listen…i put my adventure pants on and went a little wild. the results may not have been anything to brag about….but adventure means: unusual and exciting (and typically hazardous) and well…it was easily all of those things.
as mentioned before, i am currently inspired by scharffen berger’s chocolate adventure contest. the contest entails a list of “adventure” (some might say “crazy”) ingredients. the goal is to incorporate one or more of these ingredients into a cupcake….and of course come up with something fantastic! i picked two ingredients….one i knew i could work with: chili powder…and one i had never tried before: saffron.
chocolate and chili…that’s a given. (and the more successful of the two)
chocolate chili cupcakes
adapted from scharffen berger’s chocolate cupcakes. makes 12
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
begin with your frosting as you’ll need to give it a few hours to cool and turn into its yummy goodness.
in a heat safe bowl combine chopped chocolate and butter, cut into small pieces. set aside.
in a small saucepan bring cream, sugar and salt to a simmer over medium heat. allow mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. remove from heat and combine with chocolate and butter. whisk together until smooth and glossy. let this mixture cool for 2-3 hours.
now for your cupcakes….
in a small sauce pan bring water and chili powder to a simmer over medium heat. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (i’m making this the first step…because the next two don’t take much time. if you work at a normal speed your chili water should still be hot once all your dry and wet ingredients are mixed up…..if not…adapt this step for your own timing)
in your stand mixer combine your dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt). mix together at a low speed till ingredients are mixed thoroughly.
add butter (melted) and egg. mix on medium speed for about a minute.
slowly pour in half of water/chili powder mixture and mix till well blended. pour in remaining water/chili powder and mix till blended, about half a minute.
pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan. these bake for 20(ish) minutes, or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.
I would recommend these little guys. the cupcake recipe, minus the chili powder, is so so tasty…especially if you get to enjoy them warm. with the chili powder, they add just the right amount of kick. the chili is subtle enough to not overpower the cake, but adds greatly to the flavor and aroma of the chocolate. (as I write this I’m imagining my dear friend rachel will be running to her cupboards to search for all the ingredients…she’s such a sucker for anything spicy…usually carrying around a bottle of red pepper flakes in her purse…i think you will love this one rach.)
saffron…on to the not so successful…(in my opinion)
i have never baked/cooked with saffron before. i’m sure i have eaten plenty of it, mixed into some rice or whatnot…but i couldn’t tell you what it looked like, smelled like or tasted like before this adventure.
found with your spices
comes in the form of small red threads or powder
is known for the bright yellow color it turns the food/liquid you mix it with
has a “hay-like” smell/taste
not one of my favorite things….
that being said….i’m not scared to try new things, and while i’ve discovered i don’t love saffron as a stand alone flavor…maybe you do…and maybe this is just what you were looking for.
adapted from the cupcake project. makes 12 cupcakes.
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
1/2 cup water
the night before melt a stick of butter and stir in two pinches of saffron threads. the butter will turn a vibrant yellow color (due to the saffron). cover and let sit overnight. stir mixture in the morning as it will separate a bit. you will use this mixture in your frosting.
preheat your oven to 350. line cupcake pan with wrappers.
in your stand mixer combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and baking soda. mix on low speed with whisk attachment till all dry ingredients are combined.
in a small saucepan whisk together saffron threads and 2 tablespoons of milk over low heat. bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let cool.
in another small bowl, whisk together egg, 2/3 cup milk and vanilla. combine with cooled saffron/milk mixture.
move back over to your stand mixer and slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients at a slow speed. mix till all ingredients are blended, being careful not to over mix.
pour batter into (lined) cupcake pan and bake for 20(ish) minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. let cool in pan on top of a wire rack.
1 cup (plus a little extra) confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup saffron infused butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
with a hand mixer or stand mixer (whisk attachment) mix all ingredients together until blended. add sugar, if needed, for a thicker consistency.
frost cakes and enjoy….or not?! i’m really not gonna promise you anything on this one.
i wasn’t a fan….others called them “interesting”…others said the enjoyed them….they were “different, but good!” one co-worker loooved the frosting and said she wanted to bathe in it….but she felt like the cupcakes had too much saffron….and maybe they did. i fear i am just not a saffron expert….i’m probably never going to be one…and that’s ok.
the good news is….the saffron intimidated me the most of all the “adventure” ingredients….and now i can move on knowing I gave it a shot.
more to come…