Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chocolate-Spice Cupcakes

Hoppy Easter! Get it? Hoppy... like a bunny? My brother texted me that this morning and I thought it was clever. In honor of the holiday I suppose I should have made something better suited for the occasion, but I didn't. Well, that's not entirely true. I made "bunny bait" for my future in-laws a couple days ago (my parents get flowers, Dad really loves them) and shipped it to them so they'd have it in time for the holiday, but I didn't document it. Forgive me. Hope you enjoy the holiday in whatever way you choose to celebrate it, along with these chocolate-spice cupcakes (no link on Martha's site... I'm sensing a theme).

I was looking forward to these cupcakes because I haven't made anything chocolate in awhile and people like chocolate. So, when I took these to work I knew people would eat them. People are skeptical when you say you have chai-tea mini cupcakes. People are less skeptical when you say you have chocolate cupcakes. Human nature I suppose. But, the more cupcakes I can get rid of, the less I eat. Everyone wins. The only thing I wasn't really excited about when it came to these cupcakes was having to butter and flour the pan. Only this time instead of using flour I had to use cocoa powder. Wanna know what really makes a mess? Lining a cupcake pan with butter and then dusting it with cocoa powder.

Making the batter was easy, however messy, or perhaps splattery would be a better term. I didn't enjoy that part very much. Because I have a high-powered hand mixer (even when it's on the lowest setting) I know that certain things are going to make a mess. For instance, for the last couple recipes I've made, small pieces of butter and brown sugar have flown about when I mix them. But, they're for the most part solid substances so it's not so much of a mess. However, once I had mixed the butter, brown sugar and egg I added the molasses and water combined with baking soda to the bowl and as soon as I realized the consistency of what I had, I knew I was in trouble and there wasn't any way to avoid it. So, I did my best to put my arm around the bowl to try to hold in as much liquid as possible. Thankfully my t-shirt took the brunt of the mess and the walls, countertop and items sitting on the counter were left fairly unscathed. I don't enjoy cleaning up messes so I try to keep them as contained as possible.

Since the recipe told me I would only get 12 cupcakes from the batch I only buttered and cocoa powdered one cupcake pan. If I had a significant amount of batter left over I was just going to use liners for the rest. I really don't like making cupcakes without liners, it makes such a mess. The recipe said to fill the pans halfway. Confession. I filled them more than halfway. Again, since I was only supposed to get 12 cupcakes I figured using all of the batter on one batch would be okay. It was okay, but most of the cupcakes ended up being bigger than I wanted them to be, and some were a pain to get out of the pan after they were baked. Next time around I would probably not force all the batter into one batch. Had I not this time, I probably would have gotten around 14 cupcakes. The cupcakes were baked for 20 total minutes with a turn halfway through the baking time. I let them cool for 15 minutes in the pans and then removed them and let them cool on the wire racks while I made the ganache.

I have made this chocolate ganache glaze many times, but this time I was extra careful to very finely chop the semisweet chocolate because I didn't want any lumps in my glaze. Last time I made it I had some small lumps. While it was fine, I didn't like the look of the lumps. I wanted it to be silky smooth this time, and it was. Success! I spooned the glaze over the top of each cupcake and let it set.

The only thing left to do was add the candied ginger garnish. Does anyone need any candied ginger? If you do, I'm your girl. I have a ton of it. I knew candied ginger would be the hardest thing to find at the grocery store, but I was able to find it. Of course it was in a decent sized tupperware (like the size of a tub of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter), cost $4.79 and was labeled as crystalized ginger so I may have bought the wrong thing. I don't really know. But it looked right. The worst part is I only used the garnish for one cupcake, the one in the photo above. I didn't want to garnish all the cupcakes because I didn't want anyone at work to be scared away by the ginger garnish. My mission is to always get rid of the treats so I don't eat them. And in my rule book, as long as I make at least 1 cupcake from the batch exactly how the recipe says I have successfully completed said cupcake. I did that in this instance therefore, in my eyes, I successfully conquered these cupcakes.

I was also told by a coworker or 2 that these were the best cupcakes they've ever had. Now, that is a very lovely compliment, but I'm not quite sure if I believe that it's true. As a lover of cupcakes, this was not the best cupcake I've ever had. Even though I made it I can still be objective. Though I suppose everyone has different preferences when it comes to cupcakes. It was quite yummy, but not the best. I'd say that maybe the cupcake I'll be making next week has the potential to be the best. But, between you and me, I looked ahead to see what it is, and there's pretty much no way that's going to happen. And just to keep you in suspense and to keep you coming back for more... I'm not going to tell you what it is!