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Cupcakes! by Elinor Klivans (Chronicle Books, 2005)

Just when you thought Gothamist couldn't find a new twist on cupcakes, we found this new cookbook devoted just to cupcakes that features an old New York classic, the "chocolate-covered hi-hat" cupcake. According to author Elinor Klivans, these cupcakes are an old-fashioned bakery specialty particular to New York City. Personally, we've never seen them, so we suspect that they're a thing of the past.

All the more to reason to try the recipe and experience a taste of old New York. The combination of chocolate cupcake, soft marshmallow filling, and chocolate coating sounded irresistible. Definitely a special-occasion cupcake for the extra work that would go into making it, but worth the time.

Gothamist chose to substitute our own favorite chocolate cupcake recipe for the author's (because ours is delicious and chocolatey despite being butter- and egg-free), but the rest of the recipe that follows is straight from the cookbook. We found that her directions were very detailed, accurate, and straightforward.

Our one recommendation: make these with friends around. Watching the transformation of the sugar and egg whites into marshmallow filling, the layering of the toppings, etc., is too much fun to not have company for.

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CHOCOLATE-COVERED HI-HATS

Makes 12 to 15 cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS

CUPCAKES
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vinegar
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FILLING
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

CHOCOLATE COATING
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

PREPARATION

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Line a 12-cupcake tin with foil or paper liners and set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, water, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix the batter with a fork or a small whisk. When the batter is smooth, add the vinegar and stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter where the baking soda and the vinegar are reacting. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.
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Working quickly, distribute the batter into the foil- or paper-lined 12-cupcake tin. If you have leftover batter (depending on how high you fill the liners) you can make a few extra cupcakes by using a few foil liners on a cookie sheet (furthermore, if you don't own a cupcake tin, you can make all the cupcakes by simply using foil liners and a cookie sheet).

Bake for 20 minutes. Set the cupcakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool. Use a small knife to loosen any tops that might have stuck to the top of the pan. Carefully place the wire rack on top of the cupcakes in their pan. Protecting your hands with pot holders and holding the pan and rack together, invert them to release the cupcakes ont he wire rack. Turn the cupcakes top side up to cool completely.

Make the filling. Put the sugar, water, egg whites, and cream of tartar in a heatproof container or the top of a double boiler with at least a 2-quart capacity and beat with a handheld electric mixer on high speed until opaque, white, and foamy, about 1 minute. Put the bowl over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler).

The top container should sit firmly over the pan of hot water; be sure to keep the cord of the electric mixer away from the burner. Beat on high speed until the frosting forms a stiff peak that stands straight up if you stop the beaters and lift them out of the mixture, about 12 mintues. The frosting should register 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer. Remove the container from the water, add the vanilla and almond extracts, and continue beating for 2 minutes to further thicken the filling. The filling will become firmer as it cools on the finished cupcakes.

Spoon the filling into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain pastry tip or a large plastic freezer bag with a 1/2-inch long hole cut in one corner. Leaving a 1/8-inch plain edge on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of filling into a 2-inch-high cone-shaped mound on top of each one, using about 1/2 cup of filling per cupcake. Place the filled cupcakes on a platter and refrigerate, uncovered, while you prepare the coating.

Make the chocolate coating. Put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl or the top of a double boiler and place it over, but not touching, a saucepan of barely simmering water (or the bottom of the double boiler). Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Scrape the chocolate coating into a small bowl and cool slightly, about 15 minutes.

Holding each cupcake by its bottom, dip the top of the mound of filling in the chocolate coating, letting any excess drip off, then spoon more coating over the unfilled edge of the cupcake and over the rest of the filling to coat it; none of the white filling should show. (You will have some chocolate coating left for another use or to pour over ice cream, but it is easier to work with a larger quantity of chocolate coating.) Let the cupcakes sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to firm the coating slightly.

Peel off the paper liners and discard them. (This will make for a smooth chocolate-coated edge if any coating has dripped on to the paper liner.) Return the cupcakes to the platter and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set the coating, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve cold.

The cupcakes can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.