Chocolate cupcakes topped with espresso meringue dipped in dark chocolate.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with cupcake paper liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, water, oil, and eggs until well combined. Add wet mixture to flour mixture. Use a sturdy spatula or a whisk to mix ingredients together until smooth, and there are no longer any dry streaks of flour.
Spoon about 1/4 cup batter into each muffin tin cavity, filling the liners about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes cool in tin for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from tin and let cool to room temperature on wire racks.
In the bowl of stand mixer, whisk together sugar, egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. Place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water to create a double boiler. Ensure simmering water does not touch bottom of bowl.
Heat sugar-egg mixture until it reaches a temperature of 160°F, whisking often to distribute heat. Alternatively, if you don't have a thermometer, heat until the sugar has melted. Test this by rubbing mixture between fingers. The mixture should be smooth. You should not be able to feel the granules of sugar.
Return bowl to stand mixer. Attach whisk attachment to stand mixer. Beat medium at low-medium speed for 3 minutes until shiny. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating to stiff peaks, about 8 minutes.
Add espresso powder and vanilla. Whip until thoroughly combined.
Transfer frosting to a piping bag fitted with a 16mm round tip (5/8-inch round tip or Ateco 808 round tip). Pipe a spiral of frosting onto each cupcake, leaving about ⅛-¼ inch border of exposed cupcake. Place frosted cupcakes on a sheet tray and keep chill in the fridge for 25-30 minutes until frosting is cold. Alternatively, place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Combine chopped chocolate and oil in a large bowl. Set bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Make sure bowl does not touch water. Slow melt mixture and stir often to ensure even melting. Once mixture is smooth, pour into a tall drinking glass. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Fully submerge chilled frosting into slightly cooled dipping chocolate. Allow any excess melted chocolate to drain. Flip cupcake upright and immediately top with toasted almonds.
Allow cupcakes to set at room temperature or speed up the process by placing cupcakes in the fridge.
How to Toast Sliced Almonds: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread almonds in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Stir almonds. Bake for another 3-4 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and transfer to cool baking sheet or large plate to stop almonds from cooking further. Cool before use.