Friday, June 29, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes with Chocolate Honey Truffle Frosting – get in touch with your dark side!

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I approach cooking from two very different angles:

The instinctive approach: Most of the time I am driven by a not-too-distant hunger/sugar craving and by what is currently available in the fridge/cupboard. In this instance, I think with my tastebuds - a la Accidental Paella – and it usually works out.

The theoretical approach: Sometimes, however, I think the flavours through consciously and carefully before going near the kitchen. I give consideration to the textures. I make sure I have all the ingredients before I start cooking. For example...

... In my head, almond sponge infused with sour cherry liqueur, topped with a swirl of boozy white chocolate ganache and a fat juicy cherry sounds rather good.

Here’s how that looked in my mind’s eye...
I have a vivid imagination... unfortunately the reality was "Meh!"

 My taste-tester’s verdict: “Meh!”
I had to agree. Can you imagine Sandra Dee swigging from a naggin of vodka? – This was the cupcake equivalent. It was trying to be naughty but didn’t quite succeed and certainly wasn’t WTC*.
I needed to get in touch with my dark (chocolate) side. I ditched the liqueur in favour of black cherry conserve in a chocolate sponge mixture. I went for the sharpness of crème fraîche in the truffle frosting, tempered just a hint of honey. They turned out light as a cloud, with sticky cherry bits and you’d sell your grandmother for the truffle frosting.
Taste-tester’s verdict: “Grrmmmwah!” which translates roughly as “Can’t speak. Eating.”
The frosting is best made the day before (so you don’t have to hang about waiting for it to cool)
*Worth The Calories

For 12 large cupcakes you will need...
... to pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake papers

For the chocolate cherry cake batter

150g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
50g dark Muscovado sugar (or any dark brown sugar)
3 eggs, beaten
125g plain flour
40g cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda), sifted to remove any lumps
100g good quality cherry conserve (you want chunky bits of fruit)

1                    In a mixing bowl, beat the butter together with the sugars until smoothly blended – 3 to 5 minutes with an electric mixer gets the right texture. Add in the beaten egg in about four lots, mixing well between additions so that the mixture doesn’t curdle. (Don’t fret if it does, it still tastes the same but won’t be quite as light in texture.)
2                    Sprinkle in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda and continue beating just until these dry ingredients are incorporated into the mixture.
3                    Lightly fold in the cherry conserve. You don’t want to incorporate it; you just want it running through the mixture in rich veins of luscious cherry-ness.
4                    Divide the batter between the 12 cupcake papers and transfer to the preheated oven.
5                    Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until risen and evenly golden.
6                    Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before adding the frosting.
For the chocolate honey truffle frosting
200g good quality dark chocolate (70% coco solids), broken into pieces
1 tablespoon of honey (I used a honey with a floral note which sang through)
200g crème fraîche

1                    Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl with the honey.
2                    Place the crème fraîche in a saucepan over a medium heat until it is just simmering at the edges.  Immediately pour over the chocolate and leave to sit for about 3 minutes. (This helps the chocolate meld with the cream more easily).  Then stir gently until the chocolate is incorporated into the cream in a smooth shiny mixture. Cover with clingfilm, letting it sit right on the surface of the ganache and refrigerate until needed.

Worth The Calories!

3                    To frost the cupcakes, remove the ganache mixture from the fridge and let it come to room temperature (I’m talking Irish room temperature - roughly 20°C) and whisk with an electric mixer for a minute or two until light and paler in colour. Spread over the surface of the cupcakes with a spatula or get fancy and pipe swirls of the mixture over the surface and top with a fat juicy cherry. Recommended dose: 1, taken with a cup of coffee (or 2, if you’re having a particularly bad day). 

Note: If the mixture looks grainy and oily it has ‘split’. Don’t panic! Simply whisk with an electric mixer and after a minute or two it should come together in a smooth silky mix.
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  1. Grrrrmwah! Hester, love how you came up with this light as a feather combination after the boozy version. Crème fraîche, honey..? Great tribute to cherry season, although keep grandma ;-) Haven't heard that expression in yonks! (speller wants to say yolks, lol)

  2. So glad you these look amazing! Who wouldn't love all that chocolate with yummy cherries??? Mmmmmmm.

  3. Wow! These look amazing! Chocolate and cherry is such a fabulous combination!!!

  4. Oh my goodness. This is making my stomach cry. It wants this so much.
    have only just tried the cherry/chocolate for the first time yesterday (cherry chocolate frozen yogurt. SO good!) and so I know how awesome these must taste!

  5. OMG my friend, how do you do this??
    This looks like the most gorgeous cupcake ever!

    Choc Chip Uru

  6. HA! Your re-vamp sounds WAY better than the stoosh version in the first place. Honey Truffle...oh my!

    I've got like four grammas, you know. If I mail you a couple with you make me a care package? One of them is ace at Bridge.

  7. Hester,
    The chocolate - cherry combo looks amazing.
    I know what you mean about some recipes turning out 'meh' it is one of my biggest pet peeves to rifle through a new cook book and question several recipes that sound 'off'.
    But in saying that, I enjoy making them 'my own' much more! Hope all is well and drier in the East x

  8. Chocolate Honey Truffle wow!

  9. Funny blog post. I think most of us cooks have had experiences just like this. It sounds like you succeeded in the end. Those cupcakes are mouthwatering.

  10. Oh, this is just too amazing! What a GREAT recipe! I am madly in love with cherry season and what a great use for these beauties. And dark chocolate frosting with creme fraiche? Count me in!!

  11. I think boozy white chocolate ganache sounds like perfection, but honey truffle sounds pretty fabulous too. I hope your family loved the revised cupcakes!

  12. Okay I must try these. Like now. Like right this minute. The recipe name alone makes me want to cry with joy.

  13. Looks and sounds like a unique and wonderful formula you've come up with! Love the ingredients list, too. So much good stuff. Beautiful cupcakes!

  14. You know, I don't think I'll ever make a cup cake, but who needs to when I can just drool over pictures of yours. A.

  15. These look so good... kind of remind me a bit of dark forest cake... I guess the chocoate cake and cherry part:) Yum.

  16. Hi Hester! YUM! Chocolate cherry cupcakes! I love the combination of cherries and chocolate. I actually never discovered the goodness of this combination until recenetly. These cupcakes must be HEAVENLY. I can imagine how delicious it is, and you are right, it's so worth it!!!

  17. It's nice to see that perseverance won the day. What an incredible combination you end up with....SO good.

  18. Yum yum yum! Very white swan to black swan :-)


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