Thursday, February 11, 2010

Guest Blogger: The Dharma Cupcake

Today's guest blog post comes from one of my oldest friends, Kristl. We met in 7th grade after realizing we shared the same birthday. 16 years later we are still great friends and I am so happy that she has agreed to be featured on my blog.

I will let Kristl explain these cupcakes and their new title. Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world who doesn't watch Lost..... :)

The Dharma Cupcake’s story is a lovely one. I found myself on the cusp of my Lost Final Season Premiere Party searching for trifle recipes that would be 1) quick and easy 2) have a fruity, island theme, and 3) go well with graham crackers because the latter I planned on crumbling into a fine sand atop the trifle so that I could crash a doctored model airplane on top of it. Foam Oceanic Flight 815 in hand, I browsed my way into and my world changed. Dramatic, yes, but hang on.

The girl is seventeen and, well, baking (read her story on her blog). In one of her recipes, she pays tribute to the all-American Hostess cupcake by adding something just as American to the mix: caffeine.

Alarm bells rang as I immediately removed the iconic Hostess swirlies in my mind’s eye and replaced them with perfect Dharma Initiative logos in espresso-spiked frosting. My dessert dilemma was over. We would have Lost cupcakes!

Now, artistic people should always challenge themselves technically as well as creatively in order to maintain their skills. I can boast that, since toddlerhood, I’ve known my way around a crayon and now have decent strengths in acrylics, ink and pencils stolen, er, borrowed from favorite sushi restaurants. I can draw a straight line like nobody’s business.

Enter piping. Is that what it’s called in The Biz? When you squeeze luxurious sugar crème from a bag, through a metal opening and onto a scrumptious treat? (Did I mention these were mini cupcakes? Holy carpal tunnel, Batman!). Yeah, I’m awful at it. There’s definitely room for improvement here.

But do you want to know the best part? They could look like rubbish and they would still be d e l e c t a b l e.

That being said, I introduce the Dharma Cupcake (I renamed it for my own tv-holic purposes). Imagine this: espresso-choco airy cake filled with espresso-sugar frosting, covered in bittersweet ganache and decorated with even more espresso-sugar frosting. All in the span of one itsy bitsy bite. Critics of sweetness will find that it is not overpowering, but delicate, yet adult in its coffee essence.

I am a fan. I will be making them again and again because I will overcome my shaky piping hand. Until then, I am fine with messing up because licking that rogue frosting is not the worst thing in the world.

Notes: I did find that the recipes for both the frosting and the ganache yielded a bit too much product, while the cake batter yielded the perfect amount. I also found that filling the mini cupcake liners ¾-full was more effective. Bon appétit!

Kristl Chavez, Cooking with Cristine guest blogger

Chocolate-Espresso Mini Cupcakes
Adapted from Néstle
Makes about 40 mini cupcakes

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 four-ounce stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder [I actually used 1/2 tablespoon finely ground coffee]
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 40 mini cupcake tins with paper liners.
Microwave the chocolate in a small, microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds. Stir gently to melt. If there are a couple unmelted pieces, the residual heat will melt them. Cool to room temperature.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the brown sugar, eggs, butter, espresso powder/ground coffee, and vanilla extract for 3 minutes until smooth. Beat in the melted chocolate until well mixed, then beat in half of the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk, then the remaining flour mixture. Beat a minute until smooth.

Fill each cupcake tin 2/3 – 3/4 full and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Simple Coffee Frosting
Makes enough to fill and decorate 40 mini cupcakes

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp softened butter, cut into cubes
3/4 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the instant espresso powder and milk together, dissolving the powder. Beat the butter in an electric mixer, then add the powdered sugar. Beat in the powder/milk mixture and extract until fluffy and smooth.

Bittersweet Ganache
Makes enough to cover 40 mini cupcakes

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Take off the heat and add the chocolate. Let sit five minutes, then stir to melt the chocolate. Stir in the butter until melted. Let cool slightly.

To assemble the Caffeine-Spiked Mini Hostess Cupcakes: Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/4″ round tip with the coffee frosting. Simply stick the end of the piping bag into a cupcake and squeeze to fill the cupcakes with the frosting. Fill all of the cupcakes, reserving a little frosting for the piped design on top. Wipe off any excess frosting coming out of the cupcakes, then dip in the ganache. Don’t use your finger or a spoon to smooth the tops (prevents it from drying smooth.) Instead, tap the cupcake on the table, move it gently from side to side, and tilt it to even out the ganache. Put the cupcakes in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to set. Using a very small round tip, pipe the signature Hostess pattern on top of the cupcakes with the coffee frosting.


The McBride Family said...

Wow Kristl you are quite the writer! :) I love how muchyou love Lost and yes Cristine you NEED to watch it! Come on it's the last season! :) The cupcakes look delicious maybe Ineed to have a party for the series finale and make these!:)

Diana's Cocina said...

Cupcakes look yummy. Now I have a chocolate craving =).

Eliana said...

these cupcakes look absolutely wonderful!

Shelby said...

psssst...Cristine, you are not the only one who has not seen Lost. ;)

These cupcakes look lovely! It is very special when you have a friend that has been one for so long. I am still friends with a girl I met in the 4th grade and with my friend from my HS days....and I'm an oldie! :D

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I'm lost! :) I don't watch TV but I do eat yummy cupcakes!

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