Smooth cream cheese, granulated sugar and a single egg form the magical filling to these cupcakes, along with a healthy handful of coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate. You wouldn't necessarily have to add the extra chocolate if you wanted them a bit lighter, but it's like gravy on mashed potatoes - why not go for broke?
With that set aside for later, the loose cupcake batter comes together in a snap, with the benefit of not needing a mixer! Yes, this devil's food-like cupcake is made much like a muffin, meaning there is no creaming involved - just a "stir-and-go" deal. While natural cocoa powder is used for a slightly bitter bite, I did throw a touch of espresso powder into the mix to bump up the chocolate feel. Not so much that you'd think "Err, should I be drinking this?", but enough that it's like someone took a highlighter to the chocolate, emphasizing its more subtle notes.
I would have expected white sugar to be used in the batter, but this recipe happens to call for brown sugar, which we found to bring extra moisture and depth to the cupcakes. As soon as I started filling the baking tin, I had one of those "oh crap" moments, thinking this is going to get messy. I thought the wells of the pan were already full after the chocolate batter was added, but as soon as the cheesecake filling was dolloped on, it quite frankly looked as if the batter was going to flow right out of the wells. Not that I could do anything now to fix it, so I decided I might as well throw caution out the window and whatever happens, happens.
Much to my surprise, halfway through baking, I turned the oven light on to take a peek and let out an audible sigh of relief as I saw the batter perked right up and took shape, rather than oozing out all over. To make sure they have cooked through, a quick press on the dark cake-y part to see if it springs back will do - for added insurance though, you can slide a toothpick into the same area and look for it to come out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached.
You would usually find a swirly mound of frosting on cupcakes, but there is definitely none needed here - with that snazzy cheesecake filling pulling its own weight, frosting would throw these out of balance and leave your sweet tooth begging for mercy. Also, with no frosting, transporting them will be a breeze!