Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

My parents came to visit last weekend, to see how we were doing and go to church with us. We had a wonderful day together. When they arrived we had a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast using my homemade soft white sandwich bread. It was delicious.

For lunch, Lara and I made chicken pesto sandwiches with marinated chicken (grilled on my grill pan), provolone, pesto (of course), tomato and mayo, all on a fabulous homemade bun, recipe to follow soon!

While all of this was fun, the best part of the visit was the excuse to make a yummy dessert that I normally wouldn't make for myself. Lara and I decided on chocolate cupcakes that we had seen on America's Test Kitchen. We did change them up a bit by substituting mocha frosting for the chocolate frosting in the recipe and boy and I glad we did. The mocha frosting was absolutely delicious, and a great complement to the rich, dark, decadent chocolate cupcakes with a surprise ganache filling. These were hands down the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever had, maybe even the best cupcake ever. Happily, there was a nice amount of leftover frosting, can't let that go to waste, right...

The not so humble cupcake

Fresh from the oven, if you look close you can see the divot 
where the ganache sits, my favorite part!

Mocha frosting, ready for its noble purpose

Six uniquely frosted cupcakes, all were fabulous
Note: A half batch of the frosting is good for the 12 cupcakes the recipe makes. 

from America's Test Kitchen
Makes 12 cupcakes
Ganache Filling
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note) 
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar 
Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note) 
  • 1/3 cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa 
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee 
  • 3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour 
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
FOR GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes. (Do not chill for longer than 30 minutes. The ganache gets too hard and sinks to the bottom of the cupcake during baking. Still just as delicious, but quite messy, and not as easy to eat. I found 20-25 minutes to work well.)

FOR CUPCAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour. 

TO FROST: Mound 2 to 3 tablespoons frosting on center of each cupcake. Using small icing spatula or butter knife, spread frosting to edge of cupcake, leaving slight mound in center.

Mocha Frosting
from Cook's Country 
Makes about 4 cups
This recipe makes enough frosting for two 9-inch layers, a 13 by 9-inch sheet cake, one Bundt cake (made in a 12-cup Bundt pan) or 24 cupcakes. The frosting can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Before using the frosting, let it stand at room temperature until softened, about 2 hours, then whip with an electric mixer briefly to re-fluff.
  • 24 tablespoons unsalted butter (3 sticks), cut into pieces and softened 
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar 
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso 
CREAM BUTTER In an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter, cream, vanilla, and salt on medium-high speed until combined. 

WHIP FROSTING Reduce mixer speed to medium-low. With motor running, slowly add confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and instant espresso and mix until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat frosting until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

My parents were in charge of food for their Bible study last night, so Lara and I jumped at the chance of making something fun that we normally wouldn't make because we would never be able to eat it all. We asked my dad what his choice of food was and he said chocolate cake. My mom received The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook for Christmas so I instantly turned to the dessert section and found this recipe for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake. The cake turned out beautifully (even though I did have to bake it for an extra 10-15 minutes). It rose pretty well, although I still have to work on that, and it barely domed at all which was nice for a change. My cakes always seem to get very poofy and domed on the top which makes frosting them not as easy as it could be. The frosting was delicious! When we frosted the cake it was light and airy, almost like whipped cream, but within a couple of hours it had hardened up a bit. I am so thankful my parents came home with some leftovers, it was a delicious cake! While I still prefer white cake with white, sugary frosting, I would definitely make this chocolate cake again.

Chocolaty Goodness

Here she is!

All that was left the next morning

 From The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate , coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (3/4 ounce)
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch-round by 2-inch-high cake pans with softened butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess. Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack. Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45 to 60 minutes.

  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate , finely chopped
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream (cold)
Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl set over saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted. Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4 to 5 minutes. Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of standing mixer and stir to thoroughly combine. Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1 to 2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees). Place bowl on standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.