Milk Chocolate & Passion Fruit Cupcakes
Now here's a strange-sounding combo. But trust me - the sour-fruity tang of the passion fruit pairs PERFECTLY with the sweetness of milk chocolate. It's a bit of an 'out-there' flavour I suppose, but that's what cooking is all about.
I first made a milk chocolate passion fruit ganache for a batch of macarons which were a complete failure! However, the ganache was too good to go to waste! I had to think of a way to incorporate this flavour into something more familiar...and this cupcake was born!
FOR THE MILK CHOCOLATE PASSION FRUIT GANACHE
200g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
50ml passion fruit juice (from about 2-3 passion fruits, depending on size)
35g butter, cut into small cubes
Pinch of salt
FOR THE CUPCAKES
140g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g dark chocolate chips (or the same amount of chocolate from a bar, finely chopped)
185g caster sugar
1/2tbsp coffee granules/powder, dissolved in 120ml hot water from the kettle
105g vegetable oil
150g natural yoghurt
1tsp vanilla extract
FOR THE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
2 egg whites
150g caster or granulated sugar
200g butter, cut into cubes and softened at room temperature
1tsp vanilla extract
150g milk chocolate passion fruit ganache
FOR THE CHOCOLATE SHARDS
50g dark chocolate
15g milk chocolate
15g white chocolate
First, make the ganache.
Set a saucepan over a low heat. Fill about 1/3 of the way with hot water from the kettle.
Place all of the ganache ingredients into a heatproof bowl which fits over the pan of hot water (without directly touching the water - otherwise it will get too hot!).
Stirring, melt all of the ingredients together until smooth, then set aside.
Next, make the cupcakes. Preheat your oven to 170°C, and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips, and set aside.
In a medium-sized jug or bowl, mix together the sugar, coffee, oil, yoghurt, egg and vanilla until combined. Pour into your dry mixture, and stir gently until just combined. Make sure you scrape to the bottom of the bowl to ensure there are no dry lumps of flour.
Divide the batter between the cupcake cases. I like to use a mechanical ice cream scoop for this, but if you don't have one, you can use two spoons, or as this mixture is quite liquid, you can pour it into the cases from a jug.
Bake for 20 minutes (check with a toothpick or skewer to see if they are done, if it does not come out clean, give them another 2 minutes in the oven).
Leave to cool completely before icing.
Next, make the buttercream.
Place the egg whites and sugar in a large, heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (a couple of inches deep), making sure the bottom of the bowl cannot touch the water.
Keep over a low heat, and gently whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove from the heat and mix on high for 10 minutes with an electric whisk or mixer. The mixture will become very stiff and meringue-like as you mix.
After 10 minutes, add the soft butter, cube by cube. As one cube of butter dissolves into the icing, add the next. Keep going until all of the butter is incorporated.
Mixing on low now, add in 150g of your passion fruit ganache. If at this stage the icing is too runny, place it in the fridge for half an hour. Whip it up again, and it should have thickened.
For the chocolate shards, place the chocolate in separate heatproof bowls and microwave for 20 seconds at a time on high, stirring well between each blast until completely melted.
Onto a small baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, pour over the dark chocolate first, and spread out into a single thin layer.
Dot the other two types of chocolate on top of the dark chocolate randomly with teaspoons, then ripple them through using a skewer to create a marbled pattern.
Refrigerate for about 5 minutes, then remove from the fridge and score out triangles with a sharp knife. Return to the fridge and leave to set completely (I actually like to freeze this for about 10-15 minutes to speed things up).
Once set, cut over the lines you scored out earlier to give you your chocolate shards (or alternatively you can snap off the shards yourself). They are now ready to use! I recommend keeping them in the fridge before using them so that they do not melt in the meantime.
To assemble, carve out the centre of each cupcake (chef's treat!) using an apple corer, or a butter knife.
Place any leftover ganache into a piping bag (no nozzle required - simply snip a small hole at the end).
Fill each cupcake hole with the ganache.
As for the buttercream, fit a piping bag with a nozzle of your choice (I always use a Wilton 2D nozzle) and fill with your buttercream. I like to fit the bag over a tall glass to hold it in place whilst I fill the bag with buttercream. Push the buttercream to the bottom of the bag, and bring the sides of the bag up and twist the top well so none can escape from the top.
Pipe from the centre, and move outwards, until the cake has a pretty swirl of buttercream (one advantage of swiss meringue is that it is not overly sweet, so a large amount isn't too sickly).
Drizzle with leftover ganache and top with the chocolate shards. Your hard work is now over!
Keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
The frosting can be made a day in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to use.
The chocolate shards will last for about a week in the fridge.