devil’s food cupcakes with chocolate ganache glaze

Let’s talk about ganache, shall we? Ganache is a wonderfully simple (just three ingredients!) chocolate glaze for cakes, cupcakes and cookies alike. It is really easy to make, and also really easy to screw up. Until very recently, my ganache success rate was 50/50. Not fabulous odds when you’re an emotional cook. Fortunately, I’ve discovered the key to a (so far) fail-proof ganache.

But before we ganache, we need to make something to put that glaze on. This is where the devil’s food cake cupcakes come in. This recipe is from Martha Stewart Cupcakes, and is quite good. This cupcake plus the ganache has an undeniable Hostess Cupcake quality … all that’s missing is the little white swirl and survive-a-nuclear-war-strength preservatives.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Glaze, from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
For the cupcakes
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 1/4 t coarse salt
1 1/2 cups butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 T plus 1 t vanilla
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa powder and water. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Melt butter and sugar in a saucepan over low heat stirring to combine. Once combined, pour into a mixing bowl. On low speed, beat mixture until it has cooled, 4 – 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and mix to combine. Add vanilla and then cocoa mixture. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream until just combined. spoon into muffin tins and bake 15 – 20 minutes. Cool and then frost.

For the chocolate ganache glaze
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chips or cut into small chunks)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 T light corn syrup (for shine)

Place chocolate in a small heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan, heat cream and corn syrup over low heat until just simmering. It is crucial that the cream not get too hot – if the cream is too hot it will burn the chocolate and you’ll get a grainy ganache. If you accidentally forget about your cream while it is heating, take it off the heat and let it cool significantly before you pour over the chocolate.

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Using a spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream until smooth and combined. Start at the center of the bowl working your way towards the edge, mixing as you go.  The mixture should be smooth and glossy.

Dip the top of each cooled cupcake into the ganache and set on a rack to firm up slightly before serving.



baking therapy: yellow cake with chocolate ganache.

Today, the baking regime began … yellow cake with chocolate ganache.

The background: While I was in school, I cooked and baked as a way to escape everyday stress. And, it worked!  Now I have a moderately stressful job (like most everyone) and I’ve turned to my old standby with new determination.

The plan: Bake something new each and every week as form of delicious and rewarding therapy.

The hope: Bake -> be less stressed -> become a better baker -> bake some more -> become a happier person.

Today’s cake recipe was from Rose Levy Beranbaum author of The Cake Bible.

For the cake …
6 large egg yolks (this is what makes it yellow!)
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature and cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch x 1 1/2 inch cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, then grease again. Set aside.

In a medium bowl lightly combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, and vanilla extract.

In the bowl of your electric mixer combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds or until blended.  Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure.  Scrape the sides of the bowl.  Gradually add the egg mixture, in 3 additions, beating about 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the egg mixture.

Divide the batter and pour into the prepared pans, smoothing the surface.  Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in center.

Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Then invert the cakes onto a greased rack.  To prevent splitting, reinvert cakes so that tops are right side up.  Cool completely before frosting.

For the chocolate ganache …

Heat a 1/2 pint of cream and 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.

Pour hot cream over 10 oz of yummy semisweet chocolate (we like Guittard). Let that sit for about 5 minutes then whisk into submission (or until its smooth). Pour over the first layer of your cooled cake, spread, stack on layer two, pour again.

Supposedly, this ganaching process is easy, but I managed to get chocolate all over my kitchen counter, three dish towels, a poorly placed bag of pirates booty and multiple utensils. If you decide to ganache, clear yourself some space or if you don’t have much space (like us), prepare for some clean-up afterward.

And what you’ve all been waiting for …  the verdict …



Good. Satisfying. But a bit dry (maybe because I forgot about it in the oven while googling greyhound puppies) and definitely lacking ganache between the layers (I got nervous while ganaching the first cake. It was my first time after all).

Yes, that is a standard-sized dinner plate.

Overall, a lovely weekend baking adventure, stress level low, and we still have a monstrosity of a cake left to devour.