You know how I feel about cupcakes. (Do you? You don’t have to, if you don’t want, but in short: too much teeth-rot for not enough cake.) But, you know, there are cupcakes and then there are Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes. So I hear.

My lovely, lovely cousin bought me a Hummingbird Bakery recipe book for Christmas – wasn’t that the nicest thing ever? – and I’ve been dribbling shamelessly over the photographs all month. Unfortunately, I am in a bake-when-the-baby-sleeps phase of life at the moment, and the baby doesn’t sleep. Yesterday, however, charged with the solemn responsibility of bringing chocolate cake to a friend, I snuck downstairs at 7am and made these: chocolate fondant cupcakes.

They won me over because the icing isn’t icing, it’s chocolate and double cream. Now there is a combination I can get behind. And actually, they were quite straightforward. Dry ingredients (all the usual stuff) went in one bowl.

You whisk all that together with an electric whisk (or a freestanding mixer if you’ve got one). If you think you can whisk flour, sugar and cocoa powder together without whisking it all the way around your kitchen, by the way, then think again. Once it’s blended together and you’ve stopped choking on airborne cocoa, add the wet ingredients: milk and a couple of eggs. So far, so standard. The mixture goes into your baking cases and they’re oven-bound for eighteen minutes.

It was at this point that I realised the recipe specified muffin cases, and I’d used smaller cake cases. Not a disaster, but it made what came later much more tricky, and it meant I had twice as many cupcakes as intended. I struggled quite hard to be sad about this, but didn’t manage it.

Now for the frosting. Finely chop some dark chocolate and try not to hurt your hand too much. It’s a bit tricky, but the little shavings you get are oddly satisfying to produce.

Doesn’t that look pretty?

Then you heat some cream until just boiling, and pour the cream into the bowl of chopped chocolate. And it does this.

It smells amazing. I came over all Willy Wonka. I lost my head a bit. I think I might’ve cackled. Keep stirring, and you end up with this.

Once the cake and the frosting are cool, here comes the interesting bit. You dig a chunk out of each cake, pour a bit of the frosting inside, trim the lid to fit, and then put it back on. Then top the whole thing with more frosting. This was terribly exciting, and all the more so because I got to call my tiny spatula into service for only the second time in its life.

The recipe just said to ‘swirl’ the frosting on top, which seemed to assume a bit more cupcake know-how than I had. I had a go at swirling, but I think the frosting wasn’t as stiff as it should’ve been – perhaps I should have left it to cool for longer – and instead, it just slithered. It looked ok, though.


And what about the eating? Pretty good, I thought. The cake goes quite stiff and dense once it’s cool, so I don’t think the mixture was anything special. The frosting is more chocolatey than a whack round the head with a chocolate poker. And the little puddle of chocolate inside is a delight. Can you imagine how good these would be warmed up? Or – steady yourselves – with ice cream?

Deliciousness: I liked them a lot. I wasn’t sure whether I liked them because the cupcake itself was nice, or because they contained so much chocolate. Probably the latter. But either way: yum.

Complexity: More fiddly than your average cupcake, but I rather enjoyed the assembly.

Washing-up pile: Thirteen very messy items. Including a perhaps excessive number of testing spoons.

Casualties: I got the chocolate-chopping bruise on my hand again. I really need to look into that special chocolate knife.

Advertisements