August 03, 2011

Mini Black Bottom Cupcakes

I'm not an avid baker. I may have mentioned before, and I won't hesitate to mention again, cooking is an art, baking is a science. (No, Mom, you did not come up with that quote.)

Where you can mix and match and swap and scratch (no rhyme intended) any ingredients in your cooking, with baking you have to be pretty precise. That is, of course, unless you're Julia Child or the likes of her.

When I do bake, however, I typically have one, Nathan has 2 or 3 and the rest of the treats head to either Nathan's or my own office. Nathan nor I eat much dessert at all, but we just don't want that temptation sitting on our counter. But I do like to dabble in baking here and there, and I do love dishing out treats to happy coworkers.

I was asked to be chairperson of our fortnightly (haha, another Aussie term, which means bi-weekly) staff meeting and I thought what better a time than now to bring in a treat. I immediately thought of these delightful little bites that I've never made myself but my girlfriend, Lara, has mastered.

Of course, although she has more than likely provided me the recipe, I couldn't find it, and the time change here meant I couldn't ask her. So the recipe I used is from America's Test Kitchen but it has been adapted to make mini cupcakes rather than their normal sized counterparts. I think with this recipe, mini is definitely the way to go - and less guilt is associated with your indulgence!

As I am sure you can imagine, the combination of chocolate cake and cheesecake was sure to impress and they disappeared before the clock struck 12 pm!

Makes ~36 cupcakes

1 cup cream cheese (8 oz) softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg white
1 tbsp sour cream

3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water, room temperature
6 tbsp sour cream at room temperature
4 tbsp (half a stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 

TIP: get your cream cheese and sour cream out before you start prep, and melt butter to sit and cool!

1. Preheat oven to 350F, and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line a mini muffin tin with muffin liners. 

2. For the filling - In a medium bowl beat cream cheese, sugar and salt in bowl on medium speed until smooth, about 45 seconds. Add egg white and sour cream and beat again until smooth, about 1 minute. Set aside. 

3. For the cake - In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add in water, sour cream, butter and vanilla and whisk until combined and smooth (don't overdo it). 

4. Fill the muffin tin with batter so each is about half full. Drop about 1/2 tbsp of filling into each cupcake. (You might play around a bit with portions, but you should have them almost full, they rise a bit but then fall in the center as per picture). 

5. Bake for 14-16 minutes, turning the pan half way through baking. The chocolate part will be firm, the filling might be soft. Remove from oven and leave in pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. These are good at room temp or chilled. 

Serve and prepare to take your praise!