Rick Rodgers: Halloween Blackout Cupcakes

Halloween is right around the corner. Increasingly, this scary holiday has become a reason to give a party, either for little kids in their cute costumes (I still remember the year my neighbor dressed little Timmy as a bumblebee … Awww!) or grown-ups dressed up as Lady Gaga or The Situation. So, what to serve at a Halloween party? Here’s an idea from my new book, Coffee and Cake, using Blackout Cupcakes.

Blackout cakes, with a chocolate crumb icing, are a classic New York dessert that I have transformed into cupcakes. As you can see in the photo, the topping looks a lot like soil. This earth makes a great setting for worms or other outré candies (there are a lot of them out there, including body parts) to give the cupcakes an appropriately “gross” quality. Cupcakes are perfect for parties because they are easily eaten out-of-hand, and don’t require plates and forks—a napkin is usually sufficient. If you make these for kids, or if you have a sweet tooth, use a semisweet chocolate, as some bittersweet varieties are very bitter, indeed.

Blackout Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat)
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Line 12 cups in a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

2. To make the cupcakes, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together into a large bowl. Add the sugar and whisk together. Whisk the mayonnaise, coffee, and vanilla in another large bowl until combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and whisk just until smooth. Using an ice cream scoop with about ½ cup capacity, transfer the batter to the cups, filling each cup about three-fourths full.

3. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire cake rack for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes in their liners from the pan and let cool completely on the rack.

4. Using a serrated knife, starting about ¼ inch below the top of each cupcake, trim off the domed tops. The idea here is simply to make a flat surface for the ganache topping—don’t trim off too much cake or you’ll have too many crumbs for the final garnish. Transfer the trimmings to a food processor and pulse to make coarse crumbs. Pour the crumbs into a bowl and set aside.

5. To make the ganache, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat just until it comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

6. Transfer the ganache to a medium bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. Let stand, stirring and scraping the solidified portions of the ganache from the sides of the bowl, until the ganache is cool and about as thick as chocolate pudding, about 10 minutes. Remove the bowl from the ice and whisk just until the ganache forms soft peaks.

7. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain pastry tip, such as Ateco #805. Pipe a mound of ganache on the top of each cupcake. Holding a cupcake over the bowl of crumbs, gently press the crumbs into the mound, covering it. (The cupcakes can be made 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.) Serve at room temperature.

One Response to “Rick Rodgers: Halloween Blackout Cupcakes”
  1. TK says:

    Hi! Rick I made these cupcakes over the weekend. I love the secret ingredients of mayonnaise and coffee–I look forward to experimenting with even stronger coffee next time. I found the cupcake was so moist that I had to toast the tops before I could crumb them fine enough for the garnish. And also, I don’t have a pastry bag or pastry tip, so I put the ganache in a ziplock freezer bag, snipped the corner off, and piped it that way. I brought in samples for the TSI team this morning — they were a big hit!

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