and helps it to keep its structure without making it tough. You could use regular flour instead, but I wouldn’t try cake flour. Hope that helps! 🙂

  8. Carla permalink
    October 21, 2013 8:57 am

    Hi Kathryn! If I’m going to use instant coffee powder, how many teaspons do you think will be needed to make 3/4 cups of coffee for this recipe? Thank you in advance.

    • October 21, 2013 10:29 am

      Thanks for checking out my blog, Carla! I would probably use a 2-3 tablespoons of instant coffee powder for this recipe. You might want to make a full cup of coffee with 2 tablespoons, taste it, add more instant coffee if needed, and then measure out the 3/4 cup. I usually shoot for coffee that’s stronger than I would be comfortable drinking black. Also I used a wire whisk and mixed it by hand. Enjoy! 🙂

      • Carla permalink
        October 24, 2013 4:14 pm

        Noted. Thanks for your reply! I plan to bake this coming weekend, already bought bread flour yesterday but the grocery ran out of bittersweet chocolates! 😦 I will be checking again next week.

        Relieved when you said “mix by hand” because I’m always afraid of overmixing my batter when using my electric hand mixer! 🙂

  9. Carla permalink
    October 21, 2013 9:20 am

    And also, did you use electric stand mixer (paddle attachment) or electric hand mixer on this? Or you used wired whisk and mixed it by hand? Thank you!


  1. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes « Pragmatic Attic

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