Go big or go home.
I live in Texas now, so I can adopt that motto, right?
Lately, something’s changed. I need complications in my life. The thought of baking a tray of Toll House chocolate chip cookies or a pan of plain chocolate brownies bores me. (Maybe you can sense this from my experimentation with pancake flavors like tarte tatin, peanut butter carrot and cornbread…) This is not a good thing, since those are what I find myself craving most often (aka, right now. I could really go for a cookie).
On the other hand…what excites me are Momofuku creations. Four or six recipes within one cake recipe! Yes please! Cookies that use three separate recipes and four ingredients that I’ve never heard of? Sign me up! (Forget the calories! The extra effort exerted makes up for the extra shortening, butter and corn syrup, right?)
But sadly, I can’t Momofuku creations all day. And if I blogged about them every week, you’d probably kill me. But, um, I managed to create another creation that also has four components! And is super tasty.
Does this cupcake look unassuming? Crack it open.
Ohhhh yeah. Pumpkin pie-stuffed chocolate cupcakes. Topped with salted caramel cream cheese frosting and chocolate ganache. (In case you missed the title.)
I’ll be straight with you–it was meant to just be topped with the salted caramel frosting. Unfortunately, I have a history with runny cream cheese frosting and it seems I still haven’t learned my lesson. The secret to cream cheese frosting is to use perfectly room temperature ingredients, both cream cheese and butter. In this instance, my cream cheese was the perfect temperature…but I forgot to set out the butter. So I tried to warm it up quick over the still-warm stove, but it ended up being too runny, rendering my frosting more of a glaze than a pipe-able frosting. So Laura sadly puddled it over the cupcakes for me while I whipped up a ganache to pipe on top instead.
So pumpkin pie-stuffed chocolate cupcakes might not sound like the most natural pairing and I’ll admit that they are a little odd. But in the best way possible. Once you delve past the thick and incredibly rich chocolate ganache, through the silky, caramel-y-sweet-salty-tangy cream cheese frosting and the impossibly dewy chocolate cake, you’ll run right into a pocket of pudding-like pumpkin pie filling. Uh yes, I would like to eat my pumpkin pie like this for the rest of my life. Encased in chocolate cake. Thank you.
How about you? Sometimes I feel like I’m crazy, with this longing for XTREME ELABORATE DESSERTS! But do you feel the same? Or are you happy knocking out those delicious, tried-and-true recipes in the kitchen?
This chocolate cake is extremely delicate–they almost squished when I tried to fill them with pumpkin. To avoid this, I would recommend chilling or even freezing the cupcakes before trying to stuff them.
These cupcakes are not especially high-domed, but don’t be tempted to overfill the cupcake tins or add more baking powder like I did. They’ll have a slight dome when baked, but when I tried to compensate with the above tricks, they only sunk in the middle slightly. Phooey.
I made a triple batch of these cupcakes (yes, they were for other people), and still had a ton of pumpkin pie filling and chocolate ganache leftover. Whatever will you do with those leftovers? :) Fair warning.
Pumpkin Pie-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting and Chocolate Ganache
Make the pie filling first, and let cool for at least two hours, or overnight in the fridge. While pie is cooling, make the ganache, then the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting while the ganache chills.
To assemble the cupcakes, take one cooled chocolate cupcake and carve out a cone shaped portion out of the top with a butter knife. Cut off the point end of the cone so that you have a little cake “lid” to place over your filling (warning: this part can get messy and crumbly). Plop about 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin pie filling in the hollow you just made and place the cake lid on top. (If you have no idea what I’m saying, Annie’s Eats has a great tutorial.)
Spread with cream cheese frosting and finish with a piped swirl of ganache. I use a Williams-Sonoma’s frosting applicator similar to this and I would highly recommend getting a similar type of frosting applicator if you want pretty, professional-ish looking cupcakes! You can use disposable decorating bags (with tips), but saving the environment is cooler, right?
Pumpkin Pie Filling
From The Cupcake Project
Yield: 1 9″ crust-less pie (or enough to fill at least 3 batches of cupcakes)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice, if you prefer)
2 large eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
12 ounces evaporated milk
Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a large bowl, beat eggs. Stir in sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
- Mix in pumpkin, then add evaporated milk.
- Pour into 9″ pie plate or any other baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
- Reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 40-50 minutes (depends on the size of your pan), until a toothpick comes out dry.
- Remove from oven and let cool for two hours before use. Before using, use an electric mixer to beat the filling to evenly distribute the moisture or stir by hand.
1 cup heavy cream (can take this down to 3/4 cup if you want extra-thick ganache)
1 cup chocolate chips (or better quality chocolate, chopped)
Heat the heavy cream until boiling, either in the microwave (about a minute or two) or on medium-high over a stovetop. Pour in the chocolate chips and let sit for a minute. Then stir until smooth. After a minute, the mixture should start to look glossy. If there are still a few lumps, that’s good! Keep stirring until the lumps have melted and mixture is completely smooth.
If the mixture starts to look grainy and dry, that’s not good. Stick it in the microwave for another 15 seconds, then try stirring again. Be careful not to scorch the chocolate in the microwave, so err on the side of smaller microwaving increments.
You can either drizzle this over the top of your cupcakes or pipe, as I did. To pipe, refrigerate the ganache for at least 45 minutes, or until thoroughly chilled. It should be super thick and no longer remotely pour-able. Use an electric mixer to beat chilled ganache to a fluffier, looser consistency. Add to a frosting applicator and pipe away to your heart’s desire.
For more instructions on ganache, check this out.
From Handle the Heat
Yield: 12-15 cupcakes (mine made closer to 13, but the original recipe said it makes 18-20!)
1 scant cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
7 tablespoons cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup milk (I used almond breeze)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and beat on medium speed with a stand or hand mixer for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Batter will be extremely runny.
Fill each cupcake liner two-thirds full with cake batter. Bake until tops are firm and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer muffin pans to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely before frosting.
Salted Cream Cheese Frosting
The reason my frosting failed is probably because I didn’t really use a recipe. I based it loosely off of one I can’t even remember–a 1:1 ratio of room-temperature cream cheese and butter (around 6 tablespoons), and then as much caramel as I thought tasted good (maybe 1/2 cup), a sprinkle of salt, and around 3 cups of powdered sugar until I realized adding more sugar was not going to help the runniness.
If you don’t want to try your hand at my vague directions (why ever not?!), I suggest using something like this.
Phew! I had one tired cupcake after all of that!