I bake for a living. I’m surrounded by cake all day. Occasionally, there will come a time when I’m craving a specific dessert or flavor-pairing and I break out the mixing bowls, whisk and measuring spoons to make something at home. This past weekend, I decided to pull out all the stops and create a perfectly decadent cupcake to celebrate my beau’s birthday. Below, is my recipe for dark chocolate cupcakes with a tempting espresso-flavored “ganache” and a mocha buttercream frosting. Treat yourself this weekend or surprise your friends with this dreamy delight.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with an Espresso Ganache & Mocha Frosting

1/4 cup Molasses
1/3 cup unsweetened Applesauce
3/4 cup + 1/2 tsp Sugar
4 oz. unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1 Tbsp Vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Distilled White Vinegar
1 cup Hot water
1 1/2 cups Flour
2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Ganache-

1 cup non-dairy Chocolate chips
6 Tbsp non-dairy Butter
1/2-1 tsp Espresso powder

Frosting

2 sticks non-dairy Butter
4 cups Powdered sugar
1/4 cup Cocoa powder
1/4 cup room-temperature coffee + 1 Tbsp espresso powder
1/2 tsp Salt

Begin by melting the chocolate either in a double boiler or the microwave. Make sure to stir constantly to avoid clumping and burning.

Combine the molasses, applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Mix well. Add in the melted chocolate. Mix again. Add the vinegar. Mix a third time. Add the water. Mix once more. Sift together the flour, soda, cocoa and salt. Stir until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cups (Tip- use an ice cream scoop to ensure uniform cupcake size). This recipe makes 12-14 cupcakes.

Bake  at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before you core them.

Prepare your frosting by beating together your butter with the cocoa powder and two cups of powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Add in your coffee-espresso mixture. Beat together with the last two cups of powdered sugar and salt. If your frosting is too dry, add a little non-dairy milk or more coffee. You want it to be stiff but spreadable.

Make your “ganache” last, it will be easier to fill your cupcakes when the mixture is still warm. Ganache is traditionally made with chocolate and cream but this filling has a similar consistency to a ganache once it has cooled. Melt the chocolate and butter together either in a double-boiler or the microwave. Stir until smooth. Add the espresso powder to taste. Add too much and your chocolate will be bitter.

To decorate, take an apple corer or spoon and remove a section of cake from the middle. Fill with the espresso ganache. Using a knife or a piping bag with tip, smear a generous amount of frosting onto the cupcakes. Drizzle the tops with ganache or dot them with chocolate-covered espresso beans- the sky is your limit!

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