For Easter this year, I decided to make a cupcake I’ve been wanting to try for years and never did. Mainly because they seemed slightly time consuming (and I’m lazy), but also because I never have all the ingredients on hand; corn syrup, cream of tartar and 14 oz. bittersweet chocolate are rarely here all at once. Plus the 7 eggs required for these seemed a bit much. But coincedentally, recently they were all on hand, and because of Easter we had tons of eggs anyway, and I remembered this delicious recipe I found at the Barmy Baker’s website. I did something really cutesy and Easter-themed last year, and I didn’t want to do something like that again this year, but the chocolate covered meringue on these did remind me of chocolate covered marshmallow Easter eggs and bunnies, so I thought they’d be a good choice. I don’t really do the religious thing, but I can’t resist a chocolate bunny. Or a real bunny, for that matter.
So these Hi-Hat cupcakes consist of a “frosting” made with meringue that is piped in circles. Each coil gets smaller as you go up, creating the look of a very high spiral. You can go up to 2″ high with this, if you have the patience. Then that is hardened in the fridge, and coated with a chocolate coating that also hardens in the fridge, creating a hard “bonnet.” I made my meringue banana flavored, because I can. If you want banana extract, go get it. Banana + chocolate = yum.
My cupcake liners and toppers are by Wilton, because again… I’m lazy and making my own toppers is sometimes just too much for my lazy-ass self.
CHOCOLATE BLACKOUT CUPCAKES
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup cocoa powder (natural, not dutch-processed)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 4 ounces melted butter
- 1 cup brewed coffee (I used instant espresso powder in one cup boiling water)
- 3 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Prepare 2 muffin tins by lining with 20 or 21 muffin liners.
- This is just like making a quick bread. Sift the dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl.
- Mix together the wet ingredients, Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. This will be a fairly wet batter.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling until about a quarter of an inch from the top of the liner.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.
- Remove from oven, let cool in pan about 10 minutes and then finish cooling on a rack. Place the room temperature cupcakes in the refrigerator while you make the Italian meringue. These cupcakes (or cake if you make one from this recipe) do tend to taste better the next day after the flavors have all come together.
ITALIAN MERINGUE (adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)
- ½ cup (4 egg’s worth) egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp corn syrup
- ¾ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a heavy bottomed saucepan with a candy thermometer placed on the side of the pan dipping into the mixture. Bring the mixture to 238F. When the sugar syrup is about 10 degrees away from 238F, begin whipping the egg whites to firm shiny peaks. If the whites get to this state before the syrup is at 235, turn your mixer to low speed and just let them keep moving.
- Once the syrup is at 235 and your egg whites are firm and pretty, Carefully and slowly pour the syrup into the egg whites with the mixer running on high speed. Don’t worry about any spatter on the sides of the bowl, it happens and won’t effect the final product.
- Add the vanilla extract and continue whipping the egg whites until they cool to room temperature (I also add about ½ tsp salt, as I like my icing a bit salty with the sweet). Once the mixture is cool, scoop it into a pastry bag fitted with a large piping tip (or you can just use a plastic baggie with the corner cut off to pipe).
- Pipe coil mounds on top of the chilled cupcakes, mounding each high to form the marshmallow “hat”. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator and make your chocolate coating.
- 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used a 72%)
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- Place chocolate and oil in the top of a double boiler (I just use a stainless steel bowl) and place over just simmering water and let sit about 5 minutes, then stir until chocolate is melted and you have a nice smooth dipping chocolate.
- Scrape the melted chocolate mixture into a deep container (one that is narrow and deep enough to dip the “hats” in). Dip your cupcakes in one at a time, allow excess to drip off and place the cupcakes on a rack over a sheet of parchment to catch the extra drips.
The worst part of these were letting them “set”, or harden in between steps. I’m an impatient person by nature, so that killed me. But otherwise it was much easier than I anticipated, and truly delicious. Actually… I had a problem with the meringue, but I worked it out. If this meringue doesn’t work for you, try looking around the internet, there may be a better one. Or use buttercream and tell everyone its meringue. Most people won’t know the friggin’ difference anyway.
That said, I wish you all a…