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?