It’s been a while and I’ve really missed doing this. But Deepavali festivities were time-consuming, and things have finally winded down so here I am, back again! For the past few weeks, ever since I started my quest to discover a kickass chocolate fudge cake recipe I’ve been battling with a profound question. Would it be better to make a cake that had pure melted chocolate in it and frost it with buttercream made with cocoa, or a cake made with cocoa and frosted with cream which had real melted chocolate in it? I mean, where does the more pronounced chocolate flavor come from? If it is to be the frosting, then it would make sense to use the best quality real chocolate in it right? But what about the cake…could you make a fudgy, unmistakably chocolatey cake with just cocoa? Hmmm…the wheels in my head are turning….And to top this deeply philosophical conundrum , I never had a chance to taste the Christine France chocolate fudge cake I made since it was for a birthday order so I didn’t know the effect of real chocolate in cake, although I did conclude then that cocoa powder in frosting just didn’t cut it. So the next stage in this mystery was to discover how a real chocolate frosting would taste and here, dear Williams Sonoma came to my aid. I modified his recipe for chocolate buttercream to go with some cupcakes and the verdict is that real chocolate definitely nails cocoa powder to the ground. It does seem quite logical when you think about it, given the richness of real chocolate but the difference in taste and texture is definitely striking. Note to self: Never scrimp on ingredients for chocolate frosting.
My only grouse about his recipe was that while the frosting tasted good, it was a little lighter than I’d expected it to be, given the picture on his site. I wanted a dark chocolate- colored frosting and this one was a few shades off. But adding more chocolate, which would certainly darken it, would also thin the frosting too much. What’s a baker to do?
But that’s another puzzle to be solved another day
To answer the question of cocoa VS chocolate in cake however, I made Nigella Lawson’s famed chocolate fudge cake from her book, Nigella Bites. It is quite a lengthy recipe and uses a fair number of bowls and spatulas but the taste of these cupcakes was well worth it. Decidedly chocolatey and slightly fudgy, they tasted best today, once they had a full day to sit around and mellow. I can’t compare it with Christine France’s cake but on its own, Nigella’s cake is definitely a winner….so perhaps a cocoa cake topped with chocolate frosting is the way to go.
A riddle solved. Partially at least. I have to make the chocolate cake again another day to do a taste comparison. But for now, I’ll happily settle for these Nigella cupcakes with chocolate mint buttercream.
Nigella’s Chocolate Fudge Cake
(makes about 30 regular sized cupcakes)
400g plain flour
250g caster sugar
100g light muscavado sugar
50g cocoa powder
2tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
142ml sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla
175g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
125ml corn oil
300ml chilled water
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F. Arrange cupcake liners on a baking sheet.
2. Melt the butter on the stovetop or microwave and let cool to room temperature.
4. Whisk the eggs, sour cream and vanilla together until a smooth mixture forms.
5. Using electric beaters, blend the oil and butter. Beat in the chilled water.
6. Add all the dry ingredients at once and on low speed, slowly incorporate them into the oil, butter and water mixture.
7. Add the egg and sour cream mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth batter forms, about 2 mins.
8. Spoon the batter into cupcake holders, filling only halfway up the sides of the hodlers(cos they rise alot), and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Chocolate Mint Buttercream
(adapted from Williams Sonoma)
8oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)
5 cups icing sugar, sifted
250g unsalted butter, softened
1/4tsp peppermint essence
1/4 tsp salt
1. Melt chocolate atop a double boiler or in the microwave and leave to cool completely.
2. Combine the icing sugar, soft butter, milk, essence and salt with a spatula and then beat the mixture on low speed for a minute. Increase the speed to medium and cream for about 5minutes, until the buttercream is fluffy and light.
3. Add the cooled chocolate and continue to beat on medium speed for another two minutes. Add more milk if neccessary to get frosting to the right consistency.