One of the questions I always asked myself and have frequently Googled is, why does the using of one chocolate result a richer, darker chocolate-y colour while another results in a lighter colour? It was a question I had wondered passively until I made the Martha Stewart flourless chocolate cupcakes again last week and it wasn’t until we (my family and I) were eating the cupcakes when I noticed, the cupcakes looked darker than the ones in the photos of the ones I made and posted back in February.
In that first post, I had replied to a reader’s comment asking if it mattered what kind of chocolate was used. To quote my response then,
From my experience, I don’t think the kind of chocolate you use matters – however, I am not a chocolate expert. Though Martha’s recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, I used dark chocolate (72% cocoa mass). You can also use chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) instead. (The original recipe recommends semisweet chocolate chips.)
Since posting that comment of mine, I have learned a lot about chocolate and how it works – not enough to call or even consider myself an expert, but enough to know that the chocolate you use does matter in a recipe. It makes it a bit pickier, yes, but it does affect the end product, not just in terms of flavour but also appearance. That’s why the best quality chocolate will be called for more often than not in recipes instead of candy bar chocolate. That’s why companies will only use one specific kind or brand of chocolate, because they know that’s what works for their products. I also now know the importance of mentioning not only the kind of chocolate, but also the brand, you used in a recipe, because even the kind of chocolate can differ across brands.
Chocolate is one of the most complex foods in the world – no wonder there are so many books about it, companies, and we have its existence to thank for that beloved children’s story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s hard not to feel like Willy Wonka as you’re stirring melting chocolate.
When I first made these cupcakes, I had used Green and Black’s 72% Cooks’ Chocolate. Using this chocolate is easy as each piece is pre-weighed to be exactly five grams, so no need to bring out your scale. In addition to it having seventy-two per cent cocoa solids, it also has extra cocoa butter, making it easier to melt (watch the video below to see it in action). The ingredients for the Green and Black’s 72% Cooks’ Chocolate, according to their website, are: organic cocoa mass, organic raw cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, organic vanilla extract, organic whole milk powder. I don’t recall the whole milk powder or the sugar listed as ingredients when I had used it. Using this chocolate yielded these cupcakes that were light with an airy texture and also a light chocolate brown colour:
For the cupcakes that I made last week, I used the Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips. The Enjoy Life chocolate chips are gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, soy-free, and egg-free. Compared to the list of ingredients in the Green and Black’s chocolate, the Enjoy Life brand has only three ingredients: evaporated cane juice, chocolate liquor, non-dairy cocoa butter. Maybe it’s because the chocolate chips contain chocolate liquor instead of cocoa mass, it resulted in the darker, more chocolate-y chocolate cupcakes? I’m not sure. All I know is, knowing your chocolate sure makes a difference.
On a note not related to chocolate, a quick, little shout out: I’m guest posting today at Iris’s blog, The Daily Dietribe, with a recipe that I developed to make one of Iris’s favourite things gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free. Click on over to read my guest post and to find out what this special something is! I’ll give you a hint: it has lemon, and even those who aren’t fans of lemon desserts or lemon in general will love it. My brother loved them to bits, and my Dad, who’s not such a big fan of lemons, also enjoyed them. (If you’ve surmised from that that they’re gone, you would be correct.)
Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted (barely) from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
The recipe itself is easy and can be made with minimal fuss. I’ve just added a bit more detail and tips along the way. Adding the extra chocolate chips I believe creates a dense, fudgier cupcake, though making the cupcakes without the extra is also just fine.
This is a video I made back when I originally posted these cupcakes. (My blog used to be called Ambrosia Tea Party before I made the transition to Z’s Cup of Tea.) Note the lighter appearance of the cupcakes, although the batter is the same thickness.
Once I forgot to add the butter to the melting chocolate and didn’t realize my error until after I’d folded in the egg whites. To remedy this situation, I melted the butter and added it in small increments to the batter. The cupcakes that resulted were no different than the cupcakes made with the butter and chocolate melted together. If using coconut oil, add it at a tablespoon at a time, being sure that the oil is in liquid form.
Martha’s recipe says it makes 22 cupcakes, but I got 1 1/2 dozen
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips or 8 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate, 72% cocoa (for what brands I used, see above)
6 tbsp. butter or coconut oil, or other dairy-free substitute
6 large or 5 jumbo eggs, separated
1/4 cup honey
1/8 to 1/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 275ºF and line a standard muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. Melt the chocolate and butter or coconut oil together in a heat- or stove-proof bowl set over a poet of simmering water, stirring gently with a whisk or spoon until it’s all melted, with a thick, smooth consistency. Remove from heat, removing the bowl from the pot and cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Once the melted chocolate has cooled off slightly, whisk in the egg yolks one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold a quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate to lighten, using the whisk with a folding-twirling motion as if you’re twirling spaghetti while bringing up the chocolate batter from the bottom and folding. OR, spread all the beaten egg whites over the top of the chocolate and, using a spatula, gently fold in; cutting down the middle to the bottom and bringing up the chocolate over the whites, and repeat until all the whites are folded in. Do not stir or mix.
For adding the honey: you can either add the honey into the chocolate after the yolks are mixed in or after the egg whites are folded in, as I’ve been doing, or fold the honey into the stiff, beaten egg whites before folding the whites into the chocolate. Either way is fine and doesn’t affect the cupcakes.
If you folded in the egg whites using the twirling-folding motion as instructed, the batter will be a thick, viscous consistency. It will quiver or tremble a bit after whisking or if you give the bowl a gentle shake. If you folded in the egg whites using a spatula as instructed, it will be fluffy and souffle-like. Mix in the extra chocolate chips. Fill the prepared muffin cups three quarters full with the batter, using either a spoon or by carefully pouring the batter into the cups. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the centres are set. Remove from oven and cool in the tin and or on a wire rack. They may sink a little as they cool. If you’re not that patient, you can eat them while still warm with a spoon.
For eating the cupcakes while still warm, these are some ideas we’ve had to go with the cupcakes: a scoop of dairy-free coconut milk vanilla ice cream, cream cheese, or a dollop of sour cream drizzled with caramel sauce (the last two ideas using non-dairy, vegan versions). They’re also good downed with a glass of milk (almond, soy, or rice).