Make a Decadent Dessert for the Holidays

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Emmanuel M. Lardizabal, Robbi, Lynn and 2 others

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Christmas is not only the season to be jolly. It is also that special time when people gather to have fun and indulge cravings that are reigned in for most of the year. If there is one season out of 365 days that warrants the enjoyment of a truly decadent dessert, it is Christmas.

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There are many unbelievably mouthwatering desserts available for people who want to feast with their palates as well as their eyes during the Yuletide season. There is the Croquembouche, a beautiful golden tree of creme puffs, drizzled all over with caramel to give it a fine crystal veil. There is the Tres Leches cake – a sponge cake dipped in three kinds of milk, there is the walnut sized Middle Eastern maamoul with its soft buttery shell and its date and walnut filling, and then there is the dramatic cherries jubilee – still flaming and still the star of any culinary event.

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A girl could go crazy just trying to choose which dessert to have. However, because life is full of tough choices, there is no time like the present to buckle down and pick the decadent dessert that will grace your Christmas table. If you are a chocolate lover and you want to bring this dark and totally enchanting flavor to your spread, be ready to make a truly memorable dessert: Dark chocolate truffle cupcakes with cream hearts.

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What Makes the Truffle so Special

Few desserts can come close to the richness of a chocolate truffle. When you bite into a really good truffle and the chocolate slowly begins to invade your mouth, you will feel as if you are having a truly religious experience. You cannot and you should not attempt to make a truffle unless you are willing to use only the best ingredients, because it will only take the smallest of bites for you to catch the merest hint of inferior materials in a truffle.

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This chocolate confectionery begins with a center of smooth ganache. This can be rolled in fine cocoa and chopped nuts, or infused with a liqueur. Sometimes truffles have centers made from caramel, nuts, berries, mint, marshmallow, or liqueur instead of ganache. But if you want to go the extra mile and have a truffle to beat all truffles, there is nothing to stop you from making a truffle with a ganache center and a cream heart.

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Getting Started

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Making dark chocolate truffle cupcakes with cream hearts is a five part undertaking. Although the process is not particularly difficult, it will take time and effort. Is it worth it? Definitely!

  • The Cream Hearts. Making the cream hearts is a separate step in itself. You can actually make the cream hearts a day before you make the rest of the confection.
  • The Chocolate Truffle. The center of this cupcake recipe is actually made of chocolate ganache. You can tweak this recipe by rolling the ganache in flaked coconut or finely chopped nuts before putting it into the cupcake.
  • The Cupcake. The casing for your truffle is a cupcake made with chocolate. Again, use only the best ingredients for this part of your decadent dessert.

Part I: Making the Cream Hearts

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The creamy heart of your decadent dessert is actually made of heavy cream, sugar, and white chocolate. This milky bit can certainly stand on its own as an independent dessert. Make a few large pieces (about the size of a walnut), serve with cherry liqueur, maraschinos and a streak of dark chocolate.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks (1 block) softened unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar or icing sugar, sifted (4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Melted white chocolate
  • ½ cup finely ground almonds (walnuts and pistachios will do just as well)
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    In a medium bowl, mix softened butter, 2 tablespoons cream, and the powdered sugar.
    Using a soft spatula, mix these three ingredients until smooth and pliable enough to handle.{
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  2. 2
    Roll the mixture into balls, each about the size of a large marble.
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  3. 3
    Coat in finely chopped nuts of choice.
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  4. 4
    Place balls on a buttered cookie sheet and freeze.
    Take these out when you are ready to put your cupcakes together.
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Part II: Making the Truffle Center

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The truffle center is also a marvelous dessert in itself. You can make a few extras and eat them just as they are. Or you can serve the truffles with a dollop of Mascarpone cream – perfect with coffee!

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate (the best you can find)
  • 1/2 pound good semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon orange flavored liqueur, optional
  • 1 tablespoon prepared coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Cocoa powder
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    Prepare the bittersweet chocolate by chopping it finely with a very sharp knife.
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  2. 2
    In a small saucepan, heat the cream just until it boils.
    Do not let it boil over. Turn off the heat and let the cream sit for 20 to 30 seconds.
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  3. 3
    Pour the cream into the bowl of chocolate, using a fine sieve to strain any solids that may have formed during the cooking.
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  4. 4
    Use a wire whisk to slowly stir the chocolate and the cream together until the chocolate is fully melted.
    Whisk in the liqueur, coffee and vanilla. Set aside.
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Part III: The Cupcakes

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On days when you want something a bit less elaborate, use this recipe for the cupcake part of your dessert by itself and apply a simpler icing.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup strong hot coffee
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Procedure:

  1. 1
    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a 24 piece cupcake pan with liners.
    (Black or deep brown liners will work best with this dessert.)
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  2. 2
    Mix together sugar, vanilla and eggs.
    Mix until combined; do not overbeat. On low speed, add milk and oil. Mix until well incorporated.
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  3. 3
    In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
    Sift together and add to egg mixture. Mix on medium speed until the batter is smooth (no more than two minutes).
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  4. 4
    Add hot coffee and continue mixing for two more minutes.
    Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full or a bit more. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
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  5. 5
    Cool completely.
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Part IV: The Chocolate Buttercream Icing

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Ingredients:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Procedure:

  1. 1
    Using high speed, beat butter for two minutes.
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  2. 2
    When butter is whipped, add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.
    Add vanilla and continue mixing until everything is well incorporated.
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  3. 3
    Reduce speed to medium and add cocoa powder.
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  4. 4
    Reduce speed to low, add heavy cream a little at a time.
    Once all the cream is in, raise speed to high and whip for three minutes.
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Part V: Assembling the Cupcakes

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  1. 1
    Use a sharp paring knife to cut out the center of the cup cake.
    Do not let the cutoff part crumble.
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  2. 2
    Insert the cream ball, then fill the cupcakes with a small scoop of ganache.
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  3. 3
    Take the pieces of chocolate you scooped from the cupcake.
    Slice off enough to pile on top of the cupcake and seal off the ganache part.
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  4. 4
    Using a 1 M tip, frost the cupcakes with your icing.
    Top with a decor of choice.
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Tips and Warnings:

  • Use only the very best chocolate.
  • If you want to top this dessert with fruit, try strawberries, cranberries or cherries.
  • If you are preparing this for a buffet and other desserts are available, fill the paper liners only half full and allocate five pieces for every four persons.
  • If for some reason your ganache is not thickening and you don't want to add more sugar, stick the bowl into the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  • Give your cupcakes a touch of Christmas by adding some Christmasy touches to your icing.
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Enjoy your decadent dessert for Christmas not only as a fully assembled treat; take time to enjoy each layer of flavor contained in each of its delicious parts. Bon appetit!

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Article Info

Categories : Holidays & Traditions

Recent edits by: Anonymous, Lynn, Robbi

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