Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Glee! Choco-Diva Cupcakes


I was in the mood to bake cupcakes over the weekend, but found myself without a cause. Certainly one should be able to make cupcakes just for the heck of it, but I thought for a moment about what I could celebrate with cupcakes, and quickly thought of Glee! My favorite show returns with new episodes this week, after a hiatus during the month of March. I love everything about this show - the music, the satire, the one-liners, the drama, and most of all, the insane talent.  Fellow Gleek Krystal suggested I make some Glee themed cupcakes, and got me started with a few great suggestions!


I had already planned to make chocolate cupcakes, so Krystal's suggestion of a choco-diva cupcake for Mercedes jumped out at me. Mercedes is a sassy and confident member of the glee club, with the desire to be in the limelight and the talent to back it up. Befitting of her large personality, I created an over the top cupcake with definite style and intense flavors.

The Mercedes Choco-Diva Cupcake combines coconut chocolate cake, coconut cream filling, and almond buttercream, with caramel and chocolate ganache drizzled on top. For extra flair, the frosting is piped in a ruffled design, inspired by Cook like a Champion.

Note: I am on a dairy-free diet for the time being, so I made the vegan chocolate cupcakes below (the perfectly domed tops at Oh She Glows convinced me I need to try her recipe - and it did not dissappoint!), but you can use your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

Choco-Diva Cupcakes

Choco-Diva Cupcakes
Source: Cake and Frosting adapted from Oh She Glows, Coconut Cream filling adapted from here, Caramel and Chocolate Ganache Glaze adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours
Yield: 12 cupcakes
Total time: 2 hours, 30 minutes (make the caramel first to cut down on idle time!)




For the cupcakes:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, (regular milk is fine if you aren't sensitive to dairy or following a vegan diet)
  • 1 cup evaporated cane juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, at room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk, (regular milk is fine if you aren't sensitive to dairy)

For the filling:

  • 1 can coconut milk (do not use light milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons evaporated cane juice, or sugar

For the caramel:

  • 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice, or sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar, or light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup reserved coconut cream (from filling)
  • 1 teaspoon Earth Balance buttery stick or equivalent, at room temperature

For the chocolate ganache glaze:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup reserved coconut cream (from filling)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice, or sugar


One Day Ahead: Identify which end of the can of coconut milk you'll open with the can opener, and place it that-side-down in the refrigerator. It's best to chill it at least 24 hours, as this will allow the cream to separate and rise to the top.

For the cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. With an electric or stand mixer, beat together the non-dairy milk, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, almond extract in a large bowl. Beat on medium speed for one to two minutes.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing until all the clumps are gone. Stir in coconut, reserving 2 tablespoons.
  3. Pour batter into prepare pan (it will be thin), about 2/3 full for each. Sprinkle tops of each with reserved shredded coconut (they will self-toast in the oven and add another great dimension to these cupcakes!).
  4. Bake for 22 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely in the pan.

For the frosting:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat Earth Balance (or equivalent) with an electric or stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. Add milk, vanilla, and salt and beat and additional minute.
  2. Slowly add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Beat until fully combined, then another 5 minutes more. Add additional milk, a little at a time, if necessary to reach desired consistency.

For the filling:

  1. Open can of refrigerated coconut milk. Pour off the clear/milky coconut water (it will be on the top if you chilled the can open-side-down). This can be saved for smoothies or added to juice.
  2. Scoop the cream out of the can and into a small bowl (about 1 1/2 cups).
  3. Combine 1 cup of coconut cream, vanilla and cane juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cupcakes.

For the caramel:

  1. Add cane juice, water and agave nectar in a small heavy bottomed saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, without stirring. Let boil until a nice amber color is acheived, about 5-10 minutes. It's easiest to check the color of the sugar by dropping a small amount on a white plate.
  2. Once at the desired color, remove the pan from the heat, and stand back to add the coconut cream and butter (it will spatter). Stir the caramel to calm it down, then pour into a heatsafe bowl.
  3. Let caramel cool for one hour before topping cupcakes.

For the chocolate ganache glaze:

  1. Add the chocolate to a medium heatsafe bowl.
  2. Add the coconut cream, water and cane juice to a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Pour cream mixture over chocolate, and let sit for 30 seconds.
  4. Using a whisk or spatula, slowly stir the chocolate/cream mixture with slow, concentric circles starting in the center. Stir until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Assembly! (thought you'd never get here, eh?)

  1. Prepare to fill the cupcakes - the cone method works best here. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake. Fill the cupcake with coconut cream. Remove the tip of the cone (to leave room for the filling) and replace the top to the cupcake. Cake is a terrible thing to waste, so be sure to enjoy all those little pieces you cut off!
  2. To apply the ruffled frosting, fill a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip (such a Wilton #104) with buttercream. I find that placing the cupcake on a small piece of foil makes it easy to turn while applying frosting. With the fat end of the tip facing out, pipe a circle of frosting around the edge of the cupcake, using a back and forth, overlapping motion. Fill in the center of the frosting ring to leave an even layer for the next level of frosting. Complete the second layer using the same back and forth overlapping motion, with a slightly smaller circle. Again, fill in the center so it is one even layer of frosting. Complete one more circle, smaller yet, for the third layer. Move the tip and and down, while turning the cupcake, to make a crown of frosting on top.
  3. Using a large spoon, drizzle caramel and chocolate ganache glaze over the cupcakes.


    1. Ahhhh-wesome!!! I'm seriously over the moon and in love with these diva-cupcakes! They look delicious, can you send me some my way!

      Plus, I can't wait for tonight's episode and this Gleek-er already got the songs for today!! EEK!!

    2. This is an AWESOME idea. I adore Glee and I'm also sooo excited for the new one tonight. It's been way to long! These cupcakes look amazing!!

      BTW, since you like sweets, I have a giveaway going on my blog right now, I hope you can stop by!

    3. i love this idea! the cupcake recipe looks fantastic. also - SO SO SO excited for new Glee!!!

    4. Great idea to make à cupcake to welocome back glee! They look very tasty. But now i'm wondering what a Rachel cupcake would be like;)

    5. Thanks everyone! I had so much fun making them.

      Kelsey - I am stuck in the dark ages when is comes to social media. I don't even know how to do what you have suggested!

      Yvette - The wheels are already turning on Rachel's cupcake! I can't wait to finalize the design and put it all together. :)

    6. These look SO GOOD. Seriously, all of my favorite things in 1 cupcake. Mmm. I want a Britney cupcake. Hah.

    7. Beautiful! They sound so awesome and sinful. I love the picture too!

    8. I haven't stopped thinking about these since seeing them in my GR. I love that you piped them with ruffles because I was wondering how that technique would work on cupcakes. I seriously cannot wait to try these!

    9. Catch me someone- I'm about to faint! Seriously, those diva cupcakes are absolutely mouthwatering! By the way, love the Glee theme. Gleeks :)

    10. OMG! This looks incredible! I can't wait to make it and taste this crazy dessert. Delicious!