From America's Test Kitchen Season 11: Chewy Brownies and Chocolate Cupcakes
A cupcake catch-22 befalls bakery and homemade confections alike: If the cupcakes are packed with decent chocolate flavor, their structure is too crumbly for out-of-hand consumption. Conversely, if the cakes balance moisture and tenderness without crumbling, the core elements—cake and frosting—are barely palatable. We wanted a moist, tender (but not crumbly) crumb capped with just enough creamy, not-too-sweet frosting.
Figuring that a cupcake is just a pint-size cake, we made cupcakes using our favorite chocolate cake recipe. Tasters liked the real chocolate flavor, but their crumbly texture made them impossible to eat without a fork. Though we were loath to compromise the chocolate’s intensity, we knew that to strengthen the batter we had to cut back on both kinds of chocolate. We tweaked the ingredients to achieve a perfectly portable batch of cupcakes before we turned our attention to working in more chocolate without disrupting the batter’s structure. Mixing the cocoa with hot coffee eked out more chocolate flavor. To make the chocolate even more pronounced, we replaced the butter with more neutral-flavored vegetable oil.
Next, we tried enhancing the structure of the cupcake. That would give us a base for adding back extra chocolate without overtenderizing. To do this, we substituted bread flour for all-purpose flour. Specifically engineered for gluten development, bread flour turned out a cupcake that was markedly less crumble-prone, but not tough. For a final chocolate burst, we spooned ganache onto the cupcakes before baking, which gave them a truffle-like center. A velvety buttercream with just enough sweetness crowned the cake perfectly.
Makes 12 cupcakes
Use a high quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this recipe, such as one of the test kitchen's favorite baking chocolates, Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate L-60-40NV or Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. Though we highly recommend the ganache filling, you can omit it for a more traditional cupcake. The cupcakes can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored unfrosted in an airtight container.