Here is another GREAT secret for cupcakes…forget buttercream made with confectioners sugar & butter…use ganache. It’s easy peasy and super delicious. Use great chocolate (the best you can afford of course) I use Ghirardelli or Kirkland brand (Costco) chocolate chips. One caution, I love dark chocolate, however, do not use a chocolate that has more than about 55% cocoa fat, it will not make a good ganache.
Ganache uses 3 ingredients, butter, chocolate and cream, you can use half and half in a pinch but it will not yield the creamy melt-in-your-mouth unctuous deliciousness.
I use about 8 oz of chocolate to 4 oz of cream and 2 tbsp of butter. Put it in a microwave safe dish and heat it up on level 3 for about 3 minutes, you just want the cream to gently melt the chocolate. If you are using block chocolate, shave or grate it into the microwave safe pan, the smaller the pieces of chocolate the better…it is SO easy to burn, do not overheat it or use too high of a power level.
Take the mixture carefully out of the microwave so as not to slosh it on yourself (yes I have), and mix it until all the cream is incorporated. Let it cool to room temp and at this point it can be a filling for your cupcakes, or you can whip it and use it for frosting OR you can just pipe it onto your cupcakes.
An additional secret is that you can freeze cake batter. defrost it just until you can scoop it into your cupcake papers and bake at 350 degrees until they spring back to the touch.
For an even better touch when you are filling the cupcakes papers with batter, take some of the Philadelphia chocolate cream cheese and put a dollop (about a teaspoon) of the Philly chocolate cream cheese on the top of each cupcake, it will end up in the center and give you a delicious creamy filling.
Want to spice it up? Use roasted cinnamon to taste in the batter (remember too much cinnamon is NEVER a good thing) Another great idea is to get some chocolate with chili peppers or chipotle and grate that on top of the cupcakes before you bake them, mix some into the batter OR grate it on top of your ganache topped cupcakes.
Want to make a statement with your flavor combinations? Try Pumpkin and chocolate.
Try different flavor combos like chocolate and bacon, bacon and pumpkin…use your imagination and get bakin!