Two Sweet Reviews
One of the things I find hard to resist is a good brownie. Full of decadent, buttery, chocolate-y goodness, I usually save these for an occasional indulgence, and buy them by the piece, because even though they are fairly easy to make, there are not enough occasions to justify baking a pan full of them. I have a really long list of brownie recipes I would like to try, and I know a good brownie when I eat one, but how am I supposed to tell by just looking at the recipe? All those glamor shots that sometimes accompany them don't help either.
Not long ago, I mentioned having over a boatload of guests, with varied tastes, and thankfully a few of them were dessert people, so I ruffled through my list to see which one I should try first, and what a difficult decision it was. I settled on Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies after reading high praise on the user reviews. I followed everything exactly, and they baked up beautifully. Great texture, and pretty good taste. The overall impression however was that the coffee flavor was too strong. The coffee is supposed to boost the chocolate flavor, not overtake it. It is quite possible that the particular coffee I used was too strong, but these brownies tasted good only on the first day and didn't quite hold that well by the next day, which can be a big plus if one is making a tonne of them. And they also didn't do well after freezing (and thawing). Ultimately, this is not the 'it' brownie recipe for me, and I am more likely to try some others in pursuit of the perfect one.
All is not lost in this post though. Here is a plug for a superb Mini Chocolate Cupcakes recipe from Nicole, a prolific blogger and baker. It took me all of 10 minutes to make the batter, and that included opening cupboards, jars, bottles, and sundry containers of ingredients. I needed a tad more milk than specified to get the batter to come together, but a taste of the batter promised great things to come, and these did not disappoint. I have never eaten chocolate cupcakes before. I am not kidding, I have never had an occasion to sample chocolate cupcakes, but these were incredible. I didn't even make the frosting, as I didn't have all the things on hand. I thought of drizzling some ganache over them, but they were mighty good as is. Moist, delicious, easy, eggless, and possibly easy to convert to a vegan version if needed. I can't wait to try them out again. There was a small catch, and even though it didn't matter, I thought I should mention that while I made half the recipe, it was just enough for only 12 mini-muffins. At first I thought I had filled the cups too much, but the cupcakes seem to have risen almost as much as they have in Nicole's pictures.
Noting down the recipe for future reference.
Mini Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp instant coffee powder (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
big pinch of salt
3/8 cup milk, or a little more if needed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 mini muffin cups with paper liners.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa power, instant coffee powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Pour into dry ingredients and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain.
Distribute batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4th full.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.