Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Bourbon Chocolate Ganache

What do you do to celebrate finishing the most important weekend of your graduate school career? You make cupcakes, share them with your friends, and then forget to eat one. I love cobbling together recipes and filled cupcakes are one of the easiest ways to put three different things together, including the filled part of these cupcakes that I have never done before (my friends enjoy whiskey). Plus, I love my Settlement cookbook (despite its horribly sexist tag line) because it always turns out great baked goods.

So even though my capstone ended a couple of weekends ago and since grades are officially in and I am officially graduating on Sunday (!!!), I am officially posting these. Officially. And maybe it'll remind me to make them again so I can actually eat one instead of tasting all of the individual parts in the baking process.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Bourbon Chocolate Ganache:

Makes 12 cupcakes so good you'll get marriage offers

Vanilla Cupcakes from The Settlement Cookbook -
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ c. shortening
1 c. milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Bourbon Chocolate Ganache modified from Dinner & Dessert:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
3-ish teaspoon bourbon (probably more. I wasn’t measuring and non bourbon lovers might not like this as much)

Rich Vanilla Buttercream Frosting from Baking Illustrated:

Makes 2 cups

2 large eggs
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of salt
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, each stick cut into quarters

To make the cupcakes, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Add melted shortening to the milk, egg, and vanilla together. Combine mixtures well. Pour into cupcake pans filled about ¾ of the way. Bake for about 20 minutes. What is hilarious about this recipe is that it is supposed to make 24 cupcakes. I didn't want 24, I wanted 12, so I made a half recipe and upon seeing the amount of batter in my mixer bowl, I made the other half. I'm not sure these would have made 24 mini cupcakes!

Anyway, while your cupcakes are cooling, move on to the ganache and frosting.

For the ganache, chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains.) Add the butter and bourbon and stir until combined. It should be creamy, but if not, add a bit more cream and bourbon. It’s okay, it’s delicious.

While the ganache is cooling, make the frosting by combining the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer; place bowl over a pan of simmering water. (Do no let the bottom of the bowl touch the water). Whisking gently but constantly, beat the mixture until it is thin and foamy and registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.

Beat the egg mixture at medium-high speed until light, airy, and cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add the butter, one piece a a time. (After adding half the butter, the buttercream may look curdled; it will smooth out with additional butter). Once all the butter is added, increase the speed to high and beat 1 minute until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined. It's a deliciously decadent frosting and it will make extra. It can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. This is a half recipe and it made too much for 12 cupcakes, though not the too much I generally seem to experience.
To assemble the cupcakes, use your awesome cupcake corer your mom got you (or a slim knife cutting to about 2/3 of the way down) to remove the centers. Eat these since you might not eat a cupcake later. Fill the holes to the top with cooled ganache (it should still be pipe- or spoon-able). Cover in frosting. Try to be gentle about this if you don't want the chocolate mixing in with the vanilla. A big glob of it that you slowly swirl around is a good way to go about this.
These are really good. Well, I know that the the individual parts are really, really good. The ganache isn't too sweet and has a very distinct bourbon taste, which was perfect for the crowd I made them for. The frosting is so ridiculously good and the cupcakes are not too sweet and an a perfect light complement to the heavier filling and frosting. Everyone I spoke with said the cupcakes as a whole were really, really good. And yes, I did get a marriage offer, just in case I need a back up hubby. It is contingent on these cupcakes. So make them! And don't forget to eat one!

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