This week for Tuesdays with Dorie, we made "Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes," from pages 215-217 of "Baking: From My Home to Yours." Clara of I Heart Food4Thought chose the recipe and challenged us to decorate them for Halloween!
I can't remember the last time I made cupcakes. (Of course, my memory has never been the greatest and it hasn't improved any with age...) I'm pretty sure I've never decorated them before. So please forgive my amateur efforts -- I did have lots of fun!
Since my husband and I were (and are) huge fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," a vampire theme came immediately to mind. Of course, that meant changing the chocolate icing to something more pale...drained of blood, so to speak. So I went for a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing from Rose Levy Beranbaum's "The Cake Bible." And for the blood? Cherry jelly -- I love the combination of cherry and chocolate! A cherry jam filling completes the taste combination.
For the recipe for the cupcakes, please check out Clara's blog. I added a little bit of almond extract (1/2 teaspoon), but otherwise stayed with the recipe. There was much discussion on the P&Q section on flour types & weights, baking times and so forth. I decided to use bleached all-purpose flour and use a weight of 4.8 ounces per cup of flour. I used paper cupcake liners and put my cupcake pan on an insulated baking sheet to bake. It took about 22 minutes. By that time the corner cupcakes were done, and the center ones were very slightly underdone. They were good, and not dry at all.
Rose has not published the frosting recipe on the Web, and so I recommend you take a look at her book -- see page 237-238. I made half of the recipe, added 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, and reduced the lemon juice slightly. It made more than I needed, but that's OK.
For the filling, I used a home-made sour cherry jam. You could also use Morello cherry jam or canned sour cherry pie filling. For the jam:
20 ounces frozen unsweetened sour cherries
1 teaspoon Pomona's pectin (amount needed to thicken 2 cups of fruit puree)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons home-made maraschino cherry liquid (a mixture of cherry juice, brandy, sugar and almond extract)
Thaw cherries, at least partially, so you can puree them. Pulse in the food processor until they are in coarse chunks. In a small bowl, whisk together pectin and sugar. Place cherries in saucepan and bring to boil. Slowly stir in pectin and sugar. Bring to boil, then simmer for about a minute until mixture thickens. Stir in maraschino cherry liquid. (You could use brandy and almond extract instead.) Pour into a storage container, cool, and store in refrigerator until needed.
For cherry jelly:
3/4 cup frozen sour cherry juice concentrate (I used Old Orchard 100% tart cherry juice)
10 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sure-Jell no-sugar-needed pectin mixture
2 Tablespoons home-made maraschino cherry liquid (or some brandy & almond extract)
Place juice concentrate and water in saucepan and bring to boil. Place sugar and pectin in small bowl and whisk together. When juice boils, slowly stir in sugar/pectin mixture. Bring back to boil, then simmer for about a minute, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in maraschino cherry liquid. Place in storage container, cool, and refrigerate until needed.
I ended up not being happy with the consistency of my cherry jam. Pomona's pectin does make a rather stiff jam. I may stay go with Sure-Jell or Ball in the future, even though they have more additives. I stirred about half of the cherry jelly into the jam, reserving the rest for decorating. That improved the jam a lot.
To assemble: Use your favorite method to fill the cupcakes with cherry jam. (I've never filled cupcakes before, so don't have a favorite yet! I used the "cut a cone" method.) Put on a light crumb coat of frosting. Chill to set crumb coat, then add final coat of frosting. Chill to set.
For vampire victims, poke two holes in the frosting with the end of a chopstick, for fang marks. Warm the cherry jelly slightly, and place in squeeze bottle. Squeeze jelly "blood" into the "fang marks," dribbling it down artistically.
For vampires, squeeze a line for a mouth, with lines of blood dripping down, and two dots for eyes. Add two slivered almond pieces for fangs.
Bite in and enjoy!