Many of you remember the German Shepherd that I rescued a week or so back… well I decided to volunteer at the shelter that took her. I got there today for the orientation session, and while I was filling out my paperwork, Bony left with her new owner! He had another German Shepherd with him, so she will have company both canine and human where she is going. She looked wonderful—not even remotely the same dog. That is a story that definitely ended well.
Grand Chocolate Chip (Cup)Cakes
I have talked before about all of the ways that motherhood has encouraged me to bake. Well Friday I was confronted with another. I had an exhausting week (more on that in a moment) and did not have a free moment in which to start dinner until 4 pm—and I was just too tired to deal with it. But at 5, after relaxing in the toy room while the kids played, I was ready to make something, anything, as kind of my own private therapy. But with little kids, dinner needs to be on the table on time. So we ordered out and instead I baked, since despite all of the detailed precision required by baking, when it gets done is (usually) totally flexible. Unlike dinner.
Alex and Sam both got sick this week while we were at my parents. My family is incredibly helpful when we are there, but understandably nighttimes are all me (or me and John when he is there). Well poor Alex in particular was up 2 nights in a row and since I was there without John it was just me dealing with her. And because the kids did not feel well they pretty much screamed and cried the entire last hour of our drive home on Thursday. AND (ok yes I am venting a little) then when we got home (and they were still crying and upset and I was frantically trying to get a video on to distract them) our toilet flooded. Yes it was lovely. Alex finally slept Thursday night—until John left for work extremely early—and then she started crying again. So I have not gotten good sleep. My kids are good sleepers so I am not used to this! We spent Friday at the pediatrician’s office for Sam’s 15 month check-up. By the time we got home I could not face dinner, especially since I am planning a dish with wild duck and there seems to be some varied opinions out there on how much marinating and saltwater soaking it needs to do, and I was not sure I had the time for it or the energy to think about it.
So I collapsed on the toyroom floor in a heap while Sam and Alex played at my feet. When I got up I just had this extreme urge to bake something. So out came Lisa Yockelson’s ChocolateChocolate, where I can always find something I want that does not require too much thought or energy. It was no different this time as I settled on Grand Chocolate Chip Cakes.
I don’t have an easy relationship with cupcakes. Frankly I regard them as miniature cakes that go stale too fast thanks to their size. However, as Alex has gotten older, I have become attracted to cupcakes like every other parent out there for their whimsical, individual cake for kids personality. I also do not have a good relationship with cupcakes, unlike say Bundtlettes, because a cupcake pretty much cries out for frosting, and I am not a big frosting fan and I don’t tend to be a big fan of the kinds of cakes that require frosting. I like cakes that are so rich and decadent on their own that frosting would just be overkill.
I chose Yockelson’s Grand Chocolate Chip Cakes because I was in the mood to make cupcakes with Alex, and I don’t mind chocolate frosting overkill on chocolate chip vanilla cakes. And the frosting recipe that went with the cupcake called for real chocolate, not just cocoa powder, another plus with me. John was actually pretty excited because I never make traditional frosting so it was going to be a special treat for him.
Until I discovered I did not have enough confectioner’s sugar.
So back to the drawing board I went. I once made one of Yockelson’s bundt cakes that was similar to these cakes and all of the chips sank (she called for miniature and I used regular-sized, which doomed my cake). Because I wanted every bite to have chocolate in it, I smothered the top half of the cake with melted chocolate. That got me thinking that some sort of ganache frosting would be a good bet for these cupcakes.
I pulled out Alice Medrich’s Bittersweet, used her ratio for ganache (8 oz semi sweet chocolate to ¾ cup heavy cream), and I used chocolate chips because I was feeling lazy. YUM. The best part of all, for someone like me who is all thumbs and pretty bad at frosting, is that by dipping the top halves of the cupcakes into the ganache, I created a very simple and elegant, and very smooth, frosting for the cupcake. Well smooth as long as your toddler resists sticking her finger into it that is. Here you see Alex thinking about it…
In addition to confectioner’s sugar I also discovered I was out of muffin liners. So I gave these cupcakes away today at the animal shelter—but if you have liners and you totally frost the tops, these cakes ought to last for a few days kept in a well-sealed cake keeper. For those of you wondering, they were a huge hit at the shelter. More than one person told me they thought I was really on to something with the ganache topping. Try them and see if you agree…
Grand Chocolate Chip Cakes
Source: ChocolateChocolate, Lisa Yockelson
(Yockelson calls for the recipe to make 10 jumbo cupcakes but all I have are regular sized muffin pans—it made 21 for me)
2 ½ cups bleached cake flour
2 ¼ t baking powder
½ t salt
2/3 cup miniature chocolate chips
12 T (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups superfine sugar (I used my vanilla sugar, which is also superfine)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 ½ t vanilla
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line your muffin tin (I of course did not and used Baker’s Joy—if I had had muffin liners I probably would have lightly sprayed them on the inside and on the top of the tin).
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together. Toss 1 teaspoon of the mixture with the chocolate chips and otherwise set aside.
Cream the butter for 3 mins on moderate speed. Add the sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each. Add the eggs, one at time, beating for 30-45 seconds after each. Beat the vanilla in. On low speed, alternately add the flour in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold the mixture by hand, scraping on the bottom to make sure it is all incorporated and then fold the chocolate chips in.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cups. (I filled mine until they were 2/3 full).
Bake the cakes for 30 minutes (maybe closer to 25 if using regular sized muffin tins). If using regular sized muffin tins and therefore 2 pans, rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the 15 minute mark. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean (or with only a few crumbs attached). Cool the cakes in the pan/s for 15 minutes and then turn out to cool completely on a cooling rack. (I only cooled for 5 mins in the pans).
Laura’s Ganache Topped Variation:
When the cupcakes are completely cooled, make the ganache by bringing the 3/4 cup of heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over the chopped chocolate (or chocolate chips). Whisk until smooth. Let cool a little. When the ganache is cool but still liquid, take each cupcake and dip its top half into the ganache. Set on a cooling rack to firm up.
Unless you have toddlers who cannot wait, let the ganache set for at least one hour on the cooling rack. If you have toddlers, they are going to make a total mess anyway so you might as well let them eat them right away rather than torturing them by having them stare at the cupcakes asking “are they ready yet?”