Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes
The Kitchen Ninja, always being open to a challenge, has decided to take up Cupcake Hero's call and create some delightful marshmallow-themed confections.
The first up on the list was inspired by the original proposed theme for March, milk chocolate. After all, chocolate and marshmallow are a natural pairing, especially in liquidous form - who doesn't love hot cocoa with a nice marshmallow or fifty in it?
I do love a good chocolate cupcake, but I like brownies better - I'm all about the rich, dense batters and superconcentrated chocolate flavour you get from a brownie, as opposed to the naturally cakier cupcakes. So for this challenge, I decided to try melding a favourite brownie recipe with a standard sour cream cupcake to see what would happen.
What happened was delicious.
The only real problem with this recipe was the marshmallow cream frosting. The Kitchen Ninja is not big on anal-retentive measuring techniques (which begs the question, "how on earth does she not fail more often at baking?!") and, therefore, does not actually own a candy thermometer. Seeing as every recipe for marshmallow frosting on the face of the earth requires actual candymaking, this was a bit of a hurdle.
I did my best to estimate temperatures (ahh, "softball stage," how I love you), but still failed fairly miserably in creating mounds of fluffy white marshmallowy cream for the cupcakes. Instead, I got luscious, gooey marshmallow icing that dripped down the milk-chocolate-and-marshmallow cupcakes. I almost think it was better than the original plan...
Hot Cocoa Cupcakes
makes 12-15 cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 packet milk chocolate hot cocoa mix
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons butter
3oz good-quality milk chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
Marshmallow cream frosting (recipe follows)
1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. Prep a cupcake pan using either paper or silicone liners
3. Put the butter and milk chocolate together in a microwave-safe bowl and zap on high for 30 seconds. Stir gently and zap for another 30 seconds, or until they melt together into a smooth paste when stirred.
4. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry all at once and beat until you think your arm is going to fall off (or your mixer is going to break - this is a thick, rich batter, people!)
6. Scoop around a tablespoon of batter into each prepared cupcake liner. Drop 3-5 mini marshmallows on the batter, then cover with more batter, filling each cup around 2/3 full.
7. Pop into the 350F oven for 15min. The cupcakes should be not quite set at this point, and the marshmallows should be almost gooey and caramelised, almost like a creme brulee topping. Pull the pan out of the oven and press another 3-5 mini marshmallows into the top of each cupcake, then return to the oven.
8. Bake another 5-10min (20-25min total baking time), until a toothpick comes out clean. When in doubt, underbake - these are dense little suckers and they're best slightly undercooked/gooey inside, especially with the marshmallow.
9. Let cupcakes cool. Frost with marshmallow cream and dust with cocoa powder or cinnamon. Enjoy!
Marshmallow Cream Frosting
Recipe from Cooking Live
6 tablespoons water
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 large egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1. In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, bring the water, corn syrup and 3/4 cup sugar to 246 degrees.
2. In the meantime, in a completely clean, dry mixing bowl, with an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until creamy and foamy, about 2 minutes. Still whisking, sprinkle in the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and continue to whisk until the whites hold very soft peaks, about 2 minutes. While mixing on slow speed, carefully drizzle in the hot syrup. Turn the mixer to high and whisk until thick, fluffy and just warm, about 7 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and whisk in the vanilla.
Ninja's Notes: I attempted to follow this recipe without a candy thermometer and, well, it didn't work so well. 246F is smack in the middle of the firm ball stage, and rather lower than the typical hardball consistency required for marshmallow-making. I managed to hit firm ball stage and drizzled the syrup into the soft-peaked egg whites, but I must've gotten things too hot between checking candy stages and trying to whisk up the egg whites, because I was never able to get "thick and fluffy" from my mixture. Best I could do was "thick and gooey," which I figured was good enough for a marshmallow-themed cupcake.
I spooned my gooey, drippy marshmallow icing over the cupcakes after they cooled and let it drip down the sides. Honestly, I think it might've been tastier than a fluffy frosting - more concentrated sugar! - and fit the idea of a hot cocoa cupcake much better (after all, marshmallows melt in your cocoa, no?)