Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chocolate Cauldron Cakes.

Awesome Exciting Thing #1: This is my 100th post! *throws confetti everywhere* 

Awesome Exciting Thing #2: It's less than 48 hours til the midnight release of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, Part II! 

If you're like me, you've grown up with Harry, Hemione, & Ron, secretly wishing you were a witch or wizard too, living at Hogwarts and spending weekends in the snowy village of Hogsmeade, watching Quidditch and practicing spells with the D.A. (I'm firmly convinced my Patronus would be an elephant) and, you know, battling dark wizards. 
I'm pretty sure these books will always hold a special place in my heart and finally, finally seeing it end on the silver screen is both exciting, epic, legendary, and kind of bittersweet and sad, all at once. 

Ron: "One person can't feel all that at once, they'd explode."
Hermione: "Just because you've got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn't mean we all have!"

Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, p. 459

It's like when Sauron's tower FINALLY cracked in half at the end of Return of the King and you thought FINALLY. and then, Oh... it's over. Now what?

Well anyway. My family & I have been in Harry Potter-countdown mode all week, rewatching all the movies. And now I'm frantically re-re-re-re-reading through The Deathly Hallows. No, really. Like... right now. It's on my lap. Type type type, read three pages. Type type type... horcruxes, what? Why is this book so long? How many hours til the movie? Wait, how many more pages? 

I need a cupcake butterbeer.

Awesome Exciting Thing #3: I made cauldron cakes. I think you should too.
Awesome Exciting Thing #4: On Saturday I'm testing for a job near my boyfriend's zipcode... and Tuesday I have an interview for another job! A job I really really really want. Passionately.

Which is why these cakes are filled with sparkly gold Felix Felicis potion. You know. Liquid luck! 
I've never been to the Wizarding World, but I would give up baking and blogging and texting and Coke Zeros for a year if I meant I could go right this minute. Especially to visit Hogsmeade & Honeydukes. Pumpkin pasties, licorice wands, chocolate frogs... and cauldron cakes!  
Unrelated: Does the park have Fred & George's joke shop? Do they sell Pgymy Puffs? Wants.

I've been wanting to something Harry Potter-y for the longest time. Butterbeer? I can't handle drinking something full of melted butter. Pumpkin pasties? I love everything pumpkin, especially scones and lattes, but it's not very summery. Maybe cauldron cakes? 
... I like cupcakes.

And cauldrons. And magic.

Cauldron cakes from the Wizarding World, courtesy of Google. 

Cauldron cakes from me.
Sparkly! My dad threw down and said these were the best cupcakes that I've ever made. 
Moist, rich chocolate cupcakes filled with a light, creamy chocolate mousse, dipped in melted chocolate, and topped with chocolate buttercream frosting. 

And liquid luck. 
And sparkly silver sugar stars.

I wish I'd had a hemisphere pan for making these, but honestly, who has one of those just lying around? And even though I got a little impatient with piping the frosting, I still think they turned out super cute and whimsical... even if they are a bit, well, imperfect.  
In my defense, I made these in one night... and had to start over after I burnt the first batch of cupcakes. Real life. It happens.

... and it took about three hours. What you can't tell is that I added chocolate chips to the batter... they sunk to the bottom. Then when I peeled off the paper liners, all the chocolate chips fell out and left the cauldrons uneven and wobbly. The point is, if you want to be authentic and make these chocolate chip cupcakes, use a denser batter or toss the chocolate chips with some flour. But these are rich enough on their own, I don't think they need it.
These are a little bit time-consuming, I won't lie to you, but even though there's a few extra steps, they're super easy and fun to make... if you don't burn the cupcakes, try to spike them with chocolate chips, or make them all in one night after a crazy-long day.

And can I just say? Cupcakes should always have a crunchy, dipped-in-chocolate bottom. It's lie magic shell, but for your cupcake. Do this. It. is. so. good. It was my favorite part.

Because, you know, obviously putting them in the freezer didn't work out so well for my waistline.  
Accio cupcake!

Chocolate Cauldron Cakes

Printable Recipe

3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot, strong-brewed coffee
3/4 cup bread flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse Filling
1 tablespoon Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 1/2 tablespoons hot water
3 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
4-6 tablespoons milk, depending on the consistency desired
Gold luster dust, a few drops of clear extract (vanilla, almond, lemon, etc.), & a small artists' paintbrush for brushing on color, or gold & silver sprinkles, optional

STEP 1: Cupcakes.

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a muffin pan with paper liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and pour the hot coffee over it. Whisk until smooth and transfer to the refrigerator to cool completely, about 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake until cupcakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17-20 minutes. Allow to cool in pans 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. I recommend placing them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet and placing them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. They're easier to dip in chocolate if they're a little bit firmer.

STEP 2: Cauldron Feet.

When cupcakes have cooled completely, remove their paper liners. Use a paring knife to cut a small cone of cake from the center of each cupcake (I used a large decorating tip. Just press into the center of each cake and twist.)
Place three chocolate chips in triangular formations on a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Each cake will get tripod-like feet.

Melt about 1 cup of milk or semisweet chocolate. Dip the base of each cupcake into the melted chocolate. Tap off every bit of excess chocolate, then set the cakes on the prepared chocolate chips. Be careful not to press too hard. You want the cauldrons to be just resting on top of the chocolate chips.

I was feeling lazy and didn't really pay attention to this tip... here's an example of a less-than-perfect cupcake.
And a cupcake that turned out perfectly.
STEP 3: Mousse Filling.

To prepare the mousse, combine cocoa powder and hot water in a small bowl and set aside.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl and melt in microwave in 10-second intervals, stirring between each until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream, sugar, and salt at medium speed until slightly thickened, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and continue whipping until soft peaks form (the consistency of whipped cream). Whisk in the cocoa mixture until smooth, then fold in the cooled melted chocolate mixture until combined and no white streaks remain.

Put mousse in a pastry bag fitted with a rounded tip or in a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off and pipe into the center of each cupcake, overfilling them so it looks like cauldron's potion is bubbling out, like so.
STEP 4: Cauldron Handles.

Melt about 1 cup of chocolate in the microwave in ten second intervals, stirring between each. (I added a little bit of shortening to make the chocolate a little bit smoother).

Fill a Ziploc bag with melted chocolate, cut off the tip, and pipe wide U-shaped handles onto a cold baking sheet lined with a Silpat mat or wax/parchment paper. The cold baking sheet will help them set faster. To make sure they're wide enough. place one of the cakes on the sheet, then draw the handle next to it, making it just slightly narrower than the top of the cakes. To see a picture of this step, check out Darla's post. She's the genius behind these cupcakes. (I also recommend making as many handles as you can fit on the baking sheet in case some break or melt when you're assembling the cakes later).

Place in freezer until ready to use.

STEP 5: Frosting.

To make the chocolate frosting, beat butter and shortening in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and salt. Beat in confectioners' sugar 1 cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of milk; beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Add additional milk as needed for desired consistency (I used about 5 tablespoons of milk total).

Put frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a rounded tip or in a Ziploc bag with the tip cut off and pipe a wide ring around the edges of each cupcake, then fill the center with a rounded blob of frosting to cover the mousse. Use a knife to make two small slits, one on each side of the cauldron, where the chocolate handles will be placed.

When frosting is set and dry, mix gold luster dust with a few drops of clear extract, such as clear vanilla, almond, or lemon extract. Use a small brush to paint the color over the frosting in the center of the cauldron. Or sprinkle with gold or silver sprinkles.

STEP 6: Assemble!

Remove chocolate handles from freezer and carefully peel off wax paper. Working quickly (otherwise the heat from your fingers will start to melt the handles), gently press handles into the slits you marked in the frosting.

Store in freezer or refrigerator, to prevent chocolate handles from breaking or melting. 

Makes about 15 cauldron cakes.

Source: Idea, inspiration, assembly instructions from Bakingdom. Cupcake recipe slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2010. Buttercream recipe slightly adapted from Pillsbury's Fall Baking, #93. Chocolate mousse recipe from Cook Like a Champion.