Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
This is a great little hit of chocolate and coffee for when you need a fix. They are my two favorite vices. Well, the two that come to mind right now. My day ALWAYS starts with a cup of coffee in the morning. About midday I open up my chocolate drawer and have a little square of some treasure I've been hiding. Yes, I have a drawer just for chocolate. Actually it shares space with tins of tea, but they are just a foil to throw my boys off the scent. If you lift up the tins there are about a dozen different chocolate bars to choose from. If the boys start reading my website I'll have to find a new hiding spot. This dessert is a perfect blend of flavors. It is also just the right size. Enough to satisfy and yet not so much as to make me feel guilty about indulging, any time of day. The cake is a flourless chocolate soufflé that is baked just until the outside is nice and crunchy, but the inside is smooth and rich in texture and flavor. If you serve them warm they melt in your mouth. If you refrigerate them they become denser like a fudge. There are differing opinions in my house as to which is the proper way to serve them. You'll decide which way to go. In either case they are made even better topped with whipped cream that has been steeped in coffee beans. The basic recipe comes from page 393 of Carole Bloom's The Essential Baker, with just a touch of extra coffee from me. Makes about 48 mini cupcakes or one 9 1/2" cake 6 ounces unsalted butter 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream 1 cup coffee beans (optional - this is an added bonus for those of us who really like our coffee) 1 pound bittersweet chocolate finely chopped 2 teaspoons pure vanilla 1/4 teaspoon salt 6 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature 1/3 cup granulated sugar 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate for garnish chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish Preheat oven to 350 degrees Prepare a 9 1/2-inch spring form pan or mini muffin tins with butter, set aside. In a small sauce pan heat the heavy whipping cream and coffee beans over low heat until simmering. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 15 minutes. The longer you allow them to steep the stronger the flavor. Strain the beans from the heavy cream through a fine mesh sieve. Take out 1/2 cup of the cream for the cake recipe and refrigerate the rest for the garnish. Heat the 1/2 cup of cream and the butter together in a medium sized sauce pan over low heat, just to a simmer. Once the butter is melted turn off the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir gently then cover the pan and allow to sit for five minutes. gently whisk the cream and chocolate together. It should be nice and smooth with no lumps of unmelted chocolate. Set aside and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile whip the egg yolks and 1/3 cup of sugar together for about 5 minutes. They should be pale in color, very think and able to hold a ribbon on the surface when you hold up the beater and allow the mixture to fall into itself. Gently fold the whipped egg yolks into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula to combine them gently. Set aside. Whip the egg whites and 1/3 cup of sugar together, until they reach stiff, but not dry peaks. In three additions fold the whites into the chocolate mixture. Working gently so as not to knock all the air out of the whites. This is what will cause your cake to soufflé. The mixture should be shiny, smooth and light in texture. Pour into cake pan or scoop into muffin tins. You can also use cupcake papers. Bake for about 20 minutes in mini-muffins (35- 40 minutes for 9 1/2-inch cake pan) or until the cakes are set and slightly cracked on the tops. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out of the muffin tins. If baked in the spring form pan then release the sides. Whip the coffee scented cream with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar until stiff peaks. Fit a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe the cupcakes with a generous amount of the cream. Using a micro zester shave the 1 ounce of chocolate over the cream and top with the chocolate covered coffee bean.