Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Extra Marble Cupcakes

For this post I was inspired by Manisha Parmer who GBBO enthusiasts will recognise as one of the contestants from the 2012 series. You can have a look at her Facebook page here. A short while Manisha put a fantastic little tip on her page for a simple cupcake decoration that had me questioning why I had never thought of it before. It involves putting chocolates on top of cakes as soon as they come out of the oven so they melt onto the cake - simple, quick, effective but most importantly, delicious. The only minor problem that I had with this tip was that Manisha suggested using leftover continental chocolates. In case I have been a little ambiguous in my previous posts, there is NO such thing as leftover chocolates. Ever. End of. Especially continental ones. They are the best! It's the continental ones that are my favourite variety from Thornton's but please don't ask me to choose which is my favourite from a box. That would be too tough. It swings between cappuccino, Alpini and champagne. Although I am not that fussy that I will turn my nose up at a box of the Classic selection. All chocolate is gratefully received.

Anyway, Thornton's aside, when I read this tip I immediately began to think what cakes would suit sweeties melted onto the top and what chocolates would be best. I had been fancying doing some sort of old school cake for a while hence the marble and then I came across some offers in WH Smiths while Mum and I were choosing our Saturday shopping trip chocolate. Smiths had some of those share bags at £1 and among them were some Bitsa Wispa. I had been forewarned by a pen pal that they were gorgeous but I thought that they would be nothing special. They are only mini bits of chocolate after all. However, I decided to go with them for this recipe because I thought they would be light enough to not squash the cakes while they were firming up fresh out of the oven. All I can say is that, MJ, if you are reading this, I am truly and deeply sorry. You are right. Bitsa Wispa are far superior to normal sized Wispas. And so addictive. Before I had even cracked an egg into the mixing bowl I had sampled five of them and I can't tell you how many I ate in the end. I reserved enough for the cakes and thought if I left three for my mum then it wouldn't be so bad because I wouldn't have finished off the packet. Unfortunately my resolve lasted until I had the cakes in the oven before the packet was back out of the cupboard, emptied and the evidence hidden in the bin. Oh dear I thought, another example of my lack of willpower. It was all I could do not to eat some of the reserved Bitsas. In fact, writing this has made me want to go pull one off each of the remaining cakes.

But no. I will be strong. And just to make sure my strength lasts until pudding time I'll leave you now with the message that I couldn't resist adding a splodge of Nutella to the cakes. It makes for a cake that rewards you for not being showy or elaborate in the construction by giving you an unexpected soft and gooey hug. Tea, cake, bliss.

3 large eggs
175g margarine
175g caster sugar
175g plain flour
splash of milk
45g cocoa powder
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2tsp baking powder
A bag of Bitsa Wispas or similar small chocolates

  1. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin cases and place the eggs, margarine, sugar and flour in a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients together for a couple of minutes until everything is combined. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything gets an equal share in the mixing business.
  2. Now would be a good time to set the oven to 190 C/170 C fan. Transfer half of the mixture to a second bowl and mix in the cocoa powder, half the baking powder and enough milk if necessary to obtain a soft dropping consistency. To the other bowl mix in the vanilla extract, the remaining baking powder and again milk if necessary.
  3. Now come the fiddly bit. You need to evenly fill the cases evenly with both the mixtures. You could use two teaspoons, scooping a bit of each mixture in alternatively which is what I did. Or you could fill two piping bag with the mixtures and simultaneously pipe into the cases which I can't decide if that would save time or just create more mess. Depends on your piping skills I suppose. If you are lucky enough to have some, you could even use those funky looking piping bags from Lakeland that have two compartments so you can pipe two different colours of icing to get a pretty swirl. However you do it, once they are filled, swirl a skewer through the mixture to create the marble effect. Whatever you do, work quickly because the baking powder will not wait for you and all the lovely gas it will be creating will be lost to the atmosphere instead of being trapped in the cakes to give them a good rise.
  4. Pop about half a teaspoon of Nutella (or more if you are in need of a bigger chocolatey hug) onto each cake and help it down a little by scooping a little of the cake mix over the top. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes without opening the door to turn the cakes for the first 18 minutes. I think that is enough time to pass the danger point of the cakes collapsing with the opening of the influx of cooler air from the door opening.
  5. You can't stick a skewer to test of these cakes are done like normal because of the Nutella centre so when they are risen, golden and feel firm but springy to a light touch take the tray out of the oven and place on a wire rack.
    Arrange the chocolates on top straight away.
    You may need to put slight pressure on them so they stick instead of sliding straight off as they become molten. Leave in the tray for a few minutes then carefully lift each cake out to go directly on the wire rack to cool completely. Note that the cakes will cool before the chocolate solidifies again (it melts but keeps its shape as long as you don't touch it). You can of course eat them when just the cake is cool so you bite into bits of liquid chocolate but if you want the toppings to be set you'll have to hold off for a while longer. I struggled not to gorge on one as soon as I'd placed the chocolates on top because they looked so divine sat there waiting for me. On this one occasion though I managed to hold off. But just in case I haven't made it clear yet...

Happy caking!

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