Friday, July 13, 2007

Chocolate strawberry cupcakes

Last night, I managed to forgo my nightly dose of kdramas and made some cupcakes instead. I have a renewed interest in baking now that I've been introduced to a great baking supplies shop along Seah Street, and when we had to go there on an errand a couple of days ago, I picked up some cute sprinkles which just begged to be used immediately.

I've had Elinor Klivans' book for quite a while, but never got round to making any recipes in her book, always choosing to look at the pretty pictures and reading the recipes and descriptions. So this was the perfect opportunity to break out the book and start baking. It also helped that my colleague had a go at one of the recipes the day before and they turned out really good.

For my cupcakes, I went for a Nigella Lawson recipe for chocolate cherry cupcakes. Nigella's recipe calls for cherry jam, but I substituted that for a jar of Bunalun strawberry and vanilla jam I had lying around the fridge instead. The substitution worked well, but I think I added too much jam (and sugar), so the cupcakes didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. They were a little hard on the outside, and not quite cooked enough on the inside. I'll have to experiment a bit more with the measurements to get it right.

As for the frosting, I went with the chocolate buttercream recipe in my book. Having looked around at a lot of frosting recipes on the net, I've noticed that insane amounts of sugar that go into it; I guess Americans have a really sweet tooth. Also, with our climate, a lot of the frosting recipes don't work so well here. But I was very pleased to see that the chocolate buttercream held up quite well, and didn't melt into a gooey mess.

Chocolate strawberry cupcakes
Makes 10
125g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Valrhona Guanaja)
150g caster sugar (although I'd recommend no more than half a cup)
500g strawberry jam (I'd go for a little less)
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150g self-raising flour
To make, follow Nigella's directions on her site.

Chocolate buttercream frosting
Note: this makes an insane amount of frosting, so I recommend halving all the portions
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used Hershey's baking chocolate, they come in handy 1 ounce bars)
1.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Cadburys)
2 cups powdered/icing sugar
250g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla essence
0.5 cup whipping cream (I used UHT whipping cream)
  1. Melt the chocolate over a water bath, and set aside to cool once fully melted.
  2. Sift the sugar and cocoa powder together. This took quite a long time, and my arms hurt after all that sifting.
  3. Mix the butter, sugar and cocoa powder together in an electric mixer on low speed. It will start out being lumpy, but don't panic! It'll turn out nice and smooth in a bit.
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate.
  5. Add the whipping cream and vanilla essence and beat on medium speed until everything becomes creamy and the colour lightens
Spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes and decorate as desired. Offer to family and friends and bask in their praise.

PS: If you're interested in the vanilla frosting, you can try this recipe from Martha Stewart. It's a little too soft and sweet for my liking so I would reduce the amount of sugar used. The batter for the yellow cupcakes is really good though.

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