Garlic isn’t the first thing that jumps to mind when you think “dessert,” but it will sneak its way into just about everything at Central Market for the next week or so, including sweets. Contrary to what you might expect, black garlic (which is fermented, making it darker, softer, and sweeter than regular garlic) pairs beautifully with chocolate. The proof is in their black garlic chocolate cupcakes, topped with cayenne pepper-laced buttercream icing.
To test the notion that garlic + chocolate + cupcake did not equal a waste of three good things we love, we bought two garlic cupcakes and invited some friends over to try them. The group's emotions were mixed, from "That sounds really interesting" and "I'll try anything once" to "this is gonna be gross." An informal Twitter poll showed similar mixed feelings. "Looks unable to stand under the weight of its own flavors," one respondent said. Another: "I'm betting it's amazing!!!"
And you know what? The garlic/chocolate combo works. Black garlic is not the overpowering savory stuff you slather on breadsticks, and the slightly funky kick just adds depth and intensity to the chocolate flavor. CM is good at baking, so the cake batter is rich, moist and speckled with gooey chocolate bits. Only a milk-chocolate purist would hate this cake batter.
Whether you'll like this cupcake or not depends on how you feel about its other ingredient. There is a LOT of cayenne pepper in the frosting. It is a spicy cupcake. Chocolate and spice are a pretty delicious combo, but Central Market has slightly overplayed its hand with the heat, and you should be warned that this cupcake leaves a burning aftertaste.
All six of our taste-testers liked the garlic cupcakes. Most of them even agreed that they would happily eat one again. But we shared two cupcakes between six people, and this balance seemed perfect. "I definitely could not have eaten more," one taster said. Everybody else agreed. The cupcakes are too rich, and too spicy, to be consumed in one sitting. So find a couple of adventurous friends, buy a garlic cupcake and enjoy.
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Those who haven’t yet experienced the rich qualities of black garlic are not likely to be put off by the exotic ingredient; the same is true of their umami-rich black garlic chocolate truffles. Still not sure if garlic has any business being in your chocolate? Don’t overthink it—Garlic Fest ends September 29th.