Baby Shower | Congrats Alice & Mark!

| Baby Showers

Babies on the way are always exciting news, but this one in particular makes me so happy. Alice has been a sister to me, friend, confidante, mentor, and even once-employer. Her recent baby shower was a no-frills gathering of friends and featuring great food (Waffle Roost Food Truck), reflecting the priorities of Alice and Mark. Other than some flavor preferences, there weren’t any special requests for desserts. So left to my own whims and imagination, I made chocolate hazelnut mousse (with flourless chocolate cake and chocolate meringues), matcha green tea “napoleon” cakes and lemon curd strawberry buttercream mini cupcakes.


The chocolate mousse cups had a small circle of cake at the bottom, topped with the chocolate hazelnut mousse, and a cluster of meringue sticks inserted on top. Although baked until they dry out, the meringue absorbs a bit of moisture over time, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture.



The matcha green tea cakes had layers of green tea chiffon cake, green tea pastry cream and puff pastry (one of my favorite combinations these days). I topped them with buttercream and sprinkled with matcha green tea sugar and turbinado sugar and served as small slices.


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Chocolate Cupcakes 4-Ways – Mint Chip, S’mores, Mocha Meringue, Curry Ganache

| Uncategorized

Last weekend, I decided to put four chocolate cupcake recipes to the test, in the hopes of finding an alternative to my fave Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes recipe (which uses bread flour instead of the more typical all-purpose flour or cake flour).

The four candidates:

  1. Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes (Cupcake Wars, Dorothy Tong, 2010)
  2. Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Chip Filling (Top Chef: Just Desserts, Danielle Keene, 2010)
  3. Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake (Rose Levy Beranbaum, Cake Bible)
  4. Domingo Cake (Rose Levy Beranbaum, Cake Bible)

The verdict:
I hadn’t made a butter cake in so long, I forgot how different the texture and coloring is! Butter cakes have a softer and finer crumb, are lighter in color compared to oil cakes, and are denser than oil cakes. They also support a truer chocolate flavor, as opposed to the oftentimes more bitter and/or barely-chocolatey flavor of chocolate buttermilk or oil cakes.

  1. The Cupcake Wars cupcake came out a little bitter and bland. It is not a keeper for me, but being less flavorful, it served as a good template for featuring toppings and other flavorings.
  2. The Top Chef: Just Desserts cupcake was pretty good, and had a solid chocolate flavor due to a heavy dose of cocoa. I was surprised that the recipe did not use salt — I think the addition of salt would add a little more depth to the flavor. With a bit of tweaking, this could be a good recipe to keep, but flavor- and texture-wise, it did not top my favorite Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes from Cooks Illustrated.
  3. / 4. Rose’s two chocolate butter cake recipes were melt-in-your-mouth delicious coming out of the oven. They tasted fudgy, and reminded me of a cross between flourless chocolate cakes and chocolate souffles, if that makes any sense. Delicious! When fresh, the All-American was more chocolatey and memorable than the Domingo. However, the day after, the All-American was a bit too dry and dense in texture for me (perhaps an execution error on my part). The Domingo (which uses sour cream) fared better and maintained a better chocolate flavor, even though a bit dense as well. Perhaps oil cakes are just a preferable texture for cupcakes. However, I can see how butter cupcakes would be much better for constructing layer cakes.

Next weekend, I think I will try the butter recipe again to see if I can achieve a better texture, perhaps using Rose’s chocolate butter cupcake recipe which adds some baking soda. Inevitably, my oven from the 70s/80s will have temperature control issues, but I will keep a closer eye. I will also try Rose’s German Chocolate Cake recipe (without the German filling/frosting), as that chocolate cake recipe is an oil recipe. So, in other words, my chocolate cake recipe experiment is to-be-continued.

I topped the All-American with mocha meringue frosting, which was tasty, but ended up being my least favorite combination.

I topped the Domingo with a curry chocolate ganache (rich, creamy, and with a pleasantly surprising spice kick) which went perfectly with the fudginess of the Domingo cake and created my favorite combination.

I converted the Cupcake Wars cupcakes into S’mores cupcakes (filled with ganache glaze and topped with a Graham cracker and toasted marshmallow meringue frosting).

Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes (Cupcake Wars, Dorothy Tong, 2010)
Makes 22 cupcakes


* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 3/4 cups sugar
* 3/4 cups high-fat cocoa powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
* 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong, hot, coffee
* 1/2 cup hot water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Slowly stir in the coffee and water. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

For the Top Chef cupcakes, I filled and topped with chocolate mint chip mousse. My execution wasn’t perfect, and my mousse was a bit too soft, but chilling the cupcake helped hold it all together.

Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Chip Filling (Top Chef: Just Desserts, Danielle Keene, 2010)
Makes 24 cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcake:

* 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
* 2 1/8 cup sugar
* 1 1/2 cup cocoa
* 1/2 tsp baking powder
* 1 tsp baking soda
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup oil
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 3/4 cup & 2 tablespoons coffee, cold
* 1/2 tsp vanilla


* 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
* 3 yolks
* 1/4 cup & 2 tbsp. water
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup crème fraiche
* 1/4 tsp mint oil
* 1/2 cup flaked chocolate


Chocolate Cupcake: Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda into mixing bowl. Combine egg, oil, buttermilk, coffee and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, whisk on medium, scrape down sides and whisk 1 minute more. Scoop into cupcake tin filled w/ liners. Bake at 350 degrees until done, 20-25 minutes.

Mousse: Melt chocolate, whisk yolks to thick ribbon in mixer. Heat sugar and water to boiling. On low speed, slowly pour hot sugar mixture into yolks. Whip until cooled and thick. In a separate bowl whip heavy cream, crème fraiche, and mint oil to soft peaks. Fold chocolate into yolks, fold in whipped cream in 3 additions. Fold in flaked chocolate. Chill.

Core chocolate cupcakes and fill with mousse. Top with more mousse (or whipped cream or toasted meringue) and sprinkle on chocolate curls.

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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

| For Friends & Family

Post-wedding, our kitchen is now happily equipped with a stand mixer and a kitchen torch. That means, not only do I no longer need to hand-beat meringue for 15+ minutes (a vigorous exercise, to say the least), I can brûlée things to my heart’s content. Everyone likes to play with fire!
This cupcake bursts with flavor with lemon zest and pulp baked into the fluffy cake and lemon curd on top &mdash or optionally, lemon custard filling the center, as shown in the photo above &mdash contrasted with an airy, whipped meringue frosting.

For this cupcake flavor, I highly recommend a lighter cake to match the topping. While Martha Stewart suggests a lemon buttermilk cake, I find that a recipe closer to cakelove’s Light and Lemony Cake is less dense and thus more harmonious with the meringue. I think a sponge cake would be delicious as well. Thanks to my friend Ji at cakes by Ji for introducing me to the wonderful world of cakelove!