I bought this yesterday.
And then I used it to make cupcakes and I pretended I had done it all by myself. And I’m not sorry.
Sometimes you just realize you need birthday cupcakes ASAP, and you have reading to do, and you’re not feeling creative, and all of your measuring cups are dirty. When these things happen to me, I sometimes put aside my anti-processed-food principles and reach out to accept a helping hand from my girl Betty Crocker (or Duncan Hines, whoever’s on sale that day).
But! Just because you may occasionally use a cake mix, that doesn’t mean you can’t fancy it up with a few touches that allow you to pretend you didn’t use a cake mix. You just need to add a little love to what comes in the box, and when I say “love,” I mean cheesecake filling, ganache, and sprinkles.
Mix up the cake batter following Betty’s instructions, and then mix an 8 oz. package of cream cheese with 1 egg, a splash of vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup sugar. Stir in half a cup of chocolate chips once it’s smooth.
Fill the cupcake liners about half full, and then spoon a bit of the cheesecake filling into each one. When the cupcakes bake, the batter will cover the cream cheese mixture, giving the whole thing a very birthday-appropriate element of surprise.
Bake according to the package directions, and let them cool completely. Now it’s ganache time! For those of you not fluent in food-related Frenchie words, ganache = chocolate + heavy cream, melted slowly until shiny and wonderful. You need a double boiler, which you can rig up using a saucepan with about an inch of water in it and a heat-proof bowl sitting on top. Put the chocolate and heavy cream in the bowl. Bring the water underneath it to a simmer and stir, stir, stir the chocolate mixture. Just make sure the bottom of the bowl is not sitting in the water. You want to melt the chocolate gently and sloooowly for maximum shininess.
When all the chocolate is melted, take the bowl off the saucepan, and move it to your cupcake décor station. (I assume you have one of these set up permanently in your kitchen?) I would recommend flipping the cupcake upside down and swirling it around in the ganache instead of trying to glop in on with a knife. They seem to turn out prettier that way. Then, you should add sprinkles (duh). You’ll probably have a little extra ganache. Excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for you there.
How cute are those??! Here’s the rundown of what you need, measurements, and so forth:
Cheater Cupcakes (makes just over 2 dozen)
One chocolate cake mix—prepare the batter according to package directions
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 egg
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c. chocolate chips
- 1 c. chocolate chips (I like semi-sweet)
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
Fill 2 muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners, mix up the cake batter according to the package instructions, and preheat your oven to the specified temperature. Combine the cream cheese with the egg, 1/4 c. sugar, and vanilla extract. When the mixture is smooth, stir in 1/2 c. chocolate chips. Fill each cupcake liner between half and 2/3 full with cake batter, and drop a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into each one. Bake according to the package instructions and let cool.
For the ganache: place a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan with about one inch of water in it. Put 1 cup of chocolate chips and 1/4 c. heavy cream in the bowl, and turn the burner on to medium-low. Bring the water under the bowl to a simmer, but don’t let it boil. Stir the chocolate/cream mixture and melt it slowly. When it’s completely smooth, take the bowl off the saucepan. Dip each cupcake in the ganache, swirling the top around for even coverage. Add sprinkles before the chocolate sets.
Moral of the story: next time you reach for the box, try adding a few little extra touches. The birthday lady or gentleman will appreciate them!
Perhaps next time I’ll recap the 21-day cleanse, because it’ll be over on Sunday. It’s going really well, except for a few minor ganache-related indiscretions. Have a good weekend!