momofuku milk bar exam no. 15 {candy bar pie}

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In the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, Christina Tosi describes this pie as being "a little bit of a bitch to make." So of course, I had to try it!

And I have to say, she was not lying. This is certainly the most difficult recipe I've made from this cookbook, if not ever. There are a lot of moving parts and everything has to be well orchestrated before you begin. So please please please read the directions carefully and then reread them. Picture them in your mind. Carve them into your soul. Because trust me, this pie may be a bit of a bitch to make but it is so unbelievably worth it.

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If this pie was a story, it'd be an epic saga so before I go any further you should go grab a drink and perhaps even a snack... Ok, ready? Alright well, I suppose as Julie Andrews would say, let's start from the very beginning. In this case, the beginning is a chocolate crust. Did you know that not all cocoa powders are created equal? In general, cocoa powders fall under two categories: Dutch-process cocoa powder, a much darker powder which has undergone an acid-neutralization process and natural cocoa powder, in which the cacao beans are simply roasted and pulverized. Alright, I'm just spouting whatever David Lebovitz says here. Read more about it from him, it's actually really helpful!

Most brands sold in American grocery stores (Hershey's, Nestlé) are natural cocoa powder, which is what I grew up on and still use for a majority of my recipes. But for my birthday, my friend Laura got me a small cannister of the Dutch-process stuff and holy cow! what a difference it makes.

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The Dutch-process cocoa powder gives you that really deep chocolate-y taste and almost black color (like an Oreo crust) but honestly you can use the natural kind if you're in a pinch. I "unknowingly" used natural cocoa powder to make this banana cream pie a while back and it still turned out delicious (and by "unknowingly" I mean "I-knew-the-recipe-recommended-Valrhona-cocoa-but-I'm-in-my-midtwenties-and-poor"). Who knew cocoa powder could be so amazingly complex.

The next layer in this crazy pie is the 'salty caramel'. I am completely, wholly pro-salted caramel. But I found the instructions in this recipe to be very vague. Most of the caramels I've made in the past ask for you to cook a sugar syrup to a very specific temperature but this one simply tells you to "cook and stir, cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes." Deep, dark amber... Tosiiiii, what does that mean??

So I paused the button on the salty caramel and decided to make something that looked a little simpler, the peanut brittle.

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This recipe, however, also asks you to make a caramel by cooking sugar to a deep, dark amber. A bit frazzled, I forged ahead and cooked the sugar to what I assumed is a deep, dark amber color. After it cooled, I was quite happy with the results.

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It looks deep and dark and ambery, right? I snapped a piece off the brittle to try it for myself and nope, burnt. Deep, dark burnt. Totally, completely burnt burnt burnt. It was beyond disgusting.

But I'm no brittle quitter. So take two of my deep, dark amber battle. The second time I was very cautious and heated the sugar at a slightly lower heat so that I could control it more. I'm still not sure what deep,dark amber is supposed to look like but this was the result of my successful, non-burnt tasting peanut brittle.

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Ahhhh, much better. And the good thing is that once you master the brittle, the caramel is much easier to make. This is just another lesson about the benefits of sampling your recipe as you go.

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Once I got through the deep, dark amber hurdle, I got to what had been scaring me the most about this recipe-- the nougat. Unlike the caramel and brittle, however, this DOES include specific temperatures for the sugar syrups which I find very helpful. That doesn't mean it's easy though (I'm really convincing you to make this recipe, aren't I?). To be honest, as long as you put your multi-tasking hat on you can do it. I believe in you. You can nougat.

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Up until this point, if you've gotten through the gauntlet of candy bar pie without burning yourself with hot sugar, consider it a victory! Because after the nougat, this pie is a breeze to put together. No really, just drizzle and brush on the chocolate glaze and slap on some pretzels-- easy! Cutting into this pie is a whole other story but who cares. You've looked at nougat in the eye and lived to tell the tale. Just bask in the ooey, gooey glory of your candy bar pie and enjoy!

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candy bar pie
from Momofuku Milk Bar
makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8

  • 1 recipe Salty Caramel, melted
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Crust, refrigerated
  • 8 mini pretzels
  • 1 recipe Peanut Butter Nougat
  • 1½ ounces (45g) 55% chocolate
  • 1½ ounces (45g) white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) grapeseed oil

(1) Pour the salty caramel into the crust. Return it to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
(2) Heat the oven to 300°F.
(3) Spread the pretzels out on a sheet pan and toast for 20 minutes, or until they have slightly darkened in color and the kitchen smells pretzely. Set aside to cool.
(4) Fetch the pie from the fridge and cover the face of the hardened caramel with the nougat. Use the palms of your hands to press down and smooth the nougat into an even layer. Return the pie to the fridge and let the nougat firm up for 1 hour.
(5) Make a chocolate glaze by combining the chocolates and the oil in a microwave-safe bowl and gently melting them on medium in 30-second increments, stirring between blasts. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and shiny. Use the glaze the same day, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
(6) Finish that pie: Remove it from the refrigerator and, using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of the chocolate glaze over the nougat, covering it completely. (If the glaze has firmed up, gently warm it so it is easy to paint on the pie.) Arrange the pretzels evenly around the edges of the pie. Use the pastry brush to paint the remaining chocolate glaze in a thin layer over the pretzels, sealing their freshness and flavor.
(7) Put the pie in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Wrapped in plastic, the pie will keep fresh in the fridge for 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months; defrost before serving.
(8) Cut the pie into 8 slices, using the pretzels as your guide: each slice should have a whole pretzel on it.

Salty Caramel
makes about 320g (1½ cups)

  • ½ cup (105g) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) butter
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup (130g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (100g) glucose
  • 1 gelatin sheet [used ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • ½ cup (105g) heavy cream

(1) Put 105g (½ cup) heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
(2) Make a caramel: Heat the sugar and glucose in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to move it constantly around the pan—you want it all to melt and caramelize evenly. Cook and stir, cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin.
(4) Once the caramel has reached the target color, remove the saucepan from the heat. Very slowly and very carefully pour the remaining 105g (½ cup) heavy cream into the caramel. The caramel will bubble up and steam; stand away until the steam dissipates. Whisk the mixture together. If it is all lumpy, or there are any clumps of hardened caramel floating around the cream, put the saucepan back over medium heat and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until all of the caramel has dissolved and the mixture is smooth; remove the pan from the heat.
(5) Whisk the bloomed gelatin into the caramel. Once all of the gelatin has dissolved, pour the caramel through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl with the butter. Let the mixture sit, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, then begin whisking. Whisk slowly at first to prevent the hot cream from splashing up and burning you, then continue whisking until the mixture is completely homogenous.
(6) Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, simply melt it in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between blasts until it is completely liquid.

Chocolate Crust
makes 1 (10-inch) pie crust

  • ¾ recipe (260g, 1¾ cups) Chocolate Crumb
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted, or as needed

(1) Pulse the chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain.
(2) Transfer the sand to a bowl and, with your hands, toss with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and knead it into the sand until it is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14g (1 tablespoon) butter and knead it in.
(3) Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crust can be stored at room temp for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Chocolate Crumb
makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona (Dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F.
(2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed.
(3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
(4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
(5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Peanut Butter Nougat
makes about 250g (1 cup), or enough for 1 candy bar pie or pb&j pie

  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (20g) water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons water
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup (65g) Skippy peanut butter
  • ½ recipe Peanut Brittle
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Put the first measures of sugar and water in a tiny saucepan and gently slush the sugar around in the water until it feels like wet sand. Do the same thing with the second measure of sugar and water in another tiny saucepan.
(2) Place both saucepans on the stove and begin heating them up: turn the heat up the medium under the first sugar measurement and keep the heat low under the second measurement. Heat the first sugar up to 115°C (239°F), keeping track of the temperature with an instant-read or candy thermometer.
(3) While the sugar is heating up, put the egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the whisk attachment, begin whipping it to medium-soft peaks. If the white reaches medium-soft peaks before the first sugar hits 115°C (239°F), slow your mixer way down under the sugar and turn the speed way up on the mixer. Ideally, the white will reach medium-soft peaks at exactly the same time as the first sugar measurement hits its mark. If you can achieve this on your first try, then we have a job waiting for you in our kitchen.
(4) Once the first sugar measurement reaches 115°C (239°F), remove it from the heat and very carefully pour it into the whipping egg white, being careful to avoid the whisk: turn the mixer down to a very low speed before you do this, unless you want some interesting burn marks on your face. Once all of the sugar is successfully added to the egg white, turn the mixer speed back up and turn the heat way up under the second sugar measurement. Once this sugar reaches 120°C (248°F), remove it from the heat and pour it into the whipping egg white, taking the same precautions as with the first sugar measurement. Let the egg white whip until cool.
(5) While the white is whipping, mix the peanut butter, peanut brittle, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
(6) Once the white has cooled to room temperature, turn the mixer off, remove this bowl, and, using a spatula, fold the white into the peanut butter mixture. Use immediately in the candy bar pie assembly. Once it cools, the nougat is only acceptable as a ridiculously delicious snack, sure to steal any peanut butter lover’s heart.

Peanut Brittle
makes about 250g (1¾ cups)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup peanuts, skinned (blanched), unroasted and unsalted

(1) Line a quarter sheet pan with a Silpat (parchment will not work here).
(2) Make a dry caramel: Heat the sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to move it constantly around the pan—you want it all to melt and caramelize evenly. Cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes.
(3) Once the caramel has reached the target color, remove the pan from the heat and, with the heatproof spatula, stir in the nuts. Make sure the nuts are coated in caramel, then dump the contents of the pan out onto the prepared sheet pan. Spread out as thin and evenly as possible. The caramel will set into a hard-to-move-around brittle mass in less than a minute, so work quickly. Let the brittle cool completely.
(4) In a zip-top bag break the brittle up into pieces as small as possible with a meat pounder or a heavy rolling pin—we grind our brittle down in the food processor to the size of short-grain rice (you don’t want anyone to chip a tooth on it!). Eat or cook with it at will. Store your brittle in an airtight container, and try to use it up within a month.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 7 {banana cream pie}

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Banana pudding, Bananas Foster, banana bread... Southerners really do have a knack for turning anything remotely healthy into a decadent treat. You could put this banana cream pie at the top of that list. I'm not sure if it's purely Southern, but it's pretty darn delicious.

This was my first attempt at making and eating banana cream pie. When it comes to pies, I generally stick to either pecan pie or ones with berries. Again, this cookbook is proving to be a godsend for my culinary ignorance. My tastebuds are forever indebted.

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A traditional banana cream pie usually has a buttery pie dough or a graham cracker crust but I really liked the chocolate crumb crust here. It was not too sweet and provided a deep flavor that went so perfectly with the bananas. Plus you get to give a little oh-it's-no-big-deal shrug when people ask... "you made the cookie crumbs for the crust too?"

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I had so much fun making this pie. While a Momofuku Milk Bar recipe, this banana cream pie reminded me of something a grandma would make, the BEST grandma ever... maybe it was also the whipped cream delirium.

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banana cream pie from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10

  • 1 recipe Banana Cream
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Crust
  • 1 banana, just ripe, sliced

Pour half of the banana cream into the pie shell. Cover it with a layer of sliced bananas, then cover the bananas with the remaining banana cream. The pie should be stored in the fridge and eaten within a day of when you make it.

Note: Tosi keeps her decorations to a minimum but I figured she wouldn't mind if I took some creative license. As you can see, I topped mine with about ¼ cup of whipped cream, some more sliced bananas, and a sprinkling of the chocolate crumbs. You could also use chocolate shavings, brûléed bananas, let your Milk Bar imagination go bananas (I had to).

Banana Cream makes about 775g (3 cups)

  • about 2 (225g) rrrrrripe bananas (like completely black and disgusting-looking on the outside-- trust me. I found the easiest method is to let the bananas ripen on the counter, freeze them, and then let defrost in the fridge the day before you make the pie. They'll squeeze right out like toothpaste.)
  • ⅓ cup (75g) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 gelatin sheets [used 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) butter
  • ½ teaspoon (25 drops) yellow food coloring (10 drops were enough for me)
  • ¾ cup (160g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (160g) confectioners’ sugar (reduced to ½ cup, which was plenty sweet!)

(1) Combine the bananas, cream, and milk in a blender and puree until totally smooth. (2) Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks and continue to blend until homogenous. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister. (3) Bloom the gelatin. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. (4) Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. (5) Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and the butter and blend until the mixture is smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is a bright cartoon-banana yellow. (It’s a ton of coloring, I know, but banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp.) (6) Transfer the banana mixture to a heatsafe container, and put in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes—as long as it takes to cool completely. (7) Using a whisk or a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar to medium-soft peaks. (When you pull the whisk away from the whipped cream, the mounds of cream hold their shape softly.) Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. Stored in an airtight container, banana cream keeps fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Chocolate Crust makes 1 (10-inch) pie crust

  • ¾ recipe (260g, 1¾ cups) Chocolate Crumb
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted, or as needed

(1) Pulse the chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain. (2) Transfer the sand to a bowl and, with your hands, toss with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and knead it into the sand until it is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14g (1 tablespoon) butter and knead it in. (3) Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crust can be stored at room temp for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks. 

Chocolate Crumb makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed. (3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. (4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Happy Tax Day!

It's springtime! The weather's warmed up, the flowers have bloomed, and swimsuit season is in sight *screeching of brakes* *hitting of panic button*. No, no it's okay, you've still got a solid two months, maybe three until then, so I tell myself. As we wait around for that annual two-piece terror season to begin, why not go ahead and celebrate your last indulges with a couple of these cute coconut macaroons! They're just wee little things that say 'what harm could I do? Please eat me, especially now that all your Girl Scout cookies are gone.'

My coconut macaroon obsession is really my mother's fault. On my 21st birthday, she bought me a box of chocolate dipped coconut macaroons from Godiva that I still lust after today. Also for Easter this year, she sent me two huge bags of my current obsession: Pretzel M&M's. She reeks of swimsuit sabotage. Anyways, this recipe is just as good as my precious Godiva macaroons. They're dense and chewy and just the perfect sweetness. So go ahead, indulge away whether you're celebrating the fact that you just finished your taxes or accomplished some major spring cleaning. As my mom would tell you, 'You deserve it!'

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Chocolate-Covered Coconut Macaroons adapted from Orangette

  • 3 cups (lightly packed) sweetened shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup egg whites (about 5 large)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped

(1)  Place the coconut, sugar and egg whites in a large, heavy saucepan, and stir to combine well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring regularly, about 10-15 minutes. The mixture will look very creamy as it heats and then it will slowly get a bit drier, with individual flakes of coconut becoming discernible. Stop cooking when it no longer looks creamy but is still quite sticky and moist, not dry.  (2)  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  (3)  Scrape the mixture into a pie plate or small baking sheet, spread it out a bit to allow it to cool quickly, and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. (4)  Preheat oven to 300° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat.  (5)  Using a tablespoon, scoop and firmly pack the coconut mixture, rolling into a ball with the palms of your hands. Space them evenly on the baking sheet. (6)  Bake the macaroons until evenly golden, about 15-20 minutes. Cool completely on the pan on a wire rack. (7)  Place the chopped chocolate in a glass bowl and heat in a double boiler.  (8)  Let the chocolate cool slightly and drizzle over the macaroons (I used in a plastic bag and snipped the corner). Alternate method: dip the macaroon bottoms in chocolate. (9)  Refrigerate the macaroons until the chocolate sets, at least 2 hours. Transfer the macaroons to an airtight container, and refrigerate or freeze.  

Note: Macaroons will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Frozen, they will keep for a month or two.

Makes about 38 small macaroons

kickin' it old school

everyone has their favorite old-school lunchbox treat. oatmeal creme pie had my 7-year old heart. (and at times, my 23-year old heart)

for a teachers' luncheon at my brother's middle school, i decided to make this updated version of the classic hostess cupcake: deeply chocolatey, cream-centered and topped with that signature swirl. perhaps this will be the very treat to strike a nostalgic chord in someone else's inner child.

this recipe included many firsts for me. my first time making seven minute frosting and my first time filling cupcakes. i quickly realized there's more than one way to fill a cupcake and decided to test out two methods:

(a) the cone method, which involves angling a paring knife in the top of the cupcake to hollow out a cone

then cutting the tip of the cone

and recapping the top after filling the cupcake

(b) the piping method, in which you insert a star-tipped piping bag into the top

and squeeze until the cake feels slightly heavier

in this side-by-side comparison,

(a)     (b) 

i likened (b) the piping method as it was both easier and neater (less crumbs and easier to dip in the ganache later). if you are partial to creme filling though, go for the cone method.

Homemade Hostess Cupcakes

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee 

(1)  Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 12-cupcake tins with wrappers. (2)  In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  (3)  In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. (4)  With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir to combine thoroughly, making sure to scrape to the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula (batter will be thin). (5)  Pour the batter into the cupcake pans about 2/3 full (do not overfill) and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Seven Minute Frosting:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

(1)  Combine all the ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. (2)  Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Reserve 1 cup of the filling to use for piping the swirls on top of the cupcakes at the end. (3)  Once the cupcakes are completely cooled, fill each cupcake with the frosting (using either method shown above).

Ganache:
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

(1)  In a small saucepan, heat cream until steaming. Remove from the heat, add chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. (2)  Add the butter and stir until smooth. Transfer the ganache to a small bowl. (3)  Once all the cupcakes are filled, dip the top of each cupcake into the ganache.  (4)  Spoon the reserved frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain tip (I used a no. 3 tip) and pipe swirls or any design across the top of each cupcake.

Makes 26-28 cupcakes

fun fact: each hostess cupcake has precisely 7 'swiggles' piped on top. next time you eat one, count them. or make your own and pipe as many swiggles as you want!

and to all the teachers out there...