I usually wait a few days before posting things I’ve made (sometimes even longer), but I had to go ahead and show you these cupcakes I brought to work for Halloween. They are not difficult at all (though they are definitely easier with a microplane grater) and you still have time to make them for Sunday!
I used a hand mixer for this, although I am not totally sure why. It would have made more sense to use the stand mixer. But now you can see that it is possible to get the butter and sugar (somewhat) fluffy with a hand mixer, too.
If you haven’t used one of these microplane graters for zesting before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Zesting a whole orange — or two, as you need to do for this recipe — takes a zillion years with a regular zester. It only takes about two minutes with this thing. Magical.
The zest provides all the orange flavor (and aroma) in these cupcakes, so they don’t have a super-strong orange flavor and the color is just like normal yellow cake. I added a little orange food coloring gel to the butter-egg-sugar mixture to make the cupcakes more orange, but you will need to add a lot if you want yours Halloween orange.
As you can see, the orange didn’t hold up long once I started adding flour and milk. Of course, no one really cares so much about the orange-ness once you add these:
I thought about using regular sized chocolate chips (the recipe calls for mini), but I had to go to the grocery store to get whole milk and heavy cream anyway, so I picked up two bags of these. I have to admit that they work pretty well because they don’t overwhelm the cake part. And the chocolate ganache on top more than makes up for any lack of internal chocolatiness.
It helps if you have Halloween-themed cupcake papers. I couldn’t find any in the store this week, but luckily I had these in my cupboard.
The mini chips also work well in the ganache. Larger chips don’t melt quite as well.
Now that the cupcakes are baked and the frosting is made, I am going to let you in on the secret to Halloween cupcake decorating success: mellowcreme pumpkins.
Seriously. Buy a bag of these guys, stick one on top of every cupcake…
…and then sit back and bask in cupcake glory. Or a sugar coma. Either one.
Orange chocolate chip cupcakes with chocolate ganache (adapted ever-so-slightly from the Gourmet Cookbook)
Cupcakes (makes 2 dozen)
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 2 navel oranges (try to just get the orange part, avoid the white)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Orange food coloring (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350. Line muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer (or with an electric hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, zest, vanilla and food coloring (if using).
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Alternate mixing the flour and milk into the egg mixture on low speed until just combined, starting and ending with flour (I did flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Don’t overmix. Gently stir in mini chocolate chips.
Fill cupcake papers about 3/4 full with batter and bake 20 to 25 minutes in the center of the oven, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool on a rack.
Chocolate ganache (makes about 1 cup)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (minis are preferable, but regular are OK)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Place chocolate chips in a heat-resistant bowl. Place cream in a small heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour hot cream over chocolate chips and whisk until smooth*. Allow to cool and thicken slightly, if necessary. Spread frosting on cupcakes.
*If the cream doesn’t melt all the chocolate chips, put the whole bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds, then whisk again.