Monday, March 3, 2008

Fierce and Ferosh Ferocity.

These cupcakes are some bad mamma jammas, that is for sure. They really pack a punch. In fact, you could say they are the fiercest cupcakes I have ever eaten.

I had decided that I would NOT make any more cupcakes until the next Cupcake Hero challenge, in fear that my waistline would expand exponentially if I kept baking. But when my dear friend CB posted a challenge for this week, inspired by Project Runway, I couldn't resist. Fierce and ferocious cupcakes? How can you turn down that challenge? (It also helped that the in-laws are in town, so I had help in eating these cuppys!)

I spent several days agonizing about what exactly the word fierce means, especially in cupcake terms. I felt that in order to be fierce, it really has to have a bite to it.

Grr, baby, grr!

The word fierce also made me think of a badass warrior. Carefully, I began devising a plan. What would pack a punch to the palate, and be fashionably fierce as well? I chose to make Mexican Chili Chocolate Cupcakes. I found a cake recipe and altered it slightly to fit my tastes. It ended up making exactly 12 cupcakes - perfecto!!!

The decorating of these cuppys was a little harder than I expected. I had such great aspirations. I figured that if my cupcakes were fierce in Mexican flavor, they should be fierce in Aztec warrior glory. See my inspiration?I decided to decorate them as Aztec warrior headdresses. My future sister-in-law (maybe) and I went off to the grocery store and Michaels to see what we could find. It was harder than I expected to find supplies to recreate these glorious works of art. I ended up just buying some Ghiradelli chocolate squares and a few sprinkles and candies, and hoped for the best.

These cupcakes were great to bake. The recipe was fun and pretty easy. I toasted up almonds and ground them in my coffee grinder, and it ended up making a fine almond flour. How cool is that? I couldn't taste the chili powder in my batter, so I kept adding cayenne until I could. These cupcakes baked up so nicely! I love it when they get all dome-y in the oven.

On to the decorating. The frosting was easy to make as well. Once again, I couldn't taste the chili powder, so I just kept adding cayenne. In the end, it came out PERFECT. So rich and chocolatey. You could taste the cinnamon, and afterwards came the fierce punch of cayenne. MMMMMmmmmm..... I piled that frosting on as high as I could. I think the frosting was as tall as the cupcake. FIERCE, baby, fierce!!!!

By this time, my friend Keziah was totally into this with me. We were having a ball decorating these cupcakes. Things were going well. I stuck the chocolates onto the frosting, and got ready to use color to create the feathered headdresses. I used some leftover white chocolate frosting from my last cupcakes. BAD IDEA. The frosting was SO soft. It totally gooshed all over and made my feathers look like leaves, and then eventually melt into blobbiness. :( But, seriously, I think it just made them look even more ferocious. We added toothpicks to the headdresses to make them look still more intimidating. Really. Dangerous. Ferosh.
This is one army of warriors you would not want to stumble across unprepared. They are fully lined up for battle, and they will kick yo' ass!

See them dressed in full battle gear? Seriously fierce. There is no denying it. Swords and shields are drawn and ready.
The captain is preparing to give the battle cry.


The lookout is keeping watch on the sidelines.

This ugly, scary mofo is in the rear, watching for any attacks from behind. You don't want to mess with this fierce cupcake.

In the end, however, I won the battle. I ate those cupcakes, ferosh as they were. But wow, they sure did let me have it on the way down! I could feel the burn as I savored every bite.

These cupcakes are YUMMY. They are hardcore. They are fierce on so many levels. As Mike said, "it was a very complex dessert." They have a deep, dark chocolate flavor, with a hint of cinnamon. As the flavor travels across your taste buds, you begin to feel the subtly delightful burn of the chili and cayenne. OMG, yum. The frosting is rich, the cake is somewhat dense but oh so moist and yummy.

For those of you brave enough to attempt to take on this fierce recipe, see below.

Mexican Chile-Chocolate Cupcakes

10 ounces Mexican chocolate, or semisweet chocolate, plus 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used dark chocolate)
2 tablespoons strong hot coffee (I used espresso)
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla or other premium vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder, lightly toasted (for a hotter chile hit, use guajillo or New Mexican red) (I did this, and added cayenne until it looked good.)
1/3 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate in coffee.

Cream the butter with a mixer until fluffy; add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating for 1 minute. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until well incorporated. Beat egg whites on high with salt until soft peaks form, gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar, and beat until stiff peaks are formed and the whites are shiny.

Blend the warm melted chocolate mixture, extracts, chile powder and almonds into egg yolk mixture and then fold into egg whites alternating with the flour. Continue gently folding until all is incorporated.

Place batter in a well-buttered and floured 8-inch cake pan and bake for 35 minutes, or in individual souffle cups and bake for 25 minutes. (I used a cupcake pan, of course! I baked them for 25 minutes.) Cake will still move slightly in the center when done. (Mine didn't move. They sprung back nicely when I poked them.) Garnish with powdered sugar and cinnamon or more chile powder or whipped cream along with toasted almonds or shaved chocolate. (I frosted them with the recipe below.)

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Per serving (based on 8 servings): 407 calories, 6 grams protein, 22 grams fat, 11 grams saturated fat, 51 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 107 milligrams cholesterol, 67 milligrams sodium.

Chile Chocolate Frosting

1 stick softened butter
2/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/3 C + whole milk
1 T vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
cinnamon and chili powder to taste (I probably used about a teaspon of cinnamon, a teaspoon of chili powder, and a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne.)

Mix butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Slowly add milk and extract. Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until desired texture and volume is reached.


slush said...

Fierce competition, well done Alanna, well done.

Alanna said...

You set a new standard with this one, slush. I can only hope to achieve something near your level of cupcakery.

Gretchen Noelle said...

What fun & fierce cupcakes! Great job!

CB said...

::horror movie scream::
Those cupcakes are SO ferosh! You have some crazy fierce frosting+toothpick skills! LOL Hope you had fun! Thanks for entering! :)

April said...

These are so freaking fierce and ferosh and I've known some pretty fierce bitches!! OMG I'm gonna die. LOL

I LOVE these!

Mary said...

Wow your cupcakes are REALLY fierce. I'm a little scared of them. You're totally creative. They're awesome!

Angel said...

Wow those are some badass mofo's!!!
I love the fierce decor on them and the toothpicks were the best touch.

Jovian said...

This looks FANTASTIC!
I've always wanted to try baking something like these, and the decoration is not only creative, but fabulous.

Alanna said...

Why thank you, dahling!