chocolate cupcakes, two ways

After a sugartastic day at the Cake International exhibition at the Birmingham NEC last Saturday, a friend and I decided to bake cupcakes for another pal’s birthday party last night. The theme was ‘Achromatic Farce on the Earth: the flawed duality of our society’s systems – recession/growth, Tory/Labour etc etc..’ (deep), so we opted to make one batch of white cakes and one batch of black. I was tasked with the latter…which was more difficult to pull off than I anticipated.

I ended up opting for chocolate cupcakes with black icing, jazzed up with edible gold and pink glitter – some of my booty from the Cake show – and a tiny piece of licorice.

The cake recipe I used was courtesy of Janine Rose, who led a cupcake decorating workshop I recently attended at the Make Lounge in Islington – highly recommended if you’re able to get one of the much sought-after places.

Chocolate Cupcakes

250g unsalted butter

250g caster sugar

3 eggs

240g self-raising flour

50g cocoa

145ml full-fat milk

Preheat oven to 165C. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs. Fold in the sifted flour and cocoa, and then the milk. Put mixture into cupcake cases (fill each one about two-thirds of the way to the top) and bake for 18 minutes or until a skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean.

Makes 24 cakes.

The white cupcakes my friend made were angel cake with meringue topping, and I’m pleased to say that both black and white went down a storm at the party. One of the guests even asked if I had my own baking business – which I think is one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received!

— — —

Today one of my Nan’s friends came round for Sunday lunch and I decided to decorate the remaining cupcakes from the batch above in her honour. My Nan, to whom my sister and I were extremely close, passed away earlier this year and it’s very important to us to stay in touch with the people who meant a great deal to her. When we were younger, my sis and I frequently went to stay with our grandparents and often went swimming at the local pool with our Nan and this friend, who would, without fail, come bearing bags of Cadbury’s Crunchies and a few pound coins for my sister and me.

I knew that Crunchies had to feature somewhere in the decoration, and ended up keeping it quite simple with a chocolate glaze topped with a golden nugget of honeycomb. In my opinion these ones looked much more appetising than the others (black food doesn’t really do it for me), and they were incredibly rich and delicious. The icing recipe is below; it was so simple but beautifully effective, resulting in a glossy covering that held its shape without being too hard.

Chocolate Glaze, adapted from this recipe at

40g unsalted butter

280g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)

Melt butter and the broken up chocolate in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  tir frequently until smooth. Remove from heat and use before it sets.

Which ones are your favourite?


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