Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hi-hat Cupcakes

Wow these past couple of months have been crazy but fun. All the party and wedding planning that I've been doing recently has left me flustered with not much time for my blog. I've been baking up a storm but have never had the time to post. I don't know how much time I'll have over the next 3 months to sit down and write but I've missed my blog so much and will definitely make some time for it.

For a long time I had this recipe for hi-hat cupcakes sitting on the desktop of my laptop, sitting patiently and calling out to me. One day I decided to take some time out of my hectic schedule to make them and boy was I glad. These delicious cupcakes left my heart singing for joy. The velvety chocolate cake topped with creamy meringue and decadent chocolate was to die for.

These cupcakes are easy to make but time consuming - trust me to chose a recipe like this on a hectic day. First step is to make the cupcakes. For these cupcakes you can use your favourite vanilla or chocolate cupcakes. I decided to make chocolate blackout cupcakes for the chocolate lover in me. Once the cupcakes are baked and cooled to room temperature you would need to place them in the refrigerator to cool even further.

The next step is to make the meringue. It is the meringue that really makes these cupcakes what they are. If your meringue is good then it really doesn't matter which cake you use for the cupcakes because most people who eat these cupcakes really go crazy for the meringue and chocolate topping. It's not to say that that cake shouldn't be good but I feel that the success of the meringue will determine the success of these cupcakes.

The meringue used on these cupcakes is an Italian meringue made with egg whites and sugar. There are different ways to make the meringue but I find this method a lot better than others I have tried. For this recipe I used 4 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp glucose syrup, 4 tsp cream of tartar and 1 cup of water. You could flavour the meringue with 1 or 2 tablespoons of your favourite extract or essence. I used strawberry.
First you will need to place the egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Place the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a saucepan and bring boil. Cook until the syrup registers 115C or 238F on a sugar thermometer. I don't have a sugar thermometer so I cooked the syrup until soft ball stage.
Before the syrup reaches the required temperature you would need to start whipping the egg whites to firm shiny peaks.

When the syrup is ready, slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the firm egg whites with the mixer is running on high. Pour the syrup in a thin stream so as not to curdle the eggs and be careful not to pour any of the hot syrup over the beaters or you could find yourself in hot water - or should I say hot syrup. Add your extract of choice and continue to whip the egg white mixture until it has reached room temperature.

The mixture will be fluffy and thick.

Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature spoon it into a large piping bag with a large plain nozzle. You could also just use the coupler. I used a large Ziploc bag with the tip of one corner cut off.

The next step would be to top the cupcakes with this luscious meringue. Pipe swirls of meringue onto the top of each cupcake - the same way that ice-cream is swirled on a cone. Pipe about 3 of 4 swirls depending of the width of your nozzle. Place the cupcakes in the refrigerator again to help the meringue set up a bit.

Now for the fun part, dipping the cupcakes into chocolate. Even after placing the meringue topped cupcakes in the refrigerator for some time I still had a bit of trouble dipping them into the chocolate. The meringue kept sliding off the cupcake as is evident in the picture below.

With images of men dressed in white coats forcing me into a straight jacket flashing over and over in my head I decided to pour the chocolate glaze over the cupcakes. It was a lot more messy than anticipated but keeping my sanity is far more important to me.

The next part was the hardest part for me - waiting for the chocolate glaze to set. I placed them back into the refrigerator to help speed up the process. I lined the shelves with newspaper because by then I felt I had my fair share of wiping up chocolate.

One bite from these decadent cupcakes and all my troubles flu out the window. It was sure worth it. The light dreamy meringue, topped with a delicious glaze had me floating one foot off the ground. Give these a try you won't be sorry.