Chocolate Cupcakes with Fromage Blanc Swirls

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These light, ethereal cupcakes are easy to make and not too sweet. Small children, including my granddaughter Oona, love to do the swirling part. The fromage blanc adds a wonderful creaminess to the batter, and a savory tang and visual intrigue to the finished cupcake.

Ingredients

For the Swirl

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/60 g) sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • cup (5 oz/155 g) fromage blanc

    For the Batter

  • cups (9 oz/280 g) all-purpose flour
  • cups (10 oz/315 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz/250 g) sour cream
  • 6 Tbsp (3 oz/90 g) butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) pieces
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 oz (90 g) 70 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs

Method

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 24 standard muffin cups with paper liners. To make the swirl, in a bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in the egg until incorporated, then add the flour and fromage blanc and again beat until smooth. Set aside.

To make the batter, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In a second bowl, beat together the sour cream, butter, and vanilla until smooth. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and stir until melted and smooth. Let cool, 1–2 minutes. Add the sour cream mixture, eggs, and ¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) hot water to the flour mixture and beat just until smooth, then beat in the chocolate until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each two-thirds to three-fourths full and reserving about ½ cup (4 fl oz/125 ml) of the batter. Top each cup with a generous tablespoon of the cheese swirl mixture. Using a knife, dip into the chocolate batter under the cheese mixture, bring a bit up, and twist it into a swirl. Then dot the top of each cup with about 1 teaspoon of the reserved ½ cup batter and twist again. Bake the cupcakes until puffed and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 15–20 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack before removing from the muffin cups.

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