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Christmas Snowball Cupcakes

Christmas Snowball Cupcakes

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This Christmas will be the first one I've spent at home in New Zealand in three years. So coming home was really overdue! There's nothing like being with family at Christmas, so I'm really looking forward to it. My Mum and I will head down to my cousin's farm for the day, spend time with the children and inevitably eat far too much. But that's the best part of Christmas for me: the food! I have already made sure that my favourite Christmas dessert will be there, pavlova. I can never get enough of it. For some it's too sweet, but for me it's perfect, with all the whipped cream and summer fruit. Of course with all that fruit, I also need my chocolate fix. And what goes better with chocolate than coconut? They're the perfect pair in my opinion. I wanted to use these super cute snowflake decorations I got, so I did a search on Google for 'best chocolate cupcakes' and found this recipe from the Cupcake Project. Taste tested by a team of 50 bakers and modified over the course of a year, this recipe was deemed the best of all chocolate cupcakes. Light and fluffy, with a strong chocolate flavor, these cupcakes truly are delicious. Especially while still warm and unfrosted (I couldn't wait!). To tie in with my Christmas winter theme of snow, I decided to frost these cupcakes with a suspiro or meringue frosting. I love this frosting as it contains no butter and is just whipped egg whites combined with a sugar syrup. It is a little tricky to do though, and you need to make sure you follow the instructions completely, but once you get the hang of it, it's not as intimidating as it first seemed. I then sprinkled dessicated coconut on the frosting to create 'snow' and added a little sparkle with white sanding sugar. The snowflakes were the cherry on top.

Have a very Merry Christmas everyone!!

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cocoa powder
57 grams (2 ounces) plain chocolate (I used Whittakers Dark Ghana 72%)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup water, at room temperature

Suspiro (meringue) Frosting:

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Tiny pinch of salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dessicated coconut for topping

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit). Place cupcake liners in two cupcake or muffin pans.

2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and combine well. Set aside.

3. Using a double boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and mix well. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, until just combined. Beat in oil, vanilla and sour cream until just combined.

5. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, mixing well. Mix in water until just combined.

6. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full. Place in the oven and bake for 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove cupcakes immediately and put on a cooling rack.

7. Make the frosting: In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together the water and sugar and bring to a boil.

8. While the water and sugar mixture heats on the stove, start beating the egg whites at maximum speed. Once you obtain soft peaks (peaks that curl over when the beaters are lifted), after about 2 minutes, add the cream of tartar and salt.

9. Keep beating for a further minute before adding the 2 tablespoons of sugar. I like to put the sugar in a measuring cup so then I can it in a fine, gradual stream. This is very necessary so the egg whites don't become flat.

10. Continue beating the egg whites and check the saucepan. The water should have evaporated and become and thick, clear syrup.

11. Keeping the mixer on high speed, add the syrup to the egg whites and continue beating until you obtain thick peaks (peaks that stand up when the beaters are lifted).

12. Once the temperature of the bowl has cooled, add the vanilla. Keep beating until the meringue reaches desired consistency.

13. Frost cooled cupcakes. Add coconut and glitter sanding sugar. Top with decoration of your choice. The snowflakes I used are from Wilton.

Notes:

  •  The syrup must be hot while pouring it into the egg whites, to get them cooked properly and avoid the egg smell. Never let the syrup cool because it will stick to the pan and it gets very hard when cooled.
  •  Make sure all the utensils and machine to be used for making the frosting are clean and free of grease, oil or butter residue. After washing them thoroughly wipe with vinegar or vodka and dry thoroughly.  If not cleaned properly the meringue won’t come out right and will be flat.
  • Stainless steel or glass bowls are best for beating the eggs, so avoid plastic bowls.
  • When separating the eggs, use cold eggs straight from the fridge as they separate more easily. After separating the eggs, bring the egg whites to room temperature before beating, as they will whip faster.
  • Beat the meringue continuously until the end, do not take a break.
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