Tuesday, September 13, 2011
After a week of sleeping and waking up late, eating out, shopping and just chilling, the kids are back at school again, and there is finally some semblance of our regular routine. Thank goodness! Holidays are always wonderful, but the downside is, our equilibrium gets off-centred (my fault, I'll admit) and it usually takes some adjustments to get back into the groove.
After dropping the older ones off at school, I decided to sneak a quick bake before heading off to run other errands. I settled on these Black Bottom Cupcakes which I have been ever so curious to try but never did because of one ingredient - vinegar.
Basically, for some recipes, vinegar - an acid - is used in tandem with baking soda to make batters rise. It is especially useful in eggless cakes, such as the chocolate sponge base of these Black Bottom Cupcakes.
Now, the only time I ever owned bottles of vinegar was during the SARS epidemic in 2002. In many Chinese households, white vinegar is used as a general all-purpose disinfectant, and my father, knowing how clueless I was, insisted I kept some on hand. I used it religiously - mainly for my laundry - although I never did like the sharp, biting pungency which would stubbornly linger.
Anyway, I digress. Like I said, I don't stock vinegar at home, so I decided to take a gamble and use orange juice in its place. The same batch of sour oranges from here. Yup, I still had 2 left and they were sitting idle in my fridge since forever. I'm so glad I finally put them to good use!
Well, as you can see, the gamble paid off and the batter rose beautifully. But I have to admit, I was not too thrilled with the taste (of the chocolate sponge base). I wasn't expecting to be, in the first place. Look, it's eggless, made with regular cocoa powder, and has no butter. In fact, it reminded me of Steamed Moist Chocolate Cake ... flat and one-dimensional, if I may be honest.
When I bite into a cake, especially a chocolate cake, I want to taste sin. Like my all-time favourite Flourless Chocolate & Almond Cake. So, take heed, if you like your chocolate cakes full-bodied and velvety, I don't think you're gonna be thrilled with these.
The contrast with the tangy cream cheese, though, was nice! I think if the chocolate base was richer, I would no doubt have enjoyed these cupcakes a lot more. But that, my friends, will be for another experiment, for another day.
(from David Lebovitz's The Great Book of Chocolate and sighted at Joy of Baking)
Makes 12 large cupcakes
Cream Cheese Filling
- 8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1/3 cup (30 grams) natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) water*
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) vegetable,corn or canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Note: I did not have any white vinegar on hand, nor any apple cider vinegar which can also be used ... so I replaced 240ml water with freshly squeezed orange juice and left out the vinegar.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
* I did without the liners and only greased my muffin tins.
2. Cream Cheese Filling: In your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla extract and beat until creamy and smooth. Set aside while you make the Chocolate Cupcake batter.
3. Chocolate Cupcakes: In a large bowl sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl mix the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until nice and smooth. Evenly divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. Then spoon a few tablespoons of the cream cheese filling into the center of each cupcake.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cream cheese filling has set and the cupcakes feel springy to the touch (a toothpick inserted into the chocolate part of the cupcake will come out clean). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. The cupcakes can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for about 3 - 4 days.
You can also watch the video on how to make these Black Bottom Cupcakes at Joy of Baking.
I made 1 cupcake differently from the rest, just for a lark - with the cheese filling buried in the middle. It created a dented centre, perfect for a cherry to sit snugly in!