Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Not to be dramatic, but the search is over.  These are quite possibly the most perfect cupcakes ever.  Leave it to Cook's Illustrated to take something as simple as a chocolate cupcake and turn it into a mind-blowing dessert.  A chocoholic's dream, these cupcakes hit you with chocolate from 3 sides:  a moist, rich cake, smooth ganache filling, and a silky and buttery frosting.  Seriously, these aren't for the faint of heart.  But for someone like me, who could easily subsist off of chocolate, they are perfect.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010
makes 12-15 cupcakes

Ganache Filling
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
  • 3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Creamy Chocolate Frosting
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • pinch table salt
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into Tablespoon pieces
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to 85-100 degrees
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the ganache filling, place chocolate, cream, and confectioners' sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl.  Cook on high power until mixture is warm to the touch, 20-30 seconds.  Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator.  Let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

For the cupcakes, Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee over the mixture.  Whisk until smooth, and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth.  Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full.  Place one slightly rounded teaspoon of the ganache filling on top of each cupcake.

Bake until cupcakes are set and firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes.  Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set over a small saucepan of simmering water, and whisking constantly, cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 2-4 minutes.

Fit bowl to stand mixer, and with the whisk attachment, beat at medium speed, until mixture is the consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1-3 minutes.  Add butter 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy.  The frosting may look curdled halfway through, but it will smooth out eventually. 

Once all the butter as been added, pour in the cooled chocolate and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  Increase speed to medium-high and until light and fluffy, another 30 seconds to a minute.

Frost cupcakes as desired.


Erin said...

I just saw these in the latest CI issue and have been dying to make them. Glad they're every bit as delicious as they made them out to be!

Christine said...

I love CI - I have this on my list to make too - yours look perfect!

Steph said...

These look yummy! Does CI explain why they use bread flour?

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

this cup cake look so beautiful and it must be taste very good too!

Jen said...

Beautiful! And sound so indulgent and delicious.

Memória said...

Great minds think alike! I just made a chocolate overload cake that reminds me of these cupcakes. Your cupcakes look BEAUTIFUL! I love your frosting skills!

ashley said...

goodness gracious these look fabulous!

Valen said...

These look stunning! I bet they are quite delicious!

Amy Kelly said...

Oh my gosh, these look and sound amazing! I'm going to have to try these this weekend. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Cheeky Kitchen said...

Okay. You've talked me into it. I'm willing to come over and eat a plate full of them for the sake of historical documentation. I'm just unselfish and willing to sacrifice like that.

Looks soooo good!

Josie said...

Hi Stephanie,
Bread flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour, thereby making the cupcakes a little sturdier. With the amount of cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the recipe, the cupcakes are too crumbly if you use all-purpose flour. Hope that makes sense :-)

Bridget said...

Wow, these do look perfect! I'm very tempted to do a comparison post with these and the ones that Annie just posted.

Josie said...

Bridget, I think that's a fantastic idea!

Janet said...

Hi! I just made these and for some reason the frosting is just not setting up. Is there anything I can do to change that? Thanks!

Josie said...

Hi Janet,
I'm not sure, as I wasn't there to watch you make them, but the biggest mistakes in making swiss meringue are adding the butter before the meringue is cool enough, or either over or under-beating the meringue. So sorry you had problems! Mine wasn't as thick as traditional buttercream, but it still piped beautifully!

Amanda said...

Thanks for posting this wonderful recipe. I just came to your site by google looking for a good chocolate cupcake. I love cooking but since I can't follow a recipe to save my life, I am not a great baker. I tried out your cupcakes with some changes (and happy accidents) I did use ap flour, so they are soft but that's okay for me. I substituted coconut oil since I no longer use vegetable oil. Anyway... long story short.... these are awesome. I made so many changes I'm not sure it's the same recipe anymore, but I still gave you credit on my food blog. Check out my version of your cupcakes! :) Thanks!!

Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul said...

Nice photo...I look forward to baking these...


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these. I didn't even add the ganache filling and they were delicious. I'm looking forward to running through all your cupcake recipes. :)

Anonymous said...

Just made them for Father's Day celebration and they were a big hit. The process was easy enough and the outcome was the best!! Can't wait to have another reason to make them. Yum

jskemper said...

Those do look like amazing cupcakes! And I can never get enough chocolate!

Haley said...

HI, I also live around the Atlanta area and have never been able to find dutch processed cocoa. I have searched many stores and have only been able to find regular Hershey's. Do you have any recommendations on where to find it? Thank you(:

Josie said...

Hi Haley, In a pinch I've used the Hershey's "Special Dark," but I think I've found Dutch Processed cocoa at Whole Foods and/or Fresh Market.

Anonymous said...


I tried this recipe and it worked brilliantly. But will there be any adverse effects if I don't use the coffee the second time around?


Josie said...

Anonymous, I don't know that I'd say "adverse" effects, but coffee does intensify the chocolate flavor, so they just wouldn't be quite as chocolatey. I'm glad you enjoyed them!!

Lauren said...

I made these, and they were wonderful. Not your average crappy duncan hines....These are impressive!

Heather said...

Just wondering, do you think this would be okay to make as a cake instead of cupcakes? I'm thinking of using this recipe for a cake and either use the ganache in between the layers or make a chocolate mousse for the middle layer instead. Thoughts?

Nina said...

Absolutely the best chocolate cupcakes I've ever eaten!!!!

Cath @ Cath's Cookery Creations! said...

Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. It definitely is the best cupcake recipe and I topped it with rose buttercream instead (have written a post if you would like to see) and I also used it for a layer cake as well. Absolutely devine.

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