Classes were canceled today due to an inch of snow on the ground… or rather ice… which was probably warranted given that I could have easily ice-skated around town without ever hitting an ice-free dry patch. Coming from up North where snowmageddon is becoming the new winter norm – just look at Boston – the fact that a dusting of ice causes cars to be stranded on the highway, people to clear their sidewalks with a shovel meant for digging, not moving snow, and kids ‘sledding’ in parking lots using plastic storage bins, trays and whatever else they can find is pretty hilarious. Winter preparedness score: 3/10. But who really needs to be all that prepared for snow and ice down here anyway when the weather is usually delightfully temperate – two weekends ago it was in the low 70s and sunny. All things aside though, a snow day is a snow day and I’ll take what I can get.
Snow days are among my favorite kinds of days to whip up some delicious foodie creations. I first thought about trying to make some sort of healthified dish or baked good as I often would and in fact did last year during major snowstorms one and two. Then I realized that this particular snow day has fallen just post-Valentines Day and on Fat Tuesday (a.k.a Fattys Day). In celebration I figured I should make some golden-brown, sugar-laden fastnacht doughnuts… but I didn’t have any frying oil on hand. I did have lots of chocolate though. And raspberries. And so I decided to make some real dessert: mini chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling and a whipped ganache frosting. Maybe it isn’t super healthy, but is super tasty.
The dietitian in me says that making mini cupcakes as opposed to larger ones is a great way to manage your sweet tooth. Bake a large batch, freeze half and package the rest individually or in pairs for when you get a chocolate craving every now and again. A great strategy. If and only if you have the self-control to keep yourself from wolfing down more than just 1 or 2, which I usually do. But you do have to indulge sometimes, right?
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: about 10 minutes
Cooling time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen mini cupcakes or 18 regular cupcakes
For the ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz. good quality chocolate, chopped or in chip form (I used 4oz Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate and 4oz Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate)
For the cupcakes:
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped or in chip form
½ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
½ cup sour cream (I used light, but feel free to use full-fat sour cream or even Greek yogurt)
Good quality raspberry jam or preserves
Fresh raspberries as a garnish
Begin by preparing the ganache the easy way:
- First heating up the cream in a large bowl in the microwave for about a minute or two, depending on the strength of your microwave.
- Next, add the chocolate chips to the cream and stir until they are melted and well-incorporated. The ganache should be completely smooth and have a nice sheen to it.
- Set aside until ganache cools to room temperature, or place it in the refrigerator to expedited the process. If you choose to refrigerate it, let it cool down, but no so much that the ganache becomes completely solid as this will make whipping it up rather difficult.
Move onto the cupcakes:
- Slice the butter into small pieces and microwave it in a large microwave safe mixing bowl for about a minute or until it has melted. Add chocolate and cocoa powder and stir until it is mixed in. Set aside to cool a bit.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the mini cupcake pans with liners so you’re all set to go when the batter is ready.
- Over a mixing bowl Sift together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.
- Add sugar and vanilla to the chocolate mixture after it has cooled a bit. Then add the eggs and mix to incorporate. Add sour cream and stir to combine.
- Mix dry ingredients into wet until completely incorporated. The batter should be fairly thick.
- Fill the mini cupcake liners with batter until they are about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. For regular cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes.
- Let cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove them to allow them to cool more quickly.
- While cupcakes are cooling, whip up the cooled chocolate ganache with a hand mixer for 2-5 minutes until desired frosting consistency is reached.
- When cupcakes have cooled, cut a cone out of the top of each mini cupcake using a sharp knife so that you have a place to put the raspberry filling. Add the raspberry jam to the cone-shaped indent and then frost with whipped chocolate ganache. Top with a fresh raspberry and voilà! Snow day creation, or really anytime creation complete.
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook