Sunday, January 24, 2010

Iron Cupcake Challenge January 2010: Winter Warm Up

Aztec Chili Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Mascarpone Frosting, Mulled Wine Reduction Glaze, Chocolate Shavings, Chili Flakes and Sea Salt

(an original recipe by Cecille Ericta and photos by Bill Tranmer)

Fire from the fireplace... soft, fuzzy blankets... a good book... classic love songs... chili chocolate bars... Aztec chili hot chocolate... mulled wine... toe socks... flannel jammies... These are the things that warm me up during winter which I intend to integrate into this month's Iron cupcake Challenge.

Clad in my favorite flannel jammies and toe socks, my CD player blasting "Forever More" by one of my favorite bands, Side A, and the fire going in the fireplace, I start the challenge.

The Challenge

Make mulled wine, cool. Set aside. (Recipe below)

Prepare hot chocolate, cool. (Recipe below)

Prepare, bake, and cool the hot chocolate cupcakes. (Recipe below)

Prepare the frosting. (Recipe Below)

Scoop the frosting onto cupcakes. Use a standard ice cream scoop. Smooth the surface of the frosting using an offset spatula. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 15 minutes for easier glazing. Tip - Heat water in a pan, dunk the spatula, dry with towel. The heat makes it easier to smooth the surface.

Prepare glaze by using two cups of the mulled wine and a packet of unflavored gelatin. Follow package instructions using the mulled wine for the liquid requirement. When mixture is cooled and is almost set, dunk the frosted cupcakes in the mixture. Repeat 3 times to get a nice coat. By adding gelatin to the mulled wine reduction, it lends a good coat and does not stain the frosting. I've used red wine reductions before without gelatin on whipped cream frosting, and it seeped through the frosting turning it purple.

Decorate with dark chocolate curls, chili flakes and sea salt.
(makes 24 cupcakes)

Aztec Chili Hot Chocolate Cupcakes 10 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 L eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoons vanilla powder
1 recipe of Aztec chili hot chocolate, cooled
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cooled hot chocolate and yogurt. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, vanilla powder and salt. On low speed, add the hot chocolate mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds, beginning with wet mixture and ending with the dry mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to completely blend.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool in a rack.Mulled Wine1 lemon or orange
6 sticks cinnamon
12 whole cloves
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 bottle dry red wine

Combine the spices and citrus in the red wine. Add sugar. Heat this through for at least 15 minutes, but don't boil. Strain with cheese cloth lined strainer.
Aztec Chili Hot Chocolate
1 cup whole milk
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 habanero pepper, split with seeds removed
1 cinnamon stick
6 oz chocolate (bittersweet)

Simmer milk in a saucepan with vanilla bean, cinnamon and chili. Heat through for about a minute. Whisk in grated chocolate, and continue to simmer until melted. Remove from heat and let 'steep' for another 10 minutes. Strain out the spices.
Vanilla Mascarpone Cream16 oz heavy cream
3 T confectioner’s sugar
16 oz mascarpone cheese
½ vanilla bean

Beat the cream with the vanilla seeds and sugar until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and beat until blended.


Like all chocolate cakes, this is best served after letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight; thus, prepare it a day in advance before serving, or you can prepare the cupcakes a day in advance and you can frost and glaze the following day. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes on room temperature before devouring.

The combination of the components in this cupcake is soo good -- decadent chocolate cupcake, creamy mascarpone frosting, the hint of wine and spices from the glaze, the surprise taste of saltiness and heat from the chili flakes that lingers in my tongue and mouth long after I finish my piece. It truly is a great "winter warm up" treat.

It is exciting to enter the Iron Cupcake Challenge just for the sake of entering. But what's a competition without prizes?! And let's face it, who wouldn't want a nice new Demy sitting alongside their espresso machine? Here are the list of prizes that the organizers of the Iron Cupcake Challenge have made available with the generous support of a few good eggs (aka sponsors):
The Demy(tm) by Key Ingredient
Hello, Cupcake by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Bella Cupcake Couture
Cupcake Stackers by Gourmac
The Cake Mix Doctor Returns! by Anne Byrne
Beautiful Baking Liners by Vestli House
Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supply
To Vote

Voting begins Thursday, January 28th at 8pm Central time at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKE IN A CORNER and ends Wednesday, February 3rd at 12pm Central time.

Also, check out all of the competitor's photos and creations on Flickr and leave comments to encourage us to keep on creating these baking masterpieces.


  1. OMG - these are cupcakes that you could dine out on - yum! Love the sky high marscapone frosting.

  2. Thanks, Cakelaw. If only I can fly to Australia right now, I'll bring you one!

  3. i would like to vote but don't know how??

  4. figured it out myself...thanks

  5. These are absolutely gorgeous and so unique! I'm adding them to my ever-growing list of recipes I simply MUST try!

  6. At Rachel.. you won't regret it. They are really good!