Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes I would have made for Valentine's Day if only my husband weren't such a freak. He's not a fan of chocolate so I'm thinking these cupcakes with four different chocolate elements would probably kill him. Once again my book club comes to the rescue! I know those gals wouldn't ever think there's such a thing as chocolate overload. In fact, they seem to embrace this kind of indulgence.

The cupcakes are inspired by one of my favorite desserts: Marcel Desaulniers' Death by Chocolate Cake. I miss living in Virginia where I could just hop in my car for a day trip to Williamsburg, sometimes expressly for the purpose of getting a slice of that cake from The Trellis. To. Die. For. Hence the name, I suspect. I don't know if I'll ever be ambitious enough to tackle making the seven-layer cake myself. That's right; I said seven. Seven layers of chocolate elements including brownie, mousse, cocoa meringue, and oodles of ganache. I'm starting to get a sugar buzz just thinking about it. It's just as rich as you'd imagine. No, make that richer than you imagine. Your imagination cannot possibly behold the majesty of that cake. And let me tell you from experience that if, by some superhuman display of gluttony, you are able to eat an entire slice by yourself in one sitting you will receive a look of shock, horror, disgust, and, I like to think, a little envy from your server. I've only done that once as I prefer to savor my leftovers the next day and continue the sugar high. Alright, I'll also admit that even I felt a little ill after that particular feat.

So until I pluck up the courage to make the entire cake I figured I could incorporate some of the elements into a cupcake. My favorite part of the cake has to be the surprising crunch from the meringue layer so I knew I had to incorporate that somehow. For Valentine's Day I piped the cocoa meringue into large heart shapes so they can serve double duty as a delicious element and cute toppers. The cupcakes are filled with chocolate mousse and the underside of the heart has a dab as well to help adhere it to the cake. The rich chocolate cupcakes are dunked into ganache twice for an extra thick layer. I'm pleased to report that a lot of the experience of eating the cake is here with my cupcakes. My success with these makes me think I just might be able to handle making the real deal one of these days. Don't worry; I'll be sure to share the cake if I do.

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe from Southern Food

8 ounces butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa, such as Valrhona or high-quality, such as Scharffen Berger*
3/4 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, stir before measuring
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

*If you're using a standard baking cocoa (not Dutch-process or high-quality) add 1/2 teaspoon more of baking soda to the dry ingredients.

1) Line 24 cupcake wells with paper liners. Heat oven to 350°.

2) Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat; add cocoa, stirring until smooth. Whisk in the water and remove from heat. To the warm cocoa mixture, add the sugar, sour cream, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and eggs; whisk until smooth. In another bowl combine the flour, soda, and salt. Add all at once to the first mixture, whisking until well blended.

3) Scoop batter into prepared pans. Bake for 18 to 24 minutes, or until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans and let cool completely on rack.

Chocolate Mousse Filling
Recipe from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

6 ounces semisweet chocolate , in 1/2 oz pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1) Ahead of time, put mixing bowl into the refrigerator to chill.

2) Heat 1 inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat (If you are not fortunate enough to own a double boiler, just stack a small saute pan on top of a small sauce pan. The lip of the saute pan should be just a bit wider than the sauce pan so that no steam escapes. Be very careful to keep any moisture out of your chocolate while you are melting it, or else it will seize and be very difficult to work with).

3) Place 6 oz of semi-sweet chocolate in the top of the double boiler and tightly cover the top with plastic wrap (do not allow the wrap to touch the bottom half).

4) Allow the chocolate to melt slowly, about 9 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Keep at room temperature until needed.

5) Place 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in the well-chilled bowl of an electic mixer. Whip on high (using the balloon whip attachment) until peaks form, about 1 minute. Set aside.

6) Whisk 3 eggs whites in a large stainless steel bowl, until soft peaks form (about 3 minutes).

7) Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

8) Add a quarter of the heavy cream to the chocolate and whisk quickly, vigorously, and thoroughly, then add it to the eggs whites. Now add the remaining heavy cream. Fold everything together gently but thoroughly, and put it in the fridge until needed (for at least one hour).

Cocoa Meringue Hearts
Recipe adapted from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

4 egg whites
1⁄8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa , sifted
1 tablespoon cornstarch

1) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 225° F.

2) Put the 4 egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt into the electric mixer bowl. Whip on high (using the balloon whip attachment) until soft peaks fom - about 45 to 50 seconds.

3) Gradually add 1 cup sugar while still on high. Continue to whip until the peaks are stiff, about another 1 1/2 minutes.

4) Remove the bowl and use a spatula to fold in and thoroughly combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa, and 1 tbsp cornstarch.

5) Fill a pastry bag with the cocoa meringue (if you have no pastry bag, fill a Ziploc bag and snip off one of the corners). Pipe 24 hearts onto parchment paper, about 2.5" big.

6) Place the meringue in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 200°F and bake for an additional 1 hour, 30 minutes.

7) Remove the meringues from the oven and let cool on a rack for about 45 minutes before handling.

Chocolate Ganache
Recipe adapted from Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers

3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
11 ounces semisweet chocolate , in 1/2 oz pieces

1) Heat heavy cream and butter in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.

2) Put 11 oz semi-sweet chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth.


1) Using a Bismarck tip or the cone method fill each cupcake with chocolate mousse. You should have some left over for step 3.

2) Holding each cupcake by the base, dip tops of cupcakes into ganache. Place on a wire rack to set. Once done coating all of the cupcakes dunk them all a second time. Let sit at room temperature to set.

3) Immediately before serving, place a dollop of chocolate mousse on the bottom of each meringue heart and place on top of cupcakes.

Hoosier Homemade - Cupcake Tuesday


HoosierHomemade said...

YUM! Thanks for sharing on Cupcake Tuesday!
I've pinned them on my Cupcake Tuesday Pinterest Board!

Rose | RoseBakes.com said...

Those look amazing!!!