Valentine Greetings: Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

choc-surprise-cupcakes

“Yay! Another snow day!”

After a winter of warm days and relatively little snow, Mother Nature decided that we needed three feet to fall within a week and a half. My middle child is vexed that the three tests she was supposed to have had a week ago still have not been administered due to two snow days and three start of school delays. My oldest and youngest, however, have been thrilled for the extra time to hang out in dorms with no classes (my oldest at college) and to play at home with the family (my youngest in middle school).

As a family, we’ve made use of the snowbound time to catch up on the never-ending t0-do list and to spend time together since the youngest really wanted us to play with him. Many hours sledding in our backyard, playing board games, competing on the Wii, and watching reruns of old shows left the family in the mood for something “special” to eat.

Since Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, we decided to make some Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes, one of the family’s favorites. You make a chocolate raspberry center which you tuck into the cupcake batter so when you eat it, you enjoy a nice creamy flavor surprise.  What’s nice about this recipe is that it’s free of most foods folks tend to be allergic to, so just about anyone can enjoy them.

Chocolate Surprise Cupcakes

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

2 tbsp Polaner’s seedless raspberry All-Fruit

2 tbsp Earth Balance vegan, soy free butter

Cooking Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe large glass container, place all three ingredients and microwave for 1 minute. Stir until the mixture is completely smooth.
  2. Place the container in the refrigerator and let the mixture cool and begin to thicken. It can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on how hot your microwave makes the chocolate, how exact your measuring is, etc…. What you want is for the mixture to be thick enough when you spoon it that you can mound the chocolate onto a cookie sheet.
  3. When the chocolate has thickened enough to form little mounds, place a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet and create 24 chocolate mounds using a teaspoon to scoop out the chocolate mixture. You essentially are making a little “hershey kiss” of your own.
  4. Once you have 24 more or less equally sized chocolate mounds, put them into the fridge to harden while you make the cupcake batter.

Cupcake Ingredients:

3 cups favorite gluten free flour blend

1/2 cup unsweetened Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder

3 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup agave

3/4 cup safflower oil

2 cups water

2 tsp vanilla

3 tbsp vinegar

Baking Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt well and set aside.
  3. Mix the agave, oil, water, and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients with the vinegar. Mix well until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  4. Put 1 1/2 tbsp of batter into each of the 24 cupcake tins.
  5. Carefully peel and place one of the chocolate raspberry mounds into the center of each of the cupcake tins.
  6. Divide the remaining batter evenly among the cupcake tins (about 1 1/12 tbsp) to cover the chocolate mounds.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The cupcakes will be rounded, firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean. My oven always bakes them in 15 minutes but a friend said hers took 20.
  8. Let the cupcakes sit in the tins for 5 minutes. Then remove them to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
  9. Frost with your favorite frosting recipe or use the one below is one I’ve adapted from Elana’s Pantry.

Frosting Ingredients:

1 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup avocado oil

2 tbsp agave

2 tsp vanilla

your preference of “milk”

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Mix the chips, oil, and agave together in a microwave safe glass container.
  2. Heat the chips for 1 minute. Stir. If it needs to be heated more, do so 20 seconds at a time until you can stir the chips smooth.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to your mixer bowl.
  5. Put into the freezer until the mixture begins to hard around the edges but is still softer in the center.  This can take between 15 to 30 minutes.
  6. Using your mixer, blend the chocolate mixture on high speed until the mixture becomes thick and smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a couple of times.
  7. Add “milk”, a teaspoon at a time until the mixture is to the creamy consistency you prefer for frosting your cupcakes.

 

Creative Cooking: Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

“Can we make something chocolate?”

My few weeks have been beyond crazy.  On top of our usual busyness of school, work, and activities, we’ve continued to deal with my oldest’s recovery from being hit by a car, we’ve grieved the death of a friend’s daughter, we’ve agonized over a loved one being in the hospital in an induced coma, and we added rehearsals for my son to be in “It’s A Wonderful Life” and auditions for a play I’m directing.

So, it’s now just a few days before Thanksgiving, and I’m finally turning my attention to the menu for that day and returning to this blog which I have ignored for these past three weeks. When I asked my children what we should have my middle child responded with the question:  “Can we make something chocolate?”

Now, two of my three children are well-rounded dessert lovers. When presented with choices, they may choose a slice of apple pie or a piece of zucchini cake or a ginger cookie or a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. My middle child, however, when given options to choose from, will opt for the chocolate cream pie or the chocolate fudge cake or the double chocolate cookie or the chocolate cheesecake.

So, I wasn’t surprised when she asked if we could make something chocolatey. She always does, and I always suggest that we stick to the traditional pies for Thanksgiving and make something chocolate for another time. I surprised myself yesterday, though, by actually contemplating the idea of making chocolate cupcakes.

Why? Three reasons: One, I just had a really, really long week and the thought of something comforting like chocolate cupcakes was enticing; two, with the death of my friend’s daughter at such a young age (20’s) and my own daughter being alive after being hit by a car, I’m realizing that life’s too short to NOT have chocolate, no matter the season; and three, we just watched my son’s performance in “It’s A Wonderful Life” where I was reminded that it’s all really about family and friends and time together and not the menu.

So, if you need assistance in revamping your holiday menu to fit allergy or health needs, please read my posts from last year (Nov and Dec 2013) where you’ll learn all sorts of lessons for how to do so; but for this Thanksgiving, I’m offering a creative addition to the Thanksgiving menu:  Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes which are gluten, dairy, nut, soy, peanut, and egg free. Enjoy and have a most Happy Thanksgiving!

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I used Authentic Foods Multi-Blend)

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking soda

1 cup Enjoy Life allergen free mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup Hershey’s dark unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup oil (I used safflower)

1 cup Agave

2 tsp vanilla

2 cups water

2 tbsp vinegar (I used raspberry but apple cider or white will do)

Polaner’s Raspberry All-Fruit

Baking Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Add the chocolate chips and set aside.

3. Whisk together the oil, agave, vanilla, and water.

4. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, adding the vinegar.

5. Divide half of the batter evenly among the muffin cups. I usually put about 1 1/2 tbsp of batter into each.

6. Carefully put one teaspoon of raspberry all fruit into the center of the batter.

7. Evenly distribute the remaining batter among the muffin tins, carefully putting the batter over the raspberry all fruit.  Again, this is usually about another 1 1/2 tbsp.

8. Bake the cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 to 20 minutes.

9. Cool in the muffin tins on a wire rack for about five minutes before removing them from the tins and completely cooling them on a wire rack.

10. For a festive touch, put the cupcake into a bowl with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or nondairy frozen dessert next to it with a raspberry and mint leaf on top.