Sweet Treats for Valentines

Better late than never. I decided this morning that we needed chocolate treats today, so here are some cute little cupcakes. The recipe is from my favorite cake-baking author, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I owe a great deal to the impeccable recipes and clear instructions of Rose’s books. It was her definitive tome “The Cake Bible” that guided me through the process of making my sister’s wedding cake, many years before I had any formal pastry training. These are moist little gems, coated with two layers of chocolate: a milk chocolate ganache and a lacquer glaze. A little different from the usual pouf of buttercream, but still very satisfying. Here is the recipe:

Designer Chocolate Baby Grands (from “Rose’s Heavenly Cakes” by Rose Levy Beranbaum)

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened (alkalized) coca powder (I use Droste brand)
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs, separated, plus 1 additional white, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1/3 cup bleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Arrange 14 foil cupcake liners in a muffin pan. Coat lightly with baking spray with flour. Set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, by hand, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Add the oil and yolks to the chocolate mixture. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute, or until smooth and shiny, and resembling a buttercream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla for a few seconds. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add half the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick. Starting on low speed, add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 minutes. The batter will now be like a thick soup. Using a silicone spatula, scrape it into a 2-cup or larger cup with a spout. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake liners. They will be just under half full, 3/4 inch from the tops. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. While the cupcakes are baking, make the ganache syrup. When the cupcakes are baked, set the pans on a wire rack.

Milk Chocolate Ganache Syrup
3 ounces milk chocolate, 40% to 41% cacao(or 2 ounces lower percentage milk chocolate and 1 ounce dark chocolate, 60% to 62% cacao), chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 1 cup or larger microwavable cup with a spout )or in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often), scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point; small bubbles will appear around the periphery). With the motor of the food processor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process a few seconds until smooth. (Alternatively, grate the chocolate, place it in a small bowl, and stir in the scalded cream until the mixture is uniform in color). Transfer the chocolate syrup to a microwavable bowl and stir in the vanilla. Remove the cupcakes still in the muffin pan to a wire rack. While they are still hot, poke about 12 deep holes in each cupcake with a wooden skewer. Brush the cupcakes with syrup. It penetrates most readily when at least 110F-almost hot to the touch. If necessary, reheat as it cools by giving it a few seconds on high power in the microwave. Allow them to sit for a few minutes, and then apply more syrup to fill the little holes left by the skewer. Continue applying the syrup until all of it has been used. There should be a thin coating covering the top of each cupcake. Allow the syrup to set until, when touched with a fingertip, it leaves no mark, about 1 hour.

Lacquer Glaze
1/4 cup cold water
2 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon golden syrup or corn syrup
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1/3 cup heavy cream
Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium metal bowl. In a small bowl, place the 1/4 cup of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Stir to moisten and soften the gelatin and allow it to sit for a minimum of 5 minutes. Cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and set aside. In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar and 1/3 cup of water. Stir constantly with the whisk until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and, with the whisk, gently stir in the golden syrup and then the cocoa until smooth, making sure to reach into the corners of the pan. The mixture will be glossy. Using a silicone spatula, stir in the heavy cream. Return the pan to the heat and, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to the boiling point (190F). Bubbles will just start to form around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the mixture into the medium bowl. Cool slightly, for about 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should register 122F to 140F/50 to 60C. With the silicone spatula, stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved completely and no longer streaky. Strain the glaze into a 2-cup heatproof glass measure or bowl. Cool for a few minutes, stirring very gently so as not to incorporate any air. For these cupcakes, the glaze coats best when just made (80F/26C). If the glaze is made ahead and reheated, it will be thicker and should be used at 82F to 85F/28C to 29C. After about 1 hour, the cooled glaze can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months. Reheat it in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water, or very carefully in a microwave with 3-second bursts, stirring gently to ensure that it doesn’t overheat or incorporate air.
Glaze the cupcakes:
Lift the cupcakes from the pans and carefully remove them from the foil liners, leaving the white inner liners still attached to the cupcakes. Set the foil liners aside. Place the cupcakes on a wire rack set on a half-sheet pan or a large piece of foil to catch the excess glaze. Use a regular tablespoon (not a measuring spoon) to coat the tops of the cupcakes with the lacquer glaze. Smooth it into place with the rounded back of the spoon in a circular motion. Some of the glaze will cascade over the sides and can be reheated and repoured. Use the aluminum foil as a funnel to pour the excess glaze back into the glass measure. Should they appear, any tiny bubbles can be pierced with a sharp needle. Allow the glaze to set for about 1 hour, or until just barely tacky when touched lightly with a fingertip. Set the cupcakes back in the foil liners. They are at their most shiny within 6 hours of pouring the glaze. To revive the shine, bush lightly with a soft brush or wave a hair dryer set on low briefly over the cupcakes. If desired, encircle them with cupcake wrappers.

I ordered my cupcake wrappers from www.fancyflours.com.

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