Lost Cupcakes

No, I am not posting about cupcakes that I have misplaced.  This season of ABC’s Lost is the sixth and final season, and this is a post that came to be because last Friday, during my weekly progress meeting with my boss, my boss said, “You excited?”  I said, “About what?”  He said, “About Lost, it starts next Tuesday.  You should make Lost cupcakes in honor of the premiere!”  He was just kidding, but I suddenly got that faraway look as thoughts of what I could do to decorate such cupcakes came to mind.  Immediately I thought to put the logo of The Dharma Initiative onto the cupcakes, only made with fondant and somehow painted on with black frosting.  For those who do not follow the show, The Dharma Initiative is a group of scientists who conduct experiments on and study the island that the show is centered around (the show is actually filmed in Hawaii.  Sigh.  Hawaii.).  And their logo looks like what is sitting on the cupcake below:

There are several variations on the logo, representing the different stations of the group placed all over the island.  And so I tried to represent them all in my cupcakes.
Before you think that the logos are edible, shamefully I admit that they are not.  I was able to make one out of fondant by cutting out the octagon shape and making a stencil of the logo and painting the lines using the stencil and black frosting, but my deadline was tight and I didn’t have the time to make 24 of them.  Despite what some might think, I do actually have other things to do besides bake and cook!  If I had the time though, I would have been crazy enough to painstakingly make each one (see entry about Yankees cupcakes).
Anyway, you’ve seen the outside, now for the insides.  I made two flavors — dark chocolate was one and peanut butter with a Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle was the other.  Let’s talk about the dark chocolate first…
I got the recipe from a blog (Cake on the Brain) that said that the recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated.  The recipe is as follows:

(from Cooks Illustrated, “American Classics 2009”)
(makes 12 cupcakes; do not double recipe…make two separate batches if you need more)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine
  4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes. 

The first time I tried to make cupcakes that used melted chocolate, I used an electric mixer despite being told that I was to “whisk” and not “beat” the ingredients, and it didn’t turn out so well.  So I thought maybe there’s a reason they want me to whisk.  And whisk I did.

The batter was thick, which indicated to me that this was going to be a dense cupcake (yay!).  I kept licking the batter to try it and it promised good things.  Sure enough, today I was told that this was probably one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever made.  This recipe is going to be a keeper.  Paired with a dark chocolate frosting (for once, I did not make a cream cheese based frosting!) and graham cracker crumbles to represent the sand on the beaches of the island on the show, it was just dark chocolate heaven.

Frosts one 9-inch layer cake or 24 cupcakes, generously.

24 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Pinch of salt

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. Turn off heat; stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Set bowl on countertop, and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until cocoa is dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in cocoa mixture.

To frost a layer cake: Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level; brush off crumbs. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting. Place the second layer on top, bottom side up, and spread top with 3/4 cup of frosting; repeat process with the third layer. Place the remaining layer on top of the third layer, bottom-side up; insert a dowel into the center of cakes if necessary. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. 

I didn’t use the cupcake recipe on the site I got the recipe from, but the frosting — though painfully labor-intensive to make — proved to be excellent.  Again, another keeper.  I think I’ll even make a full sized cake out of the cupcake recipe I used above combined with this same frosting again.
And now, the peanut butter cupcakes…
A bit of nerdery here — in the first (or second?) season, Claire tells Charlie that of all the things she misses about the civilized world, she missed peanut butter the most.  There’s a whole scene during which they imagine they’re eating peanut butter, and eventually, in another episode, Charlie finds her some.  So I thought, as an additional homage to the show, I should make peanut butter cupcakes too!  Besides, I’ve been wanting to do peanut butter cupcakes for some time now.  I found this one and just followed when my instinct said that it would be great.  This time I used the cupcake recipe, but didn’t use the chocolate glaze recipe that came with it.  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except that I used butter flavored shortening instead of butter (I didn’t have any butter at room temperature, and it also worked just fine) and when it came time to put the batter into the cupcake liners, I put a small amount just to cover the bottom and lovingly placed a Reese’s miniature peanut butter cup in the middle (I wanted the peanut butter cup not to be touching the bottom of the pan when it baked and felt that it needed a “cushion” of cake to sit on when baking).  Then I covered the peanut butter cup with just enough batter to fill the liner…
And my favorite picture of this post…
The top of the cupcake after baking was a lot like what a peanut butter cookie looks like, a very thin layer of crispness that you would miss if you didn’t pay attention, and when you bite into the cupcake it just gives way to this dense, yet soft and light cupcake.  The Reese’s peanut butter cup added even more peanut buttery goodness, and the dark chocolate frosting I later frosted them with added another dimension of flavor to the whole thing.  It was a party in my mouth.  I actually got the idea of putting the Reese’s peanut butter cup in there because I saw a picture on Google of a peanut butter cup sitting in chocolate cupcake batter.  I was just intrigued by the concept so I had to try it.  Next time maybe I do this cupcake without the pb cup.
My boss was very happy with the cupcakes when I brought them in today.  My friend who came over tonight to watch the season premiere of Lost and tried these cupcakes couldn’t decide which kind was better, as they both had their merits.  There may have been more questions raised tonight after we had watched the season premiere, but there were certainly no questions that these cupcakes were absolutely a hit.

2 thoughts on “Lost Cupcakes

  1. These look like UFC cupcakes because of the Octagon shape logo, just like the Octogon shaped ring. If I ever have a fight night, I am definitely gonna order these from you.

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