Cocoa cupcakes

Remember when I said I was a much more accomplished cook than baker? The main reason for this is simply practice. In order to get better at something you have to do it more than once or twice and in order to refine it you have ensure it becomes like second nature. This cannot be said for my baking because if I'm making cupcakes, I'm eating cupcakes and if I'm eating cupcakes I'm going to end up fatcakes. I'm a girl, this is a concern. Therefore when the occasion arises where cupcakes are a sure requirement, like, say a birthday party, then I get my chance to conjur up some sweet delights without the guilt of knowing I'm the only one eating them. I had wanted to try Joy The Baker's Sweetheart Rose Cupcakes minus the frosting but I got lazy on the day and just ammended Nigella's basic cupcake recipe. I was also excited to finally get to use my retro cupcake cases that I'd recently purchased in Oliver Bonas - God I love that shop! On the same day I found some outrageous mini chopsticks with strawberries printed on them, how cute is that? I digress. The making of said cupcakes went smoothly and bearing in mind I don't have one of those fancy kitchenaids and have to do everything by hand, I ended up with a fanastic  batter (yes, hubbie and I licked the bowl clean!).

I don't know why I got such a bee in my bonnet regarding the cocoa bit, I could just as easily have made plain vanilla but I have a massive tub of the stuff in my cupboard and I'm always trying to find ways to include it in my sweet dishes. This turned out to be a wise move when it came to my icing choice, which I only decided upon after the cupcakes had come out of the oven - see, this is why you need to practice these things! What I really wanted to do was a white chocolate cream cheese frosting (I'd already bought the required bits) but realised these were going to be a nightmare to transport to the Birthday venue, so a basic lime icing it was. An accidental but brilliant combination, which was enjoyed by one and all - especially loved were the cheeky white chocolate chunks I'd popped on top. The birthday boy himself was much appreciative and I felt pretty good about my effort and contribution to the evening. Cupcakes do equal happiness.............but only on a special, now and again, once in a while occasion!


125g flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

125g sugar (pref. caster but I used granulated and it was fine)

125g soft unsalted butter

2 eggs

teaspoon real vanilla extract

1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder

2 tablespoons milk

12 cupcake cases


icing sugar

juice of 1 lime

white chocolate chunks

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and arrange your cases either on a baking tray or in a muffin tin. I'm away from my real kitchen so I had to make do with the baking tray option.

Measure everything out. Put the flour in a bowl with the baking powder and bicarbonate soda - please err on the side of caution with regards to the 1/4 teaspoon measurement, less is more if you get my drift - you don't want little exploding cupcakes on your hands. The alternative would be to use self raising flour but I never have this in my cupboard:) Add the cocoa powder to the flour and thoroughly combine so you get a light brown mixture.

I do everything by hand so I creamed the butter and sugar in a bowl using a spoon and then added the eggs one at a time. Fold in half of the flour/cocoa mixture and then add the vanilla extract - I suppose this is optional but I feel it gives an extra boost to the overall flavour of the cupcake, which can't be bad. Then fold in the remainder of the flour and then add one tablespoon of the milk. If the mixture is that of a dropping consistency, basically not too thick nor thin then there is no need to add the other tablespoon of milk. If it doesn't look as if it will pour easily then by all means do add the milk but you don't want it too runny. I transferred the batter to a measuring jug, as it was much easier to pour into the cases this way, you could spoon it in if you wish. Make sure you don't fill them to the top of the cases, I reckon about two thirds of the way should do it. There shouldn't be any batter left after filling 12 cases but if there is just add another case.

Pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Mine were ready in 15 but every oven is different so just check them with a toothpick. If it comes out clean they are good to go. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Don't ice these babies until they are completely cool.

Now for the icing. I haven't put any measurements for the icing because this is one you really have to play by ear. Initially add three heaped tablespoons to a bowl and gradually add the lime juice, stirring all the while. Add more sugar and juice as desired and mix thoroughly. When you get a thickish consistency that will be relatively easy to spread that's what you want - I use the back of a spoon to smooth it over the cakes. Top the cupcakes with a medium layer of icing, try to not overdo it otherwise they will be too sickly sweet and will refuse to set. At this stage top with the white chocolate chunks - I added three to each, odd numbers always work best for food I think. The icing will set a little but won't create a hard shell and they will, I assure you, taste scrumdiddlyumptious!

Maybe I won't wait until a birthday to make these again:)

dessertAine Carlin