I met one of my very best friends almost 15 years ago. I’d recently returned from maternity leave with Brianna and was working at the School of Medicine in the HIV program. There was an increase in the numbers of Spanish speaking individuals getting diagnosed and my supervisor decided it would be worth our while to learn Spanish. Enter Jaime. She owned her own business and one of the components was teaching people Spanish, or in some cases, teaching Spanish speakers English. I remember our first conversation. It was over the phone to schedule our first class. I heard a baby in the background and immediately thought, this is someone I could become friends with. As a new mom, and still relatively new to the area, I didn’t have but one friend with a little one. I later learned that the baby in the background was her nephew that she was babysitting. Her kids would come a few years later.
Fast forward all these years and we’ve been through quite a bit together. As she wrote me last year, ‘through thick and thin, but really more like hard and harder.’ As is the case with true friends, they journey on in life with us not because they have to, but because they want to. Those are the keepers. The ones with whom you can share every day experiences, secrets, dreams, fears, tears, and so much laughter that sometimes end in tears. Today is her 40th birthday and even though it’s hump day, we celebrated both of our birthdays this past Friday. We went to see The Golden Girls play. How appropriate to celebrate us and our friendship by looking at each other as we sang along to ‘thank you for being a friend.’
I knew when I first saw this recipe, I would make them for her because we once had a sleepover at her house where she provided all the snacks, including the individually wrapped in tin foil Hostess Ding Dongs because she loved them. I packaged up some for her and her family and my family ate the rest. They were a big hit. Of course, I wanted her to have the best looking ones so the photo above was of one of the cupcakes that I’d filled a bit too much so that the top started to bust apart. Even with the top covered in chocolate, you can still see the crack. That’s what happens when I fill cupcakes for the first time: a learning experience. Such is life. Also, these photos were from shortly after they were made and I hadn’t let the ganache rest long enough to harden. No worries, though. If you decide to make these, store in the refrigerator and the coating will firm right up.
for the cake :
- 3 ounces semi sweet baking chocolate (you can use chocolate chips)
- 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
for the cream filling:
- 5 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
for the ganache:
- 1 12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
for the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray muffin tins well with non-stick spray; set aside. Cupcake liners are not necessary so be sure that muffin tins are greased well. Chop chocolate so no pieces are larger than a chocolate chip. Place chocolate in a medium bowl or a 2 cup measuring cup and pour hot coffee over chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes then stir, making sure all chocolate is melted and well combined with coffee. Set aside to cool. Sift all dry ingredients together-sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the a large mixing bowl (or the mixing bowl of your stand mixer) beat eggs on medium speed until frothy. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla and chocolate-coffee mixture to eggs, beating well to blend. Add in sugar/flour/cocoa mixture, one cup at a time, mixing just to combine after each addition. Pour batter 2/3 full into the muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, inserting a toothpick in the middle to test for doneness. Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in pan. Run a butter knife around each cupcake to loosen before turning out onto a cooling rack.
To bake as a cake: Pour batter into 2 9 inch cake pans that have been well greased and lined with parchment paper on the bottom. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, using toothpick to test for doneness. Let cakes cool completely in pan. Using a plastic knife, run knife around edges to loosen before turning out onto rack or plate. NOTE: the original recipe warns of batter spilling over, so many of the commenters wrote of how they filled appropriately and also made a few cupcakes.
for the cream filling:
Pour cold milk into a small saucepan. Before turning on the heat, whisk in flour so no lumps remain. Turn heat on to medium low, and stirring, heat until mixture is thick, like a roux. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and let cool completely. Cream together butter and sugar on medium high speed, until fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add in the milk mixture and beat again until mixture resembles a whipped cream.
Transfer the filling into a piping bag, and using desired tip, slowly fill cupcakes, smoothing off the tops, as necessary.
To prepare as a cake: Place one layer of cake on an 8 inch cake circle, top side down. Cover with a thick layer of cream filling then place top layer of cake, top side down, on top of filling gently pressing down to secure layers. Place cake on a wire rack on top of a wax paper lined cookie sheet.
for the ganache:
Place chocolate chips in a large measuring cup. Heat cream and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until boiling, careful not to scorch. Pour heated cream over chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir chocolate to make sure completely melted and smooth.
Place wax paper or parchment paper underneath cooling racks, and place cream-filled cupcakes onto the cooling racks, spacing an inch or two apart. Using a serving spoon, or small ladle, pour ganache onto each cupcake, letting it run down the sides. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
To prepare as a cake: Slowly pour ganache over top of cake, letting it drip down the sides. If needed use a spatula to help spread ganache on top over sides. When ganache is set, cake can be transferred to a serving plate. Chill cake for 4 hours before serving.