Oh man, guys.
It’s that time of year again, the best, most chocolatey of all festivities:
Easter Creme Egg season, and I wish you all warm-hearted Creme Egg tidings.
Every year stores and commercials and McDonalds just go bonkers promoting these most delicious candies. For good reason, too: these things are freaking delicious. I was eating one the other day when I was out seeing Hunger Games and I got to thinking how I could harness the insanity of chocolate and fondant in a baked good. Well, cupcakes are as good an answer as any, aren’t they?
The cake itself is Devil’s Food cake, the icing is chocolate buttercream (the undisputed king of icing), and inside the cakes is marshmallowy fondant dyed to match the creme eggs. I also made my very own creme eggs from scratch, which I will also post the recipe and directions to, below.
Go nuts! These are so insanely chocolatey and sugary that you’re going to be bouncing off the walls, anyway.
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
This part is straight out of James Peterson’s Baking, a really, really excellent book.
- 7/8ths of a cup all-purpose flour (or 1 cup cake flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 unsalted butter, sliced, at room temperature
- 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips (or equivalent chopped chocolate)
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Set up your cupcake pan, or tiny ramekins like above.
- In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
- Set up a double-boiler situation by placing a heat-safe bowl over top of simmering water, and melt the butter, chocolate, and sour cream together. Once the chocolate is melted, take the bowl off the heat — that stuff can burn pretty quick!
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, and whisk to combine.
- Sift the flour mixture into the egg-chocolate mixture, and stir, folding gently, until everything’s blended and smooth.
- Pour the batter into your cupcake molds, and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until the cake springs back to the touch.
- Let cool completely before assembling.
This fondant is sticky and sweet, and a little gummy, like roasted marshmallows. It’s made by whisking soft ball-stage sugar syrup unto stiffly beaten egg whites. I really suggest getting a candy thermometer (like $15 at Kitchen Stuff Plus) for this, so you know exactly when to pour the sugar.
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup water
- Whisk the sugar and water together in a smallish saucepan over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high, and leave the sugar, uncovered, to simmer to soft ball-stage — about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it with your thermometer, and definitely do not forget about it. The sugar can burn, harden, and you risk a fire, not to mention a destroyed saucepan.
- While the syrup is simmering, separate two egg whites into a bowl and beat on medium for about 6 minutes, or until you get stiff peaks in the whites.
- When the syrup is ready, pour in a slow, thin, continuous stream into the eggs while beating them on medium.
- Continue beating until you get stiff peaks again, and then you’re good.
- Tint 1/4 of the fondant orangey-yellow, for the yolks.
- It’s very sticky, so watch out!
When your cupcakes are cooled completely, cut small cones out of the tops (like you would to carve a pumpkin), almost all the way to the bottom. Carefully take them out and set them aside. Spoon or pipe a small amount of white fondant into the centre of the cupcakes, and place a dollop of the orange on top, like above. Gently press the lids of the cakes back on — you can trim the “cone” part, if you like, so the lid just floats on top of the fondant. Place the cupcakes in the fridge to help the fondant solidify a little.
I went with chocolate buttercream to be the outer chocolatey shell of the Cadbury Egg the cupcakes were. It’s a basic recipe, below:
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy and fluffy.
Slowly add the rest of the ingredients, and beat until smooth.
Pipe onto your cupcakes — if you don’t want to pipe, heat up a little of the buttercream in the microwave until it spreads really easily, and spread it gently over the tops of your cakes. That will seal the lids onto the cakes, so when you use cooler, more stiff icing, you won’t rip the poor little things to shreds.
What’s that — home-made Cadbury Eggs? They’re ridiculously easy, you say? Well, I’ll be. Recipe from About.com
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2/3 cup condensed milk
- 5-6 cups powdered sugar
- yellow and red food coloring
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter, condensed milk, salt, and vanilla on medium until smooth.
- About 1/2 cup at a time, add in the icing sugar (on slow speed, unless you want to wear your fondant…)
- Between each addition of sugar, beat the fondant until creamy and smooth.
- The final product should feel a lot like stiff dough — stiff enough to handle and mold, but not crumbly.
- Dye 1/4 of the fondant orangey-yellow, and roll into gumball-sized balls.
- Place the ball of white fondant dough between two sheets of waxed paper, and roll out with a rolling pin.
- Cut out circles with a cookie cutter or glass — if you don’t want to use a rolling pin, roll walnut-sized balls of dough in your hand and flatten them out.
- Place the orange “yolks” in the centre of the whites and gently pinch the white fondant to cover — a lot like daifuku.
- Gently roll the balls into vague egg-like shapes, and place on a sheet of waxed paper on a baking sheet, and put into the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
While the eggs are freezing, you need to prepare your chocolate coating:
- 1 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
Set up a double-boiler and melt the chocolate and shortening together until smooth and creamy. Take your eggs out of the freezer and quickly toss them in the chocolate to coat, and put back on the baking sheet, and back into the freezer. The heat of the chocolate will start to melt that fondant really, really quickly, and then you’re left with a huge mess.
Freeze for an hour, and then slice in half and display beautifully on your cupcakes.
The final product is a moist, chocolately cake with gooey marshmallowy insides, rich-as-heck buttercream, and fancy-dancy home-made creme eggs (which are really addictive). It’s a lot of work, and it takes patience, but in the end you have something really special.