Sunday, June 3, 2007

Hi-Hats!

Previously, I promised I'd figure out how to fix the broken hi-hat recipe that is all over the internet. Tonight, I came much further toward accomplishing my goal. I was able to fix two of the three fundamental problems and came up with some creative improvements to implement on my next attempt.

The first problem with the recipe was that the marshmallow filling turns out gritty. The recipe requires that you put a ridiculous amount of sugar into three egg whites and a scant 1/4c of water and whip them continuously over a rolling double boiler until the mixture achieves 160F. The issue seems to be that it is impossible to get to 160F, so the sugar never melts, resulting in a gritty, heavy, sticky, nasty, mess.

My solution was to take the sugar and water and create a simple syrup which I then incorporated into the partially whipped whites prior to putting them over the double boiler. I never got to 160F, but my filling was perfect.


The second issue with the recipe is that the chocolate glaze is too thick and melts the marshmallow topping and often pulls it right off the cupcake.

This one was more of a challenge and I lost a few cupcakes to trial and error. First, you need to have very cold cupcakes. I cooled mine in the refrigerator, but I think they were still not quite cold enough. In the future, I may try partially freezing a batch in the freezer prior to dipping in the chocolate glaze. Secondly, the glaze is too thick and heavy for the delicate marshmallow filling. My solution was to increase the ratio of oil to chips until I acheived the desired consistency. The third issue seems to be the method of dipping. I found I was more successful tilting the cupcakes over the glaze bowl and pouring the glaze over with a spoon than dipping them into the glaze head-first.

Additionally, I don't know that I need to mention this, but you can make pretty much any chocolate cupcake recipe you like. The original recipe has you making a sour cream cake, which would be a nice foil to the intense sweetness of the topping, but tonight I made the classic Hershey's recipe and it was just fine.

Here are the cupcakes, waiting for the goods:


The topping:


The glazing process:


Freshly glazed and into the fridge:


Cooled and complete, they look like this:



HI-HATS:

12 chocolate cupcakes, unfrosted (use your favorite recipe)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups chopped (about 12 ounces) semisweet chocolate
4 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

PREPARE FILLING:

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is incorporated, then leave on the heat until the sugar is melted and the mixture is transparent.

In a large heatproof bowl, combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat on high speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Continue beating and pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites 1/8c at a time until completely incorporated. Set bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until frosting forms stiff peaks, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and almond extracts, and beat for 2 minutes more.

Transfer frosting to a large disposable pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain pastry tip. Leaving a 1/8-inch border on each cupcake, pipe a spiral of frosting into a 2-inch-high cone shape, using about 1/2 cup of frosting per cupcake. Transfer cupcakes to a baking sheet, and refrigerate while preparing the chocolate coating (or longer, if needed).

PREPARE CHOCOLATE COATING:

Combine chocolate chips and oil in a medium heat-proof bowl and microwave until until melted and smooth, stopping every 30 seconds to stir. Do not overheat. Transfer to a small bowl, and let cool about 15 minutes. If the glaze is too thick, add more vegetable oil, 1T at a time until the appropriate consistency is obtained.

GLAZE THE CUPCAKES

Remove cooled cupcakes from refrigerator and one at a time and while holding them at an angle over the glaze bowl, carfully spoon the glaze over the topping, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Do this until the entire marshmallow topping is coated. Place the glazed cupcakes on a sheet pan in the refrigerator to cool and harden.

2 comments:

Juliet said...

Occasionally, you are a genius.

Willowbottom said...

So, now that I've used your corrected recipe, here are my thoughts for whatever they're worth.

1) The meringue recipe covered about 18 cupcakes (I made 36 cupcakes and only needed to make the meringue recipe twice to cover them all).

2) The first time I made the meringue, I used the listed amount of flavoring but thought that it wasn't very stiff when chilled. So I tried cutting back the vanilla to 1/2 tsp. and the almond at 1/4 and it seemed better. Could totally be my imagination or any number of other variables.

3) When dipping them in chocolate, I used sort of a blend between the Martha and Rebecca method -- I dipped them in chocolate like an ice cream cone but I put a spoon at the top of the meringue to help pull it back up. This went a lot quicker.

The other thing I tried was using a rubber spatula to drizzle chocolate on the meringue. Using the spatula, the chocolate came off in chocolate "sheets" so I was able to get a pretty even coat.

4) You know how I am about chocolate -- not a big fan. So half of the cupcakes were made with the sour cream cake recipe from Martha's site, the other half made vanilla with a Cook's Illustrated recipe. I liked the vanilla better but they weren't nearly as moist. Oh, well.

5) I really wanted the chocolate to be a thinner coat than it was but I was afraid to keep adding oil, thinking that it might not harden. How do you know when it's "too much" oil (other than dreaded trial and error mere hours before the cupcakes should be served)?

6) Final thought -- I didn't pipe meringue (although I used your great Ziploc bag idea). I just squeezed a large dollop out and spread it with the back of a spoon. Then I added a second and third dollop in the same way that Dairy Queen gets its trademark ice cream soft serve shape. The results were the same, it looked good, and it was much quicker (for me, anyway).

Thanks for the great recipe. Kids loved them. Adults marveled. I was pretty stoked.