Thursday, September 25, 2008

Black and White Angel Food Cupcakes

I was completely torn when I found out that cupcakes were this month's Sugar High Friday theme. I love Sugar High Friday! And I really, really love cupcakes. But I've been feeling a little...squishier around the middle lately, and I'm sure it's due to all of the baked goods lying around, and my accompanying lack of willpower. It's a potent combination. And since I just climbed dominated Half Dome, I've been feeling virtuous and didn't want to ruin my hard work with an ill-timed cupcake binge. What's a girl to do?

I decided to compromise and make healthy-ish cupcakes. Instead of my favorite intensely chocolate devil's food cakes loaded with rich buttercream frosting, I went with light and airy (and almost fat-free!) angel food cakes, topped with a modest dusting of powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Why, these are so healthy, they're practically vegetables!

Admittedly, these didn't turn out quite the way I pictured. I expected more of a rise out of the cakes, so they turned out a little shrimpy. And I really should have piped the batter instead of scooping it, because they look charmingly, uh, rustic on top.

However, the taste made up for their cosmetic deficiencies. The typical angel food cake batter was enlivened with a bit of orange zest and a healthy dose of finely grated bittersweet chocolate. The final result isn't exactly a chocolate angel food cake, but it's a complex cake with hints of citrus and chocolate in every bite. The chocolate was a great touch, and it definitely made the cake much more interesting than the typical "chewy sponge" flavor of regular angel food cake!

Of course these little cakes would be divine with a dollop of whipped cream and a pool of warm ganache, so if you're feeling less angelic, you could craft a really sinful dessert from these innocent cupcakes. Recipe after the jump!

Black and White Angel Food Cupcakes

This recipe makes about 30 mini cupcakes. I recommend multiplying it by 4 if you want to make a large (10-inch) bundt cake.

3 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup AP flour
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp finely chopped orange zest
1 oz chocolate, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 350 and line your mini cupcake pans with paper liners. (If using a bundt pan, do not spray it.)

Sift together the flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and salt three times. Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a large electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the eggs until foamy, and add the lemon juice. Continue beating on medium-high until soft peaks form. Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, until the whites are thick, glossy, and hold their peaks.

Sift a third of the flour mixture onto the egg whites and gently fold it in using a rubber spatula. Alternately fold in the chocolate and the remaining flour mixture, being very careful not to deflate the egg whites in the process.

Scoop or pipe the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove them from the pans and allow to cool completely. Serve dusted with powdered sugar or cocoa powder, or topped with a bit of freshly whipped cream and chocolate sauce.