Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chocolate Cranegranate Cupcakes with Hot Chocolate Ganache

So The Sweetest Kitchen is having another Mystery Ingredient cupcake challenge.  I love a challenge.  This month it's CHOCOLATE!  And might I add everything goes with chocolate....well...ok....maybe not asparagus or....scrambled eggs....but that's not the point.  The point is it's CHOCOLATE!

But there's a twist!!  You have to add an ingredient you may not typically find paired with chocolate. Oh boy! I could think of 100 thousand things, but I wanted it to be edible.

Some time ago I was given a box of chocolate covered cranberries. Cranberries? I was never really found of cranberries, and despite my love of sour things, these were just not on my list to eat.  In fact I don't even touch it at Thanksgiving.  But these little chocolate covered cranberries were balanced just right with the sweet milk chocolate and the tartness of the cranberry.

And then there's the Pomegranate.  The pretty little fruit on the inside with the head turning looks many people give me when I say "have you had pomegranate juice?"  I love pomegranate juice and....hey....wait a's a bit tart like the cranberry.


So my creation came to be!  The Cranegranate is a chocolate cupcake, with a pomegranate and cranberry mousse filling with a pomegranate and cranberry buttercream topped with a dark chocolate and cranberry ganache dashed with a bit of cayanne pepper to give it the HOT!  It's a mouthful, I know!

Here is a photo of the mousse inside the cupcake.

I wasn't so sure it would live up to those little chocolate covered berries I had one Christmas.  But I'll be honest, I am quite amazed at the flavor.  The pomegranate and cranberry mix definitely lends the tartness where the chocolate cake and ganache give it the sweet.  And then I had to add a kick to the chocolate.

So get on over to The Sweetest Kitchen and vote for my cupcake!  Whether I win or not I had a good time coming up with this creation!  Recipe is listed below!!

Here are the rules:  SK - Mystery Cupcake Rules

SK Mystery Cupcake Site

Thanks and good luck to everyone!

The winner of February’s Mystery Box Cupcake Challenge will receive prizes from:

Here's the recipe!

Chocolate Cranegranate Cupcakes


¾ cup dark chocolate cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
¾ hot water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
1 ¼ tspn coarse salt
3 sticks unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tblspn plus 1 tspn pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream (can substitute with 1 cup plain yogurt)

Cranberry / Pomegranate Mousse
1 1/2 cups whole cranberry sauce
¾ cup sugar
2 tblspns orange zest
½ cup orange juice
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
1 to 2 tblspns orange liqueur (optional)
2 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup milk
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

Cranberry / Pomegranate Buttercream
2 (8oz) bottled of pomegranate juice
1/2 cup whole cranberry sauce, squeezed and drained
5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tblspns sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ tspn pure vanilla extract
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Cranberry Chocolate Ganache
6 oz semisweet chocolate (I use Baker’s Squares), chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
¼ cup cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/8  tspn cayenne pepper

Making the mousse:

*You want to do this ahead of time since the mousse has to sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

1. Place cranberry sauce in saucepan; add sugar, orange zest, orange juice and pomegranate juice.  Cook while stirring frequently until the mixture has reduced to about 1 ¾ cups.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the orange liqueur (optional).
2. Whip the heavy cream with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form.  With a spatula, combine the cream and the cranberry / pomegranate mixer – lightly mixing until well combined.
3. Heat milk in microwave for about 40 seconds.  Add gelatin and whisk vigorously until gelatin has completely dissolved. 
4. Take a few spoons of the cream and fruit mixture and fold it lightly into the gelatin mix.  Then lightly fold the gelatin mixture into the remaining cream and fruit mixture until combined.
5. Do not cover.  Set in fridge for about 30 minutes.

Making the cranberry ganache:

1. Place semisweet chocolate squares in a heatproof bowl.
2. Heat in a saucepan, heavy cream and corn syrup just to a simmer.
3. Pour heated cream over chocolate squares and allow to sit until chocolate begins to melt.  Using a spatula, mix the chocolate and cream until it becomes well blended and smooth.  Add ¼ cup cranberry sauce and 1/8 tspn cayenne pepper and mix well.  Allow mixture to cool.  Taste for heat, can add another 1/8 tspn if not hot enough for ya.

Making the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350.  Line cupcake tins with liners.

1. Whisk cocoa and hot water together until smooth.  In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the sugar, stirring to combine.  Remove the butter mixture from heat and pour into a mixing bowl.  Set mixer to medium-low speed and beat until mixture is cool, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla and then cocoa mixture.  Beat until combined.  Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the flour in two batches alternating with the sour cream.  Beat until combined.
3. Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ of the way full.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the cake comes out clean.  Transfer to wire racks and let cool while making the buttercream.

Making the buttercream:

1. Pour pomegranate juice and ¼ cup cranberry sauce into a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and then simmer over low heat and allow mixture to reduce to about ½ cup – about 30 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Can do this step ahead of time as well.
2. Meanwhile, combine egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl (preferably the bowl of a standing mixer), and set over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between fingertips).
3. Attach the bowl to the mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on low, gradually increasing to medium-high speed, until stiff peaks form.  Continue mixing until mixture is fluffy and completely cool with a glossy look (test by touching the bottom of the bowl, should be cool – takes about 10 minutes).
4. With mixer on medium-low speed, add two tablespoons at a time of the butter to the egg mixture.  Mix well after each addition.  Once butter has been added whisk in the vanilla.
5. Switch to the paddle attachment and continue beating on low for about 3 minutes, until air bubbles are eliminated.  Then set to medium-high and beat until mixture is smooth.  Scrape down sides of bowl and continue beating for about 1 minute.
6.  Set the mixer to low and slowly add the pomegranate / cranberry juice.   Mix until well combined. Scrape down sides as needed.   Increase mixer speed to medium and add the remaining ¼ cup of cranberry sauce.  Mix until well combined.  Reduce speed of mixer to medium low and add confectioner’s sugar ¼ cup at a time.  Once incorporated, mix on high for about 30 seconds.
7. Pipe or spread buttercream on cooled cupcakes and garnish with ganache.  Enjoy!!

* Cupcakes must be eaten the same day or placed into refrigerator.  Cupcakes will keep well for about 3 days in fridge or up to one month in freezer (allow to completely thaw before eating).

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