Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cream-Filled Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

Nothing says love like chocolate, at least that's my husband's motto. For Valentine's Day, I always make him a special dessert which must include chocolate in some form. This year, I went all the way! These dark chocolate devil's food cakes are filled with a delicious chocolate cream and topped with velvety, rich chocolate ganache. Ganache is typically a mixture of melted chocolate and heavy cream but, to lower the saturated fat, I used almond milk in place of the cream (or substitute skim milk, if you prefer.) Traditional devil's food cake recipes call for 4 ounces of sweet baker's chocolate, which is loaded with 6 to 9 grams of saturated fat per ounce! Instead, I used a combination of 1 ounce of baker's chocolate and ½ cup cocoa powder, which reduced the saturated fat by two-thirds. For extra dark chocolate cake, the way my husband likes it, try using Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder which has zero saturated fat, but provides loads of dark chocolate flavor.

The really fun surprise of this recipe is the cream filling INSIDE the cakes! It's easy to do with a pastry bag and a round cake decorating tip. Don't worry if you don't have one because you can still make these chocolate marvels by cutting an inverted cone out of the top, spoon the filling in and replacing the cake on top. It will resemble a "top hat" and taste just as delicious! Have a happy, chocolate Valentine's Day!

Cream-Filled Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
(Makes 16 servings)

Cake Ingredients:
¾ cup almond milk
1 oz. unsweetened or bittersweet baking chocolate (1 square), chopped
1¼ cups almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs + 1 egg white
¾ teaspoon instant coffee granules (decaf or regular)
¼ cup sugar
5 tablespoons canola oil
One 2.5 oz. container of baby food prune puree (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup Splenda granular
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Filling Ingredients:
1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup almond milk (original or unsweetened)
½ cup mascarpone cheese
3½ tablespoons Splenda granular
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fat-free, sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix (dry powder)

Chocolate Ganache Topping Ingredients:
1/3 cup almond milk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Prepare muffin tin by placing a paper liner in each cup or spray with non-stick cooking spray; set aside. In a small saucepan, heat ¾ cup almond milk over medium-low heat to scalding or microwave on high for 60-90 seconds. Remove from heat and add the roughly chopped unsweetened baking chocolate square and instant coffee granules; stir until melted and smooth.

2. In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flours, ½ cup cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl and using a handheld or standing mixer, beat the eggs and egg white until light in color and increased in volume. Add sugar and continue beating until well combined. Slowly add the canola oil and beat on high for 1 minute. Add the prune puree, Splenda and vanilla extract. Beat until well incorporated, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl at least once. Alternate adding the dry ingredients ½ cup at a time and the hot milk and chocolate mixture until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.

3. Spoon into prepared muffin cups only until 2/3 full (do not overfill). Bake for 15-18 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 4 minutes. Remove a wire rack and cool cakes completely before filling.

4. Meanwhile make cream filling by first melting the 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder in almond milk over low heat or in the microwave for about 45-60 seconds on high. Stir to incorporate cocoa into milk. Set aside until cooled to room temperature. (If desired, place in refrigerator to hasten cooling.) Place mascarpone cheese in a large mixing bowl and add cooled almond milk mixture. Beat with a handheld or standing mixer on high until well combined and mixture is light and fluffy (it will resemble whipped cream). Add Splenda, extract and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the 2 tablespoons of chocolate instant pudding powder and beat well. Place in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes to set. Stir before filling cupcakes.

5. To make chocolate ganache icing, heat milk in microwave for 45-60 seconds on high (or heat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until beginning to boil). Add chocolate morsels and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth; set aside to cool. Mixture will thicken as it cools. To hasten cooling, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until the consistency of very thick cream, stirring occasionally.

6. When cupcakes are completely cooled, fill a pastry bag with chocolate cream and fix a round decorating tip onto the end of the bag. Insert tip into the top of each cupcake and squeeze about 1 tablespoon of filling into each cake. (If you do not have any cake decorating tips, remove a cone of cake from the top of the cupcake with a small, serrated knife. Fill hole with 1 tablespoon of filling and replace cake on top. The cake will stick up and resemble a top hat.) Dip cupcakes to coat top or drizzle 2 teaspoons of chocolate ganache icing over the top of each cupcake. Allow chocolate ganache to cool and set. If there is any leftover chocolate cream filling, you may decorate the top of each cupcake with additional chocolate cream before serving. Store in refrigerator, but allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Information per cupcake with chocolate cream filling and ganache topping: 234.6 calories, 21.5 g carbohydrate, 15.9 g total fat, 4.1 g saturated fat, 2.7 g fiber, 5.3 g protein.

Nutritional Information per cupcake with only chocolate cream filling (no ganache topping): 198 calories, 16.4 g carbohydrate, 13.8 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 2.7 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Nutritional Information per 1 tablespoon chocolate cream (recipe makes about 20 tablespoons): 31.6 calories, 1.5 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g total fat, 1.4 g saturated fat, 0.2 g fiber, 0.6 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

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