Giving "hotcake" a new meaning: chili pepper cupcakes
I recently attended the wedding reception of one Ms. Pepper and one Mr. Brown. At said reception, they were having a spread of cupcakes and I said I'd bring a couple dozen to add to the mix.
It was so important, in fact, that I deliver those cupcakes, that as the tornado sirens went off while we drove to the reception, I asked my husband to check the radar on his phone, because, you know, did we really need to turn around and go home to protect the baby and the sitter?
Thankfully, there were only a few drops of rain that evening and no tornadoes in our neck of the woods, so the reception went off beautifully. But I digress.
I thought for weeks in advance about what cupcakes to bring and I even went so far as to ask the hostess (so as not to bother the bride with trivia) if a cake mix was acceptable. You see, I believe in cake mixes. I have made cakes from scratch, and frankly, they never seem quite as good as what Duncan or Betty can help me do. I don't know, folks. To me, it just doesn't seem worth it.
So the hostess rubber stamped my cake mix, and I got to thinking about how I could make something a little more special than your average chocolate cake. And I got to thinking about how into all things spicy I am these days, and I got to thinking about how the bride's last name is Pepper, after all, and the groom's name is Brown, and a chocolate chili cupcake was born.
I started with a Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix, because it's the best, in my never-to-be-humble opinion. I made it per the directions, except I added a tablespoon of cayenne (maybe a little more if I'm being honest) and a tablespoon of cinammon to the mix. That's it. Trust me, the chili with the chocolate is an excellent combination, and you might think I'm crazy but if you have never had a chili chocolate candy you need to expand your horizons, and quick.
But let's face it. What really makes most cupcakes special is what is on top. So for the frosting, I made my favorite sticky chocolate mess, again with a spicy twist.
1 bar Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate 1 small can sweetend condensed milk 3 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 2 teaspoon cinnamon
Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the sweetend condensed milk. Bring to a simmer and add the chocolate and spices, stir over low heat until it's all melted and combined. I let this cool just a bit before I frost. If you wait too long it will get harder than you want it to be for spreading. So time it just right when your cupcakes are cool and ready to frost.
The best part of this whole thing, though, was the "chili on top". I cut up two serrano peppers into very thin slices about three inches long. In a saucepan I brought to a boil 1/2 C sugar and 1/2 C water, and then dropped my pepper slices in and simmered them, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
Finally, remove them to a baking sheet covered in parchment or a silpat, and pop them in a low-temp oven (about 200 degrees) for about fifteen minutes or until they're no longer wet. You want them sticky and not crispy or dried up.
I arranged two or three atop each cupcake for a pretty burst of color and a marvelous flavor of candied pepper.
What better thing could I make for the Brown-Pepper wedding fest? The happy couple, I think, was pleased. They're just a little unconventional, just like these spicy cakes.