TWD: Chocolate Cupcakes, Rescued

I wasn't going to make these. Sure, I like chocolate cupcakes well enough, but I have homemade (home-grown!) Meyer lemon curd to turn into . . . something . . . and I had to bake cookies for a bake sale at school, and earlier this week I'd already done Dorie's Tartest Lemon Tart and three kinds of muffins. And it was just Tuesday! But then . . . chocolate cupcakes with ganache! I just couldn't not do them. I'm compulsive that way.

Scanning through my cupboard, I saw that I had just enough chocolate to complete the recipe without going out to buy more - 5 ounces to be exact. (This is foreshadowing, friends.) The cupcakes came out very nicely. They whipped up quickly, and as they were cooling, I thought about Dorie's filling suggestions. I don't cotton to the idea of jelly in a chocolate cupcake, I didn't have any marshmallow creme on hand, and as much as I wanted to inject them full-to-exploding with Nutella, that was a no-show in my cupboard too.

One item I have plenty of is peanut butter - 11 jars (3 open; 8 unopened), to be exact. So I whipped up a quick batch of peanut butter buttercream and filled a piping bag. Using a plain round tip, I filled each of the 12 cupcakes with the buttercream. (Actually, I filled half, then my daughter took over while I put together the ganache.) If you've never filled a cupcake before, it's an interesting process. You just plunge the tip into the cake and squeeze the filling in. How much? Your best guess. You can actually watch the cupcake swell, and cracks will start to form if it's overfilled. Withdraw the tip and fill the empty space with frosting as you go. Voila!

Alas, here is where things went sour. I melted my remaining 3 ounces of chocolate in the microwave as I often do, added the confectioner's sugar, started to stir in the cubed butter, and then watched in disbelief and dismay as my chocolate promptly seized. I've had chocolate seize on me before, but not in the past decade. That is, not since I learned what causes chocolate to seize (moisture) and how to avoid it (avoid moisture). I stirred a bit more vigorously, unwilling to accept the grainy mash at the end of my spoon. I even tried to resurrect it with a bit of warm cream, which almost looked as if it just might work . . . but no, it broke into an oily mess. Into the garbage went the last of my chocolate.

I was faced with 12 topless cupcakes wearing their frosting on the inside. Fortunately, I had enough peanut butter frosting to cover the tops, so I screwed on a different piping tip and went to work. Ultimately, my cupcakes are not what Dorie ordered this week (sorry, folks!). Instead of elegant swirls of ganache adorning their crowns, they look like they're using chrysanthemums to cover their nakedness. But at least they're seasonal!

I don't know what caused my chocolate to seize ~ the bowl and my spoon seemed dry, but they were freshly washed so there may have been lingering moisture that I missed with the dish towel. All it takes is a drop! But the outcome was serendipitous, as the peanut butter frosting was yummy if not quite beautiful, and that's good enough for me.

Thanks to Clara of I*Heart*Food for Thought for choosing these cupcakes this week! If you want to make them yourself, you can find the recipe on pages 215-217 of Dorie Greenspan's amazing Baking: From My Home to Yours. Don't forget to stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie site to check out the Blogroll . . . I imagine the other TWDers came up with some spookily fun cupcake creations this week!

Recipe Notes:

  • To fill a cupcake with frosting, use a plain round piping tip with a narrow round opening. Insert the tip into the top (if you will be using frosting) or the bottom (if you'll be using a thinner glaze or icing) of the cupcake. Squeeze the filling in slowly and stop before cracks appear in the sides of the cupcake.

  • I used foil cupcake liners for these. I sprayed them with nonstick cooking spray before I put the batter in, which made it very easy to remove them for filling. Although I could have filled them from the top, I opted to remove the wrapper, fill them from the bottom, and then put them back into the wrapper. You'd never guess!

  • I almost never buy buttermilk because it invariably ends up getting wasted. Instead, I substitute plain yogurt or sour cream in recipes that call for buttermilk. If it's a thin batter, say for pancakes, you can add a few tablespoons of milk or cream to make up the called-for amount of sour cream to thin it, but otherwise there's no need.

  • I used low-fat sour cream in place of buttermilk in this recipe. My cupcakes came out moist and dense.

  • Whenever you use cupcake liners, try spraying the interiors with nonstick cooking spray. This will make it easy to remove the paper later and will help prevent cupcakes and muffins from sticking to the paper liners. (Don't you hate it when you peel off your wrapper and lose half your muffin?!)

  • I use a #20 spring-loaded ice cream scoop to transfer my batter from mixing bowl to cupcake pan. It does a nice, neat job and all my cupcakes and muffins are a uniform size.


  1. Nice way to "save" those topless cupcakes!

  2. 11 jars of PB?? wow! but the PB buttercream idea was great!

  3. Nothing wrong with PB buttercream! My hubs is a PB addict and he'd probably love your variation! Glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for baking with me this week!
    Clara @ iheartfood4thought

  4. as ALWAYS, great, great tips, Sandy! The PB and chocolate sound like a fabulous combination, and really very pretty too. I had no idea about chocolate seizing - I've been pretty cavalier about the condition of my utensils, but I'll try to remember to be more careful.

  5. Wow, you sure have a lot of peanut butter in your house! Great idea to use it for filling!

  6. Looks delicious: perfect combo: PB & chocolate!

  7. ~PatsyK: Thank you! :)

    ~Jaime: I know, it sounds like we're hoarding, but really, I can explain. One large smooth, one large crunchy (for sandwiches and baking/cooking); all the rest are flavored!

    ~CB: I'm really loving these cupcakes. We finished the last one off yesterday, 11/1, and it was still moist and dense and delicious. (Stored them in the fridge.)

    ~Nancy: The first time it happened to me, I lost a pound of really good chocolate, and had no idea why. I did some research, and avoided it till now. And now I don't know why it happened!!

    ~Shari: Yeah, we're pb fans! All varieties - smooth and chunky for recipes, and all flavors from Peanut Butter and Co. for snacks and sandwiches!

    ~Marthe: Thank you . . . we enjoyed them this way - especially with the filling inside. :)


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