Scroll down for Georgetown Cupcake's chocolate ganache cupcake recipe.
Unable to get a loan and unwilling to hit up friends and family, sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne maxed out their credit cards and gave up careers in fashion and private equity to pursue their dream of opening a little cupcake bakery together.
Their little bakery didn't stay little for long. In addition to the flagship store in Washington, D.C.'s tony Georgetown neighborhood, their little Georgetown Cupcake bakery has expanded to Bethesda, Maryland and beyond, with more than 300 employees.
At Dulles International Airport, they opened a third bakery in order to meet demand from all over the country for their fresh, moist, exquisite cupcakes. This winter, 2012, they will open a shop in Manhattan's hip Soho area.
Moreover, they reach out to charities and have sent 10,000 cupcakes to our troops in Afghanistan. As for star quality, Sasha Obama had her birthday party at Georgetown Cupcake.
Lucky me, I got to sit down for a fun hour with the sisters and talk about how this all came to be. Their mom Elaine, who enjoys long days helping her daughters, joined us.
The sisters have practically no memory of being anywhere in their home but in the kitchen with their Greek grandmother, who "baked for breakfast, lunch and dinner" while the girls' parents were at work.
I asked Elaine how she raised such fabulous daughters. "Enjoy their dream and enjoy the ride with them and have fun." she said.
Katherine enthused how lucky she and Sophie feel to spend all this time with theirr mom.
Recognizing, however, that there is never a smooth day—such as when they make a cupcake structure for an event that is too big to fit through the door—these enterprising women have learned to embrace uncertainty. "We thrive on it," they say.
Sophie explains, "Our biggest concern is that our customers are happy; we take it personally. Our bakery is like our home. Everyone comes in happy and leaves happy."
I asked if people get moody waiting in the line, which sometimes grows quite long. With the same enthusiasm with which they embrace the uncertainty of each day, the cupcake sisters point out that a lot of peole love to stand in line and talk to others around them.
In winter, Georgetown Cupcake serves free hot chocolate to those waiting. "We appreciate that people are spending time to be here . . . . The worst would be for them to be disappointed."
Among their Halloween cupcake offerings, is one with pumpkin cake and maple cream cheese frosting. They use a button punch to cut shapes made of fondant to top off the cupcake with a bat or other seasonal design. When I left, the sisters handed me two boxes of cupcakes and, like all the others, this one was a winner.
I asked for a timesaving tip: Try using a whisk instead of a sifter to sift.
Cupcakes are becoming popular for weddings and other celebrations because they are easy and come in individual portions. On November 11, TLC will air Katherine's wedding, which includes the 9-foot cupcake creation Sophie made for the occasion.
The sisters' new book, The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcake, will hit bookstore shelves on November 8th. Look for another article with more tips and recipes.
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Georgetown Cupcake's Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes
Makes 18 cupcakes
For the cupcakes
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) European-style unsalted butter, such as Plugra brand, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar bourbon
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted (or another good-quality cocoa powder)
For the ganache frosting
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup Callebaut semisweet chocolate chips (6.4 ounces; or other good-quality semisweet chocolate chips)
For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard cupcake pan with 12 baking cups, and a second pan with 6 baking cups.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt on a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar; beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.
Combine the vanilla extract and milk in a large liquid measuring cup.
Reduce the speed to low. Add one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one-third of the milk mixture, beating until well incorporated. Add another one-third of the flour mixture, followed by one-third of the milk mixture. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk mixture, and beat just until combined.
Add the cocoa powder, beating (on low speed) just until incorporated.
Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each cupcake paper with batter, so that the wells are two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the ganache frosting: Lay a large piece of wax paper on the work surface.
Combine the heavy cream and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Fill a medium saucepan with an inch or two of water and place over medium-low heat. Place the bowl over the saucepan and let the mixture melt, stirring until it is shiny and smooth.
Remove the bowl of chocolate ganache from the saucepan; let it cool slightly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Working with 1 cupcake at a time, carefully dip each cupcake top in the warm ganache, twisting your wrist as needed to make sure the cupcake top gets completely coated. To prevent drips, quickly turn the cupcake right side up and place on the wax paper. Allow the ganache to set for 5 minutes before serving.
(If the cupcakes are dipped once, you'll have about 1/2 cup of ganache left over.)
From Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, co-owners of Georgetown Cupcake.