Better-Late-Than-Never Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
Hello to you, and hello to 2014!
A bit of absentmindedness in mid-December left me without my laptop charger for the last bit of 2013 (hence, a lack of blog posts), but that same absentmindedness meant less time on my laptop and more time with my goofy family – so all in all, a blessing in disguise. I hope you had the coziest holiday imaginable, be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus!
I’ve been sitting on this cupcake recipe for a good while, and I’ll warn you now – these are pretty indulgent cupcakes. You might want to quietly tuck any salad-and-water New Year’s resolutions away in a closet somewhere, just long enough for you to make these cupcakes, eat one (maybe two), and pawn ’em off on any unsuspecting relatives still hanging around. Without further ado, I present: Better-Late-Than-Never Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes!
It starts, as always, with a story. Way back in mid-September, one of my roommates – Yishi, an exchange student from China – pulled me aside to ask, “Emily, why do you all bake so much?” My other two (American) roommates and I had gotten into the habit of leaving baked goods aplenty out on the kitchen table with a little “Help Yourself” sign, and I think Yishi was a bit alarmed by the confections piling up.
I then proceeded to explain “stress baking” to Yishi, and was met with the sweetest look of concern and horror. I saw her eyes flick to the plates of uneaten cookies and muffins, and could see a thought dawning on her – Are ALL THREE of my roommates on the verge of mental breakdowns? The absurdity of it hit me then, claiming to my lovely roommate, a non-native English speaker tackling law school, that stress was causing me to bake. I do lots of things to cope with stress – I run (not very far), I do yoga (in my pajamas, usually), I call my mama (always while I’m walking back from class), I scribble in my journal (sporadically, when insomnia and stress strike together), and I cry into my pillow (as a last resort) – but I don’t bake to deal with stress. I bake to express joy, to amplify my happiness, and to spread love. Mostly, I bake to have a one-woman kitchen dance party.
Since that conversation with Yishi, I’ve come to dislike the term “stress baking,” simply because stress is not something I want to associate with baking. This cupcake recipe was created for a friend’s birthday, and although the timing coincided with the beginning of final exam crunch time, I’d like you to know – it wasn’t stress baking, it was celebration baking!
The cake I used for these cupcakes is a variation of a pretty standard chocolate cake recipe. The fun came when I stuffed the cupcakes with Trader Joe’s Cookie & Cocoa Swirl Butter and topped them with chocolate ganache.
The cupcakes, pre-stuffing and ganache.
I believe in quality control :)
I stuffed the cupcakes by mashing the center down with the end of a wooden spoon – this had the added benefit of making the bottom of the cupcake denser and better suited for supporting cookie butter. Make sure the cookie butter is very securely stuffed into the cupcake before dipping it into the ganache, or you’ll soon have cookie butter swimming in ganache (granted, that’s a very happy mistake to make).
Happy cupcake-ing, and cheers to a brand new year!
Better-Late-Than-Never Stuffed Chocolate Cupcakes
3 cups sugar
3 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 flax seed eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Enough Cookie Butter to stuff 24 cupcakes (about half a jar).
[For the ganache]
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin cups with paper liner. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and 1 1/2 cups warm water; whisk to combine. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract, and whisk until smooth.
2. Divide the batter among muffin cups (filling each about 2/3 full) and bake about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in pans on wire racks, 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to racks and let cool completely.
3. While the cupcakes are baking, make the ganache: heat the heavy cream until it is just boiling, then take it off the heat, and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir continually until the chocolate chips have all melted, then stir in the vanilla and salt. Allow the ganache to cool completely, then chill briefly until the ganache is thick, but not yet solid.
4. Prepare your assembly area; gather the cupcakes, a wooden spoon, a teaspoon, the cookie butter, and the ganache in a wide bowl. Take a cupcake, press down the center with the end of the wooden spoon, then use the teaspoon to scoop cookie butter into the cupcake. Dip the cupcake into the ganache, or alternatively, drizzle the ganache over the cupcake. Repeat with each cupcake, and enjoy!