Then, I couldn't decide on whether I wanted a buttercream frosting or a ganache frosting. The only thing I did know exactly was how I was going to incorporate the jalapeno into my cupcakes.
First off, as I am sure most of you know, a smoked jalapeno pepper is called a chipotle pepper. That is what I immediately knew I was going to use here. A while back I made some really terrific chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter truffles in them. For the cake in that recipe it called for hot coffee, since coffee boosts the flavor of chocolate. Well, I don't drink coffee, and had used just hot water (which was fine), but I had long been thinking about what else (besides coffee) I could use to boost the chocolate flavor.
That is where the chipotle came in. I saw absolutely no reason not to puree some chipotles into the water, strain it so that none of the texture got in there and all of the sweet, smokey heat and flavor did.
So, that brings us to these Chocolate Chipotle Cupcakes. I used only one chipotle pepper because I wanted both the flavor and heat to just be subtle and complimentary, but if you wanted to go big you could add more. For the frosting, to help balance out any heat, I decided that a nice light and simple buttercream was the way to go. So, I used my favorite simple buttercream recipe and modified it to give that two toned swirly effect I love so much.
The final creation is my entry for this month's one and only original single ingredient focused cupcake event in the food blogosphere - CUPCAKE HERO HeroHeroHero this month hosted by Rachel of Tangerine Tart and Teri of the 90/10 rule. This month's secret ingredient, in any form, was the jalapeno, so in my case, yup, you got it, the chipotle. Big thanks to Laurie for creating this event and to Rachel and Teri for a fun ingredient!
Chocolate Chipotle Cupcakes
(Adapted from 1942 Devil's Food Cake, Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3/4 cup boiling water
1 whole chipotle pepper (from can with adobo sauce)
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons buttermilk
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over hot, but not simmering, water. Let cool.
Stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, mixing well.
Puree together the boiling water and chipotle pepper until liquid, strain into a clean bowl and set aside. (Try not to breath in the fumes because it has quite a kick).
Add the butter to the chocolate, then pour in the boiling water/chipotle mixture and stir well to mix. Whisk in the sugar and buttermilk. Stir in the flour mixture. Whisk in the eggs.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners about half full (it is a relatively thin batter).
Bake for about 25 minutes, or until well risen and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.
(Makes about 24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill them - I ended up with 22)
Cherry Cocoa Buttercream
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 cup cherry preserves, pureed til smooth
1/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of the cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Add the cherry preserves and whip 1 minute more. Add more powdered sugar or cream to get desired consistency (should be fairly thick).
Place 2/3 of the mixed frosting into a pastry back fitted with the desired tip, keeping the frosting to one side of the bag and leaving a gap down to the tip for the cocoa frosting. To the remaining 1/3 of frosting add the cocoa powder and enough cream to again get the desired consistency. Add to the other side of the bag and pipe as much as desired onto the tops of each cupcake.