Tuesday, March 1, 2016

27th Annual Chocolate Festival…

…is always a popular event on the last Sunday in February because chocolate lovers can cross country ski or snow shoe the trails, while consuming chocolate treats along the way.  Other participants walk or drive to each chocolate laden stop.

The Buttonwood Inn was off the beaten path and folks came up to our Bed and Breakfast sampling Paula’s chocolate delights and toured the inn.  Our inn was open from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. A few of the participants mentioned that they had been doing the Chocolate Festival for many years skiing the trails and stopping at points in North Conway village, but didn’t have enough time to come to the Buttonwood Inn. When they heard from others that our chocolate treats were the best, they had to come up this year to sample it.  A mother and daughter who live nearby came in just under the wire and asked, “Can we still receive the chocolate treat because we heard yours was the best?”  I said, “You’ve come all the way up here, so, of course, you can try a mini blackout cupcake.”  As they ate it, their faces expressed joy of the chocolate deliciousness and said, “We are so glad we made it up here because this is the best chocolate treat today.”  Every chef likes to hear their food is the best we’ve ever eaten because you know and your guests know how much attention and love you put into preparing it.

When I researched various chocolate recipes, I thought that a Chocolate Blackout Cake, a three-layer very dark chocolate cake (almost black) with chocolate pudding layers and frosting coated with chocolate cake crumbs, would be irresistible no matter how many chocolate treats were already consumed.  We were pretty much the last stop, but it was unanimous by everyone that the velvety dark chocolate pudding coated with dark chocolate cake crumbs on top of the moist, black chocolate cake layer was exquisitely luscious.  

Later at our afternoon tea service, I served our guests a regular sized Blackout Cupcake who commented, “this was the best cupcake they’ve ever had.”  I make cupcakes every Saturday afternoon because they are so popular among everyone.  When guests see them on the buffet table, I enjoy hearing them exclaim, “Oooh, cupcakes!”  We never found any left on the plate the next morning.

Reserve online for next year's Chocolate Festival or anytime at the Buttonwood Inn or call us at 1-800-258-2625.

Have fun trying this recipe.

Chocolate Blackout Cupcakes

Yield:  About 30 cupcakes


1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Fill cupcake pans with paper liners. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan, then stir in cocoa for about 1 minute.  Take off the heat and whisk in coffee, buttermilk, and sugars until dissolved.  Whisk in the eggs and vanilla and add to the flour mixture and mix until well combined.  Using an ice cream scoop, fill the cupcake papers with the batter.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.  Reserve 2 to 3 cupcakes to grind into crumbs in a food processor.

Pudding Frosting:

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, cook the sugar, chocolate, half-and-half, milk, cornstarch and salt over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 3 to 5 minutes, or longer.  Stir in the vanilla and pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap tightly to the top of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight until cold and very thick.

Frost each cupcake with a ½ inch thick layer (or more) of pudding frosting and sprinkle cupcake crumbs on top.

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