Inspired by my visit to Sprinkles Cupcake Bakery in Beverly Hills last week – as well as the anticipation and excitement of Christmas – it seemed like the ideal time to bake these festive treats at the weekend. The cakes themselves are indulgent and moist, and the icing and decorations compliment both the chocolate and the season perfectly.
I made regular size cakes on this occasion – some of which were destined to be gifts – but it’s also fun to make lots of mini cupcakes, which can work well at various social gatherings, parties, celebrations or shindigs over the holiday period. Instead of using crushed striped peppermints to top them (as I did), you could use grated or flaked white chocolate (to resemble snow), or any other Christmas-themed decoration that takes your fancy.
The recipe is taken from the fabulous Primrose Bakery cook book.
Recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Icing
For the chocolate cupcakes:
4 oz good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 oz soft brown sugar
2 large eggs (free range), separated
6 ½ oz plain flour, sifted
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
250ml semi-skimmed (2%) milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
This makes 16 regular or 48 mini cupcakes
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.
Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream until it is pale and smooth, using an electric hand mixer.
In a separate bowl – and with clean beaters – beat the egg yolks for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well. Follow with the melted chocolate, again beating well.
Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract. Add ⅓ of the flour to the chocolate mixture and beat well. Pour in ⅓ of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Carefully – gently – fold the egg whites into the batter, using a metal spoon.
Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about ⅔ full.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (regular size) or 15 minutes (mini size). Check they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake – it should come out clean. Leave them to cool in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing on a wire rack, icing them when they are completely cool.
For the Peppermint Buttercream Icing
4 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
60 ml semi-skimmed (2%) milk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon good-quality peppermint extract (or more / less depending on how minty you want the icing)
500g icing sugar
A few drops of green food colouring
Plus your choice of decoration
Gradually add the rest of the icing sugar and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
Add a drop of green food colouring and beat thoroughly. This will give you a pale pastel green to which you can add more colouring – a drop at a time, beating well after each addition – if required.
Use the icing to decorate your chocolate cupcakes, adding a festive topping of your choice.