Monday, November 19, 2007

Double Layered Chocolate Mandarin Cupcakes

In the middle of October some time, my Dad went away for a week and asked me to water his plants. I must say, it was an enjoyable experience. Being over there in a quiet, cool house, taking care of the plants, pottering around with no rush, no schedule... Lovely.
And the strawberries were the most amazing strawberries I've ever tasted! Warmed perfectly by the sun, bursting with juice and sweetness... Mmm...
You'd think I'd have made strawberry cupcakes :)
However, whilst watering the beautiful Mexican Orange Blossom bush, I bent over to have a sniff - and boy did it smell good!
We happened to have mandarins in the house and the time, and I came away determined to make something citrusy.
Why with chocolate?
No idea. But it sounded fun, and they tasted pretty good :)

The Recipe

Chocolate part:
3c plain flour
3T cocoa
1T baking powder
1 1/2c brown sugar
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2c milk
120g butter, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl. Add sugar and chocolate. Stir to combine. Add milk, butter and eggs. Mix until just combined, but do not over beat.

Spoon into muffin tins, filling tins about 1/3. Do not overfill!

Mandarin part:
115g butter
225g caster sugar
2 eggs
3 largish mandarins, peeled, seeded and roughly pureed (keep juice)
180g self raising flour

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir through mandarin pulp and juice and sifted flour. Spoon into muffin tin on top of chocolate mixture. Do not overfill!

Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes at 180C, or until a skewer comes out clean. Turn onto rack to cool after 3 minutes.

90g dark chocolate
160g milk chocolate
1/3c cream
2T mandarin juice and fine pulp

Ice cupcakes when cool :)

The Results

The mandarin part seemed to be a little too sloppy, as it pooled over the edges of the pan and was rather flat. However, the texture of the cooked cupcake was beautiful, even in the mandarin part - it became quite crispy on the outside with a sort of melt in your mouth cakey centre. The chocolate mix is quite dense, but not heavy, and rises rather a lot. So I'd say the best option here would be to reduce the amount of chocolate batter to mandarin batter (maybe double the mandarin and make twice as many cupcakes?). As you can see in the pics, they ended up being about 2/3 chocolate to 1/3 mandarin as it was.

And this brings me to taste. They were absolutely delicious, no doubt about it, but overall the chocolate flavour was very overpowering unless you happened to get a chunk of mandarin. The mandarin cake itself was ok, it was just the combination. Putting less chocolate batter to mandarin batter would help this. Also, I'd be interested to try using two icings - a border of plain mandarin icing and a ganache centre (the ganache is too yummy not to use at all; I had some of the cake plain and the ganache really does give it a punch). Candied peel might also be enough to combat the strong chocolate ganache.

Then again, all three (batter proportion, double icing, and peel) might be the best option!
So, the recipe's not perfect, but I'd definitely be interesting in playing with these some more.

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