Finally, the promise of Portal has been fulfilled. These cupcakes are not a lie and you don't even have to listen to GlaDOS, just bake, decorate, and consume these mini flavor marvels. Perhaps the cake is a lie but the cupcake is at least a half-truth.
These rich, moist cupcakes, topped with frosting and chocolate, are delicious mini replicas of the black forest cake seen in Portal. You'll be in heaven but "still alive" after eating one.
Step 1: Supplies
-Chocolate Pudding Cake Ingredients
- 1 box chocolate cake mix (or devil's food)
- 1 box instant chocolate pudding mix
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup vegetable oil
-Chocolate frosting - about 2½ cups
-Chocolate - one ounce covers 6-8 cupcakes
-White frosting - about ½ cup
-Cherry Jelly Beans - 3 per cake (can substitute Red Hot cinnamon candies)
-Plain white birthday candles
*Yes, technically the cake in Portal is a black forest cake and should, therefore, contain cherry filling. But these are so small and tall that they are difficult to hold together in layers which is why I kept them whole. Layers are possible with the liberal use of toothpicks. If you want more cherry flavor, I suggest adding 2 teaspoons cherry extract to the batter.
**I used cleaned 5oz evaporated milk cans which are 2.5" in diameter and 2.5" tall. You must use a can opener that removes the lids from the sides rather than one that cuts metal disks out of the recessed top or you will have trouble removing the cakes from these tins. You can use any small cans that are not lined and that, preferably, aren't made of a ripple textured metal.
Step 2: Pan Preparation
Prepare your pans, either by greasing and flouring (or using spray that does both steps as once) or by fully lining them with parchment paper. The bottoms of the tins should be lined with disks of parchment that have been cut to fit inside. To do this, trace the outside of the can onto parchment and cut about ¼" inside the tracing.
Cut one extra round disk for later use and set it aside.
Then cut strips of parchment that will fill the sides of the can, as shown. Once you've cut your pieces, add the lining paper.
Step 3: Baking the Cakes
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and pudding mix. Add the eggs, sour cream, water, and oil. Beat on low until the liquid is incorporated. Then increase the speed to medium and beat 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides periodically.
Fill each tin HALF full with batter and place tins on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan. Bake about 25 minutes, until a toothpick pricked through the center comes out clean.
You want each cake to be level on the top. If your cupcakes are not level, use this quick tip: While the cupcakes are still hot, place a fresh, clean towel right on top of the cupcake. Being careful to use a hot pad to prevent burning yourself, press down against this surface, compressing any bulges until the cake is level.
Allow the tins to cool a few minutes before carefully removing them from the pans. They will be covered in parchment paper. Remove this after a few minutes but DO NOT remove the round disk of paper on the bottom of each cake. These cakes are much easier to handle and transfer if you leave on this piece of parchment. Finish cooling on a wire rack.
Step 4: Frosting
Brush the excess crumbs off the cakes. If desired, crumb coat the cakes (by frosting a very thin layer of icing to that will "glue down" the crumbs). Refrigerate your cakes, crumb coated or not, for about an hour before continuing. This helps keep the cakes solid and helps prevent the grated chocolate from melting as easily during assembly.
Grate your chocolate. One ounce covers about 6-8 cupcakes. Try to keep this chocolate cold. Place the chocolate in on a plate or wide, shallow bowl or pan.
Make your chocolate frosting, if you are using a homemade version.
Frost the top and sides of your cake carefully. I find it works best if you frost from the top down. Then, before the frosting sets, hold the frosted cake over the grated chocolate by placing the bottom on your hand or a spatula. Spoon grated chocolate over it the cake. Then place your spare parchment paper disk on the top (to prevent you from touching the grated chocolate and getting it all over your hands) and quickly turn the cake onto its side into the loose grated chocolate. Spoon chocolate over the sides until they are covered, turning the cake slightly if needed. Use your parchment disk again to help you pick up your cake and place it onto a clean plate or platter.
I placed each cupcake onto it's own demitasse saucer from which they could be presented to guests.
Step 5: Decorating
The "cherries" on each cupcake will be replaced with cherry-flavored jelly beans. Jelly Belly's Very Cherry is a good choice. Optionally, you can use red cinnamon candies, red mini M&M candies with their logos facing down, or even small balls of red fondant to create the same effect. If using jelly beans, carefully cut each jelly bean in half. You need 6 halves for each cake.
Load a small piping bag with white icing. Use a small tip or simply cut the tip off the piping bag. Add the white icing around the cherries and candle, To do this, simply pipe a puffed "blob" of frosting about half an inch across. Make the white icing blobs fairly tall, as they will need to disguise the cut ends of the jelly beans. Pipe one of these in the center and six around the edges as shown. For authenticity, these cakes should have 8 cherries but, with the size of the jelly beans and the cupcake, 8 cherries covers too much of the tops.
Finally, press a plain white birthday candle into the center!