I came back from university a few weeks ago and as soon as I got home I was inundated with messages from friends about how they really wanted to come round and make cake after spending all term drooling over the pictures I have been posting on Facebook (oh the joys of social networking, I have been so cruel tantalising people :p ).
So, I invited them round this weekend to make our famous (or will be one day, fingers crossed) cupcakes. The weather was absolutely gorgeous so we went on a virtuous walk first in an effort to counteract the effect that the vast quantity of cake might otherwise have had…
I decided that we were not just going to make any old vanilla, chocolate or other such ordinary cupcakes so decided on the theme Chocolate and… The idea was that we would make a few combinations of chocolate with something else, some were traditional, others – not so much. After much deliberation and discussion about what would work best (you could tell we were students, we almost got the mind maps out), we decided on three combinations: Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Caramel and lastly, Chocolate and Chilli.
For all the cupcakes we used the Basic Cupcake recipe as a base and added to it.
For the Peanut Butter Cupcakes we added two tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter to the mixture. Both Ruth and I are very keen on having fillings inside the cupcakes so I decided that they would have to feature somewhere in the recipes. In order to make the Peanut Butter Cupcakes have some chocolate element that wasn’t just the buttercream, we filled them with a chocolate fudge icing. I taught my friends how to scoop out the middle of the cupcakes as we did on for the Cocktail ones so that they could be filled with a nice amount of chocolatey goodness.
The filling we used was a scaled down version of Mary Berry’s Chocolate Fudge Icing, we did less than half but if you have too much, it is delicious warmed up as a chocolate sauce on fruit (especially strawberries) or alternatively you can just lick out the pan! If you are short on time, Betty Crocker’s Fudge Icing in a pot is a good alternative although rather stiff so you may need to warm it slightly to make it easier to fill the cupcake.
For the Caramel Cupcakes we added two tablespoons of Cocoa Powder to the Basic Cupcake Recipe and filled them with a beautiful salted caramel bought all the way back from Brittany by Ruth. As I am fully aware, this is not something that is normally in everyone’s store cupboard but there are plenty of alternatives out there. If you are really adventurous you can try making it yourself, it is difficult but perfectly achievable. However you will save yourself a lot of stressful batches of burnt caramel (I speak from experience) if you buy tinned caramel (such as Carnations) and add salt to it if you desire.
Now for the more unusual Chocolate and Chilli Cupcakes. We did the same as for the caramel ones and added 2 tbsp of cocoa powder to the Basic Cupcake recipe, however, we also added a few drops of Tabasco sauce. After trying the batter, the spiciness did not hit us so we added quite a lot more. To my surprise, the spice still didn’t really come through, I think it must be because there is so much dairy in a cake batter that it acts as a coolant. We decided to change tactic and started adding chilli powder, I would advise doing this bit by bit and keep tasting the batter (what a shame) as everyone’s chilli powder is different. Ours was hot so we probably didn’t use as much as if it had been a milder one. After deciding that the batter was sufficiently spicy, I added a few extra shakes for good luck (I was convinced that cooking would reduce the chilli kick) and whacked them in the oven.
To ice, we used a chocolate buttercream on them all so that they looked uniform. We made this by replacing 50g of the icing sugar from the Basic Buttercream recipe with cocoa powder.
For the chilli cupcakes, we cut up half a fresh chilli and added it to the buttercream, just for good luck.
We all enjoyed piping the cupcakes, i still have much improving to do but did manage to hand out a few tips and the feedback from my friends was all good.
The chilli cupcakes, definitely did have a kick and the flavour was not cooked out as I expected them to be. My mum and sister thought they were delicious as did the girls.
Other potential ideas could be chocolate and coffee, chocolate and orange, chocolate and raspberry, chocolate and mint, chocolate and ginger…. experiment away!!!