I’m not going to lie. I used to be one of those grinch-like people that cringed at the idea of Valentine’s Day around the corner. I just never particularly bought into the commercial holiday disguised as a single-day celebration of “love,” as defined by Hallmark. It just seemed overly contrived, an unnecessary excuse of a holiday to muster up hackneyed displays of overexuberant chivalry and romance, as evidenced by the ample amounts of purchased flowers and chocolates (of which I cannot complain). That was, at least, until I began turning the day into yet another more appropriate excuse to bake heart-laden morsels of chocolate in every form to win the love of not one, but many.
I can’t help that I”m a little selfish.
As you most definitely must know by now, I’m an avid food blog follower. More specifically, of Deb and her very Smitten Kitchen and if she’s making Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream for Valentine’s Day (albeit 2010), then you know what I’m making for Valentine’s Day. Seriously, she is amazing and I just don’t know how she does it! Clearly, if you decide to peruse her blog one of these days (or, I’d say right NOW), you’ll find that not only are her photos a bajillion times more gorgeous and sumptuous, but also that her food is absolutely, indisputably flawless. Even for this particular bite of heaven, her White Chocolate Mint Cream is a perfectly compact dollop! No matter how earnestly I tried, it came out runny (see first photo above)! I wouldn’t dare question her authority or recipes, so perhaps you’ll have a more successful time at making it, but if anything, I’d add just a touch more white chocolate than heavy cream to thicken the mixture up a little.
On a slightly more self-aggrandizing and absolving note, especially when compared to my far more culinarily-deft idol, I have been offered an internship position as a food photographer (don’t get me wrong, I am merely making a great attempt at honing my skills) and restaurant reviewer/food writer for a new up and coming entertainment magazine for young adults in Hawaii! I assure you that I will set aside more time to nurture my blog baby and also take you all along with me in my journey out and about on the island! There are definitely far more adventures to keep track of and include in my slowly accumulating repertoire, but for now, let’s cheers to some chocolate!
Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Cream
Adapted hardly from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 12 regular-sized cupcakes or 24 mini cupcakes
Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes
6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I mixed the two)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) (86 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (97 grams) sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
White Chocolate Mint Cream*
6 ounces (56 grams) white chocolate, finely chopped
6 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (a little goes a long way)
Get the white chocolate mint cream ready for later:
Place the white chocolate in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute to melt the chocolate. Whisk well. Add the peppermint extract and whisk again. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream. Chill until very cold, about two hours.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. (I like to put the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan, so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
Using electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.
Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack, embrace it) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.
Finish your masterpiece:
Beat mint white chocolate cream with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of white chocolate mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate or dust some cocoa powder, if you’re feeling fancy. I’d say “eat at once” but I suspect that you already have.
*I doubled the mint cream from the original recipe, but I promise you, in this case, you really won’t regret having more.