Along with a few other vices, I have an inexplicable addiction to Brach's mallow pumpkin candy. But it has to be Brach's. The other brands lack that salted-honey aftertaste. Luckily/wisely/frustratingly, they can only be found around Halloween. I refuse to completely open the door of obsession by ordering them online during their off-season. For my Halloween-themed dessert this year, I was going to incorporate the pumpkins into a pumpkin spice blondie. Unfortunately someone had opened the bag, pre-baking time, and I ate more than I care to admit. But as you can see, it was enough to make me have to change the dessert.
No worries though. I had my revenge on the sneaky candy-bag opener via these cupcakes. Since I was recovering from a sugar-induced stomach ache, I didn't try the finished product (I never make something without testing it first.) But, I took the usual prep-tests, making sure there was enough salt in the batter and that the pastry cream wasn't too sweet or eggy. Finally, I think I've mastered the fine art of creating the perfect pastry cream.
*printer friendly Recipe*
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken and at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark or bittersweet chocolate chips (if you insist, semi-sweet may be used.) :-)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
12 mini-chocolate Heath or Nestlé Crunch bars
Graham Cracker Crumbs
Toothpicks + Coloured gels (for writing)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Prepare the cupcakes: In a medium mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy on medium speed until creamy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the almond extract until well combined (2 minutes.) Add the sour cream and buttermilk, beat until combined. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined(be careful not to overbeat.) Divide batter into the muffin pan. Bake 15 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool completely before adding the filling.
Prepare the filling: Lightly whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together cream, sugar, cornstarch and salt until well combined. Whisking constantly, continue to cook until the mixture is hot. Slowly pour about 1/4 of the hot cream into egg yolk, whisking constantly. Gradually add the remaining cream mixture as you continue to whisk. Pour everything back into saucepan. Cook mixture for 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain custard into a heat-proof bowl. Stir in butter and vanilla until combined. Stirring occasionally, allow the custard to come to room temperature. Once cool enough, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the surface (to prevent a skin from forming.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the ganache: Mix together the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup in a medium, microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture for about 60 seconds, stopping occasionally to stir, until everything is melted and smooth.
Assemble the cupcakes: Scoop out a small amount of cake from the center of every cupcake. Spoon a bit of the custard into the centers.
Using a Tablespoon, drizzle the ganache over the cupcakes, allowing it to drip down the sides.
Place a candy bar, slightly off-center, into the ganache. Gently push it in until it's stable. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs around the 'tombstone' to resemble dirt.
If you want, you may also write on the tombstones with a toothpick dipped in black or red colouring gel.
Makes 12 cupcakes