Thursday, October 06, 2005

Cooking School - Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Classic, now retro, lunchbox fair, cream-filled chocolate cupcakes are a treat that many of us are familiar with. I don't really think that there was anything wrong with the moist chocolate cake, but I was mostly concerned with the cream filling. I had had chocolate cake before - but where did one come across cream filling? It wasn't icing, it wasn't marshmallow. It was simply gooey and delicious. The company's advertising slogan is "Hey! Where's the cream filling?" for a reason.
To recreate this treat, I turned back to a favorite of mine: Retro Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman. I have used Mr Brachman's recipes before and, with a very few exceptions, have enjoyed them immensely. I considered only making the cream filling recipe but I gave in and did actually make cupcakes to fill. I used a Martha recipe for the cake (Sorry, Wayne!). I also used a buttercream instead of ganache, as the majority of these cakes made their way into the hands of a few 9 year olds and I thought they'd like it sweet. The recipe calls for dipping the filled cakes in ganache to create a smooth surface.
I love these cupcakes because they are very chocolatey and could not be simpler. The cream filling really stands out in them. Creamy and very sweet without seeming very sugary, this is the way cupcakes were meant to be filled. Simply fill a piping bag with the cream, jab the tip about 1/2-1 inch into the cupcake and squeeze out a tablespoon or so of filling. It will ooze out the top a bit when it is full. Make the hole in the top of the cupcake, so the filling won't leak out the bottom and the hole will be covered with frosting.

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups ap flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
¾ cup water
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in 2-12 cup muffin tins.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add in eggs, water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Whisk batter until all of the dry ingredients are mixed in.
Fill muffin cups with batter using a 1/4 cup measure.
Bake at 350F for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, or with only a few crumbs.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.
Makes 24 cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Filling
3 tbsp vegetable shortening, room temperature
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup light corn syrup

With an electric mixer, cream shortening and butter together. Add in confectioners sugar. When combined, slowly pour in vanilla and corn syrup, beating until the mixther has thickened to a mayonnaise-like consistency, about 3 minutes.
Use a spatula to scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip. It must have a tip - no cutting the corners off plastic bags. Poke the tip about 1/2 inch into each cupcake and fill with about 1-2 tbsp filling.
Makes enough for 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a simmer. You should see tendrils of stream coming from the cream, but no bubbles. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth. Dip the top of each filled cupcake in the ganache and transfer to a wire rack to cool (it's OK if some ganache drips down the side of the cupcake).