Yesterday was a big day for me. As many of you know, the 1st annual Kennett Chocolate Lovers Festival was yesterday afternoon. I submitted 2 entries to the festival, including these cupcakes and a triple chocolate cookie. I was thrilled with how the cupcakes had turned out, but that didn’t stop me from being nervous/anxious all day! In typical fashion, I woke up ridiculously early, my mind going a mile a minute thinking about getting the cupcakes boxed up and what time we should leave to get there on time. All of the baking was done, but I had stored the cupcakes in my cupcake carrier overnight to help keep them fresh. I still needed to snap some pictures (I wanted to wait until the morning to get some natural daylight) and to transfer the cupcakes and the cookies to bakery boxes. Daren also let me know early in the morning that we’d need to swing by his work on our way to Kennett. That almost lead to a minor freak-out, but I did my best to keep it contained (Daren might disagree…) Of course, the anxiety over getting there on time was all for nothing – we had a 2 hour window to drop the entries off, and we made it in plenty of time.
After dropping everything off, we had 2 hours to kill before we could go back for the actual festival (cue more anxiety). Things had to be dropped off by 11, then judging would go on from 11-12:30 and the festival would open to the public at 1. Luckily, we found an awesome breakfast place nearby, and then killed some time at a few local stores. We had no idea how the actual judging and results were going to work – I was under the assumption that we would go back at 1, do some tastings, hang out for a while, and then the winners would be announced toward the end of the day – maybe around 3 or 4. Imagine our surprise when we got back to the festival to find this (sorry for the horrible iPhone pic – I totally forgot I had my camera in my bag!):
I could not have been more excited. It’s amazing to think that 2 years ago, baking was something I was really just starting to get into, and now it’s such a huge part of my life. A lot of that is the result of the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from friends and family. From people telling me I should sell my cupcakes to others suggesting I start a food blog, a lot of what I have accomplished has been completely because of you guys. I never would have thought I could write a food blog, much less get good enough at baking that people would actually want to buy my products. I feel like I’m continuing to improve all the time and enjoying it more and more. I’m also finally getting to the point where I can take an idea and run with it, rather than sticking to a recipe as written. That really shone through for me with these cupcakes, which were inspired by a recipe from Bakers Royale. I loved the idea of the chocolate/biscoff/ganache/toffee pairing, but didn’t really want to go with any of the actual recipes. There certainly wasn’t anything wrong with the recipes; I just had my own ideas about it. I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe – the moistness from the sour cream really shone through here. I also completely changed the frosting. The recipe Naomi created called for a Swiss meringue buttercream. As much as Daren and I LOVE Swiss meringue, I’ve found that not everyone has the taste for it. Most people seem to prefer the sweeter flavor of American buttercreams. If I were making these cupcakes just for us, I totally would have gone the Swiss meringue route – for a crowd (and a competition!) American buttercream seemed to be the way to go. Then, the drizzle of ganache and sprinkling of toffee bits really put these over the edge!
By the way – I realize many of you may not know what Biscoff is. Biscoff is one of those things that is all over the food-blog world, but no one I know in real life seems to have heard of it. It’s a spread similar to peanut butter in consistency, but made from spiced cookies called speculoos. Daren thinks it almost has a graham cracker-y taste. Regardless, it’s delicious. A few grocery stores are starting to get it in (supposedly Target carries it, but I’ve never seen it there) but one place you can always find it is Trader Joe’s. They carry it under the name “Cookie Butter.” Even better, just this week I noticed a new product at TJ’s – Crunchy Cookie Butter! Anyway, if you’ve never had Biscoff (or cookie butter), you need to go buy some. Seriously. Good luck trying to stop yourself from just eating it with a spoon.
For the cupcakes:
- ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder
- ½ cup plus 1 tbsp. hot water
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 2/3 cups sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- ¾ cup sour cream
For the frosting:
- 3 sticks plus 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 cup Biscoff spread
For the ganache:
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. light corn syrup
- Heath toffee bits (or chopped up Health/Skor bars)
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the cocoa powder and hot water and stir until fully combined. In another bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture until fully combined. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing each addition just until incorporated (so flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour).
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about 2/3 full. In my experience these cupcakes tend to rise a LOT, so err on the side of under-filling the liners. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Cream on medium-high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the confectioner’s sugar and beat on low until combined. Add in the Biscoff spread. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes.
To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until very hot (just under simmering). Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Add in the light corn syrup and stir until smooth.
To assemble, pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes as desired (I used an open star tip). Using a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (or a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off), drizzle the ganache over the piped frosting. Sprinkle immediately with toffee bits.
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Source: Inspired by Bakers Royale
Thank you again everyone for all the support!!