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Cheesy Love at Big Love

February 14, 2013

Yes people, these are chocolate-chocolate chip cheesecake cupcakes with a mocha ganache. Ridiculous? Possibly. Delicious? Definitely.

So many layers of happiness in this cupcake.

So many layers of happiness in this cupcake.

Instead of throwing a big birthday party for himself, my yoga instructor and friend Jason (here’s his website and Rate My Burn pages) decided to put together a fundraiser/birthday bash for one of my favorite organizations, God’s Love We Deliver. What’s more appropriate for Valentine’s Day than showing love for an amazing cause and an amazing person? Absolutely nothing. (Take note every single person complaining about the holiday, and recognize that showing love on Valentine’s Day isn’t and shouldn’t be restricted to the person you may or may not be dating.)

Jason worked so hard putting together the Big Love Birthday and raised so much money and awareness for a fantastic cause, that I thought I would repay his kindness the only way I know how: cheesy, chocolate-y love.

Cheesy, chocolate-y love.

Cheesy, chocolate-y love.

For those of you not familiar with God’s Love We Deliver, it is a nonprofit that prepares and delivers nourishing meals to those suffering from life-altering diseases. When I was in culinary school and had a day off from class or my job as a line cook at The Meatball Shop, I would volunteer in the GLWD kitchen with some really amazing people. Everyone has a different reason for heading down to the kitchen; peeling and chopping almost infinite pounds of carrots and parsnips would be an intimidating task for any cook, but all of the volunteers step into the kitchen with a positive attitude and turn a mundane task into a laughter-filled morning. It’s such an inspiring atmosphere, especially at the crack of dawn on a Friday. If you’ve never been to GLWD sign up for a few hours of volunteering. If you can’t sign up, donate to the cause– Jason has almost reached his $5,000 donation goal and you can help! Here’s a convenient link to Jason’s donation page.

These cupcakes remind me of Jason because he’s sweet, silly,  a little over the top and filled with energy. Thus ends my sugar-coated, cheesy tribute to Jason and GLWD, and begins my cheesy and sweet recipe.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cupcakes with Mocha Ganache Frosting

DSC_0223Yield: 24 cupcakes
Special Equipment: 24 cupcake liners

Cheesecake Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch fine salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Cupcake Batter:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 cups prepared instant espresso, cooled
2 large eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Mocha Ganache Frosting:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons instant espresso

Cook’s Notes: You can attempt to do this without the cupcake liners (I did the first time I tested out this recipe because I have a weird aversion to them), but even if you spray the tin with nonstick cooking spray, the cupcakes will stick to the side. Then you will cry and have to eat all of the cupcakes that you break in half. When you’re too full to eat anymore, but you still have cupcakes stuck in the tin, I suggest you pop them all into the freezer and chill until pretty much frozen solid, about 3 hours. At this point you’ll be able to stick a paring knife (your pan might suffer some scratches) down the sides and completely around the cupcakes. Then pry out the cupcakes with the knife.

Also, there is a correct way of measuring flour which is how I always measure flour and how you should measure it if you want this recipe to come out correctly. Check out this video to learn how to do it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

For the cheesecake filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese, sugar, salt and egg. Mix on a low speed until thoroughly combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and hold in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the cupcake batter: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Mix thoroughly with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine the espresso, eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and vinegar. Mix thoroughly with a whisk. Add the dry mixture to the (clean) bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. On a low speed, add the wet mixture to the dry mixture a little at a time until fully incorporated. The batter will be very wet and look wrong. It’s not. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, making sure that everything is combined.

Looks wrong, but tastes so right.

Looks wrong, but tastes so right.

Fill the cupcake liners halfway with the chocolate batter. Then spoon 1 flattened tablespoon of the cheesecake filling into the middle of each cupcake liner. Top with more chocolate batter, until the liners are just below full (a little more than three-quarters of the way full).

Bake the cupcakes until hard on top and completely cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on racks completely before even thinking about frosting them, about 1 hour.

For the mocha ganache: Fill a small pot with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil. Place a bowl over the top of the pot to create a double boiler, making sure that the bowl isn’t touching the water. Add the chocolate, heavy cream and espresso, stirring until the chocolate is completely melted, about 4 minutes. Take the bowl off of the heat and let it rest and thicken, 5 minutes. Dip the cooled cupcake tops into the ganache, coating completely. Let the ganache cool and harden completely in the fridge, about 1 hour.

Then, enjoy!!

DSC_0188

I hope you know what to do with the leftovers. It involved finding and then eating anything and everything in your house that could potentially be covered in ganache.

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