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When I saw the original name of these: “Emergency Blender Cupcakes”, I almost decided to skip this month’s ABC challenge. “Emergency” sounds like “fast food”, using “just some stuff you might have at hand”, like “throwing something haphazardly together”. In other words – not very enticing for an avid baker!
But, trusting Hanaâ’s judgement, and keeping in mind that the Cinnamon Rolls from “The Weekend Baker” had been fantastic (see my blog), I overcame my reservations, studied the recipe, and couldn’t find anything in the list of ingredients to confirm my arrogant assumptions.
The cupcake batter is, indeed, mixed in a blender, but can be easily made in a regular mixer, too. And that’s what I recommend, for I couldn’t see any advantage in the “blending”. The sides of the bowl had to be scraped down several times, it’s more difficult to empty it out, and the mixing process is not any faster.
After 17 minutes baking time, the cupcakes domed nicely, showing moist, glistening cracks, as they should. And while they were still hot from the oven, the best of all husbands came into the kitchen and shamelessly grabbed one, under the pretext that he loved lava cake, and didn’t care for frosting, anyway (wait and see…!)
Like the cake batter, the frosting was easy to prepare. As a Mainer, coffee addict, and proud owner of a pantry full of flavored liquors (don’t get me wrong – as fancy ingredients, not for raw consumption!), I couldn’t resist adding a tablespoon of Allen’s Coffee Brandy to the mixture. (Two wouldn’t have hurt, either.)
Abby Dodge, the author of “The Weekend Baker”, admits to having a weakness for mountains of frosting. I saw that comment only after I was wondering how much was left in the bowl. But when I took my first bite, I realized her wisdom in piling the fudgy chocolate higher on the cakes. This frosting alone was worth the effort! (Half of the amount is plenty, though).
Chocolate on chocolate – a finishing touch was clearly needed. Though I always like something crunchy to bite on (Ben & Jerry’s spoiled me for plain chip and chunk-less ice creams), sugary, colored sprinkles, as suggested in the recipe, don’t do it for me. A nut topping was the obvious alternative. I used toasted walnuts, but hazelnuts would have been just as good.
In spite of their unassuming name, the cupcakes are delicious. Intensely chocolate-y and moist, not too sweet, and with the best chocolate fudge frosting I’ve ever tasted. The toasted walnut topping adds a satisfying crunch.
And the best of all husbands? Did he shun the frosted goodies? Guess, what …..
DARK CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES (adapted from “The Weekend Baker“)
43 g/1.5 oz unsweetened natural cocoa (not Dutch processed)
175 ml/3/4 cup hot water
128 g/4.5 oz all-purpose flour
227 g/8 oz sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
107 g/1/2 cup canola or other vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
114 g/4 oz bittersweet chocolate (60%), chopped
57 g/4 tbsp unsalted butter
160 g/1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
40 g/1/8 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coffee flavored liquor (optional)
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped, for topping
Preheat oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
In a small bowl, whisk together hot water, oil, vanilla, and egg. In a medium bowl (with a spout), whisk together flours, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until blended, ca. 1 minute.
Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners. Bake until needle comes out clean, 17 – 19 minutes. (Don’t over-bake, the cracks on the surface should still look moist). Cool pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely before frosting.
Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Remove from heat and add condensed milk, corn syrup, vanilla, coffee liquor, and salt, whisking until well blended. Let cool to room temperature, whisking frequently.
With small spatula, spread frosting generously on top of cupcakes. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.
Cupcakes can be stored, covered, up to 4 days at room temperature. Frosting can be stored for 3 weeks in refrigerator (leftovers can also be warmed and used as fudge sauce).
And if you’d like to join the Avid Baker Challenge – there’s definitely room for more!