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Cupcake mastery

  • CHICAGO TRIBUNE

    Avani Shah’s chocolate ganache frosting, based on whipped cream, pipes up beautifully to decorate cupcakes or other treats.

If you’ve never watched “MasterChef Junior,” you’re missing out. The show, a competition among chefs ages 8 to 13 from all around the country, is a charming entry in the reality show oeuvre, with the little tykes busting out impressive culinary chops.

The show airs at 7 p.m. Thursdays on Fox.

Hosted and judged by the infamously volatile Gordon Ramsay and pastry chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame, the 20 tiny toques compete in a series of challenges to suss out the best chef among them.

One of them, 9-year-old Avani Shah, shares her recipe for her favorite vanilla cupcakes and whipped chocolate ganache.

Vanilla Cupcakes

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Using a stand mixer, mix sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes max.

Reduce to low speed. Add egg; when completely incorporated, add egg white. When egg white is incorporated, add vanilla and continue to mix on low speed.

Add 1/3 of flour mixture and slowly mix. Add 1/3 of milk; continue mixing. Repeat until all of flour mixture and milk are incorporated.

Pour the batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

Place pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Remove cupcakes and let cool at least an hour before you begin to frost. If they are not completely cooled down, you risk melting your frosting.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup

Place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl large enough to mix in the liquid mixture later.

In a saucepan, combine cream and corn syrup. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not bring to full boil, or you risk burning the cream.

Turn off heat and carefully pour liquid mixture over chocolate chips.

Once chocolate starts to melt, stir from center outward until chocolate is completely melted and combined. The mixture should be dark and shiny. Place in freezer to cool, 20-30 minutes. Do not let ganache thicken too much.

Using a stand or hand mixer, mix until frosting is fluffy and turns a lighter color, about 2 minutes on medium. Pipe or spread the frosting onto tops of cooled cupcakes.

Nutritional information unavailable.

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