Cupcakes & Small Cakes, Halloween

Devilishly Wicked Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea-salt Buttercream

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.

wicked chocolate cupcakes 5 - the pink rose bakery

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.

wicked chocolate cupcakes 1 - the pink rose bakery

The second was the buttercream. Salty buttercream. Can we talk about it for a moment?

wicked chocolate cupcakes 3 - the pink rose bakery

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.

wicked chocolate cupcakes 4 - the pink rose bakery


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.

wicked chocolate cupcakes 6 - the pink rose bakery

Devilishly Wicked Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea-salt Buttercream

  • Servings: 10 - 12 cupcakes
  • Print


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


  1. 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.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 Celsius / 160 fan / 350 Fahrenheit. Line a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled add the sugar, oil, eggs, vinegar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
  4. Sift in the flour, ground almonds, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk until everything is just incorporated.
  5. Divide the mixture between the paper cases, filling each one until approx. 80% full. Pressย a small piece of milk chocolate into the centre of each cake.
  6. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the edge comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Once the cakes are completely cold, top each one with the buttercream.

ยฉ The Pink Rose Bakery 2014

Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups.

Recipe also entered into Cook Blog Share. Click on the logo below to see more entries.



9 thoughts on “Devilishly Wicked Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Sea-salt Buttercream”

  1. Sigh… I will not be allowed to rest until that vanilla sea-salt buttercream has featured somewhere, and preferably on dark chocolate cupcakes. The HoC is a manic fan of salty sweet stuff. I like it too, but not to quite the same extent. I foresee even more time being spent hauling and unpacking cardboard boxes to make up for it… ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. I too am a fan of the salty-sweet combo, especially popcorn. I have to stop myself from buying bags of the stuff at the supermarket.

      At least you have boxes to haul and unpack in order to work it off. I have had to do a few extra trips round the block . . .


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