Chocolate & Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Friday, January 18, 2008

From the cupcake archives...

Chocolate and pink peppercorns... I seem to have been seeing a lot of that particular flavor combination lately so I decided to give it a try myself. After hunting for the said exotic coco combo and trying a candy version for myself I discovered that it's actually quite tasty. Pink peppercorns aren't like your average peppercorn, their much lighter in the actual pepper flavor than black pepper and have a slight floral quality to them. Combined with the chocolate it's fun, different, and perky. It's the best I can do to describe it.

I can see how some people might not like it though, it steps away from the Hershey bar comfort zone that most people have snuggled themselves into, and it's an adventurous and challenging taste to be sure. I think you won't know until you try it yourself, but you'll either love love love it or you won't care for it. In this household I liked it, Rob didn't. Eat Beast also ate one, but taste isn't a factor for him when it comes to food.

At work, people seemed to really respond positively to it, with a request or two to make them again. My co-worker Ron e-mailed me, "Very nice, light texture, the pepper adding a surprisingly interesting dimension, and highly desirable, minimalist frosting." My friend Megan noted, "I still think that chocolate and pepper make a great combo - in fact, making it even more chocolaty and more peppery would rock, but I like extreme tastes with those two foods." After which we had a discussion on how to describe the sensation that pepper creates in your mouth. A good question that can only be answered after eating more of these cupcakes.

I placed some ground peppercorns in the cupcakes, steeped them in the cream for the ganache, and crumbled some on to ensure various layers of chocolate and pepper flavor. Probably one of the strangest and most exotic cupcakes I've made to date. I think any culinary dare devils and risk takers out there will well appreciate this cupcake combo. So how adventurous are you?

Chocolate & Pink Peppercorn 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
3 teaspoons of ground pink peppercorns

What You'll Do...
1) Melt chocolate and butter over a water bath.
2) Add sugar and stir, let sit for about 10 minutes.
3) Beat in an electric mixer for 3 minutes.
4) Add one egg at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each one.
5) Mix the try ingredients, and sift them into the mixture. Mix until just blended.
6) Stir in the ground peppercorns.
7) Scoop into cupcake papers and bake for 20-24 minutes at 350 or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Chocolate Ganache
What You'll Need...
8 ounces of 61% cacao chocolate bars
1 cup of heavy cream
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns plus extra for decoration

What You'll Do...
1) Chop chocolate and place in heat proof bowl
2) Heat cream and peppercorns on stove over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge.
3) Pour cream over chocolate, let sit for 1 minute then stir.
4) Let sit for 15 minutes, then dip and swirl cupcakes in the ganache. Decorate with pink peppercorns.


  1. Beautiful peppercorns, but I think I'll stick to the hershey's. I'm kinda comfortable that way.

  2. I just love the contrast of those peppercorns against the ganache, I bet the taste contrast is just as wonderful as the photo itself.

  3. I have never tried pairing peppercorns with chocolate but this photo looks gorgeous and your description of how they taste makes me want to try the combination. :)

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  4. I think I gained about 10 lbs just reading that. And peppercorns with chocolate, I would never have thought of half of the stuff you are combining. Awesome job!

  5. NOTE: So I have learned that you need to serve these within about 24 hours, otherwise the pepper oils really take over the chocolate.

  6. They look beautiful. Such a good idea!

  7. that sure brings me back! i grew up with a GIANT peppercorn tree in my backyard - i used to climb up there and read for hours - such a pretty tree!

    what a pretty pairing; i may just have to try this one.

  8. What a fascinating combo! Looks so good.

  9. I've only mixed pink peppercorns with a too-sweet champagne. But these with chocolate? ZOWIE.

  10. Garrett, you are becoming a master at this!!! The peppercorns look fabulous against the chocolate.

  11. Lovely!

    And I don't know why people are afraid of this combination when the Mexicans have been putting chili powder in chocolate for centuries! (I almost always put ancho chili powder in my chocolate baked goods, and everyone loves it.)

  12. I made these last night and holy god they are delicious. The cupcakes are nice and moist, and the infused ganache delicious.

    I mixed crushed peppercorns into the melted chocolate and butter (for the batter) because I thought the flavor would infuse better into the fat.

    The entire thing is really peppery, in a really delicious way that goes well with the chocolate.

  13. "Eat Beast also ate one, but taste isn't a factor for him when it comes to food."

    Curious... who would be the Eat Beast?

  14. cookinginspace - The fattest cat in the world.

  15. Beautiful combination!
    On CupcakeBakeshop she always uses kinds of peppers I can't find to make spicy choc cupcakes, so this recipe is quite needed.. :)
    I see that the basic recipe is also the same as the one on CCBS. For some reason I've never had success with it. I guess I'll have to master it in order to make these gorgeous cupcakes for my bf on valentine's day.. :)

  16. This is a really interesting idea, I'd like to experiment with this too. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. These look absolutely amazing. I'm putting them on my must-make list!

  18. What a perfect little dessert for Valentine's Day! I'm definitely going to make a mini-batch when I visit home from college next weekend; and I love that you used dark chocolate. Delicious!

  19. Love your use of the unusual in will love my Chilli Pavlova recipe...keep 'em coming!

  20. I love pink peppercorns! just made a frozen yogurt with Asian pears and pink peppercorns.

  21. This is "Rigatoni" that commented above (a couple blog and internet identity crises later, haha).

    I just posted this recipe on my blog after combining the flavors again and still loving it!

    And by the way, when I made mini chocolate and pink peppercorn cupcakes a few years ago and served them-dusted with powdered sugar- to a picky crowd, I got awesome rave reviews.

    Thanks for the recipe ;) Keep 'em coming!

  22. So, just from sampling the cake part, I think these are really good. That being said I think I've made some mistakes along the way because they got a flakey skin on top of them like brownies do. I wasn't able to find 61% valhrona at my trader joes so I went with 54% dark chocolate instead...definitely will go with the darker next time even if it means going with the 72%. But thank you for the great recipe!


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