These chocolate cupcakes from Hungry Happenings are rich and delicious with an intense chocolate ganache frosting.  They are even better with a surprise miniature Cheesecake Pumpkins stuffed in the middle.  The orange pumpkin really sets off the dark chocolate cupcake and the cheesecake, well, we all know cheesecake and chocolate are made for each other.

Chocolate Cupcakes Stuffed with Cheesecake Pumpkins

22 Mini Cheesecake Pumpkins (recipe below)

Cupcake Ingredients

3 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 ounce (1/3 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa

3/4 cup hot coffee*

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup (4 1/8 ounce) bread flour**

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

*These cupcakes will not taste like coffee; it just intensifies the chocolate flavor.

**Definitely use bread flour. If you use all purpose flour, the cupcakes won’t hold together as well. You need the extra gluten in the bread flour to keep the structure of the cupcake.

ganache frosting and decorations:

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped

1 cup heavy whipping cream

optional:

Halloween sprinkles or candy

Supplies:

whisk

22 Halloween cupcake wrappers

cupcake pan

2 large pastry bags

TIP: if you bake the cupcakes in two liners instead of one, the inside liner will protect the outer liner from getting dark so you’ll actually be able to see the design. Plus the outside liner will have conformed to the shape of the cupcake. It looks great.

Directions:

Make Mini Cheesecake Pumpkins (recipe below) and keep them frozen until needed. When you paint in the green filling, be sure to fill the entire stem area, so that when you cut into the cupcakes you have a nice pumpkin shape.

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Make cupcake batter. Pour finely chopped chocolate and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl. Add hot coffee and stir until chocolate melts. Place in the refrigerator to cool for about 20 minutes.
Once cooled, whisk in oil, eggs, white vinegar, and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. Add it to the chocolate bowl and whisk until smooth.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan. Pour a thin layer of batter into each of the cupcake liners.
Remove the Mini Cheesecake Pumpkins from the freezer. Un-mold them, and stick 2 cheesecakes together (put their backsides together) then place them in the center of each cupcake liner.
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 NOTE: It is very important that you know which way your cheesecake pumpkins are facing. Later when you cut into a cupcake to reveal the pumpkin, you want to cut across the front not the side.
Fill the cupcake liners up over the cheesecake pumpkins. I felt it was easiest to put my batter in a large disposable pastry bag and pipe it into the cups. Once all the cups are filled allow them to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes. While you are waiting, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes until they are set around the edges and puffed in the middle. As the cupcakes cool, they will sink a bit in the center. Allow them to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache frosting.

Place chopped chocolate in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until chocolate is fine crumbs.
Heat heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir often until it just comes to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, put lid on the food processor bowl, and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Pulse for 3 seconds. Remove lid and scrape down the sides and bottom of the food processor bowl. Return lid and pulse for 5 more seconds or until the mixture, which is called ganache, is smooth. Don’t over-mix your ganache or it will turn grainy as it sets up.Note: A food processor makes easy work of creating a chocolate ganache. If you don’t have one, finely chop your chocolate and put it in a microwave safe mixing bowl. Boil cream as above and pour over chocolate and let sit for 2-3 minutes. Use a whisk to create an emulsion. Begin by stirring just in the center of the bowl, then slowly bring the whisk out to the edge of the bowl. Stir just until combined and the ganache is smooth. If you have chunks of chocolate remaining, place entire bowl in microwave and heat on high for 10 seconds. Stir until melted.

Pour ganache into a mixing bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, then remove and stir. Refrigerate for 15 more minutes. Then use an electric mixer to beat the ganache until it’s lighter in color. The frosting will not hold stiff peaks at this point, it should fall off the beaters. Allow it to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, but no more. Beat for 5 more seconds and it should now hold stiff peaks

chocolate-ganache-frosting

Immediately spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe big swirls over cooled cupcakes. This frosting is rather stiff and will actually harden slightly much like a chocolate truffle. You can easily bite into it and it has an intense chocolate flavor, but it is not soft like a butter cream style frosting.

Decorate with Halloween sprinkles or candy, if desired. I found it helpful to just sprinkle the front side of each cupcake. That way when I went to cut into them, I knew which direction the pumpkin would be facing. Keep cupcakes stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving so that the ganache frosting and the cheesecake are smooth and creamy and will melt in your mouth.

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Mini Cheesecake Pumpkins

Ingredients:

butter, to coat the inside of your pumpkin molds
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
orange and green food coloring – you can use natural food coloring, if you prefer

Supplies:

food processor, optional
2 Wilton Mini Pumpkin Molds with 24 cavities in each
2 baking sheets
food use only paint brush

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter the cavities in your pumpkin molds.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, heavy whipping cream, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor, pulse until smooth.

Alternatively, mix cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Add whipping cream, eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth.

Remove about 2 tablespoons of filling and color it green. Color the remaining filling using orange food coloring.

Paint the green filling into the stems of 40 cavities. The filling is pretty thick and should stay in place nicely, but just to be safe, pop these filled molds into the freezer for 5 minutes before filling with the orange cheesecake.

how-to-make-cheesecake-pumpkins-for-Halloween

Set silicone pumpkin mold on a baking sheet. Fill the pumpkins with orange cheesecake filling. Leave a small amount of room in each mold for the filling to expand while baking (about a 16th of an inch.)

Bake 12-14 mins until the tops look set but the cheesecake pumpkins are still jiggly. Allow to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature, then place in the freezer for at least 1 hour. You can, at this point, wrap the mold well and store them in the freezer for up to several weeks

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Remove the molds from the freezer, turn the mold upside down and press the pumpkin cheesecakes out. I set mine on a non-stick baking mat just to be sure they wouldn’t stick later once they thawed.

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Store the mini cheesecake pumpkins in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or keep frozen for a few weeks. Thaw frozen cheesecakes in the refrigerator for several hours.
Before serving, decorate with mini chocolate chips, if desired. Simply press the chocolate chips into the cheesecakes creating jack-o-lantern faces.