It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? In fact, I’ve neglected you for almost 2 months, and I’m hoping you’ll forgive me.
I know that there is a gazillion interesting food blogs out there on the big ol’ internet, but I know that a lot of you have been thinking of me (some of you have even been darling enough to send me incredibly lovely emails asking if I’ve dropped off the face of the earth). The fact that you keep me and this little piece of the web in mind is enough to warm the cockles of my heart.
You know, I was once dating a surgeon (in training) and asked him whereabouts heart cockles were, anatomically speaking…though, thinking back now, the look that he gave me in response foreshadowed the imminent end of that particular association. But the fact that he never answered my question still leaves me convinced that my heart does have a cockle. Or cockles, plural.
But back to the blog.
So what’s been happening in the two months that I’ve left you hanging?
Well, there has been a LOT of cooking, some of my old favourites as well as some new recipes that I’m working on (I promise that I’ll finish the recipe for pistachio panna cotta before the month is out!), but the biggest milestone is that after a year of dreading the occasion, I’ve finally turned 28.
As my wonderful sister and brother inform me, that brings me within tickling distance of the big 3-0.
I know that they say 30 is the new 20, but I’m afraid the new milestone has left me and my family a tad perplexed. I’m also rather sure that my mother is now fearful that I will never present her with a howling, drooling, pooping lump of baby…but as I point out to her whenever she brings this up, she is already a grandmother to Mr Woofy:
Judging by the way she yells obscenities about having a furry, four-legged drooler for a grandchild and storms off, I’m guessing she still hasn’t quite come to terms with that idea.
At any rate, if there is a surefire cure for a case of down-in-the-dumpsville (whether it be caused by encroaching older age or something equally as mediocre), it is most definitely some delightfully decadent cupcakes.
And my darlings, if you’re looking for indulgence, then I implore you to try these quite sinful little cakes. However, the first bite MUST be had while sitting back with your feet up, a cup of coffee/tea in hand, and with nothing to distract you from just how fabulous they are!
(makes approx 30-40, depending on the size of your cupcake liners)
140g good quality dark chocolate, melted
2 cups cake flour (though it works perfectly well with plain / all-purpose flour as well)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
5 tbsp cocoa powder
6 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water, then cooled
2 1/2 tsp baking soda / bicarb soda
4 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
120g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
360g caster sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, then whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In another large bowl (I prefer a large plastic measuring jug), combine the buttermilk, cocoa powder, instant coffee, melted chocolate and baking soda.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together, then add your vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Once the mixture is fluffy and pale golden, beat in the buttermilk mixture and the flour till just combined.
4. Line a cupcake tray with papers, fill each cupcake liner 1/2 full and bake for 15-20 minutes, or till a skewer inserted into the middle comes out just clean (you definitely don’t want to overbake these tender morsels).
5. Once baked, allow them to cool
Mocha buttercream ingredients
200g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
50g dark chocolate, melted
4 tbsp instant coffee, dissolved in 4 tbsp hot milk
4 tbsp cocoa powder
5-6 cups pure icing sugar (depends on how stiff you like your icing)
1. Beat the butter till it becomes fluffy and pale, then add 1 cup icing sugar and beat for 5 minutes at high speed or till fluffy.
2. Add the melted chocolate, cocoa powder and dissolved coffee and beat again at high speed till well combined (the mixture may look slightly curdled at this point – but don’t worry, we’ll fix that in a bit).
3. Add the rest of the icing sugar, 1 cup at a time. Make sure that you beat in each cup for about 5-10 minutes at high speed to ensure that the icing sugar becomes well incorporated and stays light and fluffy.
4. Once the buttercream is finished, use immediately to decorate the cupcakes. If making this ahead of time, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge. However, you will need to bring it back to room temperature and beat it for another 5-10 minutes before using to bring the softness and fluffiness back to it.
If you’re planning on making these cupcakes a few days in advance, then a good way to keep them moist is to use some sugar syrup once their baked.
Measure out caster sugar and water in a ratio of 1:1, then simmer in a small saucepan till the sugar has completely dissolved, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, prick the cupcakes all over with a skewer and give them a good brush over the top with the syrup. I’ve found that even uniced cupcakes will stay relatively soft and moist for up to a week if you use this method!