A couple weekends ago, I had an exceedingly busy Saturday. After a 12-mile run, I set out on an ambitious afternoon of cupcake baking. Four hours later, I had four dozen mini cupcakes ready to take to my friends Colby and Sara’s graduation party in Lawrence. Yes, you read right—four hours! I made two types of cupcakes, and each one had multiple components. These were the first batch, and were probably slightly more time-consuming than the other. (This would be a good time to enlist a kitchen helper, people!) Be prepared, these are a lot of work, but just wait until you taste one.
For the mousse:
6 oz. extra-firm silken tofu (half a Mori-Nu pack)
1T maple syrup
4 tsp instant coffee granules
2 tsp hazelnut liqueur (like Frangelico)
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup chocolate chips
Crumble the tofu into a blender. Add the soymilk, maple syrup, instant coffee, hazelnut liqueur, and vanilla. Purée until completely smooth. I’d like to take just a moment to profess my adoration for Frangelico. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
Melt the chocolate chips at 50% power in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds (or use a double boiler). Once melted, let cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the chocolate to the tofu mixture and blend until combined. Transfer the mousse to an airtight container or bowl covered in plastic wrap. Let chill for about an hour to firm. (Remove from the fridge 10 minutes before using.)
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup + 2T all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup hazelnut meal or almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup soymilk or nut milk
1T ground flaxseed
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1T hazelnut liqueur
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin or a 24-cup mini muffin tin with paper liners and mist lightly with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flaxseed and soymilk. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, hazelnut or almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (Tip: to make nut meal, pulse raw blanched hazelnuts or almonds in a food processor until just ground—it should have a sandy consistency.)
Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, canola oil, vanilla, and hazelnut liqueur to the flax/milk mixture and beat well. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake for 22-24 minutes for regular cupcakes, or 16-18 minutes for minis. When done, let sit in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache:
1/4 cup soymilk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1T maple syrup
1T hazelnut liqueur
Bring soymilk to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, maple syrup, and hazelnut liqueur. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use. Somehow, I forgot to take a picture of this part.
Now for the assembly: put the mousse filling in a piping device fitted with a small tip. Push the tip into each cupcake, and fill with as much mousse as will fit. Scrape any excess off the tops. (If you don’t have a frosting piper like mine, use your finger to poke holes in each cake, and a ziploc bag with the corner snipped or a pastry bag to fill.) There will be extra mousse left over; set it aside.
Dip each cupcake upside down into the ganache, just enough to coat the entire top. Twirl it around a little to allow any extra to drip off, then place it right side up on a cutting board. Set the cutting board in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to let the ganache set. You can serve these as is, or garnish as desired. I piped a little dab of the leftover mousse onto each, and topped with a whole hazelnut. Beautiful!
Are you exhausted just reading all that? Call it a labor of love, but it was so worth it. The cupcake is nutty and firm, and not overly sweet. It’s the ideal vehicle for the creamy, velvety mousse inside. The ultra-rich ganache on top really sends it over the edge. There are so many textures and layers of flavor for your tongue to dance upon, it’s just magnificent. These are as impressive to the eye as they are to the palate, and they earned me many an exclamation of delight and gratitude at the party. Stay tuned for the other batch!
Yield: 12 regular or 24 mini cupcakes. Per cupcake (regular): 292 calories, 13.6g fat (4g sat), 39.7g carbs, 3g fiber, 7g protein.
Per cupcake (mini): 146 calories, 6.8g fat (2g sat), 19.8g carbs, 1.5g fiber, 3.5g protein.