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Cream-Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Classic, now retro, lunchbox fair, cream-filled chocolate cupcakes are a treat that many of us are familiar with. I don’t really think that there was anything wrong with the moist chocolate cake, but I was mostly concerned with the cream filling. I had had chocolate cake before – but where did one come across cream filling? It wasn’t icing, nor was it marshmallow. It was simply gooey and delicious. The company‘s advertising slogan is “Hey! Where’s the cream filling?” for a reason.

To recreate this treat, I turned back to a favorite of mine: Retro Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman. I have used Mr Brachman’s recipes before and, with a very few exceptions, have enjoyed them immensely. I considered only making the cream filling recipe but I gave in and did actually make cupcakes to fill. I used a Martha recipe for the cake (Sorry, Wayne!). I also used a buttercream instead of ganache, as the majority of these cakes made their way into the hands of a few 9 year olds and I thought they’d like it sweet. The recipe calls for dipping the filled cakes in ganache to create a smooth surface.

I love these cupcakes because they are very chocolatey and could not be simpler. The cream filling really stands out in them. Creamy and very sweet without seeming very sugary, this is the way cupcakes were meant to be filled. Simply fill a piping bag with the cream, jab the tip about 1/2-1 inch into the cupcake and squeeze out a tablespoon or so of filling. It will ooze out the top a bit when it is full. Make the hole in the top of the cupcake, so the filling won’t leak out the bottom and the hole will be covered with frosting.

One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes

(a Martha Stewart recipe)

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 ½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
¾ cup water
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Place liners in 2-12 cup muffin tins.
In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, white sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until thoroughly mixed. Add in eggs, water, buttermilk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Whisk batter until all of the dry ingredients are mixed in.
Fill muffin cups with batter using a 1/4 cup measure.
Bake at 350F for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, or with only a few crumbs.
Let cupcakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the muffin pan. Cool completely before frosting.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Vanilla Cream Filling

(from Retro Desserts)

3 tbsp vegetable shortening, room temperature

3 tbsp butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup light corn syrup

With an electric mixer, cream shortening and butter together. Add in confectioners sugar. When combined, slowly pour in vanilla and corn syrup, beating until the mixther has thickened to a mayonnaise-like consistency, about 3 minutes.
Use a spatula to scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip. It must have a tip – no cutting the corners off plastic bags. Poke the tip about 1/2 inch into each cupcake and fill with about 1-2 tbsp filling.
Makes enough for 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a simmer. You should see tendrils of stream coming from the cream, but no bubbles. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and whisk until mixture is smooth. Dip the top of each filled cupcake in the ganache and transfer to a wire rack to cool (it’s OK if some ganache drips down the side of the cupcake).

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  • Alice
    October 6, 2005

    Hmmm…I have to say, I have a very similar post coming up on Friday (tomorrow)! 🙂 My cream filling recipe is very different from yours, though…I got mine from a local baker who I took a cake decorating class from. And, I don’t think it’s just kids who like cream filled cupcakes…every adult I’ve ever seen try one, likes it just as much!

  • Samantha
    October 6, 2005

    Hi Nic,

    I’ve made these too, same book as well (though I think I may have used a different cake. I used ganache because it was grownups. 🙂 Mmm, ganache.

    Hope you are well!

  • Nic
    October 6, 2005

    I can’t wait to see yours, Alice. I know people who fill these with whipped cream, but frankly that doesn’t really work for me. No staying power, and I don’t need the incentive to eat a whole batch of cupcakes in one go.

    Samantha – I love this cookbook. It’s really fun and there are recipes you don’t often see elsewhere.

  • Joe
    October 6, 2005

    Hi Nic,

    Great walkthrough with these lovely little cakes! I like the idea of using buttercream for the topping rather than the ganache for the kiddos.

  • Chef Aimee
    October 6, 2005

    Wow… just the picture brings me back!

  • Stephanie
    October 6, 2005

    Very nice!

    I made my own clones last year, and Matt adored them.

    But my first thought when I saw your post/picture? I love that plate!

  • Niki
    October 6, 2005

    They look like living in a child’s dream!!

  • Lisa
    October 6, 2005

    Love filling cupcakes and you’ve got it! I’ve seen some bakers actually cut the heads off their cupcakes to fill them. I prefer the poke and squeeze and watch’em plump just a bit. Nothing like biting into a filled cupcake mmmmm…

  • J
    October 7, 2005

    hmm, filled and frosted cupcakes…how very divine! i really like your decorative squiggle too…

  • Randi
    October 7, 2005

    martha’s recipe is very similar to black magic cake by hersheys. Next time, try subbing coffee for the water. It really deepens the flavor.

  • Caroline@Bibliocook
    October 7, 2005

    These look great, Nic. How did you know that my default piping bag was a plastic bag with the corner cut off? I thought that I was the only person that did that!

  • Lori
    October 7, 2005

    My 3-year old girl would love that. Little ones seem to love anything they can wrap their hands around and claim for themselves. The cupcakes look de-lish, Nic. (yet another retro word!) And yes, I also love that Retro Desserts book!

  • T
    October 7, 2005

    Im drooling, right now, over my keyboard! Nic, these look superb! I only wish I had one to eat…

  • Anonymous
    October 7, 2005

    Oh yuuuuuuuuum. Now I’m really in the mood to nosh.

  • cath
    October 7, 2005

    Nic, did the filling taste the same? Cuz there’s just no way to describe it…gorgeous picture, by the way!

  • Nic
    October 8, 2005

    Thanks for the compliments on my decorating, everyone. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do a wedding cake, but hopefully I’ll conquor cupcakes.

    Stephanie – I love that plate, too. I wish I had more than one!

    Caroline – You know what they say about great minds….

    Cath – I can’t honestly remember the precise taste of the packaged cupcakes, but these are darn good. Certainly not very different from the original. It absorbs a bit into the cupcake around the edges of the filling and keeps the cake nice and moist for a couple of days, too.

  • Katherine
    October 9, 2005

    Genius. Abso-friggin-loutely genius.

  • Ravi
    October 11, 2005

    I really liked your blog on baking. I also maintain a good blog on vegetarian cooking. It is at http://veg-recipes.blogspot.com .

    Thanks for the wonderful post.


  • Anonymous
    December 4, 2005

    Did you just add cocoa to the creme frosting for the chocolate frosted cupcake in your picture?

  • Nic
    December 4, 2005

    No, it’s just a plain chocolate buttercream.

  • christ*el #3tx
    May 12, 2006

    if you add a half a tablespoon of honey to the ganache, it makes it shiny and smooth.

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2006

    Hi..i just came across your blog, and it’s such a pleasure to read! Anyway, i’m just crossing my fingers that u will check this comment out since the post was such a long time ago but I wanted to ask if u could substitute the vegetable oil with something else? Thanks so muchhhh

  • Nic
    August 20, 2006

    Anonymous – I’m not quite sure why you would want to substitute the oil. Would you prefer to use butter? I really recommend oil for this recipe.

    If your question is because you are looking for a way to reduce the fat in it, be assured that this is already very low in fat as far as cupcakes go. I would not recommend using, for example, apple sauce in place of the oil.

  • Ruthie
    November 8, 2008

    Can you make a creamy filling without shortening?? I quit cooking with shortening years ago. Thanks!

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