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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Churros and Chocolate Cupcake

Summer in San Francisco means bringing hot chocolate, puffy coats, and knitting to watch my cousin's evening soccer game at Golden Gate Park. My friend made some fantastic hot chocolate to which she added a touch of cinnamon. I had brought leftover, unfrosted lychee-coconut cupcakes for dipping, which were great, but I wished we had some churros to dip instead. From that came this week's ambitious cupcake.

Ambitious it was and most everything was great, but my frosting experiment didn't quite pan out. The flavor combination worked for me. The cinnamon cupcake was subtle, tender, and not too sweet. The chocolate filling provided a nice shot of deep chocolate flavor that again wasn't too sweet. These would dip nicely in hot chocolate, for sure.

I was experimenting with a new kind of frosting which didn't work out at all (so I will not even post the recipe, yikes). I think a simple chocolate ganache would work out just fine. The tiny churros were fun to make and tied in the inspiration of the cupcake.

Chocolate Filling

3/4 cup heavy cream
8 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. in a saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil (around the edges of the pan)
2. place chopped chocolate in a stainless or glass bowl
3. pour heated cream over the chocolate and let sit for 30 or so seconds
4. stir, starting in the center, until the combined
5. add vanilla and stir until smooth
6. let sit at room temperature for one hour or refrigerate for a half of an hour, stirring occasionally, the ganache will get pretty firm

24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon ground extra fancy Vietnamese cinnamon
pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. cream butter in an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute
2. while beating, drizzle in sugar
3. continue to beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes
4. add one egg at a time, beating well after each, about 20 seconds
5. in a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt
6. combine milk and vanilla
7. add flour mixture and milk mixture to the electric mixer, alternating and starting and ending with flour, beat well after each addition
8. scoop into lined cupcake tins with an ice cream scooper (about 3/4 full)
9. measure out about a teaspoon of the firm ganache and form it into a ball with your fingers (this is a messy step)
10. poke the ganache ball into the center of the cupcake, repeat for all cupcakes
11. bake for ~20 minutes or until golden

chocolate center pre-baking

chocolate center post-baking

Tiny Churros adapted from this recipe
requires pastry bag with small star tip

2/3 cup water
2-2/3 ounces butter
1 pinch salt
2/3 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground extra fancy Vietnamese cinnamon
vegetable oil, for frying

1. heat 1 inch oil in a wide, deep pan to 360 degrees F
2. in a medium saucepan, heat water, butter and salt to rolling boil
3. stir in flour, stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute
4. remove from heat
5. in a small bowl, beat eggs until smooth and then add to saucepan while stirring the hot mixture
6. transfer dough into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip
7. pipe tiny churros directly into the hot oil, squeeze the bag allowing the mixture to come through, then chop it off with a butter knife when its about an inch long.
8. fry until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side
9. transfer to paper towels to drain
10. mix sugar and cinnamon then dump onto the churros

tiny churros


1. frost cooled cupcakes with a chocolate frosting of your choice
2. top with a tiny churro or two

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Peanut Butter-Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Glaze and a Caramelized Banana Disk

I actually forgot an ingredient in the cupcake recipe (!), the baking soda... Regardless, the result was a rich, cocoa flavored cupcake with subtle banana and peanut butter flavors and a very fine texture. The baking soda would have altered the texture and most likely would have given it more crumb. I think I would have preferred it that way, but my husband insists they were great and kept eating the unfrosted ones before I could get the frosting done. (There was a couple of botched caramel frosting experiments, hence why the cupcakes didn't get frosted until the next day.)

I am not 100% sold on the cupcake recipe, but I like the flavor combination and want to work on something similar, but perhaps with a fudgey texture. The other components, however, worked out fine.

Peanut Butter Filling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg

1. mix brown sugar, peanut butter, and egg in a small bowl and set aside

24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
9 ounces best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 ounces best-quality bitter-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1-1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
[1/4 teaspoon baking soda]
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium banana)

1. melt butter and semi-sweet chocolate over a bain marie
2. whisk together eggs and sugar
3. add flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt, mix to combine
4. add melted chocolate/butter mixture, mix to combine
5. stir in mashed banana
6. fill cupcake tins about 1/3 full, drop a teaspoon of peanut butter mixture into each tin, top off with cupcake batter to about 2/3's full
7. bake for ~20 minutes or until a crust forms on the cupcakes

chopping chocolate

peanut butter filling

Caramel Glaze
2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons half and half
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. in a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter
2. add milk and brown sugar, stir to combine
3. boil vigorously for 1 minute
4. remove from heat and beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar
5. cool slightly then and beat in the vanilla and remaining powdered sugar, add more half in half if necessary
6. quickly spoon over cupcakes before glaze sets

drizzling glaze

Caramelized Banana Disks
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium ripe banana, sliced into disks

1. melt butter in a skillet over medium heat
2. carefully add banana disks and let caramelize slowly until brown and crispy (but not burnt)
3. flip with two forks, continue cooking the other side
4. top glazed cupcakes with the banana disks

caramelizing banana disks

finished product

Printable, PDF-version of the recipe.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Recipe: Lychee-Coconut Cupcakes with Ginger-Cream Cheese Frosting, Candied Ginger Sprinkles, and Sugar Decorations

The lychee and coconut flavors in these cupcakes are subtle, but decidedly tropical. The cake texture is crumbly and moist. The chopped lychee and coconut provide interesting texture variation. The unfrosted cupcakes are delicious and not too sweet, perfectly yummy on their own.

The frosting was fantastic as expected, when is cream cheese frosting not? I added about a tablespoon of fresh ginger which provided some texture, but added more and more ginger powder until I was happy with the bite. I can't say exactly how much I added, but its best to just add to taste. The burnt caramel sugar decorations added a nice crunch and another layer of flavor.

Overall, these cupcakes tasted pretty special... very multi-dimensional and flavorful. The recipe should be a good starting point for any combination of tropical flavors.

24 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
25 grams coconut cream powder (1/2 pack) dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces canned lychee fruit, drained and chopped
1 cup fresh coconut, grated (see note below on dealing with the fresh coconut)

1. mix flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium sized bowl
2. in a separate small bowl, beat eggs to break up
3. add oil to the eggs and mix to combine
4. add eggs/oil to the dry ingredients, mix to combine
5. add vanilla, lychee, and coconut to the rest of the ingredients and mix to combine
6. scoop into lined cupcake tins with an ice cream scooper
7. bake at 350 degree oven (325 convection) for ~20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean

Ginger-Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces or 1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or chopped fine
1 teaspoon ground ginger (the spice)

1. bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
3. beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
4. add 4 cups of the sugar and beat until combined
5. add gingers and beat until combined
NOTE: If you are not sure how much ginger taste you might like, start by adding half the amount and taste/adjust until you get the ginger flavor you like.
6. add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

[optional] Sugar Decorations

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon glucose

1. put everything in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
2. stir until sugar dissolves
3. let boil until it reaches 320 degrees F, use a candy thermometer
4. brush down the sides with water as it boils (to prevent crystallization), don't stir
5. prepare a small bowl of cold water to dip pan in once temperature is reached
6. transfer pan into bowl and quickly drizzle sugar syrup over a silicon mat or mold


1. chop some candied ginger to sprinkle on the cupcakes
2. scoop a dollop of frosting on to each of the cooled cupcakes
3. sprinkle candied ginger on top
4. place sugar decoration on top of that

[note] Ah, The Coconut

There was to be only one option, fresh coconut. Fresh is always superior to dried, no? First I took an ice chipper and a hammer and poked a couple of holes into the coconut.

fig. 1 poking holes

I set the coconut over a plastic container to drain.

fig. 2 draining

Then I took the coconut, wrapped it in a towel, grabbed a hammer, and relocated to the front stoop. There I preceded to bang on the coconut until the darn thing gave. That took some brute force. It had been a while since I cracked a mature coconut and it proved to be mildly frustrating.

fig. 3 cracked

The cracked coconut and I returned to the kitchen where the flesh was separated from the shell with a butter knife. The brown skin was peeled off the flesh with a vegetable peeler. The flesh was rinsed in cold water and 4 ounces was weighed into a tared bowl.

I opted for using a food processor to grate the coconut flesh. Given the amount of time I had already invested in the coconut, hand grating with a box grater seemed extravagant. I grated in small batches in the hopes of getting at uniformity. It worked out fine. I am not sure just how much better the fresh coconut is compared to bagged, as I didn't try the second option. I can only hope it was worth the effort.

Printable, PDF-version of the recipe.