I don’t remember where I found the recipe that I adapted into these cupcakes, but I do remember why I was drawn to it: the surprise addition of balsamic vinegar to the batter!
You may be asking…vinegar? Why is there vinegar in cupcake batter? This recipe uses baking soda to help the cupcakes rise, which means you need some sort of acid to activate the baking soda’s chemical genius. You could use lemon juice or buttermilk, but the combination of sweet balsamic and chocolate make this treat extra special. I also like that these cupcakes are relatively not sweet. Hope you like them too!
You will need:
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese, at room temperature (I used neufchatel cheese, which is lower in fat but a great substitute)
- 2 3/4 c sugar, divided
- 2 1/4 c cold water
- 1/4 c vegetable oil
- 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 5 t balsamic vinegar
- 2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
- 1 c whole wheat flour
- 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 t baking soda
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
Then you will…
- Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. (I used one 12-muffin regular pan and one 24-mini muffin pan).
- Either in a small food processor or a small with an electric mixer, beat together the egg, 1/2 cup of the sugar and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.
- Prop up a pastry (or ziplock) bag in a sturdy glass or mug with the bag’s wide opening at the top. Fold the top of the pastry bag down over the glass. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the filling mixture into the pastry bag. Set the filled pastry bag aside. You could also use a squeeze bottle with a narrow/pointy top here.
- In a medium bowl, combine the water, oil, applesauce, vanilla and balsamic vinegar. Give them a quick stir and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, sugar and salt until evenly blended. Slowly pour the water mixture into the flour mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth.
- The cupcake batter will be quite runny. If your bowl has a spout, you can pour the batter directly into the muffin cups. Otherwise, it will be easiest to pour the batter into the liquid measuring cup and use it to fill the cups.
- Fill each lined muffin cup three-fourths full. Do not fill them any fuller than that or there will not be anywhere for the filling to go when the batter rises!
- Pick up the pastry bag. Plugging the tip with one hand, twist the top of the bag to close it. If using a ziplock, carefully snip off one of the bottom corners to create an opening.
- Using one hand to guide the tip and the other to squeeze the top of the bag, insert the tip into the center of one of the cupcakes. Gently squeeze a small amount of the cream cheese filling into the batter. You will see the chocolate batter rise as the filling fills the middle.
- Keeping in mind that you need to fill 24 cupcakes, squeeze a small amount into each one.
- Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with the chocolate chips.
- Put the muffin pans in the oven and bake until a thin skewer inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 26 to 28 minutes.
- Remove the pans from the oven and put them on cooling racks. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then lift out the cupcakes and put them directly on the racks.
- Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.