Ganache-Filled Mocha Cupcakes

I have to make cupcakes at least once every few weeks or I go into withdrawal. It’s a thing, cupcake-making withdrawal. I don’t even necessarily have to eat the cupcakes after I make them, it’s all about the process for me. Picking out just the right liners for the job, making the batter, obsessively peeking into the oven to check on their progress, and then topping them with a giant cloud of frosting. I’m firmly of the opinion that you can *never* have too much frosting on your cupcake!

Plus, the more cupcakes I make, the easier it is to justify buying more cute liners. Anyone else as obsessed with cupcake liners as me? I already have more than I could ever use, but I can’t help myself!

Ganache-Filled Mocha Cupcakes

I’m going through a mocha phase right now. Not the drink obviously since I don’t do coffee, but baking mocha-flavored desserts. There’s something about the combination of chocolate and coffee that just works. One of my favorite store-bought ice cream flavors has a mocha base with cookie dough pieces and a chocolatey cookie swirl. It’s out of this world good, and I am itching to recreate it at home this summer!

Ganache-Filled Mocha Cupcakes

But I digress, let’s talk cupcakes. After having made a few other mocha-flavored treats, I was itching to make a cupcake happen, and these ganache-filled cupcakes were the result. I was so pleased with the way they turned out! The base is a very rich, super chocolatey cupcake. It’s more intensely chocolate flavored and less sweet than most chocolate cupcakes I’ve tried, thanks in part to the ganache center baked right into the cupcakes. I love that you get the filled cupcake effect without actually having to fill the cupcakes after baking (sorry, I totally dropped the ball on taking a picture of the inside of the cupcakes…)! There’s also coffee in the cupcakes themselves, though you won’t really notice it – it just enhances the chocolate flavor. I topped the cupcakes with a fluffy coffee buttercream to impart the coffee flavor I wanted, and the combination was every bit as heavenly as I’d hoped. If you’re a mocha fan, I think you’ll love these cupcakes :)

Ganache-Filled Mocha Cupcakes
cupcakes barely adapted from The Science of Good Cooking by Cook’s Illustrated, frosting from Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2005

{Note: if you pile the frosting ridiculously high on your cupcakes like me, you’ll probably want to increase the frosting recipe below to make 1 1/2 times as much.}

Ganache
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Cupcakes
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup (1 oz) Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee
3/4 cup (4 1/8 oz) bread flour
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Frosting
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (5 oz) confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon heavy cream

To make the ganache: Add the chocolate, cream and confectioners’ sugar to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for about 30 seconds, or until the mixture is warm and can be whisked to a smooth consistency. Refrigerate the ganache until chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Combine the chocolate and cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl. Pour the coffee over the top (do not stir together), then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until the mixture cools to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. To the cooled chocolate/coffee mixture, add the oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients, and whisk just until combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3 to 3/4-full. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of the ganache into each well of the pan (the ganache will partially sink into the batter). Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly pressed with the tip of your finger. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow the cupcakes to cool for a few minutes, then remove them to the rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed for 20-30 seconds, until light and smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar and salt and beat on low speed just until most of the sugar has been incorporated, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on medium speed until the mixture is well combined. In a small bowl, stir together the espresso powder, vanilla and heavy cream until the espresso is dissolved. Add to the mixer and beat briefly until incorporated, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and increase the mixer to medium-high speed. Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl one or two times.

Transfer the frosting to a piping bag fitted with a decorative tip. Pipe frosting into a swirl on each cooled cupcake.

Makes 12 cupcakes