If you’ve never watched “MasterChef Junior,” you’re missing out. The show, a competition among chefs ages 8 to 13 from all around the country, is a charming entry in the reality show oeuvre, with the little tykes busting out impressive culinary chops.

Hosted and judged by the infamously volatile Gordon Ramsay and pastry chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar fame, the 20 tiny toques compete in a series of challenges to suss out the best chef among them. This season, five competitors hail from Chicago.

One of them, 9-year-old Avani Shah, recently visited the Tribune test kitchen to chat about her kitchen skills and show us her recipe for whipped chocolate ganache, perfect for frosting her favorite vanilla cupcakes.

WHIPPED CHOCOLATE GANACHE

  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2½ cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup corn syrup

1. Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl that’s large enough to mix in the liquid mixture later.

2. In a saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup. Place on medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Do not bring to full boil, or you risk burning the cream.

3. Turn heat off and carefully pour liquid mixture over the chocolate chips.

4. Once the chocolate starts to melt from the heated liquid, stir from the center outward until chocolate is completely melted and combined. The mixture should look dark and shiny.

5. Place in freezer to cool, 20-30 minutes. Do not let ganache thicken too much.

6. Using a stand or electric mixer, mix until frosting is fluffy and turns a lighter color, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Pipe or spread the frosting onto the tops of the cooled cupcakes.

VANILLA CUPCAKES

Makes: 12 cupcakes

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place cupcake liners in a muffin pan.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

4. Using a stand mixer, mix sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes max.

5. Reduce to low speed. Add the egg; when completely incorporated, add the egg white. When egg white is incorporated, add the vanilla and continue to mix on low speed.

6. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter and slowly mix. Add 1/3 of the milk and continue mixing. Repeat until all of flour mixture and milk are incorporated.

7. Pour the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Bake until the cupcakes are lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

8. Once done, place pan on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Remove cupcakes and let cupcakes cool for at least an hour before you begin to frost. If they are not completely cooled down, you risk melting your frosting.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.