Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Bottom Cupcakes

My second request at work was for cheesecake.

Cheesecake...Hmm. Granted, she was sort of kidding when she asked for it because she knew it would be a hassle to bring in due to the transport and storage problems, and yes, I could probably manage to get it there and keep it in the fridge, but it's a lot easier to bring individual treats that people can just grab on their way in or out of the break room than to have to cut a whole slice. I thought about it for a minute, considered making mini cheesecakes in a mini cupcake pan, and then remembered a recipe I've been wanting to make for a few weeks. So I emailed her back and asked if she would accept cheesecake-filled chocolate cupcakes instead. The reply: a resounding yes. 

Cheesecake is something I came to love slowly. For years, I wouldn't go near it. It was way too cheesy and not the right kind of sweet. I preferred my cream cheese schmeared on a nice fresh (non-toasted!) bagel thankyouverymuch. Thinking back on it, I think everything changed a few years ago when my mom made cheesecake for my stepdad. If he's lucky, she makes it once a year for a special occasion, and that year, she had been talking it up, and I didn't want to slight her by not trying a piece. I figured I would just take a few bites, squash it around on my plate for a while, and leave the mangled mess in an unappetizing heap. So I took the first bite. And then I took another. And another. And then I basically inhaled the whole thing and licked the plate. Don't be so judgey. I couldn't help it; it was SO good. Ever since then I've been more willing to give it a try, usually if someone else orders it or if it's offered as a small petit four. I think my favorite part is still the graham cracker crust, and I really don't like it to be topped with any kind of syrupy fruit, but add a little vanilla bean or maybe a hint of chocolate, and that is just damn near irresistible.  

I get to work at 9 a.m. By 10, almost half of these were gone. I had to hide one in my desk just to save it until after I ate lunch. When I finally took a bite, I was impressed. The chocolate cake had a rich chocolate flavor and was moist, dense, and tender. The whole thing was a bit crumbly, but I take that as a good sign that it clearly wasn't too tough. All that being said, these were a bit...fudgey. The kind of cupcake you really need a glass of milk to wash down.

Flavorwise, chocolate definitely played the part of the cocky lead singer who gets all the girls, while the cheesecake center was more like the quiet and mysterious emo bass player who mumbles something deceptively deep every once in a while. I think I was hoping for a more pronounced cheesecake flavor, but for what they were, I'm rating them a success.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
Yield: 12 Cupcakes

For the Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t kosher salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 t vanilla extract

Make the Filling: Beat together all the ingredients for the filling except for the chocolate, and beat until smooth. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust a rack to the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12-cup muffin tin, or line with paper muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl mix together the water, oil, and vanilla.

3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients, stirring just until smooth. Stir any longer and you will over mix the batter and end up with less-than-tender cupcakes.

4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly (I used a cookie scoop, one that has a handle-triggered release). This will fill the cups almost completely, which is fine.

5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden brown and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed.

These moist treats will keep unrefrigerated for 2 to 3 days if stored in an airtight container.

Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz

Given that it's the end of June, you may be thinking to yourself, "Hey didn't she say something a few posts ago about participating in some Daring cooking something or other? Whatever happened to that?" Or maybe you've completely forgotten about it in which case I've just pointed out my complete lack of follow-through when I totally could have gotten away with it.

What can I say? I'm a rebel. Just ask my mom. And if she hems and haws, remind her about the tattoos...

I just couldn't bring myself to make what was chosen this month. It was something very similar to this and I think we all remember how (badly) that turned out. *Shudder* The one promising thing about the challenge recipe was that it was made with lots of chocolate (yay!), but alas, still a meringue (booo!). Frankly, I don't think I'll be baking any more meringue until I'm faced with it in class. Public humiliation that will also be judged by a professional and my (if there anything like me) perfectionist peers?! Can't wait! 

Next Indulgence: Ina's Outrageous Brownies

1 comment:

  1. I like the comparison to the singer and emo base player. And just like in life (where emo guy is annoying and I just wish he would just go away....) I wish the cheesecake in this recipe would go away.

    I appreciate your conversion and newfound ability to appreciate cheesecake..but I am steering clear of cream cheese. That being said, even though I will not be attempting this recipe, I found this post great!


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