Each year, Scharffen Berger chocolate sponsors The Chocolate Adventure Contest where, for a chance at $10,000, entrants are challenged to come up with a recipe featuring Scharffen Berger chocolate and any number of items from a list of “adventure ingredients.” It’s like a chocolate Iron Chef!
Previous years’ contests have allowed participants to make any kind of dish (I, of course, entered a cupcake last year anyway), but this year’s contest is all about cupcakes! The entry period ends on Jan. 2 and you know that I’ll be playing – I hope you do, too!
Be sure that you are a Cupcake Project Facebook fan because I’ve got a giveaway coming up there exclusively that may inspire your entry.
My Chocolate Adventure Contest entry last year was Black Thai cupcakes – black bottom cupcakes with Thai spices like coconut and pandan (the Asian vanilla) and a little kick from smoked paprika and smoked sea salt. The cupcakes also contain black-eyed peas, but the peas don’t affect the flavor; they just provide a moist texture (like baking with applesauce).
As you can see from the photo above, instead of baking the cupcakes in a cupcake liner, I baked them in a banana leaf! Whether or not you try my exact recipe (I recognize that gathering all of these ingredients might be difficult), I highly recommend trying out baking in banana leaves. Banana leaves make for a striking, exotic presentation. If you can’t find them at a grocer near you, you can buy banana leaves online.
Black Thai Cupcakes Recipe
Black Thai Cupcakes
- 2 ¼ C coconut milk
- 2 pandan leaves cut in half
- 2 C flour
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp smoked sea salt
- ¾ C unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 1/3 C sugar
- 3 large eggs room temperature
- 2/3 C canned black-eyed peas drained and mashed
- 5 oz bittersweet chocolate melted
- 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
- 2/3 C cacao nibs
- 2 banana leaves
In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk and pandan leaves to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for approximately twelve minutes or until there is ¾ cup coconut milk remaining.
Remove saucepan from heat and let cool.
Remove pandan leaves and squeeze any liquid remaining in the leaves into the coconut milk.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, smoked paprika, and smoked sea salt.
In a large bowl, beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in 2 eggs, black-eyed peas, 1/2 cup of the reduced coconut milk, and melted chocolate.
Fold flour mixture into the wet ingredients a little bit at a time until just combined.
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese, the remaining reduced coconut milk, 1 egg, and cacao nibs.
Use kitchen scissors to cut 24 4 ½ inch diameter circles out of the banana leaves.
Soak the banana leaf circles in warm water for three minutes to make them more malleable and then press them into the wells of two cupcake tins.
Once they are shaped, make sure there is no standing water on the leaves. If necessary, pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Fill each banana leaf 2/3 full with the chocolate batter.
Place a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture centered on the top of each filled leaf.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out dry.
Black Thai for New Year’s Eve
It’s a Southern U.S. custom to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s for good luck. Sheridan Alexander from About.com explains:
The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman’s troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates.
Why not consider making Black Thai cupcakes your 2011 New Year’s cupcake?