Friday, March 16, 2012

A Dessert for Coffee Lovers

If you crossed a cappuccino with a cupcake, this is what you'd end up with:  a dense, fluffy cake scented with espresso, topped with a foamy marshmallow frosting.

Did I mention there are chocolate chips in the batter?

The recipe is one of the variations on a basic vanilla cake recipe in Everyday Food this month. After you follow the directions, add 2 tablespoons of hot water to 3 tablespoons of espresso grounds, mix, and then add to the batter, along with 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped into chip-sized shards.

The recipe says you end up with 24 cupcakes, but I got 40.

Once cooled, the cupcakes get topped with a basic whipped egg white frosting, to which I added a half teaspoon of vanilla for extra flavor. You can pipe it onto the cupcakes or spread it in a smooth puddle, like the foam on a cappuccino. Shave some chocolate on top for decoration, and you're done!

Chocolate Cappuccino Cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons of hot water
3 tablespoons of instant espresso powder
5 ounces of semisweet chocolate, chopped, plus more for grating

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 36 standard cupcake tins with paper liners. 

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and espresso mixed with water. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined, then fold in chocolate.

Divide batter between cupcake tins. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out just clean or with a few moist crumbs attached, about 17 minutes. Loosen any cupcakes sticking to the pan, and then invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

To make frosting, in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites, sugar, salt, and water. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved (or mixture registers 150 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until glossy, stiff peaks form (do not overbeat), about 3 minutes; reduce speed to low, add vanilla extract, and beat just until whites form medium-stiff glossy peaks. Frost cupcakes, then grate some chocolate on top.

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