Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cayenne Truffle Cupcakes

Lately I've been obsessed with cupcakes.  What's not to like.  They are the only cakes you can eat on the go; they are the only cakes you can eat all by yourself without feeling guilty (I usually will eat three at a time); they are some of the most artistic desserts in the most fun flavors and with the cutest decorations; they work for all occasions from birthdays, weddings, showers, or just because I feel like having one today day (which getting an entire cake would seem like a huge indulgence), and the biggest reason I make them is because they are the only kind of sweets my husband will eat willingly.  

As I went searching for cupcakes on the world wide web, I discovered there are many like me!  There are so many sites and blogs about cupcakes.  I would spend hours each day devouring the contents on these sites.  Everyone out there is so creative and inspirational.  

Cupcakes on their way to be tested.

That's how I discovered Iron Cupcake: Earth.  Yes, like Iron Chef but with cupcakes, and everyone on Earth can participate.  Each month there will be a secret ingredient and each participant will have to come up with a recipe, post it on their page with photos and descriptions, and have everyone else can vote on their creations.  How fun is that?  

This month's challenge is the CHILI PEPPER CHALLENGE.  The prizes this month are a cupcake courier from Cupcake Courier, a luxury hostess apron from Jessie Steele,  a cookbook from Taste of Home, an original artwork from Esty artist, Cakespy, a set of cute kitchen utensils from Fiesta Head Chefs, and the best-selling book Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson.  How awesome is that!


As a newbie baker, I found this to be a bit intimidating.  I've had a peek at other challengers' sites and WOW, there's some unique and gorgeous cupcakes out there.  But D thought this would be a great opportunity for me to expand on my usual cupcake recipes.  

So this month I'm starting small and simple.  My inspiration is a box of chocolates D had given my for Valentine's Day last year.  They were a box of spicy dark chocolate truffles from Daniel's Chocolates.  At first bite, you just taste the smooth, bitter dark chocolate, but then afterwards the back of your throat will feel a slight heat from the peppers.  It's quite an aphrodisiac.  I wanted to recreate that feeling.  

The saved one

I think I came pretty close with this recipe.  I made a batch for my personal taste testers, my family (all 16 of them).  Everyone raved how yummy they were, and everyone loved that kick from the peppers.  I ended up having to fight my nephew for the last one since I didn't take any good pictures beforehand.  He took a tiny bite off the top of the frosting.  Oh well, at least I got it back and took these pics.  

So try my recipe, it's very simple (it's a variation from Martha Stewart's One bowl chocolate cake), and don't forget to vote for me at 
No One Puts Cupcake In A Corner from Sunday, August 31, at 9 a.m. pst until Thursday, September 4, at 9 a.m. pst.

Dark Chocolate Cayenne Truffle Cupcakes

To make cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water

1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two standard 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners.  
2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Whisk ingredients together gently.
3. Add the eggs and yolk, milk, oil, vanilla, and warm water to the dry ingredients.
4. Whisk mixture until the wet and dry ingredients are well incorporated.
5. Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.
7. Insert toothpick through the center of one cake, if it comes out clean, the cupcakes are cooked.  If it comes out with crumbs attach, put back into the oven for another 2 minutes.  Repeat as needed until toothpick comes out clean.
8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make dark chocolate frosting:
1 pound best-quality semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons boiling water
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powder sugar
Pinch of salt

1. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water.  Turn off the heat, and stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely (about 15 minutes).
2. Once melted, place chocolate on counter to cool.
3. In a small bowl combine cocoa powder, baking soda, cayenne pepper, and boiling water.  Stir until well blended.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy (about 3-4 minutes) scraping down sides as needed.  
5. Add melted chocolate, beat on low speed until combined (about 1-2 minutes) scraping down sides as needed.
6. Beat in cocoa mixture until combined (about 1-2 minutes).

Spread or pipe onto cupcakes and enjoy!


Vegan_Noodle said...

Beautiful cupcake! And I love how you got your inspiration as well!

CC said...

Thank you, vegan noodle. My husband's quite proud that he inspired them. :-P

Melynda said...

So beautiful! I love the combination of pink cherry blossoms and chocolate frosting. Beautiful!