Harry Potter Cupcakes

"Harry's never traveled by flue powder before!" 

After finding some awesome Harry Potter toppers on Amazon, I was all set for a batch of cupcakes!

Lately activated charcoal seems to be *all* the rage in Portland - activated charcoal is a dark black powder that can be used as food coloring since it's edible and fairly tasteless in small amounts. 

It IS possible to have too much of a good thing - in large amounts it can inactivate some medications (blood pressure and birth control medications, for example).  However, in small amounts it's completely safe - and with a little gel food coloring can make some pretty wicked-looking black frosting! 😉 

The characters in the Harry Potter series occasionally travel chimney-to-chimney via flue powder….which didn’t seem alllll that far off from charcoal powder 😉 I bought some in capsule form because that was how it was stocked at the store where I found it…opening the capsules worked, but I think I had to open 20+ of them and it was laborious and time-consuming. And caused some black edges on my fingernails I couldn’t get off for a couple of days. You’ve been duly warned; get a loose-powder form if you can, otherwise capsules will work if you need them to. 😉 

Aaaaanyways. Recipe below! 

The Harry Potter toppers I used to decorate these cupcakes are available on Amazon

I doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work! 
Of note...you'll need either a kitchen scale to measure ingredients in grams OR - you can use this fancy ‘grams to cups converter’. Or just use the conversions I ballparked for you. You’re welcome.

Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 24)

Ingredients:

350g all purpose flour (roughly 2 1/4 c) 
450g caster sugar (roughly 2 ¼ c) 
100g cocoa powder (roughly 1 ¼ c)
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt 
1 c /250g /16 T unsalted butter, softened 
4 large eggs, at room temperature 
350ml milk (about 1 ½ ; I used a 2c pyrex liquid measuring cup with mL marks on the back) 
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180C) or 320 FC (160C) for a fan forced oven. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, plain flour, salt, bicarb soda and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until no lumps of butter are visible and it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients.

Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.

Fill each paper 3/4 of the way (using an ice cream scoop to transfer the batter into the cupcake liners makes this a quick and easy process otherwise you can use two tablespoons). You may find that you have some batter left over - don't over-fill the cupcake tins or they *will* overflow – trust me. :/

Bake for 20-25 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow them to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs. Cool completely. 

Ganache filling:
2 c (12 oz) chocolate chips
1.5 c (12 oz) whipping cream

Meanwhile, make your ganache. Place chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl. Place whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring almost to a boil over medium/low heat. Pour over chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth and silky. Chill until thick enough to pipe into cupcake centers, but don't let it solidify completely. 

Once the cupcakes have cooled, you're ready to core them. There are a few ways you can do this....you can buy a cupcake corer, you can try using the non-business-end of a large piping tip,   or....you can do what I do and cut a cone-shaped core out with a plastic knife. Up to you. I haven't the foggiest idea why cupcake crumbs don't stick to plastic knives like they do regular knives, but the plastic knife's been working too well for me to feel the need to invest in any fancy corers! Pipe your ganache into your cored cupcakes - it doesn't have to look pretty, so I often use a zip-lock bag for this part.

Lumos/Nacht (White & Black) Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
8 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
16 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
6-7 c powdered sugar
4-8 Tablespoons milk, divided
1 T clear vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
-
1 c cocoa powder – add later!
2-3 T or 20-25 capsules of activated charcoal powder
2-3 drops Americolor black gel food coloring

Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with 2-4 tablespoons of milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla and salt and beat until well combined.
I divided the frosting in half at this point, and added cocoa powder and activated charcoal to make a black chocolate frosting – and then added milk and gel food coloring until the color and consistency reached what I wanted. 

Pipe in large swirls onto your cupcakes (or however you feel like icing them). Decorate the top of each frosting swirl with a Harry Potter-themed cupcake topper.  Done and done! Enjoy! 

Make this recipe? Let me know  how it went - or find me on Instagram and tag @IntensiveCakeUnit in your photo! 

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