I’ve gone and made something that few of my nearest and dearest would eat. My mom dislikes mocha (sorry mom–next time you can post a chard recipe or something, then we’ll be even). My dad isn’t into sweets, unless you offer him chocolate-chip cookies, brownies, or angel food cake. Also they live like 2500 miles away. Glenn likes dark chocolate, but is more drawn to white. And these cupcakes, filled with refined sugar, wheat, dairy, and eggs, would kill or harm at least two of my friends. Sorry all. I like these. But one lady alone can eat only so many cupcakes.

For this reason, I’ve halved the original recipe. In the past when I’ve made this, my circumstances have been the same–few friends and family to help me dig out of this cake mire–but I’ve had twice as much cake to deal with, as well as a glaze that becomes granulated over time. Gross. So I made half the recipe, as cupcakes instead of a bundt, and replaced the glaze with a ganache (which is good straight out of the fridge, with a spoon). I still have a lot of cupcakes. But I’m working on it.

The cakes are simple–the original recipe boasts that almost all the ingredients are pantry staples (but come on, who reliably has mini chocolate chips on hand?)–and there’s no butter to watch as it comes to room temperature. Or to microwave in 11 second increments, which is what I do to bring butter to room temperature, with very mixed results. The cake comes out moist and just sort of hits every craving. I know the pile-up of flavors might seem confusing–add some orange zest and almond extract and you’d have the flavor profile of fifteen desserts in one–but the effect is more subtle than it would appear.

Chocolate Cinnamon Cupcakes with Mocha Ganache
adapted from Bon Appetit
makes 10 cupcakes

By all means, if you’re going to a party and you expect more than 15 people to attend, make the original recipe. But don’t use their glaze. We don’t likes it.

1/2 C boiling water
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t instant coffee (the recipe calls for instant espresso–is this a normal cupboard thing? I didn’t even have instant coffee on hand.)
1 C all purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C mild vegetable oil
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1/2 C mini chocolate chips (I couldn’t be bothered–finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate works beautifully)

Ganache
1/4 C heavy cream
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 t instant coffee
1 t brown sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

Whisk the cocoa powder and instant coffee into the boiling water and set aside. In a big bowl, beat together the oil and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until the sugar looks dissolved (a hand mixer is a good tool for this). In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Now it’s time to mix the three bowls together. Add half the flour mixture to the oil and sugar mixture and beat for 30 seconds–you’re going for a uniform, glossy look. Then add the water and cocoa mixture, and beat until smooth. Add the last of the flour mixture and beat another 30 seconds or so. Then quit using the beaters and fold in the chocolate chips/mini chocolate chunks with a spatula. Save the beaters–did I mention this is the best tasting cake batter I’ve ever tried?

Spray the muffin pan and the liners with some non-stick spray, getting in between the holes and inside the muffin liners (I find that the chocolate chunks like to stick to stuff, hence this excessive non-stick business). Using a quarter cup measure (or an appropriately-sized ice cream scoop, that would be super convenient), fill the 10 muffin liners evenly. The batter will come within a half centimeter or so of the top.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cakes are just set in the middle. Thirty minutes worked perfect for me. Let the cupcakes cook in their pan, on a cooling rack.

Meanwhile, the ganache. I made mine in the microwave. You can do it in a double boiler if you want–Ina will show you how. In the microwave, you heat up the heavy cream in a small bowl. Don’t walk away from the microwave–watch the cream carefully. You want to take it out when it’s getting hot but has not yet boiled. Remove it and add the finely chopped chocolate, instant coffee, and brown sugar. Stir together gently. You may think you need to add more heat, but keep stirring for at least a minute. Usually the residual heat is enough to melt the chocolate and bring the whole mess together into a glossy, drippy sauce. If, after a minute, there are still chunks in your ganache, microwave it for 15 seconds and stir again. Now that I think of it I’m not sure this is any easier that using a double boiler. Whatever, let your conscience be your guide. Let the ganache come to room temperature.

Once the cupcakes are cool, dip them in the ganache and let the excess drip off. After that layer of ganache has set, dip them again. Save the extra ganache for serving–you can eat these cupcakes like a hand fruit, as you normally would, but you can also plate them and that way you get to eat as much ganache as you want.

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