Recipe Review

You’ll Want to Spread This Chocolate Ganache on Every Dessert You Make

updated Feb 11, 2021
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Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

When most of us picture a chocolate cupcake, a mountain of fluffy buttercream immediately comes to mind. But what does that mean for the frosting-averse among us?

Famed cookbook author Maida Heatter’s cupcake recipe, from her book Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts, might just be the answer. Described by the New York Times as a “grown-up cupcake,” her cupcakes are topped with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache rather than the standard buttercream.

Considering Maida is known as the “Queen of Cake,” I had high hopes for these non-traditional cupcakes. Plus, they have a five-star rating and more than 1,000 reviews. Here’s what happened when I gave them a try.

Get the recipe: Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Cupcakes (you can also find it here)

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Make Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Cupcakes

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder). Cream the butter in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, then beat in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each.

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients in three additions. Mix just until combined, making sure not to overwork the batter. Spoon the batter into a lined muffin tin, filling each about two-thirds of the way up. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops have puffed. Allow to cool for about five minutes in the tin, then remove them to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, place the chocolate chips, heavy cream, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low. Whisk occasionally until the butter and chocolate are almost melted, then remove from the heat and continue whisking until they are completely combined. Once the ganache has cooled to room temperature, use a knife or spoon to spread it evenly on top of the cupcakes.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Cupcakes

These cupcakes certainly looked like winners, with their fluffy texture and smooth ganache topping. And let me tell you that the ganache recipe is perfection, and will be my go-to from here on out. The combination of heavy cream and butter makes the chocolate so silky and gives it the perfect shine. But while the ganache was delicious, the cake itself had one fatal flaw: a complete lack of moisture.

When I saw how thick the batter was, I suspected these cupcakes might be a bit on the dry side, and that unfortunately proved true when I cut into one of them after baking. Scrolling through the recipe comments confirmed it wasn’t just my batch: There was a stream of people lamenting the fact that these cupcakes are just not very moist. However, they do have a fairly fluffy texture and they taste good. Plus, they get bonus points for the ganache. As one commenter said, “These cupcakes were good, but not spectacular.”

Credit: Nicole Rufus

If You’re Making Maida Heatter’s Chocolate Cupcakes, a Few Tips

  1. Scale back on the flour. Try adding about 1/2 cup less flour to the mixture. This will help the cupcakes retain more moisture, and the flavor from the cocoa will have a better chance of shining through.
  2. Throw some chocolate chips in there. Several commenters made the excellent recommendation of adding chocolate chips to the batter for a more chocolate-forward taste.  
  3. Use this ganache on everything. Even if you’re not making these cupcakes, this ganache will be your best friend for a quick, delicious chocolate topping for any desert, from brownies to Bundt cakes.

Overall rating: 7/10

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Have you ever made Maida Heatter’s chocolate cupcakes? Tell us what you thought in the comments below!