Saturday, February 16, 2013

"Love Hurts" Cupcakes

The typical Valentine's Day is full of unexpected surprises and open declarations of love, but not in my world! This much loved greeting card holiday holds both good and bad memories, but mostly they tend toward the negative. So, in my mind love should come with a jolt of something different and mysterious, all while being disguised as innocent and unassuming...Chocolate is most often the flavor associated with love so why not turn that idea on its head and add a spicy Mexican flair to it. Most people are familiar with the 'Abuelita's' brand of Mexican hot chocolate, it has a peppery cinnamon undertone and truly brings out the deep flavor of chocolate. Considering my delicate palate and not wanting to easily offend my primary tasting audience I opted to use a recipe that wouldn't set our mouths ablaze. To abate the heat from the cake itself I decided to top the cupcakes in chocolate ganache and a sweet and light whipped cream frosting. This provides both a subtle hint of passion which can be easily tempted away by the marked sweetness of the frosting. In the end it both tantalizes you with its appearance and then knocks you off your feet with its flavor, much like love! <3

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup hot water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a microwave safe measuring cup heat the water and whisk in the cocoa powder until it dissolves completely. Put this aside and in a medium bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar, adding the egg, vanilla extract, and vegetable oil mixing until smooth. Alternately add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture into the large bowl. Spoon the batter into your cupcake liners and bake for 15-18 minutes. For the chocolate ganache simply temper a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips in the microwave for thirty second intervals until it is smooth and creamy. The easiest and most effective way to fully cover the cupcakes is to wait until they are cooled and swirl them in the melted deliciousness. Be sure and save enough for yourself, ganache should never go to waste after all...

Whipped Cream Frosting

3 cups heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Now this one requires some patience, but the end result is worth it, trust me. Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and find a comfortable standing position and ready your hand beaters, you are in for some quality time in your kitchen. But the look of surprise and delight on your friend's faces is all worth it. After all, love isn't love without a little elbow grease and a pinch of pain...

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