Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mexican Chocolate Sugar Skull Cupcakes

I like skulls.

That's probably the best way to preface this (really long, picture heavy) post.  Regular skulls.  Sugar skulls.  On my ears.  On my mugs.  On my scarves.  On my swim suits. On my clutches. On my shirts.  On my Giants gear.  I dig them, okay?  Mix them with flowers or studs and OMG-must-buy.  So I decided that I wanted them on my cupcakes too.

Sugar skulls are particularly big right now and with Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) just a few weeks away I felt compelled to celebrate a little early.  Google failed me when searching for pre-made sugar skulls to use as garnish.  But etsy didn't!

I bought plain skull molds and lotsssss of candy melts. Colored melts that I'd use to make the skulls into Day of the Dead skulls.  I love their heart shaped eye sockets!  The teeth were the only parts that I didnt' hand pipe.  The rest I had to do by hand. But nothing a steady hand, patience and some ziplock bags couldn't handle!

Once I knew I was making them, I racked my brain for what flavor to make the cupcakes.  I was going to do Mexican hot chocolate but my dear friend Katie brought me back something from her trip from New Mexico that was so delicious and awesome that  I instantly knew I had to use that instead.

She brought me back this Mexican chocolate from Kakawa Chocolate House.  A darker grade of chocolate at 60% cocoa, (who actually likes milk chocolate anyways?) with hints of cinnamon, almonds, cane juice and Mexican vanilla. The blend has something of a kick to it.  Not your ordinary chocolate here, so no way was I going to melt this stuff into a batter when I am still looking for the perfect chocolate cupcake recipe.

That'd be a waste.   I was making this into ganache.  I wanted to taste that kick that cinnamon and spices gives to the chocolate. I wanted to make holes in my cupcakes and shove so much chocolately goodness in the middle that it spilled over the sides.

It had to be done.

And to compliment the light spicyness of the chocolate I added cinnamon to  this chocolate recipe. And then since I was so heavy into the Mexican theme anyways, I busted out my trusty Mexican caramel -- cajeta.

Cinnamon Chocolate Cupcakes
Bake at 350* for 19 minutes, makes 20.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli) 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In bowl of stand mixer, combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon) and sift together.  (Use a sifter.)
2. Turn on mixer on medium and add in wet ingredients (eggs, hot water, cream, oil and vanilla) one by one.
3. Mix until fully incorporated.
4. Bake cupcakes, cool on rack and then core middles to fill with the ganache below.

4 oz "Modern Mexican" chocolate (Kakawa Chocolate House)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1. Warm cream on stove top or in microwave until hot but before boiling.
2. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth.
3. Once cool enough to handle, put into a ziplock bag with the end cut off and pipe into centers of cupcakes.

Cajeta Frosting
1 stick cream cheese
1 stick butter
1/2 cup cajeta
3 cups powdered sugar

1. Cream butter and cream cheese together until smooth.
2. Add in cajeta and beat until fully incorporated
3. Add powdered sugar slowly until desired consistency is reached.
4. Pipe onto cupcakes.

The result was Cinnamon Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Cajeta Frosting.  Some had more of that divine Mexican chocolate garnished on top.

But the majority had my bright sugar skulls.

I loved how the skulls came out.  Although I do admit I wish the molds had been smaller since they covered all the cupcake/frosting, the bigger skulls worked well because they gave me more room to "draw" on them.  I think they all have some personality to them right?

I must admit that I have my favorites though. Mainly the two below.

Whats't not to love about mustaches right?  PURPLE MUSTACHES people!

Sadly, I am still waiting to find my PERFECT chocolate cupcake recipe.  I used Sprinke Bake's recipe this time because I am currently in love with her and think everything she touches is magic.  But it was a little crumblier than I hoped it would be.  So the search continues.  Anyone have any recommendations?

In any case, they cupcakes were still good and the addition of the cinnamon to the batter was an excellent choice.  When you eat them all together it turns into a mess of course, but the mess was so rich and delicious that it more than makes up for having chocolate crumbs and sticky frosting all over your face and hands.

But wait boys and girls.  There's more.  If that wasn't enough I decided that I had to take it one step further.  I mean, yes Mexican Chocolate cupcakes rock.  Yes, Day of the Dead Sugar Skulls on top of said cupcakes are even more awesome.  What else could I do?

San Francisco Giants Sugar Skulls.

With mustaches AND a beard!

 Loosely based off this awesome Oaklandish shirt I got earlier in the season.  A bad ass season that's brought us into the Post Season now!

I guess you can say that I'm a fan right?  First cookies and now cupcakes?  What will I do next? When we win the World Series (right before Dia de Los Muertos), i'll let you know.  Viva Gigantes! Happy Early Halloween!  Happy Day of the Dead!  (Orange) October is awesome.


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