B and I will be in New York at the end of this week, but I totally wish we were there right now. Mostly because it’s an extraordinary fifty degrees there today, and everyone in the city is throwing on sundresses and sandals, or so I hear. Italics are not sarcastic; we haven’t been that warm in a while, and I’m envious. But not to be outdone, we had our own warm spell this weekend, where the sun finally pushed temperatures into the forties. Snow melted. Coats stayed home. I began to plan a trip to the local bike shop.
And then Monday came and, as Mondays are wont to do, kicked off five days of showers and gray clouds. I know I should be excited over rain!, not snow!, but COME ON. A little sun, please? I’m sure I’m not dropping any bombs if I point out that it’s made me a little grouchy. In fact, I fear it’s made me rather bad company.
Luckily, when we had our Oscar party last night, it was still sunny out (read: I was not grumpy) and I’d made a dozen chocolate souffle cupcakes with peppermint-chocolate cream (read: even if I hadn’t been, these would have done the work for me). This recipe was posted on the Smitten Kitchen sometime last week, and by the time I made them on Sunday two people I know (and didn’t know read SK!) had already made and raved about them, so be assured this comes with the full backing of several other budding bakers, not just my cheerily indiscriminate taste buds who will approve anything with the word “chocolate” in the title.
So around the time that Hurt Locker was winning its millionth award of the night (deservedly, and hurray for Kathryn Bigelow!), I took a break to whip up the mint “frosting” and fill the souffle dips. And when Jeff Bridges won Best Actor — seriously, who saw that coming? — the cupcake count had been whittled down to two. Well done, film buff friends.
These are OMGGOOD. The only thing that gives me pause is their name. Seriously, it bothers me, because when I took my first bite (I am not making this up) I didn’t realize how fantantic they are. Just, “Hmm. These are really odd cupcakes.” They’re both lighter and more intensely chocolatey than any so-called cupcake I’ve ever tasted. I mean, hello, they’re soufflés, but work with me here. I don’t want you to have the same problem, kids. I’m looking out for you and renaming them. Oh, does this make them sound more intimidating? You need a hand, and maybe an extra mouth to help eat them? I’ll be right there . . .
Dial 9-1-1- Miniature Chocolate Souffles with Peppermint Cream
(From Smitten Kitchen, shocking all of you)
For the “cupcake”
- 6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- heaping 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
- 3 eggs, separated
- 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter, chocolate, and espresso powder together in a medium saucepan over low heat. (It helps to put the chocolate on top of the butter so it’s spared direct heat.) Set aside and cool to lukewarm.
Beat the egg yolks and 3 tbsp sugar together until thick and light yellow, about two minutes. Add the melted and cooled chocolate, and mix in completely. Stir in the vanilla extract.
With clean, dry beaters, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the salt and 3 remaining tbsp sugar, beating after each addition, until they hold stiff peaks.
Fold the whites into the chocolate in three additions. A tiny bit of streaking is okay, but you should incorporate it beyond what’s shown in the photos. Divide evenly into twelve lined cupcake cups. Bake 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool on the counter top, where they will immediately start to fall (and are supposed to!).
For the “frosting”
- 4 oz good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
At least two hours ahead of cupcake time: Put the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer over a low flame and pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute, then whisk well. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again. Put a piece of saran wrap directly on top of the cream (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill until very cold.
When you’re ready to serve the cupcakes, beat the chilled cream until it holds soft peaks. Dollop into the little souffles’ sunken tops. Disinvite some of your friends when you realize how good they are, and eat immediately.