Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes

At my house, you can tell that the seasons are changing – desserts have gone from ice cream to baked goods.

Lately I’ve been making cupcakes. Not because they’re trendy. Ask anyone who knows me – I’m not all that trendy. But cupcakes make sense for us. There are only two of us here, and we don’t need to have a whole cake sitting around.

Sure, I can give cake away, but it’s much easier to give away cupcakes – I can send a few here and a few there, and no one needs to worry about plates or forks.

If mayonnaise in a cake sounds weird, consider what it’s made of – it’s just eggs and oil, emulsified. Okay, maybe there’s a little citrus and salt, but that’s not weird, either.

Mayonnaise cakes aren’t a new thing – it’s actually a pretty old idea. But this recipe is from a new book – Baked Elements. I’ve really been enjoying this book – there are plenty of recipes that are perfect for a home baker who is looking for a good but not overly-complicated dessert.

This recipe made slightly more than 24 cupcakes, as the recipe stated. But that’s fine. It’s always nice to have a few extras.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes
Adapted from Baked Elements by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

For the cupcakes:
2 ounces quality chocolate (60-72%), coarsely chopped
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:
12 ounces (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
10 ounces good dark chocolate (60-72%), melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

To make the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line two 12-cup cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium metal mixing bowl, mix the chocolate and cocoa powder. Add the boiling water and whisk until smooth.

In another medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Whisk to combine.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, and mayonnaise. Beat until well mixed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and beat again.

Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two additions of the chocolate mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Don’t overmix – just beat until the mixture is blended.

Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through the baking time, until the cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn them out and let them cool completely on a rack before frosting.

To make the frosting:
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until it is light and creamy – about 2 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar in one addition and beat (start sloooooowly until the powdered sugar is no longer apt to fly around the room) until it’s completely incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat briefly, just to incorporate

 Scrape down the bowl, then add the chocolate. Beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as needed to make sure the chocolate is completely incorporated.

About that salt: 

This wasn't part of the recipe, but you might want to consider it.

Taste the frosting and see if you like it. I thought that a little salt would be a good idea, and adding it at the very end and just mixing it in means that you get little "pops" of salty flavor in the frosting.

I like those little bursts, but if you prefer, you can beat it in longer so it incorporates better. Or, if you know that you're going to want to add that salt, you can add it at the very beginning, with the butter.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired.

Needless to say, I decided to go with a Halloween motif. 

And THIS is what I made with the extra batter - I'd estimate that I could have made maybe three more cupcakes with the remaining batter, but instead I baked it in a very small loaf pan - just 5 3/4 x 3. It's a handy pan any time I have leftover batter. I had frosting left, too, so that went on the little cake as well.

I went a little nuts with the frosting on this little cake, but I had fun with it.