Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate
The one bar that I really wanted to try, and have been trying to get my greedy little hands on for years, is the Black Pearl bar. I can't seem to find it anywhere though, besides the Vosges site, which I cannot recommend enough for a jaw-dropping visit. Not to fear, after some extensive research, I discovered a recipe from Katrina Markoff, the founder/CEO, for a cake version of her Japanese-influenced bar. I, being the tinkerer that I am, decided to morph it into a cupcake recipe. With the helpful cupcake tips of Garrett and Cheryl, I think I did a pretty good job.
Black Pearl Cupcakes, adapted from Bon Apetite
Yes, this seems like an insane amount of work, but you can make the ganache, syrup and cakes the day before and leave the constructing to the day of. And all of your hard work will pay off tenfold. I swear, it's all very straightforward and easier then it appears, just take it step by step.
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped or use chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp wasabi powder
2 TB black sesame seeds
1 TB corn syrup
2 TB butter, room temp
a pinch of good salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons matchstick-size strips peeled fresh ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 1/2 TB vanilla bean paste
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup, 3 TB all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup, 2 TB sugar
1/2 cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
black sesame seeds
Place chocolate in medium bowl. Combine cream, ginger, and wasabi in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Pour hot cream over chocolate; cover with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes. Mix sesame seeds and corn syrup in small bowl to coat. Whisk cream and chocolate until smooth. Add sesame seeds and salt. Let cool to lukewarm. Stir in butter. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.
Place 1 cup water, sugar, and ginger in small saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into pan; add bean, or add paste. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes; remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour for flavors to blend.
Strain syrup into small bowl. Reserve and chop ginger. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover both and refrigerate.)
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter your cupcake pan well.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely. (Cakes can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store in an airtight container.)
Cut a cone out of the top of each cupcake and bush the inside with the reserved sugar syrup. Fill each with a spoonful of ganache and replace lids. Brush the top of the cupcake with more syrup. Let stand until syrup is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whip cream with remaining syrup, to taste. Place on cupcakes and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.