You can also call these little chocolate bombs. Because they are the bomb. This recipe calls for making these as 24 mini cupcakes. Once they're baked, you peel them out of the cupcake liners and all but the top is dipped in melted chocolate. The cupcakes are turned upside down so that the uncoated top is the bottom then lightly dusted with cocoa powder once the chocolate coating is semi-firm and still sticky but not liquid. Think of it as a truffle version of a cupcake. For serious chocoholics. Of which I am one.
The tricky thing with mini cupcakes is they bake quickly because of their small size so watch the timing on these and take them out when they're just barely done. It's too easy for mini cupcakes to come out dry if they're left in the oven even a minute longer than necessary. A dry cupcake is just a waste of calories and chewing time. I took these out when there were still moist crumbs clinging to the toothpick but it wasn't liquid batter. And curse me, but I forgot to time it. I baked them for maybe 20 minutes?
They don't have any chemical leavening in them and you don't beat a lot of air into the batter so it's safe to fill the mini cupcake liners to the top and the cupcakes won't overflow. They're more dense than the typical cupcake but that helps them stay moist as well. I actually ended up with a little extra batter so I baked the extra in a small ramekin. That's the tester piece below. I didn't dust the tops with cocoa powder as the recipe suggested since they were plenty chocolate enough for me. I did make only 2/3 of the melted chocolate coating because past experience has taught me following the normal recipe usually creates too much coating. I was right.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate (I only used 8 ounces)
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (I only used 2 tablespoons)
1. Make the cupcakes: Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line 2 mini-muffin tins that have 12 cups each with mini-paper liners. Spray the paper liners with nonstick spray.
2. Put the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir the butter and chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove from the water and set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and salt to blend them thoroughly, about 1 minute. Whisk in the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla to incorporate them. Whisk in the flour just until no white streaks remain.
4. Fill each paper liner with about 1 ½ tablespoons batter, to just below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 24 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks.
5. Using a small knife, loosen any cupcake tops that might have stuck to the pans. Carefully place a wire rack on top of one pan of cupcakes. Protecting your hands with pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes onto the wire rack. Turn the cupcakes top side up to cool completely. If any cupcake tops separate from the cupcakes when you unmold them, simply press them back on; they will stick to these moist cupcakes. Repeat with the second pan of cupcakes.
6. Make the chocolate coating: Put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of a double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Scrape the chocolate coating into a small bowl.
7. Remove the paper liners from the cooled cupcakes. Holding the top of a cupcake with your fingers, dip all of the cupcake except the top in the chocolate coating. Gently roll it in the chocolate to coat it thoroughly, then hold it over the bowl to let any excess drip off and return the cupcake to the wire rack, uncoated top down. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes; do not let the coated cupcakes touch one another. Let sit until the chocolate coating becomes just sticky to the touch but is no longer liquid.
8. Use a strainer to dust the tops of the cupcakes lightly with cocoa powder. (If the chocolate is at the semifirm, sticky stage, the cocoa powder will remain on the surface, not dissolve into it.) Let the cupcakes sit at room temperature until the coating is firm; about 1 ½ hours. Or, to speed the firming of the chocolate, refrigerate the fudge balls on the wire racks for about 10 minutes.
9. When the chocolate is completely firm, put the fudge balls in clean paper liners. Cover and refrigerate. Serve cold or at room temperature.
10. The cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
11. Choices: Instead of cocoa, sprinkle 1 cup toasted coconut, ½ cup chocolate sprinkles, or ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts over the chocolate-covered fudge balls. To toast coconut, spread shredded, sweetened coconut on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 325 F oven until golden, about 11 minutes, stirring the coconut twice to help it toast evenly.
Yield: 24 mini cupcakes