Whenever I try a new baking recipe, I follow every detail of it without variation. Baking is a science and I want to understand how everything fits together before I start to mess with the “experiment.” It is because of my devotion to the original recipe that a recipe failure is so amazingly sucky. You do everything you are supposed to – spoon the flour into the measuring cup instead of scoop it, you let the eggs sit on the counter for an hour to come to room temperature. Then you take the cupcakes out of the oven and they are a mess and you have a party in 4 hours and nothing to take with you. This was exactly what happened to me a few weekends ago. I was excited to try a lovely fall-like recipe from the Martha Stewart cupcake book for a costumed fun run and party with some friends.
I had to think on my feet. Sure I could try to make a different cupcake recipe, but I had precious little time to run to the grocery story, bake cupcakes, let them cook, make frosting, and frost the cupcakes. That type of thing is an all day project and I’d already lost half of the day. I could also make something completely different that would take significantly less time, like brownies or rice krispie treats even. But then I would have to toss 24 tasty, if ugly, cupcakes. That wasn’t an ideal option either. So I spent 15 minutes staring into my fridge and freezer trying to come up with a third option. That’s when I saw the 2 packages of cream cheese I’d bought to make the frosting. I pulled them out and set them on top of the still warm oven to start softening. Truffles were the answer. The cupcakes did not have to be pretty because I was going to turn them into crumbs. I could then let them sit in the freezer while I got ready for the party and dip them in candy coating before I walked out the door. I’d be cutting it close, but it was the best option.
In the end the truffles were a big hit, and maybe even a bit better for the party because they were quick and easy nibbles. Plus, this was a great test run for making these a part of my Christmas cookie routine. Nothing like adding something new to my annual boxes of Christmas cookies.
For the cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
2 large eggs
1/3 cup hot water
9 ounces, approximately, fresh ginger
For the truffles
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 24-ounce package vanilla flavored almond bark
1 batch molasses-ginger cupcakes
1) Line 26 muffin cups with paper cupcake liners and pre-heat oven to 350°F.
2) Use a spoon to shave off the thin skin of the ginger root, leaving behind the flavorful flesh. Mince ginger (it’s really easy if you use a mini-food processor or a nifty chopping tool like my new hand blender). You will need approximately one cup.
3) In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
4) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together molasses, sugar, and eggs until smooth. Add melted butter and hot water.
5) Pour liquid mix into the bowl with the flour and stir until just combined.
6) Fold minced ginger into the batter.
7) Fill paper liners 3/4 full and back for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely.
8) At this stage if your cupcakes come out lovely and cupcake like, dollop them with whip cream and serve. If they turned out like mine, crumble them into a large bowl.
9) Add the 16 ounces of softened cream cheese to the cupcake crumbs and use a hand mixer to blend together.
10) Roll crumb-cream cheese mixture into walnut sized balls and freeze for about an hour.
11) Melt almond bark according to package directions. Using toothpicks, dip frozen cupcake balls in the melted candy and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Let harden completely, about 5 minutes, before removing the toothpick and using the toothpick to cover the dot with more candy.
12) Store in freezer until ready to enjoy. These can be made several weeks ahead of time if stored in an airtight container or freezer bag.