Little Chef A chose Chocolate Chip Walnut Cupcakes from Giada De Laurentiis. We thought it was funny that it is called cupcakes, but you actually use a brownie mix! The first thing was to gather the ingredients. The 12-cup muffin pan was lined with cupcake liners and set aside. The oven was turned on to 350 degrees.
The walnuts needed to be chopped. This time I thought we would see how the chopper would work instead of a knife. It was THE perfect tool! Little Chef A was able to chop the walnuts as small as she wanted with little effort.
The newly chopped walnuts and mini chocolate chips were mixed in a bowl with 1 Tablespoon of brownie mix. I explained to her the reason for doing this was to coat the chips and walnuts so that they would not fall to the bottom of each cupcake, instead they would be throughout for every bite.
In a large bowl Little Chef A combined the water, oil, eggs, and the rest of the brownie mix. Cracking the eggs made us laugh. The first egg Little Chef A cracked was done perfectly. The second egg made a mess! She poked her thumb into the shell and egg flew out all over the counter and the recipe. “Oops” she said looking at me wondering if I was going to laugh or be mad. I laughed and explained why and what she needed to do next time to avoid that.
Little Chef A started mixing just the lop layer of the bowl. I asked what would happen if she only stirred at the top of the bowl. She said “It will just get the brownie mix.” (The last thing she added.) She realized she needed put the spoon all the way at the bottom of the bowl to stir everything together. We talked about the wet and the dry areas. She said the wet was “the batter” and the dry was “the stuff on the sides.” So she said she needed to scrape down the dry part into “the batter.”
The small bowl with the walnuts and the chocolate chips was poured into the big bowl and slowly stirred in. Little Chef A said; “This smells so good.”
The next step seemed to be the hardest of the entire recipe. How was she going to get the batter into the cupcake liners?! I explained if she scooped up the batter and then turned the spoon so it was up and down the batter would roll down the spoon into the cup. She did that over and over while saying “Come on down!” The batter was pretty thick and didn’t want to come off the spoon very well. After all 12 cups were filled (the recipe did say they would be full and they really were!) she cleaned up the drips from the counter and the cupcake pan.
Now they were ready to go in the oven which had already beeped. Little Chef A felt more comfortable if I held onto her waist while she put the pan in the oven and then closed the door. She learned how to set the microwave timer for 20 minutes. Throughout the baking she turned on the oven light just to check on her cupcakes. She wanted them to be just right. After the 20 minutes she opened the door and the cupcakes looked a bit wiggly and wet on top. I explained they weren’t quite done.
A few more minutes and they were ready to be taken out of the oven (while I held onto her waist again) and set on the cooling rack. (Or so we thought.) After a few minutes cooling down the cupcakes had all sunken down in the middle. “What happened?” Little Chef A asked. They must not have been done in the middle. She wanted them to be perfect. We put them back in the oven for a few minutes to see if they would puff back up. I did explain no one would know. It could be “our” secret. We could cover the tops with frosting and no one would know what was under it, provin
g it wasn’t raw in the middle.
Cream cheese and marscapone cheese were then combined. We have never tasted marscapone cheese before and I never knew it was so expensive! I have heard it explained it is like sour cream. I agree it is similar in look and texture, but the price is six times more! Little Chef A learned how to use the hand mixer. I explained it is very important to make sure the mixer is down at the bottom of the bowl and stays in the bottom of the bowl while the power is turned on.
The frosting needed to be refrigerated until ready to use because it is made of cheese, I explained. After, the frosted the cupcakes will also need to be refrigerated, if they haven’t all been consumed!
Little Chef A did a wonderful job frosting and garnishing with mini chocolate chips. She ate her’s quickly. For some reason everyone had problems peeling the liner off. Little Chef C and D licked the frosting off before attempting the cupcake. “It is a brownie!” they both said. I was wondering why they were in the cupcake form. It would have been easier if the batter was put in a 8.5 x 11 pan then baked and frosted. Cupcakes were different, but too much for my Little Chef’s to eat in one sitting. (We debated making some mini cupcakes. I think we should have.)
My review: I picked one up expecting a light and fluffy cupcake, but instead discovered a heavy dense cupcakes. Besides the fact the cupcakes were a little under done in the middle, the taste was good. I liked the additions of the walnuts and the mini chocolate chips (just the right size). The frosting was delicious. It must have been the marscapone cheese that made it wonderful and a little tangy.
Chocolate Chip Walnut Cupcakes
Giada De Laurentiis
- 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips, plus 1/4 cup for garnish
- 1 (21-ounce) box brownie mix (recommended: Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup water
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
For the cupcakes: Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a small bowl combine the walnuts, 1 cup mini chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of the brownie mix. Toss until all the ingredients are coated. Set aside.
In a large bowl mix together the remaining brownie mix, eggs, vegetable oil, and water. Stir for 20 seconds until blended. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chips. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan (cupcake liners will be full). Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the cupcakes comes out with moist fudgy crumbs. Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack and cool completely before frosting, about 30 minutes.
For the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the cheeses together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth and spreadable. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.
Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes and garnish with the remaining mini chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature.