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The Batter Thickens: Butterscotch Chocolate Cupcakes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Butterscotch Chocolate Cupcakes

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I don't know about you, but for me butterscotch is one of those flavors that is easily forgotten, easily overlooked, and easily overdosed. It's good...but it's not that good. These cupcakes beg to differ.

For all the reasons listed above, my expectations for these cupcakes were not that high. Did the cupcakes pay any heed to that? No. They blew my expectations out of the water. Boy, did they. 

(There's a lesson to be found in that, if you look for it, about not letting yourself be boxed in by other people's expectations for you, about proving anyone wrong who says you 'can't' or 'aren't good enough.' But maybe you prefer your cupcakes moral-free, in which case: ignore this aside and enjoy your cupcake.)

Because butterscotch is so oft forgotten, these cupcakes are automatically distinctive. They're simple and unassuming in appearance, but one bite and you're thinking, "Wow, these are something special." And they are.

Ganache is kind of like lipstick for cupcakes: insta-chic with minimal effort. Just like swiping on some lipstick makes you look like you really took the time to put yourself together that morning, swirling some ganache on top of a cupcake makes it look like you put a lot of effort into making them look nice.

The secret: You didn't.

The truth is that ganache is totally easy to make, and it's totally easy to make look fancy. All you gotta do is melt some chocolate down with a little butter and let it cool for just a few minutes before you're ready to dress up your cupcakes. When the cupcakes are cool and the freshly melted ganache is cooler (but not completely cool or it will be too hardened to work with), just spoon some on top of the cupcake, swirl it around a few times until the cupcake surface is covered in a smooth layer of melty chocolate, then gently lift the spoon up until the chocolate breaks off and tips over into a lovely little swirl.


If you're wondering why there are two or less cupcakes featured in every one of these pictures, it's because we ate the rest before I could take pictures. These cupcakes are too good to be left sitting around. Not even long enough to wait for a photo op.

With each bite of these cupcakes, teeth sink through the soft thickness of the ganache layer to penetrate the dense, moist butterscotch cupcake beneath. Incorporating butterscotch chips into the chocolate ganache marries the rich chocolatey-ness of the ganache to the buttery-sweet butterscotch flavor of the cake. The chocolate tempers the butterscotch flavor, allowing it to be the center of attention without being obnoxious about it.

Now let's take a closer look at that swirl action, shall we?

Pretty profesh-looking, no? Almost makes it look like I'm a practiced professional who knows what I'm doing instead of an amateur whose making things up and figuring things out as she goes along.

Almost. ;)

So don't be shy. Go on and get your swirl on.

- Molly

Butterscotch Cake with Chocolate Butterscotch Ganache
From Life As A Strawberry

1 cup Butterscotch chips
5 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup Butterscotch chips
1 Tbsp. butter
1 and 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

To make the cake:

Melt butterscotch chips and 1 Tbsp. of the butter together in a double boiler. Butterscotch chips on their own won't melt the way chocolate does - this mixture will reach a consistency more like dough. Set aside melted butterscotch.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add remaining 4 Tbsp. of room temperature butter to the stand mixer and beat to incorporate. Add 1/4 cup of the milk to mixture and mix until batter resembles coarse biscuit dough, about 1 minute.

Whisk egg whites and vanilla into the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Add this mixture to the stand mixer bowl in thirds, beating between each addition. Add the melted butterscotch to the batter in thirds, again beating between each addition.

Pour batter into 2 buttered and floured 6-inch cake pans (you could also make one 8" cake). Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

To make the ganache:

Melt chocolate, butterscotch chips, and butter together in a double boiler until smooth.Remove from heat and let cool 5-10 minutes.

Spread some ganache between layers of your butterscotch cake and stack the layers. Pour remaining ganache over top of cake and spread as desired.

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