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A few years ago when I started learning to bake, I bought a book devoted entirely to cupcakes; it was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned.  I flipped through that book countless times, flagging recipes I hoped to be brave enough to try someday.  At the top of that list were these hi-hat cupcakes.  They consist of three components: chocolate cupcakes topped with marshmallow frosting and then dipped in melted chocolate, which forms a shiny shell when it sets.  Alongside the recipe there was a photo that showed what the inside of the hi-hat cupcake would look like, and it totally drew me in.

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So, why has it taken me over 3 years to finally make them?  I was scared!  I’d made a mental list of all the things that might go wrong – the frosting would fall off when I flipped the cupcake upside down, the frosting would melt when dipped in the chocolate, the chocolate would drip down the sides of the cupcake wrappers leaving a huge mess…  In short, I was worried my cupcakes wouldn’t turn out as well as the ones in the book.  If you know me, you know I’m a total perfectionist, and while rationally I know all anyone cares about in the end is how things taste, I really, really like the things I bake to look nice too.  It’s the type A control freak in me :)

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In the end, these hi-hat cupcakes weren’t nearly as terrifying as I made them out to be.  That’s not to say it was all smooth sailing.  A few of my cupcakes turned out like this:

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Yikes!  After a bit of trial and error I discovered that the temperature of the chocolate was critical in achieving success with the dipping.  If the chocolate is too hot, the marshmallow melts.  I had the opposite problem though; I let the chocolate sit at room temperature for too long and it began to thicken.  This thicker chocolate was so heavy it pulled the marshmallow frosting right off my cupcake when I dipped it.  I rescued the frosting and stuck it back on the cupcakes so they were still edible but definitely not the look I was going for.  I’d recommend erring on the side of chocolate that you think might be too warm when you dip your first cupcake.  If the marshmallow doesn’t hold its shape you can always let the chocolate sit and cool for another minute or two.  Once I found the right temperature/consistency for my chocolate, I dipped a few cupcakes and then reheated the chocolate briefly in the microwave and dipped several more, repeating until all of the cupcakes were coated.

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These cupcakes have a wow factor, and that’s what I love most about them.  Shane was standing in the kitchen watching me dip them and was so impressed with the cupcakes that turned out well.  (He told me when I described what I was making to him the night before he didn’t think it could be done.)  This was my first time making this chocolate cupcake recipe, and it was a good one.  The sour cream makes the cupcakes more tangy than ones I’ve made in the past.  In combination with the marshmallow frosting and chocolate shell, these chocolate cupcakes are undoubtedly a rich dessert – a good one to share between two people!  They’re also a nice weekend project if you’re looking for one :)

{Note: There are tutorials here and here if you want step by step photos.}

Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes
from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup room temperature water

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Put the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second bursts at 50% power, stirring in between, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the melted chocolate and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each completely before adding the next. Mix in the vanilla and beat until the batter is creamy and the color has lightened a bit, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream and mix until the white streaks disappear. Finally, with the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beating just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared liners, filling each with about 1/3 cup of batter (the wells will be quite full, and the cupcakes will bake with tops that rise slightly over the edges of the pan). Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffin pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes before removing the cupcakes from the pan to the rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Marshmallow Topping
from King Arthur Flour

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup meringue powder

{Note: You could also make the marshmallow frosting with egg whites if you don’t have meringue powder.  Here’s a recipe.}  

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar completely.  Let cool to room temperature.  Add the meringue powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add the cooled sugar water and beat the mixture on medium to medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, about 10-15 minutes.

Fit a piping bag with a large plain round tip.  Pipe the marshmallow onto the cooled cupcakes in a tall, swirl pattern.  You want the frosting to look almost like a soft serve cone of ice cream would.  If it takes a few tries to get it right, don’t worry – you can scrape the frosting off the cupcake easily and try again.  Once all the cupcakes have been frosted, put them in the freezer for a few hours.

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Chocolate Coating
from Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans

2 cups (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons canola oil

Combine the chocolate chips and oil in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30-second bursts on 50% power, stirring in between, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.   Let the chocolate cool slightly before you start dipping the cupcakes.

Transfer the chocolate to a tall cup with an opening wide enough for the cupcakes.  Holding each cupcake by its bottom, turn it upside down and dip it into the chocolate – you want to cover all of the marshmallow frosting but not the cupcake itself.  Lift the cupcake out of the chocolate, but continue to hold it upside down over the cup of chocolate to allow the excess to drip off.  Turn right side up and transfer to a platter.  Once all of the cupcakes have been dipped, move them to the refrigerator to allow the chocolate to fully set.

Store the cupcakes in the refrigerator, but let them sit out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.