I first got into baking when I set myself the challenge to bake the perfect cupcake. This did not end well. After spending the entire day in the kitchen with little more than a spoon, some dodgy scales and very little actual baking knowledge I managed to achieve hard cakes with very runny icing.
This was at least four years ago.
For a short period of time I was adamant that I was not made for baking and hung up the apron and hid away the dodgy scales. But then I developed a secret habit of watching cooking programmes. It started with a sly Come Dine with Me marathon on a Sunday afternoon, then it moved on to sneaky Jamie’s 30 minute meals before Mr M came home, slowly it progressed onto reruns of Nigella’s kitchen then Saturday morning kitchen,thenSundayBrunch,andbeforeIknewitIwasoutandout,fullon THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF.
By the time GBBO (that’s right I abbreviate, I’m cool) entered my life I was making great progress in the kitchen. Not just with baking but with actual cooking. And I had picked up on the unspoken challenge once more. The perfect cupcake would be MINE! *ahem* sorry.
Armed with my new found baking knowledge and skills in the kitchen I donned my apron (figuratively speaking. Although I do wish I had of put on an apron because I slopped a massive splodge of chocolate down my jeans. Not dignified. Remember kids, always wear an apron!), took out my new shiny scales and baked.
I baked for forty days and forty nights…..oh wait……..no. That’s wrong. I spent a few stress free afternoons mixing, baking and generally getting flour everywhere before I felt I had achieved my goal; the perfect cupcake. Light and fluffy vanilla sponge with a beautiful butter cream frosting, coloured to suit the mood…….
Of course that was then, this is now. I have since been thinking; how can the perfect cupcake not have chocolate?! Seriously, what was I thinking?!
Meet these little devils……..
Devil’s Food Cake cupcakes with a chocolate ganache topping and white chocolate shavings. Ooomph!
If you need a bit of devilishness in your life here’s my recipe (I have stolen a few bits of a couple of recipes and added some Explorer shaped twists):
50g Cocoa Powder
100g Dark Muscavado Sugar
250ml Boiling water
225g plain flour
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Bicarbonate of soda
150g Caster Sugar
150g Unsalted butter
1tsp Vanilla Essence
I cannot rave about this amazing vanilla paste enough! I love it. It packs a really vanilla-y punch and it lasts forever. Plus I feel chef-y when I use it!
I love a spotty Egg!
Preheat oven to 175˚C (for a fan assisted oven).
Get your equipment to assemble....
.....the trusty bowl........
.....the special baking spoon........
....and these baby's. These are an absolute God send for me. They are the cup measurements that most American recipes come in, so I don't need to use a converter, just use the correct cup!
1. In a bowl put Cocoa Powder and Muscavado sugar into a bowl and then pour over the boiling water, whisk well then leave to cool.
I love the smell of Muscavado sugar.....it is one of my favourite smells.
2. In a second bowl sift together the baking powder, flour and bicarbonate of soda, then put to one side.
3. For this step you will need to use a large bowl as this will end up being your main bowl. Cream together the caster sugar and butter.
4. Add your eggs one by one into the creamed butter mix, adding a spoon of the flour mix each time to prevent curdling.
5. Gently mix in the remaining flour.
6. By this point your cocoa mix should have cooled, add it to your mixture.
7. Mix well then pour the mixture into a jug then pour into pretty muffin cases until they are about two thirds full.
The mixture will be very runny and that is how it should be, however it is a bit on a pain to spoon into cases rather than pour. Whatever you do don’t try and pour it out of the bowl…..you will achieve nothing but a rather amusing chocolate tsunami. N.B it won’t be amusing to you.
8. They should bake in 20 minutes however keep your eye on them from about 10 minutes onwards…..it is very oven dependent, they may end up taking half an hour.
9. You will know they are baked when you press gently on them and they fight back with a little spring in their step. (The cupcakes may have cracks along the top, this is normal……..they are under a lot of pressure…..best cupcake title and all that.) allow the little devils to cool completely.
As if by magic!
Now for your ganache. I love ganache.
You will need an equal chocolate to double cream ratio. I used 300g of chocolate and 300ml of double cream, this allowed enough for the cakes with a little left over and some for spilling down my jeans. Now ganache should be shiny, if you want it properly shiny then stick with dark chocolate, if you aren’t a big fan of dark chocolate (a surprising amount of people aren’t) then use 200g of dark and 100g milk, this keeps the shine but takes some of the intensity off. If you’re not too fussed about having a shine add more milk chocolate to your taste. I did the 200g to 100g mix and it tasted great. The dark chocolate does work in this recipe because the cake balances the intensity out.
Anyway, lecture over, put your cream into a pan and heat until it just starts to boil (I usually wait until the first bubble surfaces in the middle) make sure to stir it so it doesn't burn.
Once you have achieved the appropriate bubbleage take it off the heat and add in your chocolate. Stir it all until the chocolate is melted……don’t over stir or you will work the shine out of it.
Now you can spoon your ganache onto your cooled cupcakes.
Leave the whole thing to set OUT OF THE FRIDGE. The fridge likes to steal your shine too. Once it has set to the touch take some lovely white chocolate and a peeler, and shave little bits of chocolatey snow over the top.
Completely chocolately cupcakes. Seriously, what’s better?