Believe it or not, that’s NOT a cell cam pic. My point and shoot camera just has a death wish, that’s all. (The foil on the pan confused the hell out of it and made the flash go nutty.)
I didn’t get to make Halloween cakes that I had thought I would be making this year. I didn’t even get to take my oldest niece trick or treating. Which has not happened in… well. I don’t really remember if there has ever been a Halloween I didn’t take her trick or treating since she was about 2 years old. I did get to go with her and some other family members on Saturday but today was supposed to be our “usual” just us around her neighborhood. But nobody ever called me or anything. I don’t know if someone else took her, or if she didn’t go at all. I know she wasn’t feeling well this morning, so maybe she just chose to stay home and rest instead. *shrug*
So since I needed something to do to entertain myself this evening, I decided to bake some cupcakes. I had a box of Betty Crocker Fun-da-middles cupcake mix to use up so figured I’d give them a try. I don’t often use boxed cake mixes but they do come in handy from time to time and sometimes, like with these, there’s some occasional new things that are interesting enough to try out.
Fun-da-middles are a standard mix, but there’s a pouch of cream filling as well. You prepare the batter then fill your muffin pans part way with some of the batter, squeeze some of the filling in the middle of each partially filled pan, top it off with the remaining batter and bake away. (Like the inside-out carrot cake muffins I posted about previously.)
I’d had this box of mix sitting quite a while and the box had been opened (to remove the boxtops for education coupons for my oldest niece) so I figured now was the time to make use of it. I didn’t feel like getting my electric mixer out so I just stirred the batter with a wooden spoon. Was not a problem.
I did not think long on how I wanted to top/decorate them. I knew I did NOT want to just frost them. (And couldn’t have even if I’d wanted to anyway – no powdered sugar.) So, naturally, the next best thing (in my opinion) to top a cupcake (or cake) with is ganache. But I didn’t have cream. Never fails, you know. Finish a quart of cream the day before you decide to make ganache.
I did a little researching though and found that you can make ganache with butter instead of cream, if need be. It’s not quite the same (nothing beats a real ganache with good, dark chocolate and heavy cream!) but it’ll do in a pinch and it is still quite tasty!
To make the butter ganache you just put the butter and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl then heat on medium for 1 minute at a time, stirring well after each minute until it’s smooth and emulsified. You will have to play around with the ratio of butter to chocolate a bit to get it where you want it; remember that ganache will thicken a bit as it comes to room temperature unless you make a very thin ganache. The same ratios may not work for all kinds of chocolate, either. So just play around with it till you get the consistency you’re looking for.
I dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the semi-sweet chocolate ganache to top them, then used a white chocolate ganache to make ghosts and write “Boo!” on them. Finished off the ghosts with a little more of the semi-sweet chocolate ganache and then let them set up a while. Voila. Easy peasy. Simple but cute.
Now, what everyone is probably wondering – how do the Fun-da-middles taste? The cupcakes are pretty much what you would expect of a cupcake; nice and moist with a decent crumb and airy texture. The cream filling is ok. I am not too crazy about them, to be honest I think I’d prefer them without the cream filling. But they are not bad. The filling can be a little messy. I think if the filling were perhaps a bit thicker it’d be better. It’s also very sweet.
The idea of “baked-in” fillings seems like it’s very popular right now. I will admit it’s a nifty idea that can be a bit of a mess-saver as well as a little bit of a time saver versus mixing up filling and piping it into cooled cupcakes. But of course there are only so many filling options for the “baked-in” method… there are just some fillings you have to pipe into the cupcakes once they’re cooled. And let’s face it – cool as baked-in fillings are, it’s really not that much more work to pipe the fillings into cooled cupcakes. Still the baked-in idea is great and it does come in handy for certain recipes. It’s certainly a good technique to know.