Difficulty: Hard --requires patience (best if you make the cupcakes one day and do the rest the next day)
When I started making these cupcakes--a rich combination of a fluffy chocolate cake, glorious French chocolate mousse and spiked raspberry preserves; I knew they would be difficult. The cakes themselves came out fine. So, I was feeling pretty confident when I started to pipe the raspberry/Chambord filling into the middle of the cupcakes. Unfortunately, while I was filling the pastry bag I forgot to put my finger over the tip and therefore managed to pipe a large quantity of raspberry/Chambord right into my lap. As 1/2 cup of preserves rushed in thick raspberry tributaries down my jeans leg, I looked at it in shock. I had decorated my SELF! I threw my head back and laughed. Zen baking: Be the Cupcake!
1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 C sugar
2 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
2/4 t salt
1 C buttermilk
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 large eggs--at room temperature*
1 C strong, piping hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners and set aside. In a large bowl...sift together dry ingredients. Then mix together with a fork or a large whisk. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla and eggs. While mixing on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine...but do not over mix! Slowly add hot coffee, mixing until just combined. Don't bruise the chocolate! (heh) The batter should be thin--break up any lumps with a fork. Pour the batter into each cupcake liner from a measuring cup. Wipe off cup after each pour. Bake for 14-15 minutes, without opening the oven. After 14 minutes, test for done-ness by pressing a finger lightly on top of a cake. If it springs back--it's done! If it makes an impression, leave 'em in there for a couple of minutes (every oven heats differently). Once done, cool for 10 minutes in pan then transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling. While they cool, make the Chocolate Mousse...this is the hard part.
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, in chips or chopped (a good chocolate is best-- I like Dagoba or Guittard. But if saving money, use Nestle's or Baker's chocolate, not Hershey's)
3 T unsalted butter
3 egg whites
3 egg yolks
1/2 t cream of tartar
1/2 C heavy cream (very cold)
1/2 t vanilla
2 additional T sugar
Warm 3 eggs (in shells) in a hot tap water in a bowl if they are not room temperature. Keep them in there at least 5 minutes. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double-boiler or a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot of barely simmering water. Stir with a wooden spoon till smooth. Remove from stove and cool slightly--chocolate should still be liquid.Separate eggs, reserving whites in a medium bowl and whisk the yolks into the chocolate mixture one at a time.
Beat egg whites in medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat. Gradually shisk in 1/4 C sugar and continue beating until stiff peak form. Beat the cream in a chilled bowl until it begins to thicken and foam. Add remaining 2 T sugar and the vanilla. Continue to whup cream until it holds soft peaks.
Gradually fold in the egg whites into the chocolate mixture with a rubber spatula. When the egg whites have almost disappeared, delicately fold in the whipped cream until the mixture , stopping the minute it is no longer two-tone. Don't rush this--slow and steady wins the race! Refrigerate until ready to frost cupcakes.
Use 1 C (or more) raspberry preserves for this. If you want to make it really fancy mix together 1 C raspberry preserves with 6 t Kirsch or Chambord liquer. Take an apple corer and core each cupcake. Using a knife and spoon or a piping bag with a large tip...push a small ammount of the preserves into the cupcake. Be careful to put the piping tip deep inside of the cupcake BEFORE you put the raspberry mixture into the piping bag. Do it one teaspoon at a time--otherwise it will get all over your counter and you! I know this because I am sitting here with rasberry filling all over my jeans.
After filling cupcakes, frost with a pastry bag and a large pastry bag tip. I use a swirl pattern--you can do what you want. Place a fresh raspberry in the middle of the top for fun---and if you have extra chocolate--grate some on top. I would refrigerate these a few hours or overnight before serving! I was amazed at the difference this made.