August 17, 2008

Cincinnati Chili Cupcakes for Iron Cupcake Earth

For my father's birthday this week I asked him what he'd like me to make, expecting him to pick his favorite carrot cake. Then I remembered that I had my Iron Cupcake Earth cupcakes to make and so I gave him the option of a chili pepper cupcake. I hadn't decided exactly what to make yet and his mind immediately sprang to one of his favorite dishes, Cincinnati Chili. The spices that accompany the chile powder in this regional favorite are cinnamon, allspice and CHOCOLATE. Perfect flavors for a cupcake! Since a good cupcake is only as good as it looks I also thought about the iconic look of Cincinnati chili. A bowl of Cincinnati style chili is topped with copious amounts of spaghetti and cheese. I knew I could pipe vanilla icing and grate orange-colored white chocolate for a whimsical "spaghetti and cheese" decoration.

We ate the cupcakes today and they were wonderful. The spices in the cake reminded me of rich, chocolaty gingerbread. The sweet frosting brought out the chocolate taste even more and I loved the way the cupcakes looked. Alex had fun helping me pipe on the "spaghetti" and grate the "cheese". It was a fun project, a successful cupcake experiment and I think my dad really liked them.
A bowl of real Cincinnati Chili
Thanks to Laughing Squid for the photo!

This is my Iron Cupcake Earth: Chili Powder entry. You can vote for the best cupcake on Sunday, August 31st at NO ONE PUTS CUPCAKEIN A CORNER. Voting ends Thursday, September 4 at 12 noon. This month's prizes are a one-of-a-kind piece of original Cakespy art by ETSY artist Jessie Oleson; a luxury hostess apron from Jessie Steele; the next generation of the Cupcake Courier; and a new publication from the library of Taste of Home Books.

Cincinnati Chili Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder*
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chocolate chips
5 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 cup cold water
*Be sure to check for other ingredients in spice jars labelled "chili powder". You want to buy pure chile powder and not anything with cumin, onion, garlic, etc added.

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cupcake pan with papers.
-Add the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, salt and spices to a large bowl. Stir with a wire whisk until full incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir to distribute.
-Mix together the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water in a small bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Fill the cupcake papers three quarters full.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with only a few crumbs clinging.
-Cool for 5-10 minutes and then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to finish cooling.
-Frost and decorate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting
1/4 cup margarine
1/4 cup shortening
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-Beat the margarine and shortening until smooth.
-Slowly sift in the powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
-Add the vanilla extract and beat until mixed in.
-Fill a piping bag with a #4 Wilton tip or snip a very small opening to create the "spaghetti".

To Decorate:
I made the orange "cheese" with orange colored white chocolate. I get dairy-free white chocolate from Chocolate Emporium. I melted the chocolate chips carefully in the microwave and then added both Wilton Lemon Yellow and Orange icing colors to get the ideal orange shade. I chilled the colored block of chocolate in the freezer. When I was ready to decorate, I microwaved the block of chocolate in 5 second increments to get it just warm and pliable enough to grate.

More Cincinnati Chili stuff:
The History of Cincinnati Chili
Not in Ohio? Get Cincinnati Chili in Chicago
Like Geocaching? My father's Chili Magnet Travel Bug


[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

Wow. These cupcakes are so whimsical and fun! And undoubtedly delicious too! Happy birthday to your dad -- you are so sweet to bake him these cupcakes.

chou said...

So fun! I can't get over your cheese--brilliant. What a great birthday present.

VeggieGirl said...

A chili cupcake, eh?? How intriguing!! Wishing your dad a very happy birthday :0)

Nicole said...

thanks for the chocolate emporium link! good to have lots of vegan resources. i actually MADE white chocolate to color before... :)

Adam said...

I was kinda confused in the beginning, I swear that looked just like cheddar cheese on top.

But then I read and thought, oh wow, what a great idea. I love the spices you threw in there, with the chili and cinnamon. Delicious to the max :)

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

whoa! spaghetti on chili?? I need to get with the times! :)

Maggie said...

eatingclub] vancouver || js: Thanks! They were a ton of fun to make.

chou: The cheese was almost too real looking.

VeggieGirl: Thanks! If you haven't tried chile in chocolate yet it's really good.

Nicole: I've wanted to try making a homemade vegan white chocolate recipe but haven't gotten around to it. The tempering process is so stressful for me.

Adam: The spice combination really worked well and the "cheese" was a little unreal.

Jen (Modern Beet): You should definately give Cincinnati chili a try. Not only is the spaghetti a great ideat but the spices are so good together.

Speedbump Kitchen said...

I love it! What a great idea! I love the colored chocolate, very smart.

Stef said...

Love it! You really had me fooled on that "cheese". I thought it was actual cheese.

Cakespy said...

Absolutely. Amazing. I'll have mine five-way! Or, maybe I'll just have five of these.

Joy the Baker said...

Serious Yum! It reminds me of a Mexican spice cake.

maybelles parents said...

these are brilliant. I have bookmarked these for the next time I visit my family in cincinnati. (and ps. thanks for the FF nomination.)

sarah j. gim said...

i was JUST talking about skyline vs goldstar and how they were BOTH the demise of me in my cheerleading uniform in high school. LOL!

oh, and to "support" michigan, how about some grilled wolverine. :D

Maggie said...

Speedbump Kitchen: The "cheese" was almost too real. Alex kept asking if it had cow's milk in it. :)

Stef: You weren't the only one (see above).

Cakespy: I almost tried to do fake onions (diced apple) and beans (rootbeer jelly beans) but decided it would be overkill. We liked the flavor of the cake so much I'm tempted to make a big round one and make it 5-way.

Joy the Baker: The batter (I can't resist) reminded me of Mexican hot chocolate I've had.

maybelles parents: I hope they like them. I love your food and photography.

sarah j. gim: I'd probably be bad luck anyway. I spent 5 years at UofM and didn't go to a single game.

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen said...

I can't believe how realistic those look, especially the "cheese"! Thank you for visiting my blog, by the way!

My Sweet & Saucy said...

Wow...what a cupcake! Love looking at the pictures and reading about it!

Heather said...

LOL! My husband is from Ohio, and I've heard the tales of Cincinatti chili. I kinda love the idea of it - like a chili dog on spaghetti. :)

Those cupcakes are hilarious!

kittie said...

These look great - so fun!

Anything combining chili and chocolate gets my vote :D

Julie said...

That is ADORABLE! Thanks so much for visiting my blog.

Hannah said...

That is just so incredibly creative and awesome- I love it!

Justin said...

I'll take three, hold the mustard!


PaniniKathy said...

So inventive!! I'm sure your dad was blown away by his special birthday cupcakes! :-)

Elle said...

So creative! And they taste as great as they look,, I'm sure. Great post!

Maggie said...

Destiny's Vegan Kitchen, My Sweet & Saucy, Heather, kittie, Julie, Hannah, Justin, PaniniKathy, and Elle:
Thanks everyone for the kind comments!

Jeni Q said...

Um, I think I love you. :)

How wonderfully inspired!

shellyfish said...

This is so amazing! Wow, I'm really feeling unprepared for this challenge... this is brilliant, and wonderful decorating job - it looks so real!

Maggie said...

Jeni Q: Thanks, you have a gorgeous little guy there!

shellyfish: I'm sure you're up for it. I think it's particularly ironic that the cheese looks so real since there isn't a touch of dairy (or eggs either) in it.

ttfn300 said...

that is awesome :)

Jude said...

Only heard about cincinnati chili on anthony bourdain's show. Such a fun take on a cupcake!

PG said...

what a lovely blog and a lovely recipe of cupcakes. Looks beautiful!
I'll bookmark you, as I also am looking for dairy free recipes. said...

This is FABULOUS! I'm having so much fun looking at all the other cupcakes. SO creative!

Michelle said...

These look awesome!!

Contessa Vanessa said...

Do you mind if I add this to my blog and link it? I'm posting my favorites from the contest. Great Job!!

Maggie said...

ttfn300: Thanks!

Jude: I loved the Cleveland episode!

PG: I'm glad you found my blog!

Rachel: Thanks! You have great craft ideas on your site!

Michelle: Thanks!

Contessa Vanessa: I'm honored! Feel free to add my cupcake to your list.

Natashya said...

You are so creative - go Iron Cupcaker!

Anonymous said...

OK...I am a lifelong Cincinnatian and a SO excited to see your cupcake paying tribute to our hometown favorite!! You have my vote! My son's favorite restaurant is "Skyline" chili, so I can't wait to surprise him with a batch of these. Now the important question for your dad...Skyline or Gold Star? :) Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Cote said...

I like that "Cincinnati Chili" idea, Maggie. Grated orange chocolate- how cool! Hadn't thought of it, but why not a chocolate cupcake that's almost a hybrid of that and gingerbread... sounds good!

Melissa said...

Genius! My husband's favorite food is Skyline chili. This is inspiring me to make him a skyline chili cake for his birthday.

Melissa said...

Genius! My husband's favorite food is Skyline chili. This is inspiring me to make him a skyline chili cake for his birthday.

Anonymous said...

is it baking powder or baking soda?
you have both?

Maggie said...

The ingredient list is correct, please use 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Somehow I mistyped in the directions. Thanks for catching that!

Monte and Diane said...

Enjoyed reading about your cupcakes. I have a wheat allergy and wondering if someone has made these with a wheat subsitute.

I may be related to you as my grandfather was Anthony Westermeyer.

Maggie said...

I don't know if this recipe has been tried with a wheat flour substitute but generally cupcakes are very forgiving. They don't need the structure a full sized cake needs. I'd give them a try with a wheat-free mix like Bob's Red Mill's gluten-free all-purpose flour. I've had good results in the past using that mix in other recipes.

Me said...

Umm not sure about peanut butter and chili, but love it anyway! and have included your cupcake in our chili cupcake feature at Party Cupcake Ideas.

Natasha said...

As a fellow Ohioan, I find this brilliant and adorable!