Top | The Essential Baker
Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
(recipe, Carole Bloom)
Although these may remind you of the cupcakes you ate as a child at birthday parties, they are far different. An elegant dark chocolate cake dressed up with ganache frosting makes these individual cakes a stand-out whenever they are served. Leave the nuts out if you prefer.
- 9 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 9 oz. (2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1½ cups walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
- 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line the cavities of two muffin pans with muffin papers.
- Make the cupcakes: Place the bittersweet chocolate and the butter together in the top of a double boiler over low heat. Stir often with a rubber spatula to help melt evenly. Remove the top pan of the double boiler and wipe the bottom and sides very dry. Let the mixture cool, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula to prevent a skin from forming on top. (Alternatively, place the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt on low power for 30-second bursts. Stir with a rubber spatula after each burst.)
- Place the eggs in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Using the wire whip attachment or a hand-held mixer, whip the eggs on medium speed until they are frothy. Add the superfine sugar and brown sugar and whip together until the mixture is very thick and pale-colored and holds a slowly dissolving ribbon as the beater is lifted, about 5 minutes.
- Add the vanilla and stir to blend thoroughly. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and blend completely on low speed. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with the rubber spatula.
- Over a medium-size piece of waxed or parchment paper or a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. In two stages, add the flour mixture to the above mixture, blending well after each addition. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with the rubber spatula. Add the walnuts to the batter (if using) and stir to distribute them evenly.
- Pour half of the batter into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Divide the batter evenly among the cavities of the muffin pan. Repeat with the remaining batter and muffin pan.
- Bake the cupcakes for 10 minutes, then rotate the pans in the oven and bake 10 more minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and cool on a rack for 15 minutes; don't be alarmed if the tops deflate slightly. Lift the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely on racks.
- Make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over medium heat until it boils. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for 1 minute, then stir together well using a rubber spatula, whisk, or immersion blender until very smooth. Add the vanilla extract and mix in completely.
- Cover the ganache mixture tightly with plastic wrap and cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm but pliable. A good test is to press a finger into the mixture. If it takes the indentation of your finger easily, it’s at the right point. If the ganache is too soft, it will feel runny; if it is too firm, it will be hard to press your finger in it. If the ganache is too firm, let it stand at room temperature until it is soft enough to use.
- Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Using the flat beater attachment or a hand-held mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it is fluffy. Add the ganache in two or three stages and beat until the mixture holds soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. As the ganache beats, it becomes lighter in color. Don’t beat the ganache too long or it may separate and curdle.
- Use a small offset spatula, a rubber spatula, or a spoon to spread the top of each cupcake with ganache frosting. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with finely chopped walnuts.
You can replace the walnuts with 1 cup toasted and finely ground hazelnuts or 1 cup whole unblanched almonds, roughly chopped. Sprinkle or press the replacement nuts atop the finished cupcakes as well.
For added decor, drizzle the top of the frosted cupcakes with melted white chocolate or melted semisweet chocolate in close lines or in concentric circles.
Store the cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight plastic container at room temperature up to four days. To freeze up to four months, wrap the container tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Use a large piece of masking tape and an indelible marker to label and date the contents. If frozen, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.