Mocha cheesecake cupcakes with chocolate ganache

So I have a confession to make about these cupcakes. I made them, initially, for Sarah as a part of our NCAA basketball tournament-inspired cookie throwdown. I wanted to make inside-out cupcakes, inspired by Liz Lemon/Tina Fey’s cupcake sandwich. I figured that real cupcakes would be too messy, but put the frosting inside the cupcake, and, blamo! Instant shippable treat.

Well, this is not true. I neglected to think about the consistency of the cakey part of the cupcake and the longevity of cupcakes more generally. So I made this awesome batch of cupcakes and then immediately realized, “Shit! I can’t ship these.”

So we ate them ourselves, with an assist from our friend Heather. It was tough, you guys, but we managed.

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(Also, the inside frosting thing didn’t quite work, which explains the ganache. More on that below.)

Cupcakes are tough little suckers. I tried out about half a dozen recipes a few years ago, and none of them came out quite the way I wanted them to. At one point, I brought a relatively successful batch to a party, only to find that two other people also came bearing cupcakes that were better looking and not any worse tasting than mine–yet theirs came straight from a box. That’s the problem with cupcakes. There are decent box mixes out there, and it’s not always worth the extra time to make them from scratch.

However, I just can’t deal with being outsmarted by the lowly cupcake. So I tried again. And these actually worked! They were delicious. Granted, the recipe I chose for the cheesecake portion of the cupcake was way, way too liquid-y to hold it’s shape within the cupcake. Swirled with the chocolate batter, though, it added a delightful cheesecake flavor to the rich chocolate base. Not too shabby.

Ingredients

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp brewed espresso
1 egg
2 tbsp flour
pinch of salt
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, divided
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together with a mixer until light. Add egg and mix well. Add espresso, flour, and salt and mix. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Using a double boiler, melt the 3 oz of chocolate. Set aside.
  5. Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks and mix thoroughly by hand. Mix in vanilla and melted chocolate and continue mixing.
  6. Stir in half of the buttermilk, then half of the dry ingredients, then the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter in thirds. Do not over mix! (You should still see some faint wisps of egg white in the batter).
  8. Add the chocolate batter to the cupcake liners and top with cheesecake batter, then swirl the batters. Alternatively, you can fill the liner with a smaller amount of chocolate batter, then cheesecake batter, and then chocolate batter again. Both versions work well. The batter should fill at least 3/4 of the cupcake liners.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes, then cool.
  10. Make ganache: place finely chopped bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl. On the stovetop, bring heavy cream to a boil. Add to chocolate and stir until melted. Set aside to cool.
  11. Frost cupcakes with ganache and serve!

Nutella ice cream

Three years ago, while Alison and I were visiting my father in Sarasota, he brought us to Big Olaf Creamery. Although there are several locations, the place we visited was a small outpost along a road lined with Amish-owned (as Big Olaf’s is) food establishments. Apparently, Sarasota has a rather large Amish community, many of whom travel down to Sarasota for the winter. [Seriously, read this article on “Amish Las Vegas.” Apparently, what stays in Pinecraft–the Amish area of Sarasota–stays in Pinecraft.]

In any case, the ice cream at Big Olaf’s is divine. We loved it, and now (like a 5 year-old), I insist on going every time I visit.

This past winter when we visited, my interest was piqued by the Nutella Ice Cream at Big Olaf’s. It was hazelnut ice cream with swirls of nutella. I tried it, and I was hooked. I decided I would have to try making it.

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