This month I signed up for Taste and Create and my partner is Stef at the Cupcake Project. Taste and Create pairs up food bloggers to select a recipe from their partners blog, make the recipe and then blog about it. I am one of those people who doesn't like frosting so I don't usually make cupcakes. Stef does have recipes for other things on her site, often from her Taste and Create partners, however that seemed like cheating to me. I was paired with a cupcake blog and made naan, then I went to a seafood restaurant where I ordered a steak.
Luckily Stef mostly uses frosting that is whipped cream, cream cheese or marscapone based. I decided to treat her blog like a palate of cupcake and frosting recipes. I decided to make her gingerbread cupcake with her ginger lemon frosting. I would have gone ahead with that plan if Lewis hadn't innocently asked me to try to recreate a cupcake he had tasted. It was a spice cupcake with chocolate ganache and peanut butter frosting. I decided to do make the gingerbread cupcakes with the chocolate and peanut butter toppings. Lewis seldom makes special requests in the kitchen so I would even overlook the fact he did not bring me a bite of that cupcake.
This recipe was fraught with peril for me. The first time I made it I could not get the cupcakes out of the pan in one piece. Not exactly appropriate for photographing. So I started over again, this time using cupcake liners in the pan. The cupcakes came out perfectly while my boys got up to no good.
While the first batch was baking I walked through the playroom and saw Julian using his screwdriver (yes, my 4 year old has his own screwdriver) to take the window out of his toy stove. Julian is always trying to take apart or build something. He has a whole collection of wires that used to connect computers and he has them strung up all over. So I did not really pay attention.
So while I was mixing the second batch Sebastian came in to the kitchen with Julian's screwdriver in his hand and asked me which direction to turn a screwdriver to screw something in. I was baking and distracted, and I thought they were just putting the window back. Imagine my surprise when later they showed me the "spy window" they had attached to the bottom of their bunk beds and the "rubber band shooter" on the top. The rubber band shooter was the door closer for the toy stove, and for both items they attached them to the bed by making new holes, sigh.
All the elements of these cupcakes were great. Next time I have a craving for a peanut butter dessert I may just make a batch of this frosting and eat it with a spoon. Not bad for someone who hates frosting. The gingerbread cupcakes are wonderful on their own as well, before I made the frosting we were eating them like muffins. Chocolate ganache shouldn't require me to tell you how wonderful it is, I mean it's chocolate and heavy cream. The combination of the 3 elements was also wonderful. Silky richness from the chocolate, salty and sweet peanut butter frosting and the spicy flavor from the cupcake. All of us really loved the combination, as did everyone I gave one to. Each bite is different, with the flavors first being layered and then combining.
I made some full sized and some mini cupcakes. The mini's are my favorite, I just really enjoyed the more personal size, the ability to eat it all in 1 or 2 bites. Plus I feel the size of the cupcakes worked better at not overpowering the other layers. Many of my tasters seemed to prefer the larger size, but I think they were just worried I would say they could not have more then one.
Before we get to the recipe I want to talk a moment about ingredients. I made these with quail eggs, and no I absolutely do not expect you will. Furthermore I do not think it will have a negative effect on the flavor. I used quail eggs because I was given some by a neighbor. But aren't they cute?
5 Tbsp unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
4 quail eggs (or 1 large chicken egg)
4 quail yolks (or 1 large chicken egg yolk)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (the recipe calls for dutch process cocoa powder but I just used a good quality regular one)
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup hot milk
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour (trust me, with all the other flavors you won't notice the whole wheat, or you could use white flour)
Preheat the oven to 350° and place cupcake liners in a 12 cup muffin tin. (Stef says you can just butter the tin, I tried that the first time and none of them came out of the pan neatly, I suggest just using liners).
Cream the butter and white sugar, add molasses, egg and egg yolk and beat in. Add cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt and mix until fully incorporated. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk. Add the flour to the batter and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared tins, filling the liners about halfway (the first batch I overfilled and they did not dome up but rather spread out to form a solid top).
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes until the center of the cupcakes is slightly springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
When cool spread an even layer of the chocolate ganache on the top of each cupcake and allow to set. After the ganache has set pipe on some peanut butter frosting.
3 oz's bittersweet chocolate broken up
1 Tbsp white sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over low heat while stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Ina Garten's recipe
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (I used natural peanut butter, before proceeding with the recipe I put the peanut butter in a quart jar and stirred it really well so the oil was not separated)
2 1/2 tsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 - 1/4 tsp Kosher salt (I like the frosting on the salty side but some of my tasters wanted it less salty. Start with 1/8 of a tsp and taste before deciding)
3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
Place the sugar, peanut butter, butte, vanilla extract and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, scraping down as needed. If you have one of these beater blades you won't need to scrape the bowl. Add the heavy cream and beat on high until light and smooth.