Saturday, May 22, 2010

When Failing is Great

Good news! I failed a test.

The test was in Michael Pollan's book, In Defense of Food, and it invited me to correctly choose the food I needed to survive a year alone on a desert island. (Pollan did not create the test, BTW. And yes, you should read this excellent book for more details.) I was offered a choice of foods, including corn, bean sprouts, chocolate, hot dogs, bananas and several others. I guessed corn, although I knew that to last a year without developing pellagra I'd need to add lime to the corn. (Maybe there'd be lime on that island?) But I was wrong. The two best choices? Hot dogs ... and milk chocolate.

In celebration of chocolate's life-sustaining properties (I'm not joking here) I offer the following recipe. Make these if you dare - they won't last long, especially if you have children.

Gluten-free quinoa-chocolate cupcakes with mocha frosting

Makes 24 mini or 12 full-sized cupcakes. Note: This recipe can also be used for a layer cake. It will fill 2, 4” round cake pans. Baking time will be @ 40 minutes.

Ingredients for cupcakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup unsweetened black Dutch Process cocoa (available at King Arthur Foods)
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup Quinoa flour (Available at Bob’s Red Mill)
1/3 tsp Bakewell Cream powder (available at King Arthur Foods)
or 1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 tsp baking soda (if using Bakewell Cream)
or 1/2 tsp baking soda (if using baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream (read the label and but ONLY sour cream made from 100% cream)

Ingredients for frosting:

2 cups + 1 TBLS confectioners sugar
1 stick butter at 65 F +/-
2 1/2 TBLS tan (light colored) bakers cocoa
3 3/4 TBLS decaf espresso (a quadruple from Starbucks is a bit more than this)
1 tsp vanilla
3/16 tsp salt.

Instructions for cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 375 F  

1)         Put butter and water in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Remove from heat. Whisk in the cocoa until smooth. Allow to cool.

2)         In a medium bowl, add sugar, flour, bakewell cream, baking soda and salt. Stir with a whisk until well-blended.

3)             Separate eggs. With an electric mixer, beat whites until stiff but moist peaks form. Stir yolks just enough to break, then add sour cream and vanilla.

4)         Add cocoa/water/butter to dry ingredients. Stir just until well-blended. Add yolks/sour cream/vanilla and stir again until just blended. Gently fold in egg whites.

5)         Spoon mixture into cupcake papers until each is 3/4 – 7/8 filled. Bake 20’ at 375, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Instructions for frosting:

Allow cupcakes to cool

1)         In a medium bowl, mix sugar and cocoa until well blended.

2)         Cut butter in cubes by quartering the stick and then cutting quarters. In a separate bowl, cream the butter with an electric mixer. When butter is soft, slowly add the sugar/cocoa mixture. Beat until soft. Add the espresso and whip until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt and whip again. Allow to stand 5’ then whip again and spread onto cupcakes.

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