Happy Halloween! Here is a treat that is not trick at all to make. These easy chocolate cupcakes are made with ingredients that you probably already have in your frig and pantry. I've made them three times in the past month and they have been no fail cupcakes for me. This weekend, I made them for my grandsons when they came to dinner Saturday night along with our daughter to join us for the China Lights lantern festival display at the nearby botanical gardens. More about that later :)
The recipe is supposed to make 12 cupcakes but I like my cupcakes higher on top so only get 11 out of this recipe.
The cupcakes you see above were dipped in warm ganache but you can allow the ganache to cool a bit and frost them normally as in my first cupcake photos. No matter how you decide to adorn them, the ganache frosting is so delicious and pairs perfectly with these easy chocolate cupcakes. Give them a try, you won't be disappointed!
As I mentioned earlier, I made these cupcakes yesterday for our daughter and two oldest grandsons who came for an early dinner, after which we all went to Wisconsin China Lights Lantern Festival. Located in the Boerner Botanical Gardens nearby, the event is very well attended and there were quite a few people there last night. A steady stream of buses transfer people to the gardens from outlying parking lots.
It was so worth the effort to see! Magical. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Creative. Spectacular. Amazing lantern structures, made by artists in China, some of which are 2-3 stories high and some animated. The theme this year was Panda-Mania with life-sized and larger-than-life pandas. Here are a few highlights from our visit. Click on any photo to enlarge it.
The first panda you see on the left is 2 stories high and its body includes more than 30,000 ping pong balls glued together! The flowers in the tree filled with life-sized pandas kept changing beautiful colors.
One of the highlights was the wooden walking bridge photo in the center with beautiful lanterns overhead and soothing Chinese music playing. You can see some of my videos on Instagram @savoringtime.
I thought the giant tarantula was spooky enough for Halloween :)
If you do a Google search for Chinese Lantern Festival you may find there is a festival display somewhere near you.
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache FrostingPrintable Recipe
Makes 11 cupcakes (yes, that's not a typo). Use less batter in each cupcake liner if you want 12 cupcakes...I like mine a little higher.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 cup cake flour (for easy homemade cake flour, measure 1 cup flour into a bowl, remove 1 tablespoon flour and then add 1 tablespoon corn starch in its place – blend with a fork or whisk)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), I used Ghirardelli
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup buttermilk (you can make your own buttermilk by stirring in 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to 1/4 cup regular milk and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, stir again before using)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil cupcake liners.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the vegetable oil and water over low heat. As soon as the butter is melted, remove from heat.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt together. Stir until blended together. Add the melted butter mixture and beat with a handheld mixer at low speed until smooth. Beat in the egg and then the buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth for about one minute, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the lined muffin tins, filling them about three-fourths full.
Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Unfrosted cupcakes can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped. I used Ghirardelli 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Bar
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I only use 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl, such as a 4-cup Pyrex measuring bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream, butter, corn syrup and salt until hot but not boiling. Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate and leave alone for 1-2 minutes. Then start stirinbg , and then stir until smooth and dark with no remaining traces of cream (start stirring in circles in the center and then work outward).
Let the frosting cool, stirring occasionally, until thick enough for dipping and glazing the cupcakes, about 30 minutes. For a frosting firm enough to spread, place in refrigerator and stir every 5 minutes until it’s firm enough to use as frosting. If it becomes too stiff just bring it back to room temperature. The frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before using.
Adapted from Food and Wine