Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chocolate Avocado Honey Mango Cupcakes

For a while now I've been trying to dream up a way to incorporate avocado into a cupcake recipe.  I've somewhat recently become an avocado fanatic attempting to weasel it into every salad, sandwich, hot dog, chip dip, fish filet and general savory dish on my radar.  But cupcakes are my thing. So as avocados slowly become my... other thing... I thought it was time to give it a shot as an ingredient.

I'll warn you, this adventure was riddled with trial and error and even after my third go, I still feel it has room for improvement. But at least it was a start.

I had originally intended to simply make my chocolate chili cupcake until I did some digging online and found a recipe at using mashed avocado in place of butter.  It may not be any fewer calories, but it's a way to substitute good fats for bad and certainly added to the "avocado-yness" of my cupcake.  So I made a few tweaks and gave it a shot!

If you've never pitted an avocado, I'll give you a brief tutorial. Stand the avocado right-side up and slice around the pit. When you have your slit, simply grab each side of the fruit in the palms of your hand and twist!  It should pop right in half.  When it does, you can remove the pit by (CAREFULLY!) slapping the thick part of your knife blade against it, so it sticks.

Then simply twist and pull and the pit will come right out!

Here's what you'll need for the cupcakes:

2 squares unsweetened (Baker's) chocolate
1/4 c. cocoa
1.2 c. boiling water
1 fully ripe avocado
1 c. sugar
3 eggs, room temperature -- 2 full, 1 yolk
1.5 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1 tbs. potato starch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. plain yogurt (or Greek yogurt or sour cream)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, potato starch, salt and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.

Place your chocolate squares and cocoa into a small bowl and pour in the boiling water, stirring until the chocolate is melted together and smooth. Set aside.

Cream your avocado on medium-high until smooth like butter, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl and mush large chunks.  Add sugar and eggs, one at a time and continue to cream on medium-low.

Add in your chocolate mixture, then gradually begin to add in your dry mixture - alternating with the yogurt and vanilla until fully incorporated.

Fill 12 baking cups and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Now I played with a few options for the frosting. At first, I tried to completely substitute avocado for butter as I had in the cake batter, but for reasons I can't explain, the frosting was more like a glaze and adding more confectioners only made it like glue.  Literal glue.  Check this out:

So I tried again, this time only using half an avocado and 1/4 c. shortening to level the playing field - and it worked!

So here's what you'll need for the frosting:

1/2 fully ripened avocado
1/4 c. shortening
2.5 c. confectioners sugar
1/8 c. heavy whipping cream
Juice from 1/3 of a lime
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt

Begin by creaming your avocado and shortening on high, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl and mush out any chunks.

Next, gradually begin adding your confectioners sugar 1/2 c. at a time, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Alternate your sugar with your whipping cream, vanilla and lime juice as you go.

Continue whipping on high until your frosting reaches a desirable consistency.

The cupcake toppings were an adventure all their own.  I knew the cupcake needed something more and sprinkles just weren't going to do the job. PID suggested crushing lime infused tortilla chips to complement the chili pepper and avocado flavors.

It wasn't terrible, but it just wasn't right.

So I whipped up a batch of mango-scented chocolate ganache.  I'll tell you how I made it, but it wound up not doing the trick. There was too much chocolate...if you can believe that.

8 oz. bitter sweet chocolate
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbs. butter
1/8 c. mango rum

Boil 1 c. of water in a small pot.  Place your chocolate in a glass bowl and set it on top of the boiling water, allowing it to melt.

Meanwhile, heat your heavy whipping cream in a skillet until it begins to bubble. When it does, pour it on top of your chocolate, removing from heat and allow it to set without stirring for 1 minute.

Add your butter and mango rum and stir until all incorporated.

I glazed one of my cupcakes with it before icing, then drizzled it on top.  But it just didn't give it enough depth. I still had work to do.

I happened to have one leftover mango in the fridge, so I sliced it and pureed it, simply placing that on top of the cupcake.  I tried it and it was better...but still missing SOMETHING. So I opened my cabinets and stared...and stared...and stared. Then finally it hit me.  I drizzled a little bit of honey on top of the mango and voila! It was a perfect combination of flavors.

The cake recipe turned out to be a little dry, so the juiciness of the mango and stickiness of the honey wound up giving it some much needed moisture and texture.  And the avocado frosting was surprisingly delicious!  The lime juice really helped to call out the creamy flavor of the avocado.

I'll work to perfect the cupcake recipe and when I do I'll update!


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