Chocolate Cupakes with Cognac Soaked Plums, Chocolate Ganache, & Walnuts

Monday, December 25, 2006

These were decadent little cupcakes perfect for celebrating the holidays with family. They possess a sense of demure propriety while at the same time have that seasonal cheer and whimsy one should expect from a cupcake.

I don't know where the original idea for this came from, just somehow the flavor combination had nestled in my noggin and slowly churned and developed. It kept breaching to the surface of my thoughts and evolving into something elegantly fudgy.

I used some dried, unsulphured Fortune plums I found at my local farmer's market. Really, any type of dried plum will do and if you find a good vendor, be sure to taste the various varities to find the one that suits you. Apriums and maybe apricots will work nicely as well. Just be sure to find something sweet, tart, and with a slightly dark even wine-like undertone.

The cognac was meant to be armagnac, but lo' I could not find any so cognac it was. Really though it was fantastic; most of the alcohol cooked out but left it's flushed, spicy flavor.

The walnuts had come from a local orchard and were provided by one of my co-worker's, Laura, who had an abundance of them. Freshly shelled, slightly bitter walnuts give a perfect crunch to this cupcake.

The dark chocolate cake and ganache were simply... oh, what's the word? Joyful. Christmasy. Rich. Seductive. All of the above work well.

Tis' the season. But really for these cupcakes, any season will do.

Plum Chocolate Cupcakes
24 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

What You'll Need...
200 gram bar of Valrhona 61% cacao chocolate
3 sticks of butter, room temperature
2-1/4 cups of sugar
8 eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup of cocoa powder, unsweetened
1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 pound of dried plums, preferably unsulphured but don't fret about it, go for color and taste
bottle of good cognac or armagnac

What You'll Do...
1) Chop the plums and place in a small, non-metal bowl. Cover with liquor and let plump overnight.
2) Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath.
3) Add sugar and stir, let sit for about 10 minutes.
4) Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
5) Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each one.
6) Mix the try ingredients, and sift them into the mixture. Mix until just blended.
7) Drain the plums and lightly pat them dry. Fold them in to the batter.
8) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 20-24 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Quick n' Easy Meathod
If you want there is a quick semi-homemade cupcake recipe that will work great for this recipe too, that my friend Sooraya taught me and seems to be used by many other home bakers. Use a Bette-Crocker box of devil's food or dark chocolate cake batter. Follow the directions and add a cup of sour cream. This will make the cupcake rich, moist, and fudgier. Add the cognac soaked plums as usual, scoop into cupcake papers and bake. This method will also yield about 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache with Walnuts
Adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop

What You'll Need...
4 oz of semisweet chocolate
5 oz of bittersweet chocolate
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of powdered sugar
shelled walnuts

What You'll Do...
1) Chop chocolates and transfer to a heat proof bowl.
2) Heat cream in a saucepan until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over chocolate.
3) Let sit for one minute then stir until combined.
4) Add butter and vanilla, stir until combined.
5) Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer and let cool for 10 minutes.
6) Sift powdered sugar in and mix until combined.
7) Continue to beat until light in color and creamy. Spread or pipe onto the cupcakes and top with walnuts.


  1. Those look amazing. I just have to figure out how to charm you into mailing me some. (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

  2. Oh... it is so seducing.I'm afraid that after this "Holiday pancake masterpiece" my waist line will vanish. But we live only once. Merry Christmas Garret!

  3. Garrett, you continue to amaze me with your creativity. You are the Cupcake Man!!! Those look so good--and I haven't seen that type of cupcake anywhere. It's very sophisticated!

  4. (whine.) I can't keep up with you! We're doing a cooking series here called "I'll show you mine if you show me yours," and in that spirit- I'll send you a cassata if you send me a batch of these!

    Happy New Year :D

  5. Definitely not a cupcake for kids! :D That is such a great combination of flavours. I love plums soaked in brandy and the walnuts and chocolate with them are just total genious!


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