Sunday, October 28, 2018

Easy Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes and China Lights


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 crowning glory to these easy and delicious cupcakes is also very easy to make.  Chocolate ganache only needs 4 ingredients....a 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate baking bar, heavy cream, butter and corn syrup.  No candy timers, easy to make and Oh-so delicious!


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 Frosting

Printable 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

33 comments:

  1. wow how gorgeous are those cupcakes! The ganache frosting looks to die for and the texture is simply perfect, Susan.
    Beautiful lights! I love that panda/pingpong tree!

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    1. Thank you, Angie! They are so delicious :) The lantern festival lights were amazing! The talent it took to make them is astounding.

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  2. Of course I will make these gorgeous boy pleasing cupcakes lol..and adults:) I think you are fortunate to have attended this beautiful festival of lights..makes the outing so much more memorable with the boys and your daughter.:)♥Your vintage cupcake pan looks flippin' new!! Beautiful.I saw a new pan that looks fun..crown muffin pan..it bakes a ridge before the dome so even HIGHER.I too love high;)I saw them on La Cuisine de Bernard..pricey liitle things...

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    1. Your boys would love them, if they like chocolate :) Our other daughter wanted to join us but they had a conflict on the date that worked for the boys, sadly. Next year, hopefully. I just bought the pan ♥ I had wanted one for quite a long while and when I saw this one so beautifully preserved I had to push the yes button - LOL.

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  3. what absolutely delicious and wonderful cupocakes !!!Hugs!

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    1. Thank you, Gloria! They are so delicious. I sent most home with the grandsons so we wouldn't be tempted :)

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  4. Oh wow - those cupcakes and your photos! Everything is gorgeous. You did a magnificent job of capturing the lights - and I know you had fun with the boys. Lovely!!!

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    1. Thank you, Tricia! It was a wonderful evening and I'm so happy the photos turned out :) Very difficult to get people pictures in front of the lanterns at night without a flash, however.

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  5. Great cupcakes, I like them higher also! Bet they're delicious! The lights are gorgeous and great for kids of any age. That tarantula is definitely a little scary. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Being a certified chocoholic, I can attest that they aren't just for kids :) Thank you, Pam!

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  6. What fun! These are my kind of cupcakes! Easy to make and loaded with yummy chocolate. Lovely! And your Halloween festival is fantastic for kids all ages - lol including ME! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. If you love chocolate as much as I do you would LOVE them :) Thank you!

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  7. I can't decide which is more beautiful: the cupcakes or the Chinese lights!

    Great blog post.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  8. Wish I could share a cupcake with you, Susan. I would love to try the easy recipe.
    How fun and yes, what a spectacular display were the China Lights, and how special to see with your daughter and grandsons.
    Happy Halloween! 🎃

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    1. Thanks so much, Kitty! If you love chocolate you'd love these :) Yes, the lantern festival was even more fun with the kids ♥

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  9. Oh the light display was fantastic Susan! I have never heard of this!
    The cupcakes look so dark and rich - sounds like something I would love!

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    1. I know you're chocolate skills, Jacqueline, so I do think you'd love these ;) If you are ever close to one of these lantern festivals they are quite amazing to see! Thank you!

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  10. Wow! Not just for the cupcakes!!! Those lights are spectacular. We don't do that here but we were in China for the lantern festival. Looks like they need to take notes from here!

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    1. Thank you, Abbe ;) Yes, the China Lights show was quite a beautiful sight to behold. I've read that the artists who made them are from Zigong City in Sichuan province. Not sure if that's anywhere near where you've been when visiting your son.

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  11. I love the black and white pumpkin, it so matches your fantastic cake stand. Then, those cupcakes, serious yum. The lanterns look amazing, what fun that must of been.

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    1. Thank you, Ron! A few years ago I painted those craft pumpkins ;) If you like chocolate these cupcakes are so good! It was so much fun and we still talk about how pretty it was.

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  12. The China lights are fantastic as well as those cupcakes. I especially like the way you iced them.

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    1. Thank you, Karen! Glad you were able to comment here again :)

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    2. I came back to see if the comment went through and was happily surprised. :D

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  13. Susan, these chocolate cupcakes are sure perfect...I love the wichness of the chocolate with the gooey ganache top. The lights are so pretty...thanks for sharing.
    Have a wonderful week!

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    1. It's so nice when a recipe turns out great every time you make it :) Thanks so much, Juliana!

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  14. they look like little jewels, so shiny and delicious, congratulations for the beautiful pics ! A warm hug from my B&B in Trieste

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    1. So good to hear from you, Chiara! Hope everything is going well at your B&B :) I'm sure your guests are getting wonderful food! Warm hugs to you, my Dear. xo

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  15. Those cupcakes are things of beauty! The glaze is just perfect. I’ll be trying these.

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    1. Thank you, Pattie! I hope you will love them as much as we do :)

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