How-To: Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes with Beautiful Briny Sea

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Today I’ll be baking dark chocolate cupcakes with delicious Mexican Chocolate Sugar from Beautiful Briny Sea, makers of this and other great kitchen enhancers like Beautiful Dreamer Rose Sugar, Pocketful Starlight Vanilla Sugar, Orange Chili Sugar, Mr. Gigglepants Hibiscus Sugar, salts, and so much more.

Before getting started, I used the adorable wooden scoop included in each package and scooped some straight into my mouth (because science). Right after thinking, “this is delicious, mmmm chocolate…” I felt the punch of the chili! This blend also includes allspice and cinnamon for a depth of flavor that is truly scrumptious.

To make the cupcakes, I (mostly) followed this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a cooking blog I adore.

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I got out all the ingredients ahead of time like they do on cooking shows to make everything look so quick and simple. Here’s the spread. I was able to find everything I needed at Kroger- I opted for the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (which is only partially “Dutch” as the recipe recommends) as well as Ghiradelli 60% cacao for the chocolate chips (used on the candied orange rind) and chocolate bar (for the frosting). Come to find out you really only need to buy one or the other as there is enough chocolate in one bag/ bar for both, but I found I wasn’t that frustrated by having the extra chocolate. I recommend the chocolate chips for their easy meltability.

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Yes, of course I used the little wooden scoop to measure out my sugar! Its so cute.

I changed the recipe a bit here and used only ½ cup dark brown sugar and replaced the rest with ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the Mexican Chocolate sugar. I’m hoping this is enough to taste the chili flavor. I’ll add some to the butter cream frosting, too.

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So now I attempt to “cream” the butter and sugars. If you were also raised with the internet, this feels like it takes forever. Not being blessed with a Kitchen Aid mixer myself, once my rotator cuffs started burning, I decided it was “creamed” enough.

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Here’s the batter after adding the eggs and buttermilk. She warns that it may look uneven, and it does.

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I don’t have a sifter as the recipe recommends, so I just added the dry ingredients to a bowl, stirred with a spoon, and said a prayer. Also, things got really messy really fast.

After I had the batter mixed, I added another scoop of the sugar because that little wooden scoop is just too much fun.

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I ended up with 11 cupcakes instead of the 12 the recipe said I would get. This may or may not have to do with quality control measures I’d taken along the way to be sure the batter was up to par. I also found that a ¼ measuring cup was the perfect tool for measuring the batter into each cup. I started with the minimum baking time of 25 minutes, and a toothpick came out clean after this.

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While the cupcakes were baking I started the buttercream frosting. I melted the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, 30 seconds at a time. I also added a magical scoop of the Mexican Chocolate sugar. This is the best frosting I have ever made.

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Here they are after coming out of the oven. Unfortunately they aren’t nice and tall like I hoped, but that’s what the frosting is for, right?

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Now I ain’t no plain jane boring cupcake maker so I knew these cupcakes needed a little pizzaz and literal eye candy so I’m topping them with some chocolate dipped candied orange peel. I used this recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. I made these while the cupcakes cooled, something I would never allow in a non-professional environment. Basically, you peel the orange, then put them through a quick series of hot and cold baths. Then I boiled them in a simple syrup bath I made using the Mexican Chocolate sugar.

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Here they are after taking them out of the final sugar bath. The Mexican Chocolate sugar is brown, of course, which doesn’t make them look super appetizing, but they smell absolutely amazing. I’m not even sure they need the chocolate dipping part. But lets not get hasty.

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While the orange peels cooled, I frosted the cupcakes. I divided the frosting evenly over each cupcake before smoothing out. Since I don’t own a piping bag, I used the more free form technique of offset spatula. Also, turns out “generous” is a relative term and although the recipe promises this is enough frosting for a generous amount, I could have dealt with a tad more, myself.

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These orange peels turned out so good. Like sooooooooo good. These would be such a great addition to any treat, and are amazing even on their own. Unique, chewy, full of fresh and rich flavor. Make them.

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The cupcakes are… rich. Dark. Creamy. Slightly warm from the chili. Add a citrus punch from the candied orange and you have a winner. My husband described them as having “vibrant flavors.” Marla, one of our staff members who reaped the benefits of this project said “the orange peel was my favorite part, I loved the sweet and spicy combination!” My toddler described them as… just kidding I definitely didn’t give one to my kid. His day will come.

Thanks for cooking with me! I just might do a whole series on cupcakes made from Beautiful Briny Sea sugars because, you know, I get to eat cupcakes! And these sugars are so unique and fun to work with, you feel like your baking something really special. Please let me know if you happen to try out the recipe, I’d love to see your pics and hear your opinions!

Until next time, friends!

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