June 24, 2010

Mini-Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes

This recipe is a new one for me. I hardly ever try a new recipe and make it exactly how it says (I feel the need to change at least one part of it), but this recipe seemed to be perfect as is and I am glad I kept to the recipe. I love watching the food network (a guilty pleasure of mine) and one of my favorite chefs to watch is Giada De Laurentiis. She really loves cooking, and she makes some dang good food too! When I first saw the episode that featured this recipe I was very hesitant by the term meringue. I am not a big meringue fan, not even in the slightest bit. All I can picture is a mess of lemon custard, topped with a mile high mound of egg whites, displayed under a glass window in a cheap restaurant (I don't know when this association took place, but as you can see it haunts me).

But this recipe is in no way a meringue that will haunt me (unless you consider craving them after every meal a haunting..). These cupcakes are dense and airy all at the same time. You whip the egg whites, and fold them into a dense chocolaty batter creating the most perfect combination for a cupcake. The tops are slightly crunchy and airy like a meringue, but then you get the the body of the cupcake and they are slightly dense and cake-like. My favorite part of these is the hint of cinnamon that is added to the batter. Who knew cinnamon could make chocolate that much better (as if it wasn't good enough already). The reason there are no pictures of the process is because I decided on a whim to make these, and by the time I pulled them out of the oven my sister said, "why don't you take some pictures and put this recipe on your blog?".  Hence the pictures on the finished product.

The only problem that I had with mine was the chocolate drizzle would not set. I do not blame that on the recipe, but the fact that it is simply hot here is Phoenix in the summer. You are supposed to let the chocolate set at room temperature (which works for Giada whose kitchen happens to be in LA) but the temp in our house right now is clearly not cold enough to set chocolate, so I just put mine in the fridge for a few minutes to help.

Mini-Chocolate Meringue Cupcakes
adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
I made these for a party the other night, and everyone loved them! The hint of cinnamon is key here, it may seem weird, but the spice of the cinnamon really brings out the chocolate flavor. 

2 large egg yolks, at room temp
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt (I used kosher salt)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup cake flour (I used all-purpose and had no problems)
3 large egg whites, at room temp

For the Drizzle:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and make sure oven rack is in the center of oven. Line a 24 count mini-muffin pan with paper liner, and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, using an electric hand mixer (or in your kitchen aid), beat the egg yolks, vegetable oil, 1/3 cup of the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt at high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the melted chocolate chips, and stir until smooth (the mixture will be very thick). 

In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer (or your kitchen aid), beat the egg whites at high speed until they hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Stir 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mix. Using a spatula, fold in the remaining egg white mixture. In batches, sift the flour over the batter and fold it in using a spatula (folding keeps the batter light and airy). Fill each paper liner to the top with the batter and bake for 12 minutes until puffed. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. 

For the topping, stir the oil into the melted chocolate chips. Using a fork drizzle the chocolate mix over the cupcakes. Allow the topping to harden. 

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