Sunday, July 17, 2011

Devil's In a Paper Liner... Food Cupcakes

I've never understood where the name devil's food cake comes from. What does it mean? Is it because cupcakes/cake is bad for you? It certainly can't be an indication of taste because devil's food cake is delicious. I'm sure a simple Google search could find me an answer, but I've never been inspired to look. I'll just let it remain one of life's little unsolved mysteries, or some research that I'll save for a rainy day in the future.

I have made devil's food cupcakes before, but not with Martha's recipe. I've learned through my previous baking that devil's food cake tends to be a lighter version of a chocolate cake. I was most excited about this recipe because I knew I would be able to pawn off the cupcakes on co-workers, or friends (everyone loves chocolate!) and I would have the opportunity to make chocolate ganache for the first time. I've always wanted to try it, but I've purposely never come across a recipe that has required it. I've steered away from it because it always seemed time consuming and finicky, and I didn't want to spend all that time to only get a sub-par result.

The recipe for the cupcakes was fairly easy. The only thing that I thought was a bit strange was the part where I had to melt the butter with the sugar and then mix it for a few minutes in a saucepan on the stove. I've never done that with a cupcake recipe (or any recipe) before. I wasn't sure how long I was supposed to let the butter melt, if I was supposed to let the sugar dissolve, or what. Martha was not very specific. So, I let the butter melt, but didn't wait until the sugar dissolved because that seemed wrong. I mixed it for 4-5 minutes before I put the eggs in one at a time, and proceeded with the rest of the recipe.

The batter was scrumptious on a pre-baking taste test. I filled the muffin tins 3/4 full and baked for 20 total minutes, with a rotation halfway through the baking time. I even let the tins cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan and putting another batch in the oven. At some point it would probably make sense to invest in another cupcake pan. Why I haven't at this point is a mystery even to me.

I came away with 27 cupcakes, 5 less than the recipe said I would get, but that's probably because I'm a little more generous with filling the tins (and taste testing the batter) than Martha is. I like a full-looking cupcake anyway. They look so much nicer. As per the norm I gave a taste test (you know I love taste tests!) to a non-ganached cupcake and it was very good. Light, like devil's food cake normally is, but thick (if that makes sense), as well. In other words, you wanted milk, or if you're like me, ice cream, while eating the cupcake.

Now the chocolate ganache. After this experience I know why I've never attempted to make it before... it takes forever. The chocolate chopping and heavy cream and corn syrup simmering were pain free, but waiting for the ganache to set up was not. The recipe said to refrigerate the ganache and stir it at 5-minute intervals until it started to hold its shape. I was thinking after 20-25 minutes I would be all set. I thought wrong. After about an hour of stirring every 5 minutes I got sick of waiting. I'm not a saint, I only have so much patience.

I wanted to frost the cupcakes like Martha did, using a spatula and spreading it on, but my ganache wasn't thick enough to get the kind of look I wanted. And as I previously mentioned I didn't want to wait any longer for the ganache to become thicker, so I came up with my own plan. I decided to dunk the top of the cupcakes in the ganache and frost them that way. It actually left them with a nice smooth finish that I liked. Another thing I didn't love about the ganache was the taste. The recipe called for bittersweet chocolate, which I used, and the ganache itself was on the bitter side (didn't see that one coming). The next go-round I might make it with semisweet chocolate just to better suit my taste. However, the ganache when combined with the cupcake was actually quite good. The 2 flavors bring out the best in each other.

Finally for the finishing touches I added the chocolate curls. Martha said they were optional, and I'm not always obliged to opt, but in this case I did. I got through adding the curls to about 8 cupcakes when the chocolate for the curls started melting in my hand making a sticky, though delicious, mess. It was at that point I rethought my decision to opt in, and opted out of the chocolate curls. At least I gave them a solid try... that's more than I can say for the flaked coconut option I was given a few cupcakes ago. It's all about progress!