Pleyels: cupcakes for grownups

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.

See the Pleyels recipe over at Nick Malgieri’s website.



*Pleyels are named after Austrian composer Ignaz Pleyel.

2 thoughts on “Pleyels: cupcakes for grownups

  1. I’m with you on the subject of cupcakes. Most are underflavored and overpriced.

    I may try the pleyels this week. Last week I baked a Texas sheet cake for a friend at work. This is her standard birthday request, a legacy from her childhood. I had misplaced her sister’s recipe so I used one from the Homesick Texan. When she cut into it I saw that the cake had not risen at all, but she said that was the way it was supposed to be. Our new VP of HR congratulated me on the “fabulous chocolate cheesecake.” Neither Jamie nor I liked it — too sweet and no real chocolate flavor. (I re-checked the recipe when I got home and realized I had left out the baking soda.)

    So I need the cooperation of this VP, a not-patient type, in submitting annual returns electronically to the Department of Labor later this week. I have promised sweets in return for her services. Since she is an avowed chocolate lover, I think I will make either the pleyels or Alice Medrich brownies.

  2. Hey, that’s impressive: even your mistakes taste good! The Pleyels are delicious, if you like slightly dense, deeply chocolate almond cakes. They’re the complete opposite of typically fluffy cupcakes.

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