Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ganache Almond Cupcakes with Choco-Cinnamon filling - Baking for Stefanie's Birthday

So now through my various baking escapades I have gathered somewhat of a reputation as a baked goods provider amongst my coworkers. Knowing that my buddy (as in a new hire who I mentored), Stef, had her birthday coming up, I wanted to bake her something a la the birthday treats I made for Anjali.

Stef asked me for either French macaroons (which I was told by a fellow foodie are VERY hard to make) or for some sort of almond cake with chocolate-cinnamon frosting and/or chestnut filling. Never having worked with chestnuts, I set off to make almond flavored something with chocolate and potentially cinnamon frosting....
and while I didn't end up with exactly what I initially set out to make, the finished product shown above, almond cupcakes with cinnamon chocolate buttercream filling and dark chocolate cinnamon ganache was super delicious.

Starting out, I knew I wanted to make cupcakes as they're portable and lately I've been on quite the cupcake kick. I found this recipe for mini almond cakes and decided to adopt it for cupcakes rather than a sheet cake.

Almond Cupcakes (makes 12-15 cupcakes)

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Whisk together yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, milk, and extract in a large bowl until combined well, then whisk in flour and salt
  3. Beat whites with a mixer at high speed until they just hold soft peaks
  4. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mixing at low speed until whites hold stiff peaks
  5. Stir about 1/3 of whites into flour mixture
  6. Fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly
  7. Spoon batter gently into cupcake tins (JAM note: could pour batter into 9 inch cake pan instead for cake)
  8. Bake about 10 - 12 mins or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into middle
Once the cupcakes were baked, I made a chocolate cinnamon buttercream to incorporate Stef's request for cinnamon frosting. The recipe is loosely based on a recipe from Food & Wine Magazine.

Chocolate Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting (for the insides of 12-15 cupcakes)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 oz (a bit more than 1/8 cup) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 1/4 oz (a bit more than 1/8 cup) milk chocolate
  1. Melt chocolates together and cool (should still be melted but no longer hot)
  2. Beat butter until creamy
  3. At a low speed add the confectioner's sugar in 2-3 additions, beating until light and fluffy and scraping down the bowl in between additions
  4. Add cream, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, beating at low speed until incorporated
  5. Add chocolate gradually, beating a low speed until incorporated
  6. Once all ingredients are incorporated, beat at a medium speed until light and fluffy
I also wanted to top the cupcakes with a hard frosting, knowing that I'd be cutting holes in the centers to add in the filling. I found this super easy ganache recipe that had adjustable portion sizes within the recipe page, so I whipped up a small batch of ganache to top the cupcakes with.

Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Ganache (for roughly 12 cupcakes)

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup (or about 6oz) bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. If using bar chocolate, chop chocolate into pieces
  2. Heat cream in small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil
  3. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate and cinnamon
  4. Stir until smooth
  5. Cool to desired consistency. For pourable ganache, cool to about 85 or 90 degrees (which is what I used)
  6. Chill until hardened

Last, I assembled the cupcakes, cutting out small holes in the center of each, spooning in buttercream, topping with the cut cupcake pieces, and then frosting gingerly with the ganache.

Overall these were a HUGE hit with everyone in the office. The cake was super light and fluffy, almost like angel food cake, and the buttercream had just enough cinnamon and sweetness to lighten up the rich, dark chocolate cinnamon ganache. The ganache, when left in the fridge for a couple of hours, set-up nicely so it was a shiny, hard shell of chocolate on top with smoothy, creamy frosting in the center. Yum! I'm definitely making this recipe again with different variations of frosting/ganache combinations.

A big 3 out of 3 JAMs! A far amount of work but sooo worth it :)

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