Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There Can Be Only One

There is an ongoing epic battle in my house, a battle between good and evil, wrong and right, dark and light! Dark and light chocolate, that is. While I, as a member of the fairer sex, am genetically predisposed to like traditional chocolate made from actual cocoa, my husband only enjoys white chocolate. That is why you'll rarely see chocolate recipes on this blog. It seems wrong for me to be so selfish as to make a dessert only I will enjoy and even more wrong to eat the entire thing by myself. I imagine some couples get divorced over these types of divisive issues but we're both saintly enough to allow the other his personal preference, no matter how stupid and misguided that preference might be.

When I saw Sweetest Kitchen's recipe for Peanut Butter White Chocolate Cupcakes I knew I had to make them for my husband. Perhaps I'd even make the ultimate sacrifice and sample a few myself. But then the cravings kicked in. Cravings for chocolate. Delicious rich, dark chocolate. Not the impostor white stuff masquerading as chocolate. Clearly it was time for a showdown between these two flavors to see which would emerge as the champion.

Both began with the same peanut butter cake recipe. Which is TO DIE FOR. This is the absolute best peanut butter cake recipe I've ever tried. Somehow it manages to combine that stick to the roof of your mouth peanut butter sensation with a light cake. It's not dense or chewy at all. Just simply sublime. I see myself making this one again and again with a variety of frosting flavors. I'm picturing honey, Nutella, or banana working nicely with this. But for now it was all about the chocolate.

Using the same frosting recipe, I divided the butter and powdered sugar and made a half batch with melted white chocolate and a half batch with semi-sweet chocolate. Both blended well and piped on nicely. There was a smooth, buttery texture to both. The taste test, however, would be the proof of the pudding. I wish I could be unbiased and report that because both were essentially made from the same recipe they were both equally good. However, my personal preference for regular chocolate outweighs any sense of fairness I may have so I am declaring those to be the winner!

But wait. One cannot make these sorts of bold proclamations based on a sample group of one. It's fair and just to allow my husband to participate too. Only trouble is, his vote was already cast before he took his first bite. The truth is that both were delicious because you really can't go wrong with a fantastic peanut butter cake topped with chocolate of any kind. Even the kind that is only loosely defined as chocolate. While I'd happily eat both, I know which one I'd reach for first and I know my husband would always go for the other. I guess in the end this answered nothing except the age-old question, "What's for dessert?"

Peanut Butter Cupcakes
Adapted from I Heart Cuppycakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter, room temp
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin wells with paper cupcake liners.

2) Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

3) In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter, peanut butter and brown sugar until smoothly blended and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Mix in egg. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute or until batter smooth.

4) On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

5) Fill each liner with a generous 1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/3 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22 minutes. There will be cracks on the top. Cool cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely.

Chocolate Buttercream
Adapted from BBC Good Food

50g semi-sweet chocolate
50g white chocolate
140g unsalted butter
140g icing sugar

1) Melt the semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler, stirring often. Leave to cool. Do the same with the white chocolate in a separate bowl.

2) Beat the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Remove half of the mixture and set aside. Add semi-sweet chocolate to the remaining mixture and beat to combine. Pipe onto 6 of the cupcakes.

3) Take other half of butter and sugar mixture and place in clean mixing bowl. Add white chocolate and beat to combine. Pipe onto 6 of the cupcakes.

4) Invite your friends around to judge which cupcake is superior. Or eat them all yourself because they're too good to share.

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Sacrilegium said...

While the proletariat needs its chocolate fix (opiate of the masses indeed), it is plain to see which cupcake is superior. One might grab for brown chocolate simply because it is the path of least resistance. It is, after all, the domain of children's candy. Almond Joy's nuts notwithstanding, there is no bravery to be had there. In the Orwellian tradition of brown candy with its drab brown looks and its drab brown flavor, this type of chocolate provides the crunch that satisfies. But only if you don't know any better.

White chocolate, on the other hand, is like a beacon of hope in this drab brown world. Its white light shines out like a shaft of joy, a radiant glow of delicious salvation. Its brilliance is pervasive enough to war with the sun. Luckily for the sun, white chocolate is a lover - not a fighter. (But it's a fighter too, so don't try anything.)

I will sample one of your brown cakes, for I am a benevolent dictator. I will humor your attempt at making something noble out of brown chocolate, much like a human might pretend to nibble on a dead chipmunk brought to them by their proud pet. I am sure the flavor will be somewhere between somewhat inadequate and somewhat adequate.

But to compare brown chocolate to white? One must be mad! White light from the mouth of infinity produces the glorious festival of flavor that is white chocolate, while brown chocolate takes its flavor from the dirt, mud and filth of the dessicated Earth. White is the cleanse. The relief. The purity of essence. Brown is...well, it's fine for a package-delivery company, but it's hardly an appropriate taste sensation.

Lina Thomlinson said...

Thank you, dear. I'm glad the blogging world now gets to see what I have to put up with every day. Love you even though you're absolutely ridiculous!

HoosierHomemade said...

I'll have one of both please :-)
Thanks so much for joining Cupcake Tuesday!

Jamieanne said...

lol, I love your post about these, and the first comment (I presume your husband?) is hilarious! I'm glad you enjoyed them! :)

Stef said...

Couldn't find your email anywhere but I want to let you know that you won the Tamarin spread over at Cupcake Project! Please email me your mailing address (stef at cupcakeproject dot com). BTW - I'm a dark chocolate girl.

Lina Thomlinson said...

Excellent, Stef! Can't wait to try it. I hope it's as good as I'm imagining.

Jamieanne: Husband? Noooo. I've never met that crazy man before in my life!

laylablue said...

my dear husband will turn 38 saturday, and he is a peanut butter nut! (tee hee). i am planning to attempt these cupcakes as a birthday treat surprise. thank you for sharing.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

That is soo good/bad. I will have to give these a try.
A friday's favorite~ come join the linky party!