Now I would be the first to admit that I’m more of your brownie, blondie, traybake, cookie type baker. Cupcakes have always just seemed so pointlessly fiddly and in the past have either tasted of eggs, not risen (2009 expiry date baking powder, I’m looking at you), been disastrously iced or pretty much just end up a hot mess.
But for my Mum’s birthday I thought I would pull out all the stops. Her all time favourite dessert is Black Forest Gateau, which for those of you who don’t know, is a terrific 80s monstrosity consisting of layers of chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries, smothered in kirsch and garishly slathered in pompous blobs of even more cream. Now I had about a 2 hour window to make this surprise when my parents went out to have birthday celebrations without me (celebrating with me tonight, so I’ll let them off). Due to something ridiculous like a 1 hour 45 minute bake, plus cooling and decorating time, I decided to considerably reduce it by transforming this classic into cupcakes. They turned out deliciously moist, light and airy with a wonderful cherry buttercream surprise inside, and my mum was delighted with them this morning!
Ingredients (makes 20 cupcakes)
- 150g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- 120ml full fat milk
- 60ml vegetable oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 80ml boiling water
- 120g butter, softened
- 250g icing sugar, sieved
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp full fat milk
- 20 glacé cherries
- decorations (silver balls, grated chocolate, chocolate chips, sprinkles)
Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases. I used silver double lined cupcake cases which were nice and strong – look for the least flimsy and see through ones so they hold their shape. Whisk together the egg, milk, oil and vanilla until combined, then carefully fold in all your dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Pour in the boiling water and mix. The cake batter will be very runny but that is A-OK, it makes for a lovely light sponge. At this stage, I poured the batter into a jug so that I could easily fill my cases, making sure they are filled just to halfway so they do not rise over the top (these are not muffins after all!).
Bake for 18-20 minutes, checking once baked that a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave them to cool in the tray for 5 minutes, then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack. Now you can bake your next batch, if like me you only have one muffin tray!
To make the icing, whisk the butter in a large bowl until light and creamy. Sift in the icing sugar and whisk until combined with no lumps, then add the milk and vanilla extract and thoroughly mix. Using a large star nozzle, fill your piping bag with the icing, and halve the glacé cherries. Now we can assemble the cupcakes. Carve out a small cone of cake from all of the cupcakes using a sharp knife.
Pipe a small blob of icing into the bottom of the well.Pop the cherry inside (tehe) and push it down, covering with another blob of icing.Put its hat back on and hey presto, you’ve filled your cupcake!Now you’re free to decorate your beautiful chocolate cupcakes in whichever way takes your fancy!
Because there is already rich buttercream inside the cake, I just swirled a small amount on top and decorated with the other halves of cherries and some silver balls. In actual fact there was also some Green and Black’s 70% Dark Chocolate grated on the top, but I was rather slapdash and didn’t direct my grating action so they looked a lot prettier pre-chocolate snow. All in all, I am pleased as punch with these and can’t wait to bake all sorts of miniature cakes! In particular Hummingbird Bakery’s Salted Caramel Cupcakes…they are firmly at the top of my To-Bake list.