Little tiny partay cakes

We’ve already established the fact that I like parties even when I don’t like the people involved…hence the name of this little blog.  So, as you can imagine, my head nearly explodes with anticipatory excitement when the chance to celebrate is paired with groovy people (think Oprah’s favorite things excited).  This was recently the case when we feted the upcoming nuptials of a favorite colleague.  The hosts indulgently allowed me to to have some fun with it. Though, I think they were just glad there wasn’t some sort of pyrotechnique element to my offering.

I decided on little tiny baby cupcakes.  Not that I have anything against regular-sized cupcakes but, when you’ve got all kinds of other treats, you don’t want to weigh down your options by committing to a full-sized confection.  Or is that just me?  Anyhow, I chose three old favorites and one new recipe.

Continuing with a theme from Cook’s Illustrated, I tried out what they claim to be the ultimate chocolate cupcake.  And while the recipe was a bit of an ultimate pain in the rear-end at the beginning, it could very well be my new go-to chocolate cupcake recipe. Let’s start with the pain and move on to the gain.

This recipe starts by heating up some coffee, adding in some chopped bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder and whisking until smooth.  Then into the fridge to cool down.  And while you are at it, you might as well throw together the ganache and put that into the fridge.

Once everything is cooled-down, the real fun begins.  Wet ingredients are whisked into the chocolate mix and dry ingredients get folded in.  Why, yes, we are at the gain part.  No machinery needed.

The batter gets portioned-into cupcake molds.

And before they go into the oven, each one gets a little dollup of that ganache we made at the beginning of this post.  Be sure to center the ganache or it will escape the cupcake wrapper and sort of, well, explode along the side of the pan.

Out of the oven, these little cakes are dark, moist and nice and rich.  For the party, I topped them with peanut butter frosting and chocolate sprinkles.

They were joined by mini red velvet cupcakes.

Baby coconut cupcakes.

And some fancified New York style crumb cakes.

Why yes, that’s quite a few cupcakes.

So, here is how I pulled it off without an all nighter or any stress.

  1. I sat down with a calendar and scouted-out what was going on in the days before the party.  I had a busy week and knew I wouldn’t have time to make all four in the night or two before the event.
  2. So, I picked a couple of recipes I knew could be made in advance and would freeze well.
  3. Then I made a timeline–what got baked when.  Which frostings got made on what night.
  4. Then I figured out how I was going to transport everything. This is an important step.  There is nothing worse than finishing something great and having no way to get it where it needs to go.
  5. Three days before I made the frostings and stuck them in the fridge.  I stuck to easier toppings like cream cheese frosting rather than a complicated buttercream.
  6. Two nights before I made the one recipe (crumb cake) that wouldn’t freeze well.
  7. With the cupcakes and frostings ready to go, all I had to do the night before was assemble.  Everything was decorated and packaged in less than two-hours.

Easy.  I swear. And, while marriage may not always be (easy), many, many happy wishes to Julie and Paul!

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

Cooks Illustrated, May 2010.  Also appears in The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2011 (American’s Test Kitchen, 2010).

Makes 12 cupcakes

Use a high quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate for this recipe, such as one of the test kitchen’s favorite baking chocolates, Callebaut Intense Dark Chocolate L-60-40NV or Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar. Though we highly recommend the ganache filling, you can omit it for a more traditional cupcake. The cupcakes can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored unfrosted in an airtight container.


  • Ganache Filling
  • 2ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
  • 1/4cup heavy cream
  • 1tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 3ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped fine (see note)
  • 1/3cup (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4cup hot coffee
  • 3/4cup (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour
  • 3/4cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2teaspoon baking soda
  • 6tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2large eggs
  • 2teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1recipe Frosting


  1. 1. FOR GANACHE FILLING: Place chocolate, cream, and confectioners’ sugar in medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high power until mixture is warm to touch, 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth; transfer bowl to refrigerator and let stand until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes.
  2. 2. FOR CUPCAKES: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan (cups have ½-cup capacity) with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool completely, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. 4. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Place one slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each cupcake. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes (about 10 minutes for mini-cupcakes). Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

6 thoughts on “Little tiny partay cakes”

  1. This array of mini-cupcakes blows my mind. I love your planning tips (wow) and would love to see a post on your transport/packaging secrets — that’s where I always seem to go wrong…

  2. wow, they look delicious! I always seem to get the papers coming away from my mini cupcakes, not sure if its the paper or the cupcake but its getting a bit tiring!

  3. Jenny-

    I have the same issue –as well as crimping in the cup. I have no idea how to solve either issue, well, either. I’m so excited for your Etsy shop!

  4. I just made these and I had a problem with the ganache filling. I chilled it for 35 minutes and put in about a rounded 1/4 tsp worth. The ganache blobs were still hovering on top when I put them in the oven. I was watching them through the glass and saw the ganache bubble up and ooze out of the muffin. I think they were in for 10 or 11 minutes When they cooled, I was left with craters on top of my mini muffins. Delicious still, but NOT pretty. I was reading online and saw that this wasn’t an uncommon problem. How did you avoid this?

  5. Hi Cat-

    Hmmmm…it sounds like you did everything right! I had bubbling issues when my ganache was too close to the side but when I got it centered properly (no easy feat), they seemed to stay put. I wonder if reducing the 1/4 tsp might help? I will say that my successful cupcakes did not look exactly like the pictures from the cookbook…the ganache sort of integrated into the cake rather than forming a nice little layer. I’m sorry I’m not more helpful…if you figure out the secret, please share it.

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