Chocolate / Cupcakes / Frostings

Nigella’s chocolate fudge cupcakes…with Williams Sonoma’s chocolate buttercream

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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)

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400g plain flour

250g caster sugar

100g light muscavado sugar

50g cocoa powder

2tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1/2tsp salt

3 eggs

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.

3. Mix the flour, sugars, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda in a large bowl using a large whisk.

4. Whisk the eggs, sour cream and vanilla together until a smooth mixture forms.

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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.

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Chocolate Mint Buttercream 

(adapted from Williams Sonoma)

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8oz bittersweet chocolate (I used Lindt 70%)

5 cups icing sugar, sifted

250g unsalted butter, softened

5tbsp milk

1/4tsp peppermint essence

1/4 tsp salt

1. Melt chocolate atop a double boiler or in the microwave and leave to cool completely.

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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.

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23 thoughts on “Nigella’s chocolate fudge cupcakes…with Williams Sonoma’s chocolate buttercream

  1. (don’t mind my father’s comments on the previous post hahahaha)

    anyway, i loveeeeeee how these cupcakes look! but i’ve a tendency to prefer one-bowl choc cakes when i have to bake often/in big batches. such a tender loving recipe like this shall be reserved for more special occasions/people. 🙂

    i’d love to try out the chocolate buttercream soon. 🙂

  2. hahaha, I still stand by what I said about your dad being the coolest!
    And I totally agree with you on the one-bowl thing..these took alot of work even though they taste good. I was so tired at the end of the night..and I hadn’t even startd on the washing up! haha.
    By the way, the chocolate cupcake recipe on chocklit’s blog (cupcake bakeshop) are phenomenal, and it’s a one-bowl recipe too! Have you ever tried them?

  3. no i haven’t. because it uses a lot of eggs! :p i shall try one day i guess. i’ve used her devil’s food cake recipe and it’s quite good. and i’ll have to try yr brownie recipe soon. i’ve always been dubious about cocoa-powder brownies, but it looks so good!

  4. Hi Maya, ya, i know the recipe has alot of eggs, but normally I quarter it so it becomes a 2-egg quantity and I get about 13-15 regular cupcakes from it…not too bad.. =)
    btw, that peach pie on your site looks delectable! haha…especially the creamy filling…I’m having such bad cravings now…

  5. HI, I LOVE CHOCOLATE AND I USED TO MAKE DELICIOUS DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CUPCKAES WITH MY NAN BUT THESE LOOK FABULOUSE

    KELLIEANN, 13

  6. HELP ME!!!!!!!

    THEY HELP PECISO TO KNOW THE NAME ME DE UMA MARK OF CACAO IN DUST THAT IS EXCELLENT, THEREFORE IN BRAZIL SO EXISTS A MARK (GOOD HERE BUT, I HAVE MUCH WILL TO HAVE A CACAO THAT HAS QUALITY BETTER. MY HUSBAND IS IN THE EUROPE THE WORK AND VAI TO BRING THE CACAO IN DUST AND BROADBEANS OF BAUNÍLIA, THEREFORE I ADORE TO MAKE CAKES AND PIES OF CHOCOLATE WITH CACAO.
    I THANK ITS GENTILITY

    I NEED THE NAME OF THE BEST COCOA…
    WHERE CAN I FIND THE BEST COCOA’S MAKE
    MY HUSBAND IS IN THE EUROPE THE WORK AND VAI TO BRING THE CACAO IN DUST AND BROADBEANS OF BAUNÍLIA, THEREFORE I ADORE TO MAKE CAKES AND PIES OF CHOCOLATE WITH CACAO. I THANK ITS GENTILITY

  7. Hey there .. I finally got to try out this recipe. I usually have some form of trouble with nigella’s recipe, dont ask me why, but this one was a smasher.. My lil taste testers loved it. Thanks again!! U have a great site btw!!

  8. Pingback: chocolate cupcakes « Lornsadaisy’s Blog

  9. Hi..have been looking for a good chocolate cupcake recipe for ages..haven’t found one I really liked till today. Baked your posted recipe..both the cupcake and the frosting for a friend’s daughter’s birthday..and they were really good. No doubt, the frosting did not have a rich dark colour..but the taste was rich, and it complimented Nigella’s cake recipe well. Thanks!!
    Have also decided to try many more of your cakes, as I am a keen baker, and have found some of your posts really fascinating. Look forward to some “bake talk” 🙂

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  11. this recipe is TASTELESS, there is something missing… i think its need chocolate or more cocoa… i spent a lot of effort and i ended up having 40 tasteless cupcakes for tomorrow’s event!!

  12. Can I just ask: is the chilled water a personal adaptation? i didnt see it in the original recipe. what does it do? i have this cake (original recipe) baking in the oven now and i’m rather worried— and wondering if the chilled water was the key to some magical chemistry process that makes it good.

  13. Surely you could use real chocolate in both the cake mix and in the buttercream? and then you could try making a cake with cocoa in both the cake and the buttercream to see which has the best flavour!

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