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BackstoryThese were decadent little cupcakes perfect for celebrating the holidays with family. They possess a sense of demure propriety while at the same time have that seasonal cheer and whimsy one should expect from a cupcake.
I don't know where the original idea for this came from, just somehow the flavor combination had nestled in my noggin and slowly churned and developed. It kept breaching to the surface of my thoughts and evolving into something elegantly fudgy.
I used some dried, unsulphured Fortune plums I found at my local farmer's market. Really, any type of dried plum will do and if you find a good vendor, be sure to taste the various varities to find the one that suits you. Apriums and maybe apricots will work nicely as well. Just be sure to find something sweet, tart, and with a slightly dark even wine-like undertone.
The cognac was meant to be armagnac, but lo' I could not find any so cognac it was. Really though it was fantastic; most of the alcohol cooked out but left it's flushed, spicy flavor.
The walnuts had come from a local orchard and were provided by one of my co-worker's, Laura, who had an abundance of them. Freshly shelled, slightly bitter walnuts give a perfect crunch to this cupcake. I may toast them a bit next time though.
The dark chocolate cake and ganache were simply... oh, what's the word? Joyful. Christmasy. Rich. Seductive. All of the above work well.
Tis' the season. But really for these cupcakes, any season will do.
- 200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao chocolate
- 3 sticks of butter, room temperature
- 2-1/4 cups of sugar
- 8 eggs, room temperature
- 1-1/4 cups of flour
- 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, unsweetened
- 1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 pound of dried plums, preferably unsulphured but don't fret about it, go for color and taste
- bottle of good cognac or armagnac
- Chocolate ganache
- Chop the plums and place in a small, non-metal bowl. Cover with liquor and let plump overnight.
- Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath.
- Add sugar and stir, let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
- Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each one.
- Mix the try ingredients, and sift them into the mixture. Mix until just blended.
- Drain the plums and lightly pat them dry. Fold them in to the batter.
- Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 20-24 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Spread or pipe ganache onto the cupcakes and top with walnuts.