If you read this blog with any frequency, then you know I’m no fan of the cupcake fad. (Why? Too much icing, not enough cake. Difficult to eat when the tiny cakes are overwhelmed by a tower of dense buttercream. Overpriced. Too sweet. Hypercute embellishments and cutesy names. More packaging than product at some local bakeries. I could go on, but I won’t.)
Despite my antipathy, I baked not one but two pans of individual, paper-cradled cakes this weekend. See, I discovered Nick Malgieri’s recipe for Pleyels* (p 170 in his 2005 book, A Baker’s Tour). The Pleyel is to a cupcake as a Riva Aquarama is to an inflatable rubber raft. (In other words, European, gorgeous, elegant, and delicious.)
It’s no wonder that the Pleyel is delicious: Malgieri credits the recipe to Robert Linxe, founder of legendary chocolatier La Maison du Chocolate. The little cakes aren’t terribly complicated, but ground almonds and bittersweet chocolate create a moist, tender center in perfect contrast with the fudgy crust. Send the frosting-smothered cupcakes back to the kiddie parties where they belong, and whip up a batch of Pleyels.
*Pleyels are named after Austrian composer Ignaz Pleyel.