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|Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes (made with Vietnamese Chocolate)||Posted by: Chi Anh | April 23, 2011|
If you are like me and occasionally spend a lot of time and money to bake for family, friends and colleagues JUST to satisfy their cravings (and more often than that, your own but you just use them as an excuse), you will know their answer to the question: “What flavor do you feel like having?”
It will be “Chocolate.”
Or “Something chocolaty. Something rich, and moist, but very chocolaty.”
Something like… this?
Truth is, one can never have enough chocolate. It’s easy to understand why. We are all deprived of good chocolate desserts. How often do you actually get the kick out of a cheap, store-bought milk chocolate bar that gives you more meaningless calories than happiness? And when was the last time you had an out-of-body experience from a Chocolate Lava Cake that oozes shiny, gooey chocolate onto your plate? Probably not yesterday, or even last week. Especially not in Vietnam.
If you are living in Hanoi, like me, you probably are on an even higher level of Chocolate deprivation. Lindt is not available in every supermarket, if then overpriced. And don’t even think about the likes of Valrhona. But there’s hope! I recently discovered that Vietnam has its own cocoa bean plantation, currently used exclusively by a Belgium chocolate manufacturing company called Grand-Place. They produce chocolate mainly for professionals in Restaurants, Bakeries and Hotels. My excitement grew even bigger when they released the world’s first “Single Vietnam Origin Chocolate” for professionals. This is a dream come true. I get to satisfy my intense craving for gourmet chocolate, AND I’m helping the Vietnamese Economy.
I set off to hunt for these new treasures of Vietnam. But nobody seems to be selling these in the local baking stores I know. I googled countless times. All I got was useless postings about these chocolates being available for export on Alibaba.com, or some people selling it by bulk orders over suspicious looking forums. I almost gave up, until I found out that a Hanoi bakery, Kokotaru Coffee & Cakes, uses this chocolate for baking too. I posted the question on the shop’s facebook page and they kindly directed me to Hang Buom, a street in the Hanoi old quarter. Finding the chocolate in that street was another hunt in a maze , but I did find it eventually in a small shop selling 1kg of Grand Palace Confectioner’s Coating Chocolate for only VND100,000 (USD5). I could hardly believe the price, is it too good to be true?
First thing I did when I got home was to break a piece of my newly acquired chocolate treasure and slipped it into my mouth. It was creamy and smooth against the tongue, with a hint of cinnamon, citrus and coffee. Then I knew. My cupcakes are going to be awesome.
The Chocolate Ganache Cupcake recipe was adapted from Georgetown Cupcakes (featured in the awesome TV show DC Cupcakes). I am planning on baking the cupcakes on their menu one by one, which seems much easier than booking a ticket to Washington DC and stand in a long line to buy from the Georgetown Cupcakes shop.
Did I mention I had no idea how to melt & temper chocolate before I made this? The last few times I tried to melt chocolate were disastrous, with the chocolate separated and seized into a thick, dull, gooey paste. After a full day researching on melting and tempering chocolate, I finally realized I had been doing it all wrong. It’s never as simple as just “putting the chocolate over simmering water until it melts”. A tiny air bubble or water droplet could seize and lump the chocolate, and you end up with a useless, dull mass again. Thank you Baking 911 for saving me from another chocolate disaster.
The intense and velvety chocolate ganache frosting with the moist and rich cake create a chocolate explosion in your mouth, leaving you craving for another bite, and another, and another… Then finish off with licking those ganache off your fingers. Yes, it was a very messy affair to eat them, but as long as no one sees it, I don’t care.
I still had quite a bit of Chocolate Ganache leftover, which I transformed into Chocolate Truffles with Walnut bits, following the recipe from Joyofbaking.com:
These 2 desserts in one day made us very happy people. Perhaps a little bit high. Knowing that luscious chocolate desserts are now within my reach made me feel like a winner, and relieved. My chocolate deprivation is officially over.
Georgetown Cupcake’s Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
(adapted from The Washington Post)
INGREDIENTS (yields 18 cupcakes at least)
For the cupcakes
For the ganache frosting
*Preheat oven to 180C (350F) or 160C (325F) if you are using a convection oven. Line cupcake pan with baking cups.
1. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a big mixing bowl.
2. Cream butter & sugar together: Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the paddle attachment, beat the butter at low, then medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth and plastic-like consistency, but not too soft. Still at medium speed, add in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. While mixing, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Once the beaters form ridges in the butter, and the mixture is pale and fluffy, stop creaming.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, for about 20 seconds each. Combine vanilla extract and milk in a cup.
4. Reduce speed to low, add 1 quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then one-third of the milk mixture, alternating wet and dry ingredients until you finish off with the flour, mixing well after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Beat only until just combined (overbeaten flour can cause the cake to be stiff).
5. Add the cocoa powder, beating at low speed until just incorporated. Use an ice-cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter until 2/3 full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until toothpick inserted into center of a cupcake comes out clean (but not too clean, we want the cakes to be moist). Start checking from 15 minutes onwards. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a cooling rack.
6. Make the ganache: Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan at medium high heat, stirring often to prevent the cream from burning at the bottom. Once boiled, pour the cream over the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and let stand without stirring for a few minutes. Stir gently with a dry spoon from center outwards and avoid any air or water to incorporate into the mixture (or the chocolate will seize and lose its shine).
7. Dip each cupcake into the chocolate ganache and twist so that the top is completely coated with ganache. Place on wax paper or cooling rack on top of wax paper. Put a walnut half on top of each cupcake. Allow the ganache to set for at least 5 minutes before serving.
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