When Allrecipes asked me to create a grown-up treat for fall, I knew there had to be ginger and dark chocolate. And caramel, because always, caramel. Together, my daughter and I worked on this dense, spicy, not-too-sweet, citrus-studded cupcake, and I think you will love it. These dark chocolate flourless cupcakes might not even encourage hospitality; you might, in fact, have trouble sharing.
I often find myself sneaking into the kids’ stash after they circle the neighborhood with the other families, but with these around, I wouldn’t even be tempted. The spicy ginger perfectly pairs with the citrus in the dark chocolate orange buttercream, the caramel drizzle with its Chinese five-spice flavor, and the candied ginger and orange peels. My neighbor told me she ate everyone’s orange peels right off the top.
Can I just for one second, though, whine and say that it is H.A.R.D. to create a recipe with dark chocolate, and butter, and ginger, and caramel, when you’re in the middle of a Whole 30 challenge?
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- ½ cup butter
- 1 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon ginger (optional, but recommended)
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon whiskey
- ¼ cup candied ginger, finely chopped
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice with pulp
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ cup dark cocoa
- 3 ½ cups confectioners sugar
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons salted butter
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons spiced rum
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice (or substitute cinnamon)
- (optional, but recommended)
- 1 tablespoon candied orange zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized or candied ginger
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line a muffin pan with muffin cups (silicone or wax-lined recommended).
- In a microwave-safe dish, melt chocolate and butter in thirty second intervals, stirring after each interval. Once butter has melted, remove from heat and continue stirring until chocolate has melted. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or using a hand mixer), beat brown sugar and eggs until nearly double in volume (about 4 minutes).
- Add butter/chocolate mixture slowly, then whiskey, then cocoa powder and spices and mix until combined.
- Stir in candied ginger.
- Scoop into lined muffin tin, filling each cup ¾ full.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 17 minutes.
- Muffins should feel slightly firm to the touch, and may crack on top.
- Melt sugar on medium-low heat in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally.
- (Be patient; don’t stir too often. This takes about five minutes.)
- When sugar is melted and turned to a light amber color, add butter one tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until butter is melted. (It will bubble slightly and turn deeper amber. Be careful not to burn.)
- Slowly drizzle heavy cream into melted sugar and butter, stirring continuously (it will bubble rapidly).
- Add Chinese five spice and boil for one minute.
- Remove from heat and stir in spiced rum.
- Set aside to cool and thicken.
- Whip butter, orange juice, vanilla and orange zest until lighter in color and fully combined.
- Add cocoa, then confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup at a time, beating after each addition.
- Spoon into a piping bag fitted with tip of your choice.
- Once cakes have completely cooled, pipe frosting onto each. Drizzle lightly (or not!) with caramel sauce.
- Top each cake with several pieces of candied ginger and orange peel.
- To make quick orange zest, peel an orange, being careful to avoid the white pith. Use a knife to cut into fine ribbons. Simmer in a small pot of water for ten minutes and drain. Combine ½ cup sugar with ¼ cup water and simmer until dissolved and add back orange peel. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until syrup thickens and begins to coat peels. Remove onto parchment paper and allow to cool.)
- Additional caramel sauce can be stored in a sealed glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Use it on ice cream, oatmeal, or just eat it from a spoon. It’s one more way to be a little “wicked,” especially if you don’t share!
- If you prefer, you can use a jarred caramel sauce. Making your own is a bit of work, but so worth it!
These cupcakes are time consuming. There are multiple layers of flavors and texture. But they are a labor of love, by which I mean, you will love that you went through the labor to create them. And so will anyone with whom you’re self-sacrificing enough to share them.
Dark chocolate flourless cupcakes might be the best dessert ever.
Would you be tempted to hide? Or would you share? Do you have a favorite sneaky, grown-up dessert you like to make in the fall?
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