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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling and Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Last night, my beloved and I went to a very fun and romantic Valentine's Day dinner party. It was hosted by our really good friend, Voltage (yes, it's his real name), and the food was excellent. I was to bring the dessert, so I wanted to make something rich and decadent. So why not chocolate filled with chocolate topped with chocolate?

I started with Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix.

I think this flavor is relatively new, and I used it for the Virginia Tech cake back in November. This mix makes a very moist cake that is super rich and chocolatey. I used little heart-printed cups, even though they'll be hard to see once the chocolate cake is baked in. Hey, it's the principle of the thing!

I baked the cupcakes according the the package and set to work on the ganache and buttercream while they cooled. The recipe for the ganache has just two ingredients:
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
I warmed the cream on the stove on low heat, then I poured it over the chips. I let the bowl sit to cool a bit.

I got started on the Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Some are afraid to make this buttercream because there are a lot of steps that can go wrong (and if one thing goes wrong, it's all ruined!) I found a recipe on Martha Stewart's website. I made half the recipe, which works great for 12 cuppin' cakes. This is is the full recipe here:
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound (4 sticks ) butter, room temperature, and cut into tablespoons
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Combine the egg whites, salt, and sugar into the bowl of your mixer and place it over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture is warm and the sugar is dissolved (you shouldn't be able to feel granules between your fingers). This should take about 8 minutes.
It'll go from this...
...to this.

 2. Move the bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks (but not dry!) form. This is about 8-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, I was cutting up my butter...

Make sure it's room temperature!!!!
3. Mix the butter in on medium-low speed, adding a couple tablespoons at a time. Make sure the butter mixes well before you add more. Once all the butter is in, add the vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment and mix it until smooth.

You can stop there if you want just vanilla buttercream. Seriously, it tastes exactly like vanilla ice cream. So good! I decided to add 2.5 ounces of melted and cooled semi-sweet chocolate.

With that done, it's time to put everything together! I cut holes into the cupcakes...

Then poured in the ganache...

And topped with buttercream!

This is what the ganache looked like immediately after topping it...

If you like that consistency, by all means, leave it. But I wanted it set a little bit more, so I put the guys in the refrigerator for about half an hour. The ganache came out perfect! It was smooth but it had set a little so it didn't run out. The cupcakes were a definite hit, and everyone loved them! :)

Thanks for dinner, Voltage!

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