January 21, 2012

Aztec Chile-Chocolate Cupcakes

To celebrate my first official day back at the office (a whopping one day a week break from mommy-and-me baking adventures), I made these Aztec Chile-Chocolate Cupcakes. They are the first baking adventure from Betty Crocker The Big Book of Cupcakes. My 4-month-old son "helped" me bake them and fell asleep with a plastic stirring spoon in his mouth. Such a perfect kitchen moment!

The cupcakes turned out wonderfully, with just a hint of spiciness. My co-workers enjoyed the treat, and I got many compliments on my nifty new cupcake carrier, which was a thoughtful Christmas present from my husband.

Aztec Chile-Chocolate Cupcakes
 2 cups flour
3 tsp. chile powder
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne powder
1 cup hot water
2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3/4 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 oz. unsweetened baking cocoa, melted and cooled
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. coffee powder
3 to 4 tsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips
1/4 tsp. chile powder 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place paper baking cups in each of 24 regular-size cupcake tins.

In medium bowl, combine flour, chile powder, baking soda, salt, baking powder and cayenne pepper. In a small bowl, combine water and cocoa.

In a large bowl, beat shortening on electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. On low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa, starting and ending with flour. Beat just until blended.

Divide batter evenly among cupcake tins, filling each 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in tins 5 minutes, and then remove cupcakes to cool completely on wire racks.

To make frosting, mix butter and cooled chocolate. Stir in powdered sugar and cinnamon. Combine coffee powder with 2 Tbsp. milk until dissolved. Beat coffee mixture and vanilla into frosting. Add remaining 1 to 2 Tbsp. milk to reach desired consistency. Spread frosting onto each cupcake.

To make toppings for cupcakes, melt chocolate chips. Stir in chile powder. Spread melted chocolate onto parchment paper to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cool completely. Break apart. Top each cupcake with several pieces of chocolate.

Note: If you have a heat-sensitive palate, you will still enjoy these cupcakes. But you can trick your loved ones by asking them if they'll finish the cupcake if it's too "hot" for you ... and then devour the whole cupcake while laughing diabolically. I might have done that to my dear husband.

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