One of my favourite sayings is “everything in moderation, including moderation”. I believe Nigella may have quoted it on at least one occasion.
It’s similar to the 80/20 rule – be good 80% of the time and you can get away with being naughty for the other 20%.
These cupcakes definitely fall into the 20%. They are not intended to be healthy, or good for you – in the traditional sense, although they would come under the “a little of what you fancy does you good” category.
They are pure indulgence. Delightfully wicked indulgence.
I made them with Halloween in mind, hence the title. I thought we needed something grown up.
I first saw them over on Lady & Pups and I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind since. The first draw was the depth of colour of the cakes – such a dark brown they are almost black. So much more inviting than a timid brown cake. In my mind at least.
The second was the buttercream. Salty buttercream. Can we talk about it for a moment?
Normally, if I am honest, I am not a huge fan of frosting. I tend to see it as a necessity, the finishing touch, something to stop a cake being too dry. I know that for some, cake is purely a vehicle with which to get frosting into your mouth. The cake is secondary to the frosting, whereas for me it is the other way round. Until now.
This vanilla sea-salt buttercream has opened my eyes – and taste buds – to a whole new world. I have never, in all my years of baking, licked every last morsel of frosting from a bowl. But I am not ashamed to say that I did with this. If I could have put my head inside the Kitchen Aid bowl, then I would have. It was like eating soft vanilla ice cream, with a delicate salty undertone.
And it is delicate. I don’t want you to think that salt is the predominate flavour – it manages to make the vanilla more vanilla and the butter more buttery whilst also peaking its head into the party without becoming the centre of attention. Almost like a male dancer – he’s there, but really his main purpose is to show off the lady.
Did I just compare cake to dancing?
Moving on . . .
Make them, eat them, enjoy them. Then run a little further, do a few extra lengths of the pool, walk a little faster to work or with the dog. Sometimes we all need a little treat.
Devilishly Wicked Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea-salt Buttercream
For the cakes:
- 85g dark chocolate
- 31g cocoa powder
- 163g hot coffee
- 125g dark muscovado sugar
- 84g vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 64g rice flour
- 32g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp sea-salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- small square of milk chocolate for each cake
For the buttercream:
- 153g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea-salt
- 320g powdered sugar
- 40ml milk
- Place the chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Pour over the coffee and mix until the chocolate has completely melted. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 Celsius / 160 fan / 350 Fahrenheit. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
- Once the chocolate mixture has cooled add the sugar, oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
- Sift in the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until everything is just incorporated.
- Divide the mixture between the paper cases, filling each one until approx. 80% full. Press a small piece of milk chocolate into the centre of each cake.
- Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the edge comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the buttercream, place the butter, vanilla, salt and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand instead if you wish). Give it a quick beat on a medium speed. It will be lumpy at this point.
- Add the powdered sugar gradually, beating well in-between each addition. You can add the sugar all at once, but I find that adding it a bit at a time prevents the asphyxiating cloud of sugar that so often happens.
- Once the cakes are completely cold, top each one with the buttercream.
© The Pink Rose Bakery 2014
Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups.