As well as Wool Week it’s Chocolate Week AND National Baking Week, so here’s a wee recipe to celebrate the two – with a surprisingly healthy secret.
Two of my favourite things celebrated in one week – chocolate and baking – called for an extra special recipe combining them both. I discovered this recipe two years ago and it fast became my go-to for chocolate cupcakes as they are so intensely chocolatey and gooey – almost brownie-like, but without being overly rich. And they’re surprisingly saintly thanks to a few unexpected ingredients.
The recipe is from Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache, which is one of my all-time favourite recipe books. It’s filled with delicious cakes and bakes with a twist – they all contain vegetables. They may taste naughty but they’re all natural and while I’m not convinced that they count towards your ‘Five a Day’, they’re certainly feel good bakes. All the recipes are made with rice flour and ground almonds, so they’re great for gluten intolerant friends (one friend even purchased the book herself and loves it!) There’s no butter and much of the sweetness comes from the veg making them lighter, moister and a little less calorific than standard cakes. I have happily worked my way through many of the recipes in here and can’t recommend the book enough.
The chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes use carrot (much in the way of a standard carrot cake!) for sweetness and moisture but the veg included elsewhere varies from swede to potato to parsnip, with recipes including a red velvet showstopper made with beetroot, and bitesize lemon cakes made with courgette.
The book states ‘makes 12’ but I find with my tins (a standard bun tin rather than a muffin one!) the mixture goes a lot further.
To make the chocolate chocolate chip cupcakes you will need:
3 medium free-range eggs
180g Demerara sugar (this recipe uses more sugar than others in the book to counteract the bitterness of the chocolate)
250 g grated carrot
2 tbsp strong coffee (or boiling water if you’re not a fan – though you don’t really taste it so it’s up to you!)
120g white rice flour (should be available in bigger supermarkets or health stores)
50g ground almonds
40g good quality cocoa powder (It’s very chocolatey!)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
100g chocolate chips (any colour – I used milk choc as that’s all I had in)
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4 and line your tray with paper cases (I only had white, boo).
2) In a large mixing bowl (this beautiful pink Mason Cash one was a moving in present from my Mum – I love it and it’s the perfect size for proper mixing!) whisk the eggs and demerara sugar until pale, fluffy and quadrupled in volume – this takes about 5 mins. You can do this with an electric whisk but with a hand whisk it’s a pretty good workout!
It should look something like this after whisking:
3) Finely grate the carrot – I’d say this was 3-4 medium carrots for 250g.
Whisk the grated carrot and coffee into the egg mixture until fully incorporated.
4) Beat in the rice flour, ground almonds, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt (again you can use an electric whisk or a hand whisk and some elbow grease).
I did this in stages rather than all at one, so it all got mixed through properly.
5) Fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon until they’re scattered evenly. Don’t overmix or you’ll lose any air you’ve carefully beaten into the mixture.
The mixture should be thick and will smell super chocolatey. Yum.
6) Spoon the mixture into paper cases until about four fifths up the sides to leave room for the rise.
7) Cook in the middle of the oven for 25 mins (mine took a wee few mins longer as I think it’s not as hot as it claims – you will know your oven and its quirks so judge by the usual tests).
8) Make a cup of tea and get started on the icing. Harry Eastwood calls this ‘Naughty Chocolate Icing’ and it certainly packs a punch. This made more than enough to cover all my cakes:
100g unsalted butter, cubed and cold (I used marge and it worked fine)
100g golden icing sugar (I used normal and it worked fine)
2 tbsp boiling water
50g good quality cocoa (Green & Blacks is the dreamiest but only on special occasions for me in these quanitites!)
Whisk the butter until soft and pale in a large mixing bowl, then add the icing sugar and water. Whisk into a paste then beat for one minute (probably best to use an electric whisk for this one!) until double the volume.
Add the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time. Make sure you stop the whisk between additions or you will have one very messy kitchen. Once incorporated, beat thoroughly for another minute until fluffy.
The finished item should look a little something like the below. It’s the chocolatiest buttercream I’ve ever tasted – not for the faint hearted.
9) Your cakes will probably be ready by the time you’ve done all that and washed up. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then at room temp for another half an hour or so until they’re completely cold, otherwise the icing will melt and go grainy (I speak from experience!) If you’re really in a hurry you can speed things along in the fridge.
The cupcakes will look something like this:
The finished cakes have a crumbly-but-gooey, brownie-ish texture. The carrot gives them a freshness and moistness and the ground almonds add bite and a subtle nutty richness.
Once the cakes are completely cold, top with the naughty icing. They may not be the prettiest – this isn’t exactly one for showing off your piping skills – but they certainly passed the taste test.
What’s your favourite chocolate-themed recipe? Have you baked anything especially chocolatey for Baking Week?