Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chocolate souffle cupcakes with mint creme

So there is one way to deal with not wanting to bake for one person or spend the money to bake for one person that is a little harder to work out: cooperative baking.  And I usually try to clean while I bake, but that is only possible to a certain extent, depending on the amount of prep work needed in proportion to the bake time and amount of prep supplies.  For something like a souffle, there are lots of bowls and lots of beating with little down time to clean (and even less when it is souffle cupcakes, which only bake for 20 minutes).  But when you throw another person in the kitchen, as long as you coordinate well, it cuts down the prep time and gives an extra hand for cleaning (someone beats the eggs, someone washes dishes).  I have a friend who likes baking exciting things as much as I do and we both loved the look of this recipe and thought it was timely with St. Patrick's day coming up.

The one issue we had was coffee, since neither of us drinks coffee we didn't have instant coffee powder and didn't want to buy it for one recipe, so we tried using one of those single serve coffee makers but apparently that's not instant so the result would be grainy.  So she sort of brewed the coffee in a little bit of water and filtered out the grounds, and we added the coffee water.  I didn't know how much to add, but however much I added, I think it was a little too much.  It was still pretty good though, especially with the mint cream (which I could have added more mint to and we would have been fine).  In fact, the contrast of the super sweet cream with the bitter chocolate/coffee flavor was perfect.  The recipe comes from my very favorite blog,  For reference, we doubled the creme recipe and were glad we did, and we got 10 cakes but could certainly have gotten away with making them smaller and getting 11 or 12.  And 10 is a great number for making them bake evenly by putting all of them on the outsides of the pan.

Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I preferred this with bittersweet)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) (86 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (97 grams) sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
White Chocolate Mint Cream
2 ounces (56 grams) white chocolate, finely chopped
3 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
Get the white chocolate mint cream ready for later: Place the white chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute to melt the chocolate. Whisk well. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill until very cold, about two hours.
Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. (I like to put the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan, so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
Using electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way. (You might find, as I did, that you had enough leftover for a extra half-cake. That’s your “taste tester”. It’s a, uh, very important part of the process.)
Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack, embrace it) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.
Finish your masterpiece: Beat mint white chocolate cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of white chocolate mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, if you’re feeling fancy. I’d say “eat at once” but I suspect that you already have.

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