I was specifically curious about the Better-Than-Sex Chocolate Cupcakes. I've never made chocolate-anything from scratch that I actually liked. Lots of chocolate brownies and cakes from mixes that came out well, and I've always liked canned frosting. But my past efforts to make chocolate cakes, brownies, frosting, or cookies from scratch have always been inferior to the mixes.
I've got a recipe from haikujaguar for brownies, for which she recommended a reasonable-quality baking chocolate, like Ghiradelli, but I've never tried it -- the time I planned to, I couldn't find anything but cheap baking chocolate at the store. Still, it's made me wonder if my problem with chocolate baked goods is that the ingrediants I've used were low-end -- cheap cocoa or baking chocolate from the grocery.
So this weekend, I decided to try making cupcakes from scratch using high-end ingrediants. On Saturday, I went to the Plaza, a midtown shopping district chock-full of pricey little specialty stores. I browsed around a couple of high-end food stores, and picked up expensive unsweetened cocoa powder, dark chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese, and butter. The last three weren't items I was especially concerned about quality with regards to, but I figured, what the heck, might as well go all the way. In the same spirit, when I hit a regular grocery for some of the remaining ingrediants (like mini-chocolate chips -- I couldn't find expensive versions of those, but since I like the taste of Nestle's chocolate chips I wasn't too worried here), I bought some "baking sugar" they had. Touted as fine-ground for better dissolving. Sure, why not.
I didn't actually make the recipe as described. Primarily, I didn't feel like messing with mousse. (a) I've never made mousse before (b) she didn't have a recommended recipe and most importantly (c) I'm not that wild about mousse anyway. Instead, I filled the cupcakes with ganache and frosted them with the Cupcake Project's 'my favorite chocolate frosting'.
* The cupcake batter was tasty, as good or better than any I've had before.
* The frosting was okay. I don't know. I've still had canned frosting I like better, though I've had canned frosting I like less too. I don't know what the heck they use in canned frosting that makes it taste good.
* The ganache was a little too dark for my taste, which basically means I should've used a lighter chocolate. Ganache is just heavy cream and chocolate, so its taste is wholly dependent on the chocolate used.
* The white chocolate was pretty good. I made sure to get one that actually used, y'know, chocolate. Since not all white chocolate does. Anyway, usually not a big fan of white chocolate, but since overall the cupcakes were more dark-chocolate than milk, the white drizzle added a bit more sweetness to them, which I liked.
Overall, they're pretty tasty. I froze half of them, because ZOMG that's a lot of cupcakes for two people. Were they better than sex? Ah-hahahahahahaha! No. If your cupcakes come out better than sex, than either I'm doing something wrong when I make cupcakes, or you're doing something wrong when you make love. >:)
Also, this is doing nothing for my whole 'I should try to eat better and get in better shape' notion that still floats in the back of my head. Oops. Anyway, I post about this because ... um ... I didn't really get much else done this weekend. >.>