As it is winter in this rain-soaked land, all of my creative energies have to remain indoors. Double-digging trenches is an exercise in futility when I’m facing another two months with average rainfall totaling eleven inches. As it is, I spend my time creating shockingly intricate planting calendars, trying to teach myself to use obscure fundraising software, and wondering about what kind of decadent the next cupcakes should be.
Which is where My Nefarious Accomplice Alexis comes in. MNAA introduced me to the concept of salted chocolate. I like the idea of dark chocolate with a nipping sea salt providing a sharp counterpoint.
It seemed like a really exciting idea for a cupcake, and I am indeed excited. One of my other blogging projects has culminated in temporary limited cupcake funds, which have gone towards the purchase of a bag of coal-black chocolate, smoked sea salt, and dutch-processed cocoa powder, which went into these wonders.
How to, after the jump.
Now, I’d be remiss in my bloggerly duties if I didn’t tell you that whenever I get a cupcake idea, I research it to see how it’s been done before (if it’s been done before). So far, the precedents haven’t been necessarily very informative except in the most general sense.
Not so for these. They had only one precedent I could find, one: Anna, who definitely helped when I was figuring out how I wanted to make these. (Also, the photos of her salted chocolate cupcakes are high quality food porn, and you should totally check out the rest of her blog, because she makes beautiful food).
Anyhow, onto my vegan versions:
This is a return to form, I suppose, with a modified Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World:
For the cupcakes, you’ll need:
1/2 cup soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup boiling water
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon large-grained sea salt (plus more for salty sprinkles on the ganache)
Preheat your oven to 350 F, and line your cupcake tins.
Something I’ve recently learned is that cocoa powder flavor is more intense in baked goods if you mix it with boiling water before you add it to your creation. To experiment with that, I cut the amount of soy milk required by the recipe and compensated with the boiling water/cocoa powder mix, and I have to say that I am super-pleased with the results.
Anyhow, before you mix together anything else, you should add your 1/2 cup boiling water to the 1/3 cup cocoa powder and whisk them together until they’re smooth, and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Add the teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to the soy milk in a large bowl (which I didn’t do because I always forget to), whisk together and set aside to get all wonderfully curdled.
Now, in a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, table salt, baking soda and baking powder.
At this point, you add the oil, vanilla, and sugar to the big bowl with the tiny amount of curdled soy milk.
Hopefully, the boiling water/cocoa mix is at room temperature at this point, and you can mix it into the wet ingredient bowl without incident.
Hooray! It looks kind of weird at this point. Now, you mix the dry ingredients in, along with the remaining teaspoon of sea salt. I neglected to take pictures, but it’s pretty standard: mix until most of the lumps are gone, but don’t over mix. Fill the liners about 2/3-3/4 of the way, and bake at 350 for 18-21 minutes. Use a toothpick or a knife to check when they’re done: a clean pointy implement means they’re done and ready to cool.
I have not had a tremendous amount of luck with ganache in the past, but Very Small Anna’s post inspired me to try again. A buttercream or a cream cheese frosting seemed like it’d be too sweet for my purposes, and a ganache seemed just right.
12 ounces dark chocolate (chips work best, I’ve found, when melting)
8 ounces plain soy milk
Put the dark chocolate in a medium, heat-proof bowl. Boil the soy milk, and pour over the chips. Start stirring and keep stirring until smooth. The ganache will take a while to set up, but it’s worth waiting for.
So, here’s the super super sad part: my sister accidentally took my frosting tips and couplers when she was borrowing the other ones in the house to make my nephew’s birthday cake, leaving me with only one tip. This has resulted in the vaguely poo-shaped piles of ganache. I will pretend that the salt makes it look less poo-ish.