30 May 2008
Chocolate Fire Ice Cream Cupcakes
Stef at Cupcake Project is co-hosting an Ice Cream Cupcake Roundup along with Scoopalicious during the month of May. The idea is to make mini ice cream cakes to usher in the warm summer weather.
I know I wish the weather were getting warm, but in my corner of the world it just hasn't felt that way lately. In my view it isn’t really ice cream weather. I do love ice cream but to really enjoy it I have to be wearing shorts and languishing in the afternoon heat. I want to feel the hot breath of summer on my skin as I taste the cool custard melting on my tongue.
Sadly, the weather has not been cooperating and the end of the month is almost here. Still I do want to participate in the event. What to do? I added a bit of heat to the recipe.
To learn how to have fun with ice cream there’s no better place to start than with children. For my cupcake recipe I turned to my vintage "Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls." It no longer has a cover or pages 1 through 8 but the rest is still spiral bound and sitting on my cookbook shelf. I remember it’s recipes so fondly from my childhood that I can still see it's illustrations in my mind when I think of easy and fun recipes. I remember a chapter called "Summer Fun." I also remember a cool Castle Cake that I dreamed of making, a wonderful Painted Sugar Cookie recipe that we tried and a recipe for a salad that was shaped like a bunny and made from a canned pear half. But my favorite memory is of a reliable recipe for basic Brownies. Of course I had plans to change and embellish it, but those basic recipes are great for knowing where to start.
To the basic recipe I added chipolte and ancho chili powder, ground Saigon cinnamon, and the seeds from half of a vanilla bean. I also added cocoa powder for a deeper chocolate taste, changed the shortening to butter and used Moonstruck Chocolate’s 2 0z. Dark Chocolate Chile Variado bar instead of the unsweetened chocolate squares. These Chocolate Fire Cupcakes smelled wonderful as they were baking. The aroma of the spices lingered in the air and smelled fresh and warm in the kitchen throughout the evening.
For the ice cream layer I used PJ Madison's organic super-premium gelato-style ice cream in Kashmir Cinnamon. It was fantastic! My biggest mistake in this process was only buying one pint of this fabulous ice cream. It worked out well since I also overfilled the cupcake liners but having some of this ice cream left over would not have been a problem.
For the icing I used a basic Cream Cheese Frosting to which I added the seeds from the other half of the vanilla bean. Then I dusted the cupcakes with a splash of cinnamon and a splash of ancho chile powder before adding a sprinkling of chopped cacao nibs.
These cupcakes turned out even better than I expected! The taste of the chile peppers added interest and fully engaged my taste buds but the heat was balanced by the sweetness so that there was no lingering fire on my tongue. The cinnamon added another sort of sweetly hot sensation and the vanilla added depth to the flavor. The cinnamon ice cream was just spicy enough to be luscious and sparkling without overpowering the taste of the chocolate or the cool sensation of the iced cream. The cream cheese icing also added a welcome tang and even the crunch of the bitter nibs was not lost in this exotic tapestry of flavors.
In short, I would definitely make these again!
Chile Variado Brownies
Adapted from "Betty Crocker's Cookbook for Boys and Girls"
1 2-ounce Chile Variado chocolate bar from Moonstruck
1/3 cup butter
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
PJ Madison's Kashmir Cinnamon Ice Cream
Cream Cheese Frosting
Additional ancho chile powder and ground cinnamon
Chopped cacao nibs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line cupcake pans with foil or paper liners and set aside.
In a small saucepan, gently melt the chocolate and butter until soft. Split the 1/2 vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the chocolate and butter. Stir to mix and set aside.
In a medium bowl beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together. Add the chocolate mixture stirring until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ancho chile powder and chipotle chile powder until thoroughly combined.
Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture stirring just until combined.
Pour the batter into the cupcake liners filling each 1/3 full. ( I think this will make approximately 24 cupcakes. I made seventeen but I overfilled the liners and the cupcakes were too large to add much ice cream.)
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until brownies are done. (Check carefully as smaller cupcakes will change the baking time.)
Place pans on wire rack to cool. When the cupcakes are cool place them in the freezer for several hours.
When the cupcakes are ready place the ice cream out on the counter for a few minutes to soften slightly. Scoop the ice cream on top of the brownies into the cupcake liners. Smooth the ice cream to fill the liner, mounding slightly on the top if desired.
Place the cupcakes back in the freezer until the ice cream is firm.
Ice with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).
Dust with ancho chile powder and cinnamon. Top with chopped cacoa nibs.
Cream Cheese Frosting
from "Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-by-Step Cookbook"
1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl. Scrape the seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean into the mixture. Beat together until fluffy.
Add the powdered sugar gradually, beating well after each addition, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Refrigerate until ready to use.