This week has been the first exciting week since The Husband and I have arrived in England; I have two (yes, TWO!) job interviews on Thursday, and I’m also going to have two reasons to bake. Huzzah! Today was the first baking session – cupcakes for my friend Jodie to take to a fundraiser being held at her work, which is hoping to raise money for a local boy with cerebral palsy. I’ve never baked for a fundraiser before, but it was lovely cooking this morning, knowing that the cupcakes will be part of such a wonderful cause.
Jodie left it up to me to choose the flavour, and I immediately knew what I wanted to do. Now that March has rolled around here in the UK, berries in the local supermarket are finally coming down in price a little bit and they’ve been calling my name. I wanted to make something that everyone likes (I mean, the more people that buy the cupcakes, the better!) so chocolate was the obvious choice, but I wanted to incorporate those gorgeous berries somehow. So, here we are: chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream. They’ve already had the tick of approval from The Husband (otherwise known as the self-appointed Independent Taste Tester) and my mother in law, so that’s a start! This is a new recipe for me – I saw this cake here on Martha Stewart’s website, and I’ve just used it to make cupcakes and altered it very slightly. The buttercream is just my normal buttercream recipe with raspberries thrown into the mix!
CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH RASPBERRY BUTTERCREAM
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 eggs, whole
2 egg yolks
180g dark chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 tablespoon water
1 cup buttermilk (I used one cup of semi-skimmed milk with one tablespoon of lemon juice added to it)
Firstly, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 4). Line cupcake/muffin trays with 24 cupcake papers and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl (I used my stand mixer’s bowl, but any large mixing bowl will do if you’re using hand held beaters), beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed for 3 – 4 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and the egg yolks one at a time, beating for two minutes after each addition.
Beat in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate until the mixture becomes glossy.
In a separate cup or bowl, combine the coffee with the water and pour into the cake batter, beating on high for 20 – 30 seconds to combine.
Set the mixer to the lowest speed and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk. Make sure that the flour is the first and last thing you add!
Spoon the mixture into your prepared cupcake papers and bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool on racks for 30 minutes before decorating.
MAKES 24 CUPCAKES
I learnt a handy little trick the other day – I was reading Marian Keyes’ blog, the gorgeous Irish author who’s been suffering from severe depression for the past two years. She’s taken to baking as a means of helping to overcome her mental health issues, and I’m absolutely ecstatic to read that she’s starting to feel a little more like her old self. She’s even got some youtube tutorials for her baking, and (maybe I’m slow on the uptake) I’d never thought to cover my mixer with a tea towel to stop the icing sugar exploding everywhere. Thank you, Marian!
I’ve just ordered her new book, which is about her baking adventures, and I can’t WAIT to get it!
Sticking with all things Irish, I was very excited to find my favourite UK butter marked down in price when I was shopping for ingredients – The Husband and I are currently a little short on cash, but it was only 1p more than the supermarket brand. Winner!
Now I’ll shut up! On with the show…
200g salted butter, softened
8 cups icing sugar, sifted (plus extra)
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup fresh raspberries (plus extra, for decorating)
In a large bowl, beat the butter on high speed for 5 minutes until light, creamy and fluffy.
Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the sifted icing sugar to the butter and cover your mixer with a tea towel before switching on low speed. Slowly increase the speed as the icing sugar is incorporated until the mixer is running on high. After a minute or so, it’s safe to remove the tea towel! Just leave the mixer running until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Add the remaining icing sugar and repeat the tea towel process.
You might notice that the icing seems a little on the thick side at this point – don’t worry, though! You’ll probably need to add more icing sugar once the raspberries have gone in. You’ll see!
Pour the raspberries into the buttercream mixture and beat on high for two minutes, until the raspberries are well distributed.
Once the raspberries are fully incorporated, you’ll need to add the extra icing sugar to thicken it again. I added an extra 1 1/3 cups – add as much as you like to get it to a spreadable consistency that you’re happy with.
Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream. I used a large, open star tip, then drizzled with melted chocolate and topped with the extra raspberries.