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Saturday, June 23, 2012

cook's illustrated's ultimate chocolate cupcakes.

What a difference baking soda really makes! The batter rose so much more this time. (The last time I made a really bad boo boo.) Lesson learnt: Look at the labels before plonking in anything. And probably don't bake before I'm fully awake.

These cupcakes are really really good. They are intensely chocolaty, just like my go-to recipe. But unlike my go-to recipe (let's just call it Gourmet's for convenience's sake), the coffee is a lot more prominent. These stand in the middle of Gourmet's and Ina Garten's (my first chocolate cake love) in terms of density. In other words, or format:

Density Ranking (starting from the most dense to the least)
1. Gourmet
2. Cook's Illustrated
3. Ina Garten

Gourmet's is also a lot firmer when refrigerated as compared to Cook's Illustrated's even though they both contain melted chocolate in the batter. Ina Garten's having none, has the fluffiest texture and yields the softest cupcakes amongst the three recipes.

Chocolaty-ness Ranking (starting from the most to the least)
1. Gourmet and Cook's Illustrated
2. Ina Garten

It's a tie for the intensity of chocolate flavour for now until I find time to do a side-by-side comparison. However, if you ask me to pick a recipe now, I would go for Gourmet's because it does not you to make ganache and it's less fussy in that sense. Which brings me to the ganache. I think although its a novel idea, using it to add to the moisture of the cupcake, I don't think its really necessary because the cupcakes themselves are pretty awesome without it. Most of mine merely sank to the bottom and I doubt it really served its purpose but I relished the little puddle of chocolate all the same.

I topped these cupcakes with some really simple whipped cream which paired the rich cupcakes better than a buttercream, I would say. It's great because it's quick to whip up too, but the only problem is that whipped cream waters out after a few hours, which was why I picked a recipe for stabilized whipped cream that would safely last up to 24 hours in a cool environment.

In short, yes another chocolate cake recipe to be considered when in need of one! I would do away with the ganache though.

Cook's Illustrated's Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 12

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp icing sugar

Chocolate Cupcakes
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stabilized Whipped Cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache: Place chocolate, cream and icing sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes because the ganache would get too firm.

For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350F. Line a standard size muffin pan with paper liners.

Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set aside and let it cool completely.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla into the cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Divide batter evenly amongst paper liners. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon of ganache filling in the center of each muffin cup of batter.

Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For the whipped cream: Refrigerate mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes.

In a small saucepan, place the icing sugar and cornstarch and gradually whisk in 1/4 cup of cream. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and simmer until the cream is thickened. Scrape into a small bowl and cool to room temperature. Add the vanilla.

Beat the remaining 3/4 cup of cream just until traces of beater marks begin to show distinctly. Add the cornstarch mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly.  Beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.


  1. I can't wait to try these out!! The only thing is I can't find bread flour where Im at, can i just use All Purpose?

    1. I think the cupcakes would be less sturdy if you use all purpose but I see no big harm in that!

  2. Very cute cupcakes. Thanks for sharing!