Friday, April 6, 2012

Hi-Hat Cupcakes

Recently my dentist did us a huge favor. A really huge favor and I needed to repay the kindness. Over the years we've had several conversations about cupcakes. He's a serious cupcake fiend and I happen to be a pretty good cupcake maker, so cupcakes come up often between us. It's our "common ground". Much of it my boasting about my cupcake making prowess. It's was time to prove my worth. So I made him some cupcakes. But not just any cupcakes, these had to be special. Big fluffy mounds of icing piled high atop chocolate cupcakes and draped in chocolate, Hi-Hats!

Hi-Hat Cupcakes, there's a lot of buzz on the internet about them. Any baking blog worth it's salt has done a version of them. They aren't really complicated but oh so impressive. It's basically just a cupcake with an extra tall swirl of icing that's dipped in chocolate. From what I've been reading, traditionally they are chocolate cupcakes with a vanilla "7 Minute" icing. However, there are infinite variations out there. I stuck with the chocolate cupcake. Why mess with perfection. But I opted for my Marshmallow Buttercream instead of the 7 Minute icing. I felt it was only a slight variation from tradition. 7 Minute icing is marshmallow-ish as it's vanilla, fluffy and sweet. Or maybe it's more akin to a meringue. There's no fat (butter or shortening) in it so it's a good choice if you're trying to avoid that sort of thing. I'm just not particularly fond of it. It's just not creamy enough for my taste. I'm more a buttercream gal but I though traditional buttercream would be too rich to pile that high. Marshmallow Buttercream was the perfect compromise. I hope you agree. . .

What you need is a dozen chocolate cupcakes. Use your favorite recipe or a mix. I LOVE these cupcake mixes from Duncan Hines. They make just 12 cupcakes which is the perfect amount. Seriously, the last thing I need is 2 dozen cupcakes hanging around my kitchen. I've got zero will power when it comes to buttercream. These mixes are kind of hard to find. I've stumbled upon them at the Dollar Store (check expiration dates when shopping the Dollar Store!) and have found them in a couple of Wal Marts, but they don't always have them. If you find them, stock up. Soooo convenient. You're also going to need a double batch of Marshmallow Buttercream, some chocolate chips and a bit of vegetable oil. 
(Note: Quantities shown are for making 12 cupcakes. If you make 24, double the quantities of icing and chocolate.)

Bake up a dozen of your favorite chocolate cupcakes and let them cool. I use a #24 disher (that a fancy word for an ice cream scoop.) to fill the pans. It's equal to 1-1/2 ounces or a scant 1/4 cup and it's the perfect amount to get a nice dome on the cupcake. Next mix up a DOUBLE batch of Marshmallow Buttercream.

Pipe an extra tall swirl of buttercream on each cupcake. Think "soft serve" ice cream. Really get it high. I used a Ateco #808 tip and a 14-inch piping bag. If you don't have those, just use a large zipper bag and cut a 1/2-inch opening in one corner. Now park these in the freezer for a good hour. You want the icing very hard.

While the cupcakes are chillin', melt 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 3 tablespoons vegetable oil. Use the microwave or a double boiler to get it smooth and mixed together.

Transfer the chocolate to a glass that's big enough to accommodate the entire height of the icing on the cupcakes with an inch or so to spare at the top. You may not be able to fit all the chocolate into the glass so work in batches. Use something that you could pop into the microwave if necessary to re-melt the chocolate.

Dip the cupcake into the chocolate all the way to the base of the frosting, catching just the top of the cake if you can. Work quickly as the frozen icing will cause the chocolate to harden pretty quickly. If the icing isn't frozen it will melt and the chocolate won't stick. If, as you are working, the icing starts to get soft, put the cupcakes back in the freezer for a couple of minutes and while they are chilling, re-heat your chocolate.

You can either leave these at room temperature for the chocolate to firm up or put them in the fridge for a few minutes. Because of the addition of vegetable oil to the chocolate the coating won't get really hard, but that's a good thing. That way, when you bite into the cupcake, big hunks of chocolate don't crack and fall off. You can store these on the counter or in the refrigerator but they are best when served at room temperature. It's the cupcake version of a chocolate dipped soft serve ice cream cone. YUM!

Here's a list of what you need to make these fun cupcakes:
- 12 chocolate cupcakes
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

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