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Sunday, 18 September 2011

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Also known as the ‘Plumptious Beauties’

So this post is a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess.’  Her books are fantastic, incredibly well written with just the right mix of story, memory, interesting recipes and photos.  I do find that the portion-control is a little off though, as are some of the quantities and timings.  I can’t really make my mind up about Nigella.  My feminist self basically gets into a bit of a knot about the whole thing.  Do modern women want to be seen as domestic goddesses? What does a domestic goddess even mean in this day and age?  I have spent most of my life with various people telling me that a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – as if this is the main reason why I should be really pushing myself with my cooking. Nigella pouting suggestively at the camera while plunging half a cut lemon into an overly-phallic juicer doesn’t really help.  My new mantra will probably by WWCMD? (what would Caitlin Moran do).

I’m not sure what my feminist-self would say about the outfit I put on specifically to bake these cupcakes.  I got a bit carried away really.  It all started with a new cookbook – The Vintage Tea Party Book by Angel Adoree.  This is one of the best things I have spent money on in a long time.  It is an incredibly beautiful book, with great recipes and really cute little touches like invitation stencils, fascinator making, how to get your victory curls perfect and tie headscarf, 1950s style.  So for my day of baking I decided that a headscarf was probably a good idea (all for the sake of hygiene of course), as was a proper apron.  Then I had to put my pearl necklace on, and then the whole ensemble looked really half-done without the addition of red lipstick.  So there I was, dressed up and feeling a bit silly as a stepford wife, baking.  AND I LOVED IT.  Now what would Caitlin say to that??

And now for the recipe.  These were in fact the first cupcakes I ever made, in my house in Dawlish Road when I was in the second year of university in Birmingham.  I over-filled the cases and they mushroomed over the top, in a style known affectionately as ‘Hiroshima cupcakes.’  According to Niki Segnit’s Flavour Thesaurus (love love) cherry and chocolate is a ‘winning combination’ and she even refers to this recipe as an example of how well they work together! Due to the melted chocolate and jam these cupcakes are much denser than regular ones, but they are really yummy.  Nigella says that this makes 12 – she must be using gigantic cupcake cases or something, because I made about 28 cakes from 1 of these batches!  You could of course make them in a muffin tin – but they are quite rich and unless you are a major chocaholic, it might be a bit much.

For the cupcakes
125g unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300g morello cherry jam (I usually use the Tiptree black cherry jam, but this time I used Sainsburys special selection red cherry jam, which was a little more sharp and gave a really nice flavour).
150g caster sugar (or a bit less, depending on how sweet the jam you are using is)
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten (usually I just use a fork, but I think the next time I try this I will use a whisk, and try to properly aerate them, might make the cupcakes a bit lighter)
150g self-raising flour

for the topping
150g dark chocolate
100ml double cream (I never have any cream, and tend to just use a blob of butter, about 20g worth I reckon)
glace cherries – some shops stock natural coloured glace cherries, which are incredibly classy (or, as classy as a glace cherry can be) the lurid pink of the normal kind is pretty perfect for a cupcake though.

Preheat the oven to 180c, or about 160-170 if using a fan oven (recommend).

Put the butter in a saucepan or large microwave-safe bowl and melt.  When melted, take off the heat and stir in the broken up chocolate.  There will be enough residual heat to perfectly melt the chocolate without it seizing (chocolate melts at exactly body heat – isn’t that good to know??).  Once the chocolate is melted add the jam, sugar, salt and eggs.  Stir it all up and when its amalgamated add in the flour, and combine.

Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases to about 2 thirds full.  This is possibly the best tasting cake batter ever – so make sure you lick the bowl.  Now I know that I’m not 6 anymore, but that is definitely the best part of baking, possibly the only reason to bake in the first place.  Bake for about 25 minutes.  These cakes will be a little wobbly when they first come out of the oven, because of all the chocolate, but they will harden up as they cool.

When they are cool melt the chocolate with the cream or butter, and generously coat the top of each cake, and top with a cherry.

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