|Ooh, look at that creamy filling!|
That's a heavy opening! Let me try again: This is where all this cupcake nonsense began. I'd made cupcakes in the past (but nothing too complicated, and I didn't particularly love cupcakes, even), but I was fairly confident in my baking skills and...ok, here's where I get obnoxious (and sidetracked! Come along...)
I know my mother never brought a Hostess cupcake into the house. Cheerios were a sugar cereal for us. We never had Hamburger Helper, nor macaroni and cheese from the blue box. And did I appreciate this? Not a bit! In fact, I used my babysitting money to buy Family Circle magazine and dreamt of the families who ate cheese singles and had white kitchen floors that shone because of Mr. Clean (I wish I was exaggerating), and I went through a phase of smuggling in junk food...but now I appreciate what my mom did and plan to torture my children exactly the same way. All this is the reason why, when I look at these cupcakes, I don't have fond childhood memories of them. I think I probably had a couple in high school (I know I had a Hostess Baseball, because I thought it was wonderful, but I haven't tasted a Twinkie to this day), but I had no real reason to recreate these. Until...
I saw a dear friend in the store a couple of months ago buying Zingers. It went something like this:
Obnoxious Rachel: What are those?
Unsuspecting Dear Friend: Um...Zingers?
Obnoxious Rachel: What are you eating those for? (my grammatical skills must have fled in the face of my holier-than-thou obnoxiousness)
Unsuspecting Dear Friend: I love Zingers!
OR: But they're full of crap!
UDF: I still like them!
OR: I could make those!
UDF: Oh yeah?
UDF: Well, do it, then!
OR: Maybe I will!
UDF: Ok, then!
And then she punched me in the face.
Well, ok, the end of that drifted away from, you know, fact, but that was the gist of it. So I'd committed myself to making Zingers, and I went for something Zinger-like (I don't have the pans to make Zingers...yet). I figured the filled cupcakes things would be easy enough. I can make a cake. I can make ganache. I can figure out what "creamy filling" is (actually, I don't want to know. I can make my own).
I researched this quite a bit, and it turns out that many, many others have done this already. I looked at what I thought would work and what maybe wouldn't and went from there. I made my cupcakes, and they were a huge success. Unsuspecting Dear Friend even got one, and was impressed.
These are not those cupcakes.
These are better. This cake batter is probably much darker, and richer, than what I used, and I know just how long to bake it. The filling has been tweaked to be creamier. The ganache, well, is real ganache instead of a version with corn syrup (because would you believe that the first three times I did this there was no cream in my house? Yeah, me neither. It's true, though.). And I changed the filling process.
Before, I piped the filling in with a pastry bag. The cake is light enough to handle it, and it's an easy, neat way of doing things. However, with the cone-and-fill method, you can pack the middle full of creamy filling. Seriously, y'all.What was I thinking before?
The truth is, snobbery and obnoxiousness aside, Hostess has a good product concept going. A not-too-sweet chocolate cake with a white creamy middle topped by a just-sweet-enough chocolate topping? Awesome. I'll just take mine without the extra stuff.
This makes about 12 cupcakes.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin or line with baking liners.
Combine chocolate, cocoa, espresso powder in a medium mixing bowl and pour hot coffee over. Let sit until chocolate is melted. Stir to combine; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. To chocolate mixture add vinegar, oil, eggs, and vanilla; mix well with fork to combine. Pour over flour mixture and stir well.
Pour the batter into the lined muffin tin (filling about 3/4 full) - the batter will be thin. Bake at 350 for 15 - 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool for about 10 minutes in pan and then cool completely on a wire rack.
Marshmallow Filling (this makes enough for 24 cupcakes)
1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until fluffy. Add in sugar and beat on low speed to combine. Add in salt and marshmallow cream, and vanilla; beat to combine and add heavy cream if needed (you want a thick, fluffy filling that is going to pipe easily and not be too firm at room temperature). Reserve about 1/2 cup of the filling mixture for the squiggles. Set aside.
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
On the stovetop, bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Off the heat, stir in chocolate and mix well until fully incorporated and shiny. Let cool for about 15 minutes before using (this will also let your cupcakes chill).
Once the cupcakes have cooled, cut out a cone-shaped portion out of the top of each cake. Slice off the excess cake from the cone (leaving the flat cap) and reserve the top. Fill the resulting hole with about a tablespoon of the marshmallow filling (or however much you need). Replace the cap. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes, and then put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and set the filling (once cool, it will become very thick and hold the caps in place).
To top the cupcakes, dip each cupcake into the cooled ganache, swirling off the excess chocolate. Let set up for about 15 minutes, then repeat. Let cool and set up completely before topping with squiggles.
|Shiny ganache with real cream!|
For squiggles, combine reserved 1/2 cup of filling with about 1 tablespoon of milk to thin out to a piping consistency. Using a pastry bag or a disposable plastic bag, pipe on a row of loops across the center of each cupcake, or design the top however you like.
Store these cupcakes in the refrigerator, but bring to room temperature, if possible, before serving.
|These were my first attempt. I found the photo in my camera file. Messy, messy, messy.|
|Much better, I think. It's almost like they're smiling at you.|