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Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

['1/3 cup water', '1/3 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped', '1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder', '1 ounce fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped', '3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar', '1 large egg', '1/4 teaspoon vanilla', '1/4 teaspoon baking soda', '2 tablespoons all-purpose flour', 'Vegetable oil cooking spray', '1 teaspoon confectioners sugar for dusting', 'a mini-muffin pan with 12 (1/8-cup) muffin cups', 'preferably nonstick']

Preheat oven to 325°F.
Bring water and dates just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then transfer mixture to a food processor and add cocoa powder and chocolate, pulsing once to combine. Let cool 2 minutes, then add brown sugar, egg, vanilla, baking soda, and a pinch of salt, then purée until smooth. Add flour and pulse just until incorporated.
Spray muffin cups with cooking spray. (If pan is not nonstick, line sprayed bottoms with rounds of wax paper, then spray paper.) Spoon batter into cups, dividing it evenly, and bake in middle of oven until a wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack (remove wax paper, if using) and cool completely, right side up. Just before serving, sprinkle tops lightly with confectioners sugar.

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