It's a beautiful Canadian day! Last night I was attempting to compose this second part of my favourite-cakes-into-cupcakes post, and I was literally falling asleep sitting up, so I decided to close the laptop and go to sleep (it was still light out!). After eight wonderful, beautiful, and, most importantly, uninterrupted hours of rest, I woke up this morning at 5:30am--before the kids! I decided to make some strong French press coffee and write this post in bed with windows open, early-morning sun, and country breeze (very French indeed). There are, however, a pair of little wee feet pressed up against my leg as I write, but at least they're sleeping feet. I am, undoubtedly, a morning person: a morning baker and a morning writer, so now that I'm rejuvenated, caffeinated, and motivated, let's talk cupcakes. If you read Wednesday's post, Campfire Delight Cupcakes, you'll recall that I've been recently pondering what some of my favourite layer cakes would be like in cupcake form. This is mostly because we spend a lot of summer weekends away, and I find cupcakes are quick easy-to-grab treats for the gang & co. at the lake.
The thing is, I still want to share some of my favourite cake flavours and combinations, as well as switch things up, so rather than pack up the towering cakes, I thought cupcakes would be a fun change (not to say I won't be packing up some highly inappropriate and overly dramatic cakes to the cottage this summer). I also find that I'm often left with extra cake batter, fillings, and frostings when I make the layer cakes, so why not use up every bit and create some cupcakes as a fun and mini addition to serving the cake itself? That way, the cupcakes can either be served that same day alongside the cake, or, after freezing the separate cake components, I can pull the tupperware containers of frostings and cupcakes from the freezer and flavour/assemble for a really quick (and hopefully impressive) treat for another day. That being said, I'm sure I don't have to sell you on all of the fabulous reasons to make cupcakes!
Here is the mama version of these particular cupcakes from my previous post Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cake with Ganache Drizzle, where I had fun creating this unusual rectangular dark chocolate layer cake covered and filled with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream and topped with Dark Chocolate Ganache. For the cupcake version, I used my Rich & Dark Chocolate Cake recipe and topped it with raspberry buttercream swirls, and then poured some dark chocolate glaze over top. I didn't add sprinkles this time, but you definitely could! I can't think of a single occasion that isn't enhanced by a good handful of sprinkles - a medley like Flamingo, or a dusting of Edible Gold Glitter !)
When I look at this cake, I can't help but have painful flashbacks from the week I made it--I was cutting out sugar, and I vowed (to myself) that I wouldn't indulge. I actually managed to avoid it and, with much agony, gave it all away without so much as eating a piece. But . . . this week I made these and it was sweet justice. I love raspberry & chocolate combination, and the generous swirls of satiny buttercream and drizzles of dark chocolate glaze were the highlight. The deep chocolate cupcake portion didn't hurt either.
These are really so simple to make, especially if you happen to have any extra cake batter from your chocolate cake batches, as you can just pour remaining batter into standard cupcake liners and bake after your cakes are baked. If you keep Swiss Meringue Buttercream in the freezer, you're even further ahead of the game--you pop some fresh raspberries into your Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream and mix for a moment or so to incorporate and add a bit of pink colour for punch (I got a bit pink-happy with these and next time I would use less for a softer pink, as I did in the cake version, so the raspberry bits stand out). The dark chocolate glaze is very quick to whip up and adds a sort of ice-cream-sundae sort of feel and a nice hit of dark chocolate. The glaze is a quick process of melting the three ingredients (dark chocolate, butter, and corn syrup) over a pot of simmering water. It's has such a great shine and deep chocolate flavour, but since it's all about the chocolate in this type of recipe, I recommend you use a premium Belgian chocolate or similar. If you aren't a fan of using corn syrup, you can definitely use ganache in place of the glaze; it creates an even more decadent treat with its heavy cream. These aren't fussy, fancy, or difficult, but they pack some seriously decadent flavours and textures into such a little package. If you want to give these a try, here's the recipe:
*Product notes: the Cacao Barry Extra Brute (my favourite) cocoa powder is what makes this chocolate cake recipe so incredible. You can purchase it here: Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder - Extra Dark
Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Buttercream Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze
For the Cupcakes:
- 1-1/2 cups 190 g all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 cups 300 g white sugar
- 1/2 cup 60 g dark cocoa powder (I use Cacao Barry Extra Brute)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons 7 g baking soda
- 1-1/2 teaspoons 7 g baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons 7 g cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon 8 g salt
- 2/3 cup 160 ml buttermilk
- 1/2 cup 120 mL brewed coffee or espresso, hot
- 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon (95 ml vegetable oil)
- 2 eggs (room temperature, lightly beaten)
- 1 tablespoon 15 mL pure vanilla extract
For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 5 large (fresh egg whites (150 g))
- 1-1/4 cups 250 g sugar
- 1-1/2 cups 3 sticks(340 g) butter, cut into cubes and cool, but not cold
- 2 teaspoons 10 ml pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup 59 ml(or to taste) raspberry puree OR a handful (about 1 cup, or more to taste) of fresh, washed, and dried raspberries
- pinch of salt
- few drops pink food colouring (optional)
For the Glaze:
- 4 oz 115 g high quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or callets
- 1/3 cup 76 g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into cubes
For the Cupcakes:
- Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with your favourite cupcake liners.
- In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt.
- In a medium bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
- Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splashguard that comes with mixer), Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it's hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.
For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don't begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Add raspberry puree to taste or the fresh raspberries in small increments, and blend until combined. Add small amount of pink food colouring, if desired.
For the Glaze:
- Place the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. *Be careful to not get even a droplet of water into your bowl of chocolate and butter.
Assembly of the Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Cupcakes:
- . Fill a large pastry bag (18") fitted with Ateco #887 (or the decorative tip of your choice) about 2/3 full and swirl the buttercream in a circular motion, beginning on the outside rim of the cupcake and moving inward. Gently release pressure when you reach the top of your swirl.
- Drizzle the top of the cupcake with Dark Chocolate Glaze (~1 tablespoon each).
- Top with a fresh raspberry and a sprinkling of Chocolate Crunchy or Pink Crunchy Sprinkles!
- Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but these keep particularly well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (however, I've been known to eat them up to a week later, and they taste great!). If you do refrigerate, serve at room temperature--particularly Swiss Meringue Buttercream cupcakes, otherwise the buttercream is too hard and butter-like.
*Essentially, this is vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream with some clean, dry, fresh raspberries into it. It doesn't require many raspberries to give it a nice flavour, but it's personal preference. You can also use seedless raspberry-puree for a smooth finish. Add a drop of pink food colouring for a touch more pink.
**Cupcakes are best enjoyed the day they are made, but these keep particularly well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days (however, I've been known to eat them up to a week later, and they taste great!).
***If you do refrigerate, serve at room temperature--particularly Swiss Meringue Buttercream cupcakes, otherwise the buttercream is too hard and butter-like.
[Glaze recipe source: Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented]