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Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Great Cupcake Debacle

It's a busy weekend for us. Nick and I had doctors appointments this morning, we had bulbs to plant and a party to go tonight. And tomorrow is Grandma's 99th birthday party. So when I got an order for 18 chocolate peanut butter cupcakes for Sunday, I wondered how I was going to do it all. But I knew I'd find a way.

Off we went to our appointments. And I got jabbed twice (not counting the PAP test) for a blood test that never was. Apparently I was a little dehydrated and my doc couldn't find a vein. So back I go on Friday, urgh. Anyway, after our appointments we went out to breakfast at the very wonderful Eddie Sands Blueline Cafe, home of the very delicious Granola French Toast (which Nick and I both enjoyed today). Then we stopped at Home Depot to find a hole digger. It makes sense to have a tool for this, when you are going to be making twenty holes! Finally it was homeward bound. Nick went out to plant the bulbs while I got to work on the cupcakes.

Ahh the chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. I really thought the original recipe could use some work. The cupcakes themselves seem dry to me. Sure the peanut butter filling and the ganache icing make up for any shortcomings the cupcakes may have, but I'm a perfectionist and I want it all... moist cupcakes, creamy peanut butter filling and oh that ganache icing. I turned to my go to gal, Martha Stewart. Martha never lets me down. She had a recipe for chocolate cupcakes that sounded very good, so I thought I would make those, then use the same peanut butter filling and ganache icing. What could go wrong!? EVERYTHING! The Martha cupcakes never really rose up in the oven. They were tiny. A much better tasting cupcake mind you, but minute. Very moist, but itty bitty. I was actually willing to overlook this, the taste being so good, so I forged ahead. When it came time to pipe in the peanut butter, it would not squeeze into the cupcake. I ended up making several holes in each cupcake and still there was not a lot of peanut butter going in. Still.. I was willing to go on. Time to fix all mistakes with the wonder of ganache. Well, the ganache did not set up properly and when I went to beat it into icing, it wouldn't do what it was supposed to be doing. But I still I went on and put the ganache in the piping bag. When it came out in blobs that is when I lost my cool. Several hours of work have been all for nothing and there will be no party for us tonight because instead I have to redo the cupcakes for morning delivery.

Time to start over. This time, I abandoned my gal Martha and went back to the original recipe. Here is what they look like... Martha's is on the left, the original is on the right. I used the exact same size of cupcake liner (courtesy of Martha's Halloween collection at Michael's). Hmmm... something is seriously amiss.

The recipes were different, clearly. Martha's recipe called for 3/4 cup of flour, and the original calls for 1 3/4 cups. But the amount of batter seemed about the same. What I mean is, I got the same number of cupcakes from each batch and the cups were filled the same way. Weird. Martha's had baking powder, the original had baking soda. The powder should have risen the cupcakes some. It didn't. But let me reiterate, they were delicious cupcakes. Probably because Martha's recipe had sour cream in it. I think just about anything tastes better with some sour cream. Especially Yoder's Sour Cream. You can't get much better than Yoder's and it's an Ohio product!

Time for the peanut butter filling. Wouldn't you know, the originals filled beautifully. One hole, one squeeze and they were filled. And then came the ganache. Again, it came out perfectly. The first ganache was made with a bar of dark chocolate Nestle Chocolatier. I happen to love the Chocolatier product. But for some reason, this time it didn't work. I went back to Nestle's semi sweet chocolate chips. There is something about the consistency of them that makes the best ganache icing. Or maybe it's the semi-sweet product itself, whether it be chips or blocks, that I need to use? Something to ponder. When not using ganache as an icing though, I do prefer better chocolate. I'm sure I'll keep experimenting with that one. Mmmm ganache. So, I ended up with one bad batch of everything and then one good batch of everything. The original recipe, complete is on the left, Martha's is on the right.

I'm certainly not disparaging my gal Martha. Her cupcakes clearly were the taste winner. But the moral to this story is, don't mess with the recipe when you know what works and someone is going to be paying you for them, lest you throw a hissy fit and end up working past 1o:00 pm. on a job that should have been done by 6 pm.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Anyway, here are both recipes.

Chocolate Cupcakes (Martha)

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

Into a medium bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream and beginning and ending with flour.

Pour batter into cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Cool in pan 5 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Ice as desired.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes (also known around here as Buckeye Cupcakes)

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk

Peanut butter filling:
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 Tablespoons milk

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line the cups of a standard size muffin pan with paper liners.

Cupcakes: In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, with mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy, 1 minute. On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fill each prepared muffin cup two-thirds full (about 3 Tablespoons). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the pan to a wire rack and let cool.

Filling: In a medium size bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat peanut butter and butter until smooth. On low speed, gradually beat in sugar (I used only 1 cup) and slowly add milk. You may not need it all, or you may need more. Beat on high until light and fluffy. When cupcakes are cooled, spoon filling into a large pastry bag fitting with 1/4 inch plain round tip. Insert tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze as much filling into center of each as possible (without exploding the cupcake of course!)

Icing: Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Heat cream until it just starts to bubble then pour it over the chocolate chips. Let set for 3-5 minutes then whisk until smooth. Ladies and gentleman, this is the most wonderful ganache. Let cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. It should no longer be runny but net firm. Beat the ganache at medium speed. It should set up into a nice icing consistency. If it doesn't, put it back in the refrigerator for 5 minutes and try again. Once you get it to a nice creamy consistency, put it in a piping bag fitted with a star tip and give your cupcakes a nice swirl! Or you can just ice them with knife. Your choice.


Carla said...

I am going to try this! Peanut butter is a big hit in my family. I think my picky hubby will love this.
As for me, I just gained five pounds looking at your pics!

Christine said...

you had me at cupcake....


I will IM you regarding the possibility of purchasing these delightful sunshines (if they ship ok). <3