May 31, 2010

White Chocolate Cupcakes

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Oh, White Chocolate. Poor, misunderstood, totally underestimated White Chocolate. Come here. I feel you. The awkward young teen in me (the one with the pointless “clear” braces and oddly shaped bangs, whose coltish gait made her fear all things athletic) pulls you to her AAA-cup breast to tell you it will be all right, that you have lots of wonderful qualities. And someday, even the most elite of the culinary community will come to embrace you and then wonder what took them so long. When that happens, don’t forget that I was always here, loving you all along, even when everyone was dissing you and saying you were so 80s.

In fact, I love you so much that I buy you in bulk, and sadly shake my head when I notice that the bins of your dark and bittersweet competition are always visited more than yours. But then, maybe that’s the problem right there. It’s sort of true what your haters say–you’re not really chocolate. You’re cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla, no actual chocolate in you to speak of. But you know what, White Chocolate? That’s not your fault. Your name is just a label. A label that some moron gave you as a way to categorize you for their own convenience. But one day you’ll graduate from high school and head off to college and be able to start fresh, and–wait, what? Oh.

So I was saying. Cocoa butter and vanilla is a lovely thing to be–at your best, you’re dreamy and creamy, a breath of sweet vanilla in every bite. I like to think of you as Vanilla Chips or Vanilla Bar, and use you in fabulous ways that break the monotony of having the dessert course be an endless cycle of chocolate and fruit-based desserts. And with recipes like White Chocolate Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream to show off everything that’s great about you, well, you are a star.

Other than just being delicious, one of your most endearing qualities is your ability to play well with others. Like in this recipe, which satisfies my cupcake craving like none other. Coconut milk, of all things, is the secret, undetectable ingredient here that gives you even more sparkle in a cake that is so perfectly sweet, so moist, with a richness I’ve never experienced before in a white cake. Pairing you with cream cheese in a luscious buttercream is nothing short of White Chocolate Dynamite (which, coincidentally, would be an awesome moniker for me to use in a dance contest someday). I love you, White Chocolate. Thanks for being you.

White Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from The Craft of Baking

The original recipe says this recipe yields 14 cupcakes–I easily got 18, using a leveled 1/4 cup of batter in each cup (I used a standard ice cream scoop). I’m sure the white chocolate called for in the original recipe is meant to be chopped bar chocolate, but I had tons of high-quality white chocolate chips on hand, so I used them instead and everything turned out delicious. I also opted to add some confectioners’ sugar to the frosting, to stiffen and sweeten it up a bit, but it’s not necessary–add it only to your taste.

The cakes and the icing keep beautifully, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 3-4 days so these are great make-ahead cupcakes. Unsweetened coconut milk can be found in nearly every supermarket under a few brand names, usually in the Asian foods aisle.

If you can find them, white chocolate vermicelli (thinner, crunchier and much tastier than regular jimmies) make the perfect finishing touch for these cupcakes, adding crunch and extra white chocolate flavor.

Makes 18 cupcakes

For the cakes:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped bar or chips
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
5 large egg whites

For the frosting:

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 1/2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped bar or chips
Up to 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, to taste (see note)

Position an oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners, 12 in one and 6 in the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. When it’s just warm to the touch, stir it into the butter mixture on low speed, just until combined–it may separate a bit, but it will come back together. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the coconut milk in three batches until well-blended. Transfer the batter to a medium bowl.

Clean and dry the bowl of the mixer. Whip the egg whites on medium high speed until they reach soft peaks, about 4 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter in three additions.

Fill the muffin cups no more than 3/4 of the way full with the batter. Bake one tin at a time until a toothpick just comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 minutes. Invert the cupcakes onto a cooling rack, then turn them right side up and let them cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt together until light and smooth. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler and cool until it is just warm to the touch. Scrape the white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Taste the icing and check the texture–if you like your icing sweeter and with a bit more body, add in some confectioners’ sugar. If the frosting is too soft to spread, refrigerate it for about 20 minutes and then whip it for 30 seconds before using. Ice the cupcakes generously and decorate as you wish.

The iced cupcakes can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

  • Hi Shauna,
    I am also a lover of sweet white chocolate. So simple and creamy, yum! Mixed with coconut milk?! That sounds amazing. I think I might try these for a potluck coming up…Thanks,
    ps – I wrote a new page on my blog called "What I'm reading". You are on it, of course! Just wanted to let you know 🙂

  • Yammy…looks delicious!!

  • I agree with you about white chocolate..not really chocolate, but who cares? My 5 year old son was sitting with me as I read your post and he pointed at the pic of the white choc chips and said "those kind of chocolate chips are the best kind I ever had"…so see?? There is hope for future generations!!

    Delicious looking cupcakes!!

  • what a touching love letter to white chocolate 🙂 i think i'll make these for my book club on wednesday!

  • I've always been there for white chocolate too. It's forever been my favourite despite the popularity of it's brothers. These cupcakes look delicious! I'll have to try them.

  • Ah, this post was so wonderfully quirky and witty! Thank you for the lovely ode to white chocolate. I'm also very fond of white chocolate, so thank you for sharing such a delicious-looking recipe!

  • I just stumbled upon your blog today and found it delicious! You are right on–white chocolate is highly underestimated. It takes lukewarm vanilla desserts and turns them on their heads. I'll be making a white chocolate raspberry meringue buttercream frosting to top cupcakes (dark chocolate), all organic, for a friend's birthday this week and cannot wait. Thanks for the post!

  • Ohhh, you MUST try carmelized white chocolate – ala David Lebovitz. Also, I feel like I'm baking my way through your site, so thank you! I just did a triple chocolate version of your cookie brittle. Super yum!

  • So glad to see all the fellow white chocolate out there, hooray!

    Kerry–thanks so much for the shout out!

    Kristan–I think if a 5-year-old says it, it is the most true thing ever. Love it!

    Robyn–I dream of having a book club. Hope they are a hit!

    Chocolate and Toast–Whoa. You just blew my mind. Clearly I need to Google this.

  • white chocolate and coconut. yes please.
    My hubby will only eat white chocolate so it definitely gets a fair shake in my house 🙂

  • I love your ode to white chocolate! I never understand the snobbishness towards it myself, and love it! Therefore these cupcakes sound divine 🙂

  • Oh, white chocolate, I love you too. In fact, when I buy you in the store, I usually eat you all up before you can even get over that simmering pan of water. Your cupcakes look divine–that coconut milk addition is great!

  • Mmmmm white chocolate and coconut milk i cant imagine how amazingly good these must have been!

  • Ha ha love your ode to white chocolate! I love it too but hands up, I'm one of those people who protests shaking her head vehemently 'but it's not chocolate!'.
    This recipe sounds great and your blog looks incredible – it was recommended to me by 'Life as a Martha Wanabee' and I'm glad!

  • It's nice that you did not neglect the white chocolates!..For us, white chocolates is better than dark one and with your post, you just prove it!..THanks for posting.!

  • I love white chocolate and your ode to white chocolate!! These look amazing!

  • you are too funny! \i love your sense of humor and your writing and your whole blog! 🙂
    I'm adding you to my faves and just so you know, your cookie brittle inspired me to bake a cookie brittle of my own. thx!!!

    Tia @ buttercreambarbie

  • I NEED you to send me some of these fed ex, please and thank you.

  • Hi Shauna! i love this post and i love white chocolate. i've got no beef with this controversial cocoa butter-vanilla delight. 🙂 btw where did you get the white chocolate vermicilli? thanks

  • Just made a batch of the white chocolate cupcakes and they turned out beautifully. It was easy to make and my family enjoyed it. I added pecan pieces on top of the icing also.

    Thank you,

    Nikki J.

  • Love your white chocolate cupcakes! I have included them in a write up on Party Cupcake Ideas.

  • woww yummy white choclate…

  • good….

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  • I just experimented with your recipe and it was amazing! I substituted cheesecake oil for the vanilla extract and also added a raspberry filling before baking. Very scrumptious!! Also love your ode to white chocolate!

  • I made them! Delicious! thanks for the recipe, I also crushed oreo cookies and folded that into some leftover batter to make a "cookies and cream" cupcake (like the Hershey's chocolate bar with the white chocolate and the cookie pieces), and it was good too!

  • Hi. Thanks for the amazing recipe. I had some trouble melting the white chocolate. It was white compound actually but it all came together wonderfully well with a little manipulation. I used coconut powder dissolved in water to make the milk and I really didn't wanna waste egg yolks as i had no other use for them so i used 3 whole eggs (medium/largeish ones) which i beat the heck out of after mixing the chocolate and butter mixture and then proceeded to fold in the flour and coconut milk. They are DElish, i dont even need the frosting. thanks a bunch one again.

  • How do you think these will translate to mini-cupcakes? 12 minutes or so in the oven? Do you foresee a problem? I plan to take these to a Christmas open house and thought the mini size might work better … (and they look delicious … wish me luck!)

    • Hi! I’d go with 7 minutes to start.I think this cake recipe would be a good candidate for minis. And with the white sprinkles, they’ll look like little snowballs! Good luck and report back.

      • Thanks so much for your quick reply. Making these on Saturday and will report back!

        • Cupcakes were a big hit and this recipe is a keeper — thanks so much! BTW, they required about 10-12 minutes in the oven as minis.

  • […] with chocolate chips in – and I found this recipe. In two different places no less – A Piece of Cake and Sassy Radish. I took this to be a good omen – not sure why, as two people in the whole of […]

  • I literally shed a tear when I saw this recipe! Whhhaaaaa?!?! I can’t wait to make these!

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