3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped into small pieces
¾ cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
Tip: Use standard measuring cups and spoons or scales for accurate measuring.
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
Chocolate filled cookies, crushed (such as Oreos)
Mini chocolate chips
Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans, coarsely chopped
Chocolate mint candies, coarsely chopped
Pecans, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two mini muffin pans; line with mini paper cupcake liners.
- In a small saucepan, combine baking chocolate and water. Stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir the buttermilk and vanilla extract together. Set aside.
- In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
Tip: To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.
With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the granulated sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 5 minutes to add all of the sugar, then add the brown sugar, taking an additional 3 to 4 minutes, beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture. While adding the sugars, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed. The mixture may appear curdled when all of the eggs have been added but this will be corrected when the flour is added.
Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture. Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium. Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.
- With the mixer on low speed, blend in the melted chocolate.
- With the mixer on low speed, add about one third of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended. Scrape the bowl down, and add about one half of the buttermilk mixture, blending just until mixed. Scrape the bowl down again and continue alternating with the flour mixture and buttermilk mixture, ending with the last portion of the flour, and stirring just until blended.
- Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about 2/3 full.
Tip: Avoid over-filling the liners which may cause the batter to run-over the sides when baking.
- Bake, rotating pan halfway through, 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and a toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool slightly in cupcake pan, and turn out of pan when cool enough to handle. Repeat process with any remaining batter. Cool cupcakes completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
- Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a small heavy saucepan over medium low heat, heat the cream until it is hot and just beginning to steam. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
- Let the Ganache sit at room temperature to cool, stirring frequently. As the Ganache cools it will thicken and become spreadable. The cooling process will take 15 to 30 minutes; or you can speed up the process by placing the bowl over another bowl of ice water.
- Use an offset spatula to frost the top of each cupcake with Ganache.
- Immediately sprinkle the tops of each cupcake with your choice of toppings. Let the Ganache set before serving.