Today was the first bake sale of the school year. Being a new reception(that’s kindergarten if you live in America) parent, I took the opportunity to show off a little. I asked my daughter what kind of cake she’d like me to make and she said CUPCAKES! At first I thought, ugh too twee but the more I thought about it, the more I realised Claire Ptak’s sweet wine cake would probably not be appreciated by the kinder set as much as I love it.
So with Halloween around the corner, I decided to make chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, Oreo cookie crumbs, and Swiss meringue ghosties. Everyone loved them. Except for Helena. I am ashamed to say she bought a pink sparkly fairy cake that came in a plastic wrapper instead.
Ingredients for the cakes:
2 ½ cups flour
2 cups sugar
5 heaping tbsp cocoa
¼ t. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 cup strong hot coffee
Method: Mix ingredients together except for the baking soda and hot coffee. Dissolve soda in hot coffee then add to batter and gently stir to mix. Don’t be alarmed by how liquidy the mixture is. This is why the cakes are so moist. Fill cupcake holders ¾ full. Bake at 350F/180C/Gas 4 for 18-20 minutes.
Ingredients for the chocolate buttercream frosting:
250 grams (about 2 sticks if you’re in America) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered/icing sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
75 grams melted dark chocolate
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Method: First, put the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a small simmering saucepan of water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. When the chocolate has melted, set it aside and allow it cool to room temperature. Then combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use a hand mixer or standing mixer to beat the frosting until fluffy. If you think it’s too thick, mix in some milk a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you desire. Be careful though, thicker is better for this frosting.
Ingredients for chocolate cookie crumbs:
1 sleeve of Oreo cookies
Method: Simply put the Oreos in a food processor to blitz. When they are all crumb, put them in a shallow dish.
Ingredients for Swiss meringue:
6 egg whites
220 grams of caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar
Method: Whisk the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl. Once combined, place the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking. Place the thermometer in the mixture. When it reaches 160°F/71°C, remove it from the heat. Using an electric mixer, start beating the mixture on a medium speed. Increase the speed after a few minutes high and keep beating until shiny stiff peaks form.
*Heating the meringue to 160°F/71°C will pasteurize it, just in case you’re worried about eating raw egg white.
Other items you will need:
black food coloring on a plate
a birthday candle with a plastic holder attached and/or a matchstick
a pastry bag with a wide nozzle
How to assemble the cakes:
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost them with the chocolate buttercream.
- Gently dip the frosted sides of the cupcakes into the Oreo crumbs.
- Spoon the meringue into the pastry bag.
- Pipe ghosts on top of the Oreo cookie covered frosting.
- Dip the pointy end of a birthday candle holder or a matchstick into the black food coloring. Carefully dot it on the meringue ghostie to make eyes.
- Using the bottom of a birthday candle, dot on a mouth doing the same.
For transport, I used a Freddie’s Flowers box! It was perfect. Who knew?