Thursday, May 19, 2005

Brain Cupcakes

Brain Cupcakes (Adapted from Martha Stewart)

For the cupcakes

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons total) canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups warm water

For the buttercream

6 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
36 tablespoons (2 1/4 cups or 4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and sliced into tablespoon portions
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

To prepare the cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Add the eggs, milk, canola oil, vanilla and water - beat on low until smooth and combined, scraping down the sides as needed.

Evenly divide the batter between the wells of 2-12 cup muffin tins lined with paper liners. Place into the oven and bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick placed in the center of a cupcake comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 18 to 24 minutes.

Remove from the oven and carefully turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack and allow them to stand, top side up, until completely cool before frosting.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

To prepare the frosting

Fill a medium saucepan half full with water and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.

In a large mixing bowl, add egg whites and sugar. Whisk mixture together a couple times to combine. Set bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water, and whisk gently until the egg whites are hot and the sugar has dissolved. Remove mixing bowl from the saucepan.

Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, whip mixture on high-speed until the egg whites have cooled completely - if you touch the outside of the bowl, it should not be warm at all when they are ready.

When the egg whites have cooled, switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, at 10-second intervals until all pieces have been added. Let the buttercream beat at medium-high until it is thick and emulsified - it will initially look separated or curdled, but continue to beat until it comes back together. Beat in vanilla - reduce speed to low to remove any air bubbles, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a medium round tip (I used a #12 tip), pipe a mound of buttercream in the center of cupcake, then outline and pipe a brain design over it.

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