- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 8, 2005

If I were told I had one last meal before departing this world, a chocolate dessert would definitely be part of it. I can’t resist the allure of this enticing taste and always choose a chocolate creation before any other on restaurant menus.

So it should come as no surprise that each year I enjoy turning out a new chocolate temptation for Valentine’s Day. This year, double chocolate minicupcakes will take center stage.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been revising the recipe for these heavenly little nibbles. I used cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips for a double burst of chocolate in the cake batter, and melted chopped semisweet bars with cream and butter for a decadent glaze.

These tiny cakes, which are easy to assemble and need only 15 minutes in the oven, can be baked and glazed a couple days ahead. They can also be frozen. A single recipe yields three dozen or so.

The cupcakes could be presented in a variety of ways. Serve a plate with glasses of champagne to end a romantic dinner for two. Invite a group of neighbors or friends to a chocolate buffet and serve the cupcakes with pots of hot coffee and tea. Or make the cakes the star attraction of a children’s valentine exchange and serve pitchers of ice cold milk alongside.

Chocolate is the hands-down winner when it comes to sweet sensations, so on Monday indulge in this pleasure without guilt.

Double chocolate minicupcakes

This recipe requires 36 to 40 mini cupcake liners.

11/3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, broken into small pieces and softened

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 tablespoon water

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

1 cup mini chocolate chips

CHOCOLATE GLAZE:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks

6 tablespoons heavy cream or whipping cream

Silver decorative balls, called dragees (available in specialty food stores), optional

Line 36 minimuffin tins with liners. (If you have only one minimuffin tin, bake the cupcakes in batches.) Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and stir to blend.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter until soft, a minute or more. Gradually pour in sugar and, when it has been added, beat mixture a minute more. Beat in coffee mixture and vanilla. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

On very low speed, add dry ingredients in three equal additions, alternating with the milk in two equal additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Stop mixer when necessary to scrape down sides of bowl. By hand, stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide cupcake batter evenly among the prepared pans, filling them almost full. (If you have a little batter left over, save and bake it when all the other cupcakes have been removed from tins.) Bake cupcakes on rack in center of preheated 350-degree oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Remove and gently lift cupcakes from pan. Cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.

For glaze, place chocolate, butter and cream in the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over but not touching simmering water. Stir until mixture is smooth. Remove and cool 5 minutes.

Spoon 1 teaspoons glaze over the top of each cupcake and swirl gently so that glaze covers the top of the cupcake evenly. Garnish center of cupcakes with some silver dragees, if desired. Let cupcakes stand at room temperature until icing is set and firm.

Cover and refrigerate cupcakes, or stack them carefully in layers in airtight containers and leave at cool room temperature. The cupcakes can be prepared two days in advance, and they can also be frozen for up to three weeks; refrigerate first, then place in large self-sealing bags and defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Makes 36 to 40 cupcakes.

Note: If you don’t have minimuffin tins, you can bake the batter in standard tins. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. The recipe yields about 16 standard-size cupcakes.

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