I don’t pay much attention to what’s trendy when it comes to food, but it would have been tough to miss the cupcake craze. Maybe cupcakes are still trendy, I don’t really know, but I do know that they’ve climbed to the top of my list of favorite baked goods. It took me a while to come around; I used to think cupcakes were a pain since I had to make at least two components (even more if there was a filling!) and dirty quite a few dishes. They’ve won me over though – I love their portability, the possibilities for flavor combinations, the cuteness factor…I could go on and on. In other words, don’t be surprised if I start rolling out more cupcakes here in the coming months
When I tasted one of these cupcakes for the first time, I was very glad I’d scaled back to only make 6 and given 4 of those away to friends, because I absolutely loved them. In all fairness, add white chocolate whipped cream to the top of anything and I’ll eat it, but the cupcakes themselves were wonderful. You don’t taste the coffee in the recipe, it really just enhances the chocolate and deepens its flavor. The cupcakes are moist and very light; the whipped cream is light too (in texture, certainly not in calories), though the addition of the white chocolate makes it more sturdy than whipped cream would typically be.
As I mentioned, I didn’t run into any problems quartering the cake recipe so in case you don’t want to make 24 cupcakes, it’s definitely an option to scale back. The batter is fairly thin and runny – don’t be too worried – the cupcakes bake up perfectly. I halved the whipped cream recipe so I’d have plenty to mound on the cupcakes (and enough leftover to eat a few spoonfuls myself ). I wouldn’t have had enough to frost all 6 cupcakes if I’d quartered the whipped cream recipe so keep that in mind if you like lots of frosting. Whipped cream generally doesn’t hold up very well in the fridge for me, so I wasn’t sure how far in advance I could make it. What I wound up doing was making the whipped cream late one night, then leaving it in the fridge overnight with plastic against the surface. It was completely set the next day and not at all watery or runny. It piped nicely and held up well in the fridge on the cupcakes (just bring them to room temperature before serving).
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups hot coffee
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
6 oz. white chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave in 30 second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between, until melted. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and salt together. In another medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, cocoa powder and baking soda to form a paste, then slowly whisk in the hot coffee until the mixture is smooth.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, then add the vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the liquid mixture (beginning and ending with the flour mixture), beating just until all ingredients are incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the white chocolate whipped cream: Place the chopped white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Melt, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. When the chocolate is fully melted, move the bowl to a work surface and pour in the hot cream. Let stand for 1 minute. Stir gently until the cream is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Let the chocolate/cream mixture stand until it is completely cool. The mixture must be at room temperature before it is added to the whipped cream.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream only until it holds the softest peaks. With the mixer on high speed, add the white chocolate all at once and continue to beat just until the mixture holds firm peaks. Transfer the cream to a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Frost the cupcakes as desired. Store the frosted cupcakes in the refrigerator but serve at room temperature for best flavor.
Yields 24 cupcakes