Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake, Two Ways!

A few months back, I did a tiny gig for a dear friend of mine. It was for a baby shower that she was coordinating and they needed some back up on the sweets. As a working mommy of two and an all around awesome person, there's not much I wouldn't do to lend her a helping hand. 

To keep it simple, quick, and classy, I went with two variations using the same base cupcake from America's Test Kitchen's "Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake." Less mess, less stress! You know it's full-proof when the cake is from America's Test Kitchen. 

The first version is the recipe verbatim. There's a healthy dollop of rich, chocolate ganache in the center of each cupcake. If you want to be lazy, nutella is always a great substitute! I switched it up for the frosting used a basic vanilla buttercream with just a touch of green food coloring and sugar pearls. To play up the contrasting colors of the frosting and cake, I went with standard issue silver cupcake liners.

For the second version, I omitted the ganache (it would make the surface too bumpy) and decided to go for the "aww factor" with a personal touch:  a message atop each cupcake! This aww factor requires a steady hand and patience. The smooth, magical chocolate glaze on top of these cupcakes is the perfect canvas. It's very easy to work with and firms up like a dream. 

Now as for writing those oh so fun letters on the cupcake... My advice is to get it over with. If it helps, trace the round bottom of a cupcake tin on some parchment paper to get the general size. Do a couple practice letters that are stenciled to get in the groove. Cursive seems to work best because it keeps the consistency and is more forgiving than plain text. The longer you sit there, doubting your ability, the more painful the task. You can do it! If you're still nervous, make this version of the cupcake first. If you mess up beyond repair... slap some buttercream on top and nobody will be the wiser!

Also, make sure you do not heat the white chocolate until you are absolutely ready to write. If it's too hot, it will be runny and ooze right out of the tip. If you wait to long, it will harden like a freaking brick in the piping bag and you will have a complete mess on your hands... I'm speaking from experience. 

For this thin script, I used a Wilton #2 Tip. I split the cupcakes into three sets of four and wrote: family, love, and baby. This is a cute idea for any occasion! Make it your own.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake x 2

The chocolate cupcake recipe is America's Test Kitchen's "Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Filling." You can find it on their amazing site. I used this version and doubled the cupcake recipe (not the ganache) to yield 24 cupcakes.

Split the cupcakes into two batches. 

Version 1: Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake Filled with Ganache
With the first batch of 12, follow the recipe as is, filling with the ganache. 

Use the frosting of your choice. I used a plain vanilla buttercream with a touch of food coloring. Decorate to your heart's content.

Version 2: Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Glaze
With the remaining 12 cupcakes, use Martha Stewart's handy Handwritten Cupcake technique. You already have the cupcakes, now you just need to make the chocolate glaze. 

Note, the chocolate glaze recipe yields 1 cup of glaze which is a bit overkill for a dozen cupcakes. I split the recipe in half- no sense in wasting resources. This glaze is super cool and sticks to the cupcake like a dream to create a smooth coat. Love it! 

For this thin script, I used a Wilton #2 Tip. It's white chocolate so as I said in the post, test it before you start writing. If it's too hot, it will ooze out and make a runny mess- too cold and it will seize up in the piping bag.