Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, chocolate chip… is white chocolate the least commonly used chocolate in baking? Sometimes it seems that way, and while the sweeter chocolate isn’t everyone’s go-to chocolate, it does have a lot to offer in some dishes. As evidence, I offer up these white chocolate cupcakes. They have a delicious white chocolate flavor – milky and sweet, with vanilla highlights - and a perfectly moist and fluffy texture. They’re definitely something I’ll make again and again – which isn’t bad for the black sheep (white sheep?) of the chocolate family.
I used Ghiradelli white chocolate (conveniently sold in large blocks at Trader Joe’s) in this recipe and incorporated the melted chocolate into the cupcake batter. I cut back on the amount of sugar I might normally use in cupcakes to take into account the relatively high sweetness of the chocolate, but added eggs, butter and other standard cupcake batter add-ins.
I experimented a bit with the baking time for this recipe, too. When baked at 350F for 15 minutes or so, the cupcakes god a nice dome to them, but browned too quickly on the sides and bottom – a not uncommon result with a higher sugar/higher fat baked good, where the two substances caramelize and brown at higher temperatures more readily. In the end, I reduced the oven temperature and kept the cupcakes relatively small by dividing the batter into 18 muffin cups. These were more flat than domed, but they kept the moistness that I was looking for without overbrowning. Besides, flat tops are actually easier to decorate than large domed ones!
The frosting is a cream cheese and butter based one, with only a little white chocolate added for flavor. I didn’t want to have too much chocolate in the frosting because I felt it would be too sweet; cream cheese cut the sweetness of the chocolate perfectly and gave the frosting a very creamy texture. The hearts on top of the cakes are jumbo Necco Sweethearts. I sorted through an entire bag to find ones with legible messages and it was worth the effort when the tray of finished cupcakes looked stunning. If you don’t care for the Necco candies, however, you can use any kind of sprinkles or just keep the frosting plain.
White Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4-oz white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tbsp milk (low fat is fine)
Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, ending with a final addition of flour. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups.
Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 18 cupcakes.
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
4-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1-oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp milk or cream
2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add in the confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife).
Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes.