Top Tips for Handling Chocolate, Plus the Richest Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

Valentine's Day will be extra sweet with tips from master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt and his recipe for Double Chocolate Cupcakes.

It’s February, which means it’s chocolate’s turn to take center stage. ‘Tis the season to try your hand at being an amateur chocolatier, whether you’re satisfying your craving with melt-in-your-mouth truffles or layering chocolate inside of chocolate with more chocolate with Mini Molten Chocolate Cakes. Add a luxuriously sweet finale to your Valentine’s Day dinner menu with the help of the new cookbook Chocopologie, written by master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt. Check out his expert chocolate-handling tips and get his recipe for droolworthy Double Chocolate Cupcakes below.

1. Ganache is made by pouring hot cream over chopped chocolate. Knipschildt sometimes adds a little honey for a pop of sweetness and to contribute to a smooth, satiny mouthfeel. Butter is also frequently stirred into the warm ganache to boost its lushness.

2. Modern technology has made melting chocolate a lot easier and foolproof. When you use the microwave, there’s less chance of the chocolate scorching or stiffening (also called “seizing”).

3. Not all cocoa powders are created equal. There are two kinds — alkalized and non-alkalized, both unsweetened — and in many instances it does not matter which you use. That said, when a recipe calls for one kind or the other, there’s a reason and you should use the one specified.

4. The best place to store chocolate is a dark cupboard or shelf where the temperature stays about 65 degrees F and the humidity is low. Humidity is no friend to chocolate, so keep it out of the refrigerator and freezer.

5. Both white and milk chocolate can pick up strong flavors if stored too near foods with robust odors or flavors, such as onions and ground spices.

For more recipes — and tips and tricks for working with chocolate — from chocolatier Knipschildt, preorder your copy of Chocopologie (on sale Feb. 10) here.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

If you want rich, super-chocolatey cupcakes, this is the recipe to make. The cake is unadulterated chocolate gratification with just a hint of coffee, and the ganache is as pure as pure can get. Ah, the power of chocolate!

Yield: 15 cupcakes
Ganache
1 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or shavings for decoration

To Make the Ganache: Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it’s bubbling, pour it over the chopped chocolate. Add the vanilla and, with a wooden spoon, stir the ganache until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and evenly colored. Set the ganache aside to cool at room temperature and thicken while you bake cupcakes.

To Make the Cupcakes: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin and 3 cups of a 6-cup muffin tin with the cupcake liners for a total of 15 cupcakes.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on medium-high speed, beat the sugar, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla until smooth.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating until smooth and evenly blended. Add the coffee and beat until incorporated.

Divide the batter among the cupcake cups and bake for 20 to 24 minutes, rotating the muffin tins halfway through baking to encourage even baking. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean and the cake springs back when gently pressed.

Let the cupcakes cool in the tin on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before turning out the cupcakes onto the rack to cool completely.

Using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and set on medium-high speed, whip the ganache until fluffy. Do not overwhip; stop when the ganache looks airy and light.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain tip with the cooled ganache and pipe some ganache onto each cupcake. Alternatively, use a rubber spatula or a spoon to spread the ganache on the cupcakes. Sprinkle each cupcake with chocolate chips or chocolate shavings.

Recipes and photography from Chocopologie by Fritz Knipschildt. Copyright © 2014 by Fritz Knipschildt. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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