Saturday, June 11, 2011

Black Forest Cupcakes

This recipe comes from Tamara Jane's new book, Celebration Cupcakes, which was sent to me by the publishers to try out. I quite like the layout of the book - it's divided into sections; the cupcake recipes are first, followed by some full-sized cake recipes, fillings and frostings, and decorations. Each recipe has suggested fillings, icings and decoration but the format of the book makes it really easy to mix and match, which I think is great - so many recipe books promote doing things in exactly the same way as the author does - much more fun to add your own twist!

As a result of trying this recipe, I have a new favourite fruit. Sadly it probably won't count towards my 5+A Day, since it's best served with lashings of sugar (and indeed cupcake), but delicious all the same. What is this wonderfruit? Morello cherries! I have eaten these lovelies before, but have somehow never used them in my own baking. Those dark days are behind us now, though, never fear! 

The cherries are the magical extra ingredient, and if you don't want to make cupcakes you should at least make this filling. It takes all of five minutes and is wonderful with just about any dessert (it goes excellently with truffle torte, for example). Or with ice-cream. Or yoghurt. Or just by the spoonful on its own. ;-)

The cupcakes themselves are pretty much mud cake - no creaming involved, just melt the gooey stuff and add the dry ingredients.I melted my ingredients on the stove but the microwave is probably an easier option - I like to do things the hard way. ;-)

And then you pretty much just mix it all together - super easy. 

Aside from being easy to throw together, I love mud cake because it doesn't rise much, so it's easy to make perfect looking cupcakes. No peaky tops here! 

The recommended icing is ganache, and here I deviated slightly. I prefer to make ganache with the cream in a saucepan, as recommended by George Havlik of Bohemien, to avoid overheating, whereas Tamara Jane's recipe has both chocolate and cream heated together in the microwave. She does give good direction (take it out when almost boiling) but I find it harder to see what's going on and too easy to forget to watch it so I went with the way I knew. It needed to cool overnight to firm up - but it was actually too firm when I went to pipe my cupcakes, so I had to carefully zap it for short bursts to soften it up enough to push through a nozzle. I think a softer ganache would be better - though it tasted good!

Before piping, though, the all-important cherry filling has to go in. This really is the star, and though both the cake and icing were very good, they were good in a regular mmm-this-is-decadent-and-chocolatey way - the cherries are a wee bit different, a bit tart and well worth the effort.

Unfortunately (sorry!) my photos of the finished product were a bit lacking - that would be a result of piping them before work, on a day where I would have preferred to have stayed in bed (still fighting the tail end of my cold - sometimes it really does pay to concede defeat when these things first rear their ugly heads. I promise I didn't breathe on the cupcakes - I don't seem to have poisoned anyone!). So see above for Tamara Jane's photo, which is rather a lot nicer than mine. ;-)

They went down very well with my workmates - the edible glitter I sprinkled on to gussy them up (I promise I will show you one or two of Tamara Jane's decorating techniques when my normal baking stamina has resumed!) went down a treat, seriously - people were so impressed with it I almost decided to quit doing anything fancy ever again! I did ice the first one using a round tip, as shown in the book, but can't get past thinking piping brown icing with a round tip makes it look rather undesirable so reverted to my old friend the open star tip.

My overall impression was that they were a bit too rich - I felt either a lighter cake or lighter icing would have made perfection, but both together was slightly overwhelming. However, the book, which divides cupcakes into category by occasion, does list these as "Dinner Party Cupcakes" and I suppose if they're being served as dessert the decadence makes sense. I just don't see cupcakes as dessert - in my mind dessert should need a spoon or a fork to eat, and should not come pre-wrapped. ;-) But then, I'm known to be a bit crazy when it comes to that kind of thing, so perhaps my opinion should be discounted...

Anyway, all the components are great, so I've provided the recipes as they were in the book; feel free to trade out the cake or icing for a different recipe as it suits you but whatever you do you should try the cherry filling! Would you consider cupcakes as dessert for a dinner party?

Black Forest Cupcakes (from Celebration Cupcakes, by Tamara Jane)
Chocolate Mud Cupcakes
225g self-raising flour (or 220g plain flour and 5g baking powder)
150g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
250g butter
200g dark chocolate, chopped
400g caster sugar
2 eggs
375ml hot water
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.

Stir together the dry ingredients.

Melt the butter, chocolate and sugar together in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Stir until smooth.

Allow to cool to just warm then beat on low speed, gradually adding the dry ingredients. Beat in the eggs, hot water and vanilla.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake papers. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed in the centre.

Remove the cupcakes from the trays and allow to cool completely.

Cherry Filling
490g morello (sour) cherries
125ml water
125g caster sugar
4 Tbsp cornflour

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Boil gently for two minutes until smooth and thickened.

Pour into a container and cover. Refrigerate overnight. This will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Thick Ganache Icing
400g dark chocolate, chopped
375ml cream

Heat the cream until just boiling. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Cover and leave overnight, unrefrigerated. This will keep for up to three days at room temperature, or a week in the fridge.

Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop a small piece out of the top of each cupcake. Spoon in some cherry filling and place the scooped out cake back on top.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a round or open star tip with the ganache (soften it with 10-second bursts in the microwave if required, until soft enough to pipe) and pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes.

Celebration Cupcakes is written by Tamara Jane and published by New Holland, RRP $34.99


  1. Yes, I'd totally consider a cupcake as a dinner party dessert, if it were special enough. In saying that though, I don't exactly hold dinner parties, much as I'd like to, partly due to the fact that we no longer have a dining table. Don't you know that cupcakes taste much better eaten with a dainty fork?
    And wow, you're getting sent books to try out from publishers now? Well done!

  2. yum those sound delicious will have to give them a try and yes I definately think cupcakes could be special enough for a dinner party desert. Where do you get the morello cheries from? -Kat

  3. Gorgeous! I've never cooked with morello cherries either. Black Forest has always been my favourite Cadbury flavour though! Also, lovely to meet you yesterday!

  4. Anita, I guess I have enjoyed cupcakes with a fork immensely (case in point: The Cupcake Collection), I just don't tend to think of them that way. We only have a table for four so not too much scope for dinner parties either!

    Kat, my cherries came from New World. The jar was actually 680g (so you'll have some left over) and was in the jam aisle.

    Delaney, so great to meet you too! And Black Forest is my all-time Cadbury favourite too - the cherry/chocolate combo is pretty unbeatable.

  5. Does it have a nice cherry flavour ? I often find Cherry flavour a hard one to pull through without becoming almondie ...

  6. The cherry flavour is great, definitely not almondy at all. With so much dark chocolate it's definitely the backing flavour, though - but the filling would be great with say, vanilla cake and the cherry would shine. :-)


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