Ernest Hemingway Cupcakes
A cupcake like this belongs on the thick armrest of a worn-out leather chair that sits in an antiquated room full of books and artifacts overlooking the Serengeti.
Men can eat these cupcakes, come away with a chocolate covered nose, and still feel like they could play rugby, climb a mountain, eat a steak, or finally paint one side of the house.
(Can you tell how much I love to read J. Peterman catalogs?)
When I saw candy bar cupcakes on the always-spectacular, My Baking Addiction, I knew I wanted them, immediately. But I wanted to make the batter from scratch, and what better source than Cook's Illustrated?
The title offers no clue as to what these cupcakes contain, so I'll map them out for you.
The cakes themselves are rich, moist, and chocolatey. (They would be delicious all on their own, but why stop there during the holidays?) Inside each cupcake is half of a Take 5 candy bar (a fabulous caramel, peanut buttery, chocolate covered pretzel). On top of the cupcakes is a show-stopping peanut butter frosting. The frosting is then drizzled, ice cream sundae style, with a dark chocolate sauce. And last but not least, each cupcake is capped with half of a Baby Ruth mini candy bar.
The answer is yes. They're every bit as delicious as you imagine...perhaps even better!
for the Cupcakes (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)
1 cup (that's 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (3 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
12 fun-size Take 5 candy bars, cut in half (you'll end up with 24 pieces)[Note: Feel free to use any candy bar, just be sure they're small enough to fit inside a cupcake.]
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
In a medium-size, heatproof bowl, combine the butter, chopped chocolate, and cocoa powder. Set the bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water (you're basically making a double-boiler). Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolates are melted and smooth. As soon as it's smooth, remove the bowl from the saucepan and set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk all 4 eggs together. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Whisk vigorously until incorporated and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Sift in about 1/3 of the flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined, then whisk in sour cream until combined. Finally, sift in the remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Gently press half a candy bar into the center of each cupcake, then, using a small spoon or spatula, spread the batter over any exposed candy bars.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Rotate the pans half-way through baking. [Note: Some cupcake centers might sink in a bit, but don't worry, the frosting will cover up everything.]
Remove the pans from the oven and allow the cupcakes to rest for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
for the Peanut Butter Frosting (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (yes. I know that's a lot of butter.)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6-8 Tablespoons half & half cream
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted paddle attachment (or any large mixing bowl, if using a hand-held), beat together the butter, peanut butter, and salt on medium speed until light and creamy. Slowly, using about 1/2 cup increments, add the confectioners' sugar, beating on low speed after each addition. Once all the sugar has been incorporated, beat on medium speed for about 1 minute.
Add the vanilla extract and about 4 Tablespoons of cream. Beat on low until combined. If the frosting is still too thick, slowly add the rest of the cream until it reaches desired consistency.
Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
for the Chocolate Sauce (adapted from My Baking Addiction)
4 oz of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into tiny pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place the chopped chocolate into a medium-size, heat-proof bowl and set aside.
Place the cream into a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and leave it alone for about 5-8 minutes. Once the cream has melted the chocolate, whisk everything together using small concentric circles. Add the honey and vanilla, and whisk till combined and smooth.
Allow the sauce to cool for about 15 minutes. Do not let the glaze sit for too long or it will harden up before you spoon it over the frosting. [Note: If sauce does harden up, scrape/pour it back into the saucepan and warm over low heat until it softens again (you may need to add a splash of cream.]
Drizzle the sauce over the frosted cupcakes. Pretend you're making a mini sundaes, but try not to add too much sauce...you don't want people to get their hands messy when they tear into the wrappers. :) If desired, garnish each cupcake with sliced candy bars (I used Baby Ruth mini's.)
Makes 24 cupcakes