Sunday, 3 February 2013

Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes

Cherry topped chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream

I’ve been asked by a colleague at work to make some cupcakes for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower. Now, I've always said that I wasn’t interested in making cakes for sale, however, they only want 12 cupcakes – and I’ve not got plans for next weekend, so I decided to say yes. However, first problem – they would like 6 lemon and 6 chocolate. Lemon - I can do, no problem. Chocolate – now there’s the problem, I don’t generally make chocolate cakes (other than red velvet, which is a generally very light chocolate cake).  The truth is, I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, and less so of chocolate cake – so I just don’t generally make it!

So, I decided that I ought to have a practise this weekend – I turned to my ever reliable Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book and found their chocolate cupcake recipe right near the start. It is a bit of a faffy recipe – melting the chocolate, creaming the butter and sugar, beating the egg yolks separately (I’m not completely convinced why this is necessary – but hey, the recipe works, so who I am to argue?), whisking the egg whites to soft peaks … And the recipe says that it should be a “fairly liquid batter” – which mine definitely wasn’t – which made me very concerned. However, the cakes turned out brilliantly – incredibly light and fluffy, so all the hard work is definitely worth it!

I made one big mistake – I didn’t check how many the recipe made – and just divided the mixture between 12 cupcake cases. It appeared to fill the cases to about 2/3rds so it looked about right. However, the recipe does say that it makes 16! These cakes rose – lots! And ended up huge and spilling out of the cases – oops!

I did make one change to the standard chocolate cupcake recipe – I had some cherry brandy liqueur hanging around in the kitchen so I decided to replace 50ml 0f the milk with cherry brandy. However, this didn’t really show up in the flavour of the cupcakes – may try adding more next time. I also added a filling of cherry jam and added cherry brandy to the buttercream mixture as well.

Chocolate and Cherry Cupcakes
(makes 16)

6 cherry topped chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream

  1. 115g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  2. 85g butter, at room temperature
  3. 175g soft brown sugar
  4. 2 large eggs, separated
  5. 186g plain flour
  6. ¾ tsp baking powder
  7. ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  8. Pinch of salt
  9. 150ml milk
  10. 100ml cherry brandy liqueur
  11. Approx 4 tblsp good quality cherry jam
  12. 12 cherries


  1. 175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  2. 225g butter, at room temperature
  3. 1.5 tblsp cherry brandy
  4. 250g icing sugar
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170C and line a couple of 12 hole cupcake tins with 16 cupcake cases.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally until it is completely melted and smooth. Set to one side to cool slightly.  
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy this will take at least 5 minutes with an electric hand mixer – don’t rush this stage).
  4. In a separate bowl and with clean beaters, beat the egg yolks for several minutes.
  5. Gradually add the beaten egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well.
  6. Add the melted chocolate to the mixture and beat well.
  7. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl.
  8. Put the milk in a jug and add the cherry brandy.  
  9. Add one third of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir gently to combine.
  10. Pour in one third of the milk mixture and stir gently.
  11. Continue to add the flour mix and then milk mixture alternately, stirring gently after each addition, until all have been added.
  12. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form.
  13. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter, using a metal spoon. Do not beat or you will lose the air.
  14. Spoon mixture into the cupcake cases, filling to about 1/2 full.
  15. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. The cakes will spring back lightly when touched, if cooked.
  16. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in tin for about 10 minutes, before carefully placing on a wire rack to finish cooling. 
  17. While the cakes are in the oven, make up the buttercream:
  18. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a glass bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally until it is completely melted and smooth. Set to one side to cool slightly. 
  19. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cherry brandy and half of the icing sugar until smooth.
  20. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.
  21. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy.

To fill and decorate:

  1. Once cakes are cooked and cooled, use a tea spoon to cut a cone out from the centre of the cakes.
  2. Cut the top disk off each cone and retain.
  3. Fill the hole in each cake with a teaspoon of cherry jam and then replace a cake disk onto each cake to seal the hole.
  4. Place buttercream into an icing bag with a star shaped nozzle (I use the Wilton 1M nozzle). Swirl onto cupcakes.
  5. Top each cake with a cherry (you could drizzle the cherries with melted chocolate).

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