Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Cupcakes with Almond Cream Filling and Dark Chocolate Ganache is hosting a Pom Wonderful cupcake baking contest and I can't resist anything those little antioxidant powerhouses!  Naturally, I made my version gluten-free, since my little helpers would be inhaling them after dinner.  (And broke my KitchenAid in the process)  But, I have to say, it was all worthwhile.

And I could really use your help by voting for my cupcake on Valentine's Day.  Don't worry - I'll remind you. ;)

Okay, maybe not the breaking of my beloved stand mixer, but I digress...

The taste testers all declared this one a hit, so here you go:

Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Cupcakes

1/2 cup Spectrum non-hydrogenated shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp gluten-free vanilla

2 1/4 cups All Purpose Gluten Free flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 cup Penzey's Dutch Process High Fat Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 1/3 cups Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice

1 cup of Pom pomegranate arils

In a working stand mixer, cream together the shortening, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Slowly pour in the pomegranate juice and mix on low, unless you really want a pink polkadotted kitchen.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the work bowl, mixing on low just until incorporated.

Fold in the pomegranate arils by hand.  Trust me.

Bake in a 350° oven for 18-22 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can prep the filling:

Almond Cream Filling

2 cups Marshmallow Fluff
8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp almond extract

Mix.  Try not to lick the batter too much so you have enough for your cupcakes.

While the cupcakes cool, go ahead and make the dark chocolate ganache.  Dark chocolate has a boatload of antioxidants, just like pomegranates.  So, this are heart-healthy.  Kind of.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1 11.5 oz package of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao chocolate baking chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

If you haven't made ganache before, you're about to find a new favorite icing.  Ganache is so versatile, you can chill it in the refrigerator and roll in cocoa for truffles, whip it for a cake filling or icing, or use it warm.  We're going with the latter of these, my personal favorite.  Yes, you can grate chocolate by hand and get something superb like Valrhona.  And it will be delicious.  But, so will this.

Warm your heavy whipping cream in a heavy-bottomed pot, bringing it just up to a simmer.

Okay, I'll be totally honest.  I did this in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave.  Whatever.  I have five kids and I made homemade cupcakes today.  I'm taking a shortcut. :)

Pour the very hot cream over the chocolate chips in a glass bowl.  Let it sit for a second and the cream will start to melt the chocolate.  Slowly whisk.  As the chocolate melts, the cream will blend with it in this gloriously thick, glossy emulsion.  You will love me.  I promise.

Now that your cupcakes are cooled, fill with the almond cream filling.  You can do this with a piping bag, but I have a handy little decorator gun.  Pampered Chef and Wilton both make them.  (Use your 40% off Michael's coupon.  This is a great gadget!)  I refer to the standard version of these cupcakes as "fauxstess."

Yep.  I went there.

Once the cupcakes have a nice little almond cream bite nestled inside, dip the top of the cupcake into your ganache-in-waiting.  Twist slightly as you pull it back out and it should give you a little swirl.

If you want the curly-Qs on top, just use your leftover filling in a piping bag (or ziplock bag with the corner cut off) and pipe those right on top.  Not required for deliciousness.

There you go.  I hope you give it a try and enjoy them with someone you love this Valentine's Day.

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