chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

Two very exciting things happened at the end of April this year.

This postcard:

my postcard from emma.

Emma from Of Agates and Madeleines hand-illustrated a postcard and sent it to me from the middle of the Maine woods, where she hangs out most days. This was part of a previous agreement we had made to send each other postcards from our various locations; my vacation site in Florida versus her work site at the tippy top of the States. I sent her two postcards (I couldn’t decide which exemplified my vacation destination more) but they were not hand-illustrated, attached to a little note, and cuddled into a hand-folded envelope, friends. Only Emma would do that, and this is why I love her. She’s my kind of absolutely nuts, and I like it. Thanks, Emma.

The other thing that happened? These cupcakes.

chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

I bake things all the time. Food is a constant presence in my house, and yet, some things which come out of my kitchen hold my attention for much longer than they should. These cupcakes are a good example of that. They surprised me, and by now, almost no form of cake actually shocks me. I have learned what to expect from most things, as I should, because that comes with experience and time.

But I had no idea these existed. I don’t live in a cave, and I have both seen and eaten things called “chocolate chip muffins” and “chocolate chip cupcakes” and their cake counterparts, and they’re fine. sometimes very good. Mostly, though, they either taste like a muffin base with chocolate chips thrown in, or vanilla cake with chocolate chips thrown in. Mind you, I don’t consider either version to be a bad thing; I’ve just given up on the idea that “chocolate chip muffin/cupcake” flavor was at all like the cookie which shares the name.

Wrong, people. I WAS WRONG.

These cupcakes taste just like classic chocolate chip cookies, only in bouncy cake format. With ganache on top. I know what you’re thinking: why add the ganache? A few reasons. Although the flavor is wonderful as/is, but the ganache adds a perfect finishing touch. It’s not a frosting, so it more or less just brings out the chocolate chippiness of the cupcake. Also, chocolate chips can be pesky in one regard: if they’re around any sort of moisture, they sometimes whiten around the edges. You know how muffin and cupcake tops tend to be a little less dry than their insides? That tiny bit of moisture messes with any chips showing at the top, causing them to look a little strange. The ganache blankets over this minor issue so you never have to worry about it.

chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

This is from the book I can’t seem to tear myself away from (sorry, Library), A Piece of Cake by the Outsider Tart guys and altered to mirror the flavors in my own recipe that I use for those mini deep dish chocolate chip cookies. If you like those (and I know many of you have tried them), I can say with confidence that you’ll love these. I had one issue – their ganache recipe. I made it – twice – and I could never seem to get it to thicken up enough to actually form a real ganache which would stay put at room temperature. Here it is on the right:

chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

See? Far too runny. Refrigerating worked to firm it up, but i didn’t want to refrigerate the final product. Instead, as you see on the left, I made what is probably my most-used recipe from the Momofuku Milk Bar book; the fudge sauce. It’s a breeze to make, and as long as you put in the proper amount of whisk time, it turns out glossy and perfectly set every single time. There’s other sauces/ganaches that come close, but this ganache is spot-on: it goes on smoothly, doesn’t drip, and stays shiny for the lifetime of the baked good you just smothered with it. Not to knock the original ganache at all; it’s delicious, and although it proved a bit too drippy (at least when I made it), it makes a fantastic, saucy fudge when chilled. It stays creamy, so it’s a perfect homemade chocolate syrup.

chocolate chip cupcakes + chocolate ganache.

If you need proof of the miraculous consistency of the ganache at room temperature, here it is. Look at that: stays exactly where it’s supposed to.

At some point, I had to throw some leftover cupcakes in the trash and pour dish soap on them, lest I risk actually eating myself silly. I’m used to baked goods around here, and can normally keep them at arm’s length, but these were an exception to my “everything in moderation” rule. And they refused to go bad; something about the ganache and the cupcake paper seals in the freshness on these for a lengthy amount of time. We made it to Day 4 and still felt they were incredible, but by then, we were hooked, so it could just be the addiction talking.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cupcakes adapted from A Piece of Cake: Home Baking Made Simple by David Muniz and David Lesniak. If I don’t watch it, the entire blog is going to be about this book. Because I love it. It’s officially moved to the top of the list as my favorite from National Library Week this year. Buy it.

Ganache recipe, although I have played with it many a time, is taken in its original form (and written in my own words) from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi. And we all know how I feel about this book, so no further explanation needed.

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes + Chocolate Ganache

for the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cups to 1 2/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (according to your preference)

for the ganache:

  • 1 ounce 72% chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • fat pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup*
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

*If you hate the thought of using corn syrup, but I’ll say to those who shun it, I shun it also, for the most part. However, in recipes like this which require a specific shine and stability, it does work the best. Use honey as a substitute and reduce it to 1 1/2 tablespoons, but your cupcakes may not stay as shiny and your texture may be a little different from mine. 

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners. I’m no stranger to an unpapered muffin, people; in fact, mostly I prefer them that way. However, with these you really do want the paper, I promise.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on high speed until fluffy and light, 3-4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium  for 1 minute, scraping down the bowl as needed, until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and whole milk and beat on low for 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat on low again for another 20-30 seconds until everything is homogenous.

Remove the bowl from the stand and add the chocolate chips, using your spatula to evenly incorporate them into the dough. Really be thorough here: it’s easy to say to yourself “oh, that looks about right” when you know in your heart that it isn’t done. These muffins are great, but you want the chocolate as evenly distributed as possible; it’s critical to the final texture and flavor. Stir those chocolate chips with gusto.

Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, fill your muffin liners, slightly heaping your batter (this will make around 16 cupcakes, remember, so portion accordingly). Your cups will be pretty full. Bake for 20-22 minutes, checking at the 18-minute mark for doneness. The tops should feel firm and a toothpick in the center should come out mostly clean (save for melted chocolate). Cool the cupcakes in the tin on a wire rack for around 15 minutes, then remove them from the tin and back onto the wire rack to cool completely.

Make the ganache:

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. As soon as you see it begin to boil, remove it from the heat and pour the cream mixture over your chocolate mixture and allow to sit undisturbed for 1 minute.

Slowly begin to whisk the mixture by hand, for as long as it takes to dissolve everything together. Then pick up your speed, whisking at a decent clip and increasing your speed as you go (think of it as a cardio endurance challenge) for about 4 minutes, until your mixture is glossy and completely smooth. I say “completely” here because you will begin to get tired, and you will try to pointedly ignore the tiny granules of undissolved sugar still staring at you from the bowl. Do not leave them undissolved, people, because grainy chocolate fudge sauce does nothing for your presentation. Keep going until you can truthfully say you see no grains. Set aside.

Cake dunk time:

When your cupcakes have cooled to room temperature, it’s time to dunk them. Rewarm your ganache if you need to, but you want it to be thick in consistency to adhere to the tops of your cakes, so watch overheating it. Firmly grip a cupcake by the paper, overturn into the bowl of ganache until the top is submerged (there won’t be much of a top, so dunk until you hit the paper edge). Give it a little wiggle back and forth a few times, then pull it out, keeping it face-down. Dunk it again, repeating the motion, then pull it out again, still upside-down. You’ll see the excess ganache start to drape off: to get the tops smooth, manipulate the cupcake so the draping is moving towards the center of the cake as you turn it over, which eliminates any edge runoff. Set the cupcake back on the wire rack to settle into themselves for at least an hour. The ganache won’t ever completely harden unless you put it/the finished cupcakes in the refrigerator, so leave them at room temperature until you serve them.

These should stay shiny and beautiful for at least 4 days. The ganache sort of entombs the flavors inside the cake, so it’s like its own airtight container. Nevertheless, store these in an actual airtight container for up to 4 days. They will never last unless you stand by them and swat hands 24 hours a day. Including your own hands.

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  • Reply Faygie May 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    Cupcakes that taste like chocolate chip cookies?!? That book was already on my wishlist, but it has now been moved up to the top of the list.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2013 at 5:56 am

      i know, right? I’m medium sure this book isn’t going back to the library until *someone* buys it for me for Mother’s Day. Just saying. 🙂

  • Reply Kimberly May 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Umm … yes, please! My goodness … these look and sound absolutely divine! And without a doubt, these are going on my to-make list right now!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2013 at 5:57 am

      Kim, you will not be disappointed in these; they are, i swear, everything i say they are. I was expecting “hey, cupcake, normal” and i got what is basically a floofy cookie cake. Tip: make that ganache for EVERYTHING. It’s like magic.

  • Reply Amrita May 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Yum! Ganache is the best thing ever.

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2013 at 5:58 am

      Agree: it IS the best thing ever. Still to this day it’s my favorite finish for a big chocolate cake; it always looks sooooo endlessly fancy but it’s so easy! Now i’m thinking of giant hostess cakes, inexplicably.

  • Reply sara May 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Gorgeous! These look INSANELY good…wow!

    • Reply shannon May 6, 2013 at 6:00 am

      Thanks, Sara! These are probably going right alongside my normal chocolate chip cookie recipe as “things to make all the time.” 🙂 this promises to be be bad for the diet.

  • Reply Emma May 6, 2013 at 6:59 am


    <3 <3 <3

  • Reply Monica May 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I’m sold based on your testimonial…although the pictures would’ve sealed the deal anyway. It must be that sour cream in the cupcakes…I need to try that! And pairing it with ganache is perfection in my book. : ) Can I just say that I borrowed the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook from the library once and… thought it was written in a foreign language! It is way beyond my capability and I’m amazed when anyone makes something from it!

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:06 am

      Monica, i’m of the opinion that sour cream in cake almost always makes it better. It’s like buttermilk, and how it makes things so tender; i love it!
      Give that milk bar book another chance sometime; when i first had it, i thought “there’s NO WAY i can do this” and i was so incredibly nervous. I think it just takes some getting used to, and once you’ve done that? Easy. And since it’s all based on “mother recipes,” so when you master one of the cookie recipes, let’s say, you’ve mastered all of them. It feels GOOD. 🙂

  • Reply Brianne May 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I want these more than anything at this very moment. I constantly crave chocolate chip cookies. Also, I’m ecstatic that you saved the day with your quick-thinking ganache substitute. Ganache scares me, but like all things you do, you make it so approachable. Mad props for that!!

    Emma’s rendering is incredibly accurate. Girl’s got skillz.

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Brianne, I made another batch of these last night for a friend of mine because i’m seeing her for lunch today. I thought of you when i made the ganache, and i was thinking maybe for my first blog video (if i can even figure out how to do it) i should make this ganache, since it’s really easy and i don’t want you to fear ganache in any way from this moment on. It’s a decent candidate for a video since it takes mere minutes and you can actually see it come together. I’ll work on that for you. 🙂

      I was super impressed at Emma’s handiwork. I’ll say that the next time she collects/inspects potatoes, i expect a postcard made by carving the potato into some sort of stamp a la elementary school. 🙂 *potato stamps from maine*

      • Reply Brianne May 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm

        BLOG VIDEO?!?! Yes, please. You always make the impossible happen; you can totally put a video together! And potato stamps. She’d be all over that.

        • Reply Emma May 9, 2013 at 6:47 pm

          I AM ALL OVER THAT.


          • shannon May 9, 2013 at 7:24 pm

            you. me. potato stamps.
            you have my address.

  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats May 6, 2013 at 11:39 am

    Holy cow, these look freaking amazing. Nate’s always asking me to make him chocolate chip cookies, but I never do because they’re SO boring…so maybe this would satisy his choco chip cookie urges and my need to bake something a little fancier. That ganache on top though,

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:22 am

      ha! and isn’t that the Curse of the Food Blogger sometimes: we can’t make chocolate chip cookies! how pedestrian! WE CAN DO SO MUCH MORE!!! 🙂 When really all they want is the dang chocolate chip cookie. Make these for him: that way he gets his chocolate chip cookie, you get the fun of the ganache.

  • Reply Ashley May 6, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Ganache will bring out anyone’s chippiness, I say…
    Um, a cupcake that has the texture of a chocolate chip cookie? It’s like having a 4x cookie! Yes, yes, yes! Plus that fudge sauce looks so absolutely luscious, I want to dive head first into it. Oh man… I can see why you had to go to such lengths to remove their temptation (loved the necessary addition of dish soap, by the way. I pictured a raccoon pawing through the garbage, celebrating its delicious find only to spit out the soap-soaked cupcake in disgust and fury…poor guy!)

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:12 am

      by jove! cherrio, i say back. 🙂 *tips hat*
      it’s like a crazy cookie muffin cupcake mashup; i don’t even understand it, but it’s amazing. And this time i just had nowhere to go with the cupcakes, so i had to do what i had to do. Dish soap and all, because i’m not ashamed to say it: i may not actually dig them out of the trash, but thinking about doing it is enough to warrant a little dish soap prevention, yes? yes. And i ruined it for any animals, too. Why should they have the fun.

  • Reply Willow May 6, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Sounds far too dangerous… especially if they last that long! My rule with leftover baked goods is that The Fiance MUST take them to work with him the next day. His coworkers love me. 😛

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Mr. Table’s coworkers are the same: they love me, but i have to time it right because if i make things on a weekend, i don’t love to let them go by monday because i want them to be at their freshest. although considering the shelf life of these, i can’t hide behind that excuse so much. hmm. 🙂

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats May 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    my mouth is salivating SO is BADLY right now. like ridiculous amounts. i think i might make these this weekend, ya know, for “mother’s day” … i don’t know if my mom will like them, but I’m sure that I will enjoy them while I spend time with her, and that’s what really counts right?

    also, OMG POSTCARDS! Every time I go on vacation without Aaron I send him a postcard. Lord knows where they are (either in a landfill or piled into a drawer somewhere, I’m sure) but it started when I was on a work trip, then just continued from there. None of them have been hand-drawn though.

    Also, I love the touch of adding dish soap to the cupcakes in the trash …. yeah, totally been there… I’ll have to make these on Sunday so they spend minimal time in the house before I send them to work with Aaron on Monday.

    • Reply shannon May 7, 2013 at 6:20 am

      These could be your kryptonite, or maybe the BF’s, so proceed carefully if you make these. I think you should totally make these for Mother’s Day: probably it makes every gathering that much better. I like the way you think.

      that is so cute!! I’m not even surprised at this, because you two are cute like that. Personally, i like to find the cheesiest, most retro one i can because i always feel like that’s the most appropriate for a postcard greeting; like a throwback to the heyday of postcards (was there a heyday of postcards? probably.)

      Dish soap = embarrassment AND calorie savings. It’s important.

  • Reply Wendy May 7, 2013 at 11:26 am

    Shannon, you solved several recipe searches for me with this post ! I have a favorite go-to chocolate chip muffin recipe. It tastes like a good chocolate chip muffin. Nothing addicting, just moist and chippy and the best of the many recipes we taste tested (rough job). But I don’t make it much because they are not care package friendly. Best the first day, all right the second and third day, and hockey puck by the fourth. I am really excited to find a “muffin” recipe that stays fresh! Tastes like a chocolate chip cookie is a major bonus! Then the ganache. Have you ever had an upside down cupcake from Pumpernickles deli in Creve Coeur? (If not, we should meet there for lunch one day so you can try one.) They are upside down chocolate or vanilla cupcakes covered in some kind of (what I think is) ganache that sets firmly enough that you can pick up the completely coated cupcake. I have unsuccessfully tried to find a recipe that would allow me to make the upside down cupcakes at home. Do you think this ganache sets firmly enough for what I am looking for? The shine is awesome! As for the cookbook: I just gave it to myself for Mother’s Day! 🙂 And dish soap dietary aids…..been there. 🙂

    • Reply shannon May 9, 2013 at 7:33 pm

      well yay for that! i know; taste testing can be SO DIFFICULT *cough cough*. 🙂 I suppose i don’t know how fresh they stay sans chocolate ganache, because i do think that helps seal them in a bit.
      i have NOT had the upside-down cupcake from Pumpernickle’s! And it’s been ages since i’ve been there, so i’d be happy to meet for lunch sometime for sure. They sound so delicious!
      Now about the ganache: i suppose i need to research/try the upside-down cupcake a little bit before answering for sure, but i can at least speak to the consistency of my ganache. It is firm enough to not drip, and would be fine if you were to lightly touch the top of the cupcakes; however, you could not put pressure on it without your fingers going into it (although it would still not drip; just stay on your fingers). It’s not hard like, say, a Hostess Ding Dong shell? But that’s me talking about this at room temperature. I’ve jarred this particular ganache and refrigerated it before, and it will harden to a pick-uppable consistency that way, but you’d need to make and dunk your cakes probably in two rounds (top half/bottom half) with refrigeration in between and after. Does that help?
      If you’re thinking of experimenting with it, it has so few ingredients that it’s easy to figure out how to tweak it to what you need. The two ingredients which give it the viscosity are the heavy cream and corn syrup, so reducing those should help firm it up.

  • Reply movita beaucoup May 8, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Dear lawd! It takes a lot to get me excited about anything baked these days. I mean, I love to bake it all – it’s an epically awesome gig, but then I can’t seem find the hunger (or energy) to have at the final product. But these lovelies? I’d dive right in…

    • Reply shannon May 9, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      honestly, with all your bakery gigging going on, i can’t believe looking at this doesn’t make you want to curl up in a corner; aren’t you so tired of looking at anything which comes out of an oven and has sugar in it? I would be. 🙂 I take this as a MAJOR compliment.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog May 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    You’ve convinced me. I must try this cake that tastes just like a cookie with stay-put ganache. I wouldn’t be able to shake these beauties from my brain either.

    • Reply shannon May 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Jennie, i agree: you must try these. i bet somehow we could put our heads together and figure out how to put some toasted hazelnut flour in them…ooooh! maybe i should try and turn THOSE cookies into cupcakes!
      i am seriously going to try and turn your fave chocolate chip hazelnut cookies into muffins now. It’s officially a project.

  • Reply Katherine {eggton} May 18, 2013 at 5:56 am

    If you could make a MILLION recipes that taste anything like those deep dish chocolate chip cookies (which I make all the time for people) I will try them all.

    • Reply shannon May 21, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      I will SO do that for you. It’s maybe my mission now, and i’m super happy those deep dish chocolate cookies haunt your dreams as they do mine.
      You’ll need these cupcakes for sure, then.

  • Reply Monica November 7, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Hi Shannon – I had sour cream in the house and just put a small batch of these cupcakes in the oven! I might be delirious (quite possible) but as I was making these, I realized it doesn’t say when to add the dry ingredients? I put it in after the sour cream & milk (I assumed it’s not a situation where you’d need to alternate). I’m sure it’ll be fine…but thought I’d mention it. Thanks

    • Reply shannon November 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      monica, hi! I’m just now getting to this, so i’m really hoping the cupcakes turned out good for you! Chances are I’M the one who’s delirious: so many times when i’m writing a recipe, i get stuck on how to say something, and i continue on, swearing i’ll go back. Sometimes, i forget to go back: this may have been one of those times.
      Thank you SO much for mentioning it, and yes, for these you can alternate, but you don’t have to; it’s a pretty standard, unfinicky thing. I’ll correct it tonight, and thank you so much again for the heads up.:)

      • Reply Monica November 7, 2013 at 8:37 pm

        Thanks, Shannon. I made half the recipe, 8 of them, today. I skipped the ganache since I’ve reached my monthly quotient already and I used mini choc chips because I find I like them when choc chips are being called for in cupcake/muffins. I added the flour at the very end, before the chips, because it was too late for me to alternate by the time I realized. Like you said, no sweat. They came out super moist and, as you said, very much like a chocolate chip cookie in moist, cake form! My son, who’s off from school these two days, happily polished off nearly 2 once cooled from the oven. : )

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