Monday, July 4, 2011

Four for the Fourth: Highlighting Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache, Dark Mean, Atlas Genius, Blood Diamonds and I Only Date Models

America currently has an addiction to tiny white pulverized solids unrivaled by any other period in their history (except for maybe the 80's when Pee Wee Herman was putting that stuff up his nose). This addiction has no connection to illicit drugs, though. This addiction is the perfectly legal, found-in-your-grocery-aisles sugar. America eats that stuff up. The average American ingests about 22 teaspoons a day. For most this added sugar comes in the form of soda and candy. For me, it comes in the form of cupcakes, pies or fruity desserts. While health groups suggest cutting back, I've learned over the years that birthday parties are no time for diets and the Fourth of July is not synonymous with moderation. The American thing to do is to go ahead and indulge and put the stringent sugar watch off until tomorrow.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting (adapted from The Sweetest Kitchen)

For the cupcakes:
-1 stick of butter
-3.5 ounces of dark chocolate (I used 1 Ghirardelli bar)
-11.75 ounces of Raspberry Fruit Spread (I used Polaner Fancy Fruit)
-2/3 cup of sugar
-pinch of salt
-2 large eggs, beaten
-2/3 cup of flour

For the ganache frosting:
-3.5 ounces of dark chocolate
-between 1/3 and 1/2 cup heavy cream
-fresh raspberries

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a heavy sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When almost completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Keep stirring until the chocolate has liquefied and the butter and chocolate are well mixed. Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the raspberry spread, sugar, salt and eggs. Mix well. Add the flour and combine.

2. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the pan to get all the batter. Pour the batter into a muffin pan (with twelve muffin spaces) lined with papers.

3. Bake for 25 minutes (don't worry about sticking a fork into the cupcake to check for doneness as the inside is meant to be a little runny and you don't want to risk over baking). Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes before turning out.

4. Cool the cupcakes completely on a wire rack.

5. Meanwhile, place the heavy cream and chocolate bar for the ganache icing in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat and whisk until the icing is smooth and thick. Ice the cupcakes. Place a raspberry (or two or four) in the center of each. Celebrate America's birth by eating five or six.

As is our tradition, here are four songs that I will be enjoying this fourth of July:

They may be from Australia, but Atlas Genius' "Trojans" couldn't be more perfect for the American summertime. It's a catchy, pop driven tune with lyrics that will easily run through your mind all day long.

What says the fourth of July better than a Canadian band being behind the strings of a "Happy Banjo"? Not much. Dark Mean's self-titled debut was released in mid-June. "Happy Banjo" is the first single.

Blood Diamonds have transitioned from the world of cordial music to one that is darker and more ominous. It reminds me of the underwater lair that can be found in Mexican cenotes while still evoking the festivities and fun that are associated with the fourth. I think it is the little upbeat instrumentation that comes after the first verse, the one where it sounds like angels are joining in with a chorus of "Oh's." If that isn't the definition of upbeat then I need a new dictionary.

I Only Date Models do soundscapes without causing the listener to feel too far away. They do rock without the listener feeling too involved. It is like they are trying to keep you at arms length for fear that you will crowd out their personal space. "Tunnels" displays this perfectly.

Previous Four for the Fourth Installments: