Gong Hei Fatt Choy! Happy Lunar New Year everyone! If you follow me on instagram you would have seen my favourite part of CNY eve is arranging the yee sang. This year I made it look like a snake. It was tricky because I was trying my hardest to make sure it didn't look too, er, phallic. And I was sad to destroy him (even though it was very tasty). I named him Harold, I don't know why.
I didn't have the chance to bake any new year treats this year and my Mum brought back heaps of cookies from KL, so I randomly baked up these cupcakes instead. Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Earl Grey Icing and Salted Caramel. It was a good excuse to use up some leftover buttermilk and I love doing dessert recipes involving any kind of tea, especially Earl Grey.
You might think it sounds like a strange combination, but the moist, slightly bitter dark chocolate cake is heavenly when you add the fluffy meringue-style icing with a hint of bergamot. It's pretty much chocolate and orange! And salted caramel goes with everything. I just love the way it looks drizzled into the swirls of icing.
I know Valentine's Day is coming up soon but this year I seem to be allergic to anything pink or heart-shaped when it comes to V-day baking. I've done it before but I'm avoiding it this year. Maybe because my husband totally loathes the holiday I'm try not to cheese it up. To be honest I find this cupcake a way more sexy, awesome treat to make for someone you love.
I totally over-estimated how much icing I would need for the cupcakes (but adjusted the amounts in the recipe below), so I doubled the same chocolate buttermilk batter recipe to make a full-sized cake. It was just as good, if not better. I brought the big cake over for dessert with my family and even after all our reunion dinner feasting everyone still went back for seconds of this cake.
The cupcakes might be a more sensible option if you want to stop yourself from eating too much of this cake. It's so moreish because surprisingly it's not that sweet and there's so many contrasting textures in one bite. Hopefully in the next few weeks I can keep up the regular posts because I'm in the middle of moving apartments. I'm nervous to see how the oven in my new place performs! There may be several baking failures coming up.
Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Earl Grey Icing & Salted Caramel
Note: This recipe yields 10-12 cupcakes, if you want to make a whole cake, double the cake batter quantity and bake in a 18-20cm round tin greased and lined with baking paper for about 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup (about 95g) plain/all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (about 170g) sugar (I used caster/superfine but white/granulated is fine too)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking/bicarb soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
85g (6 tbsp) butter, melted
6 tbsp (about 90ml) buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Line a standard cupcake tray with papers. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarb soda, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, combine cocoa and 3 tablespoons hot water until a thick paste forms (this process intensifies the chocolate flavor). Add butter, buttermilk, egg, and egg white; beat until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until smooth. Scoop (or spoon) batter into prepared papers, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Earl Grey Icing:
2 large egg whites
3/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup strongly brewed Earl Grey tea (I used 3 teabags/about 3 tsp loose leaf tea)
Beat egg whites in a large mixing bowl until foamy & thick, they should mound, but not peak. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, cream of tartar, 1/4 cup Earl Grey tea & salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 3-4 minutes, or until a candy thermometer reads 117°C (242°F) and all sugar is dissolved. Begin beating the egg whites again and slowly pour in boiling sugar syrup in a slow steam. Continue to beat on high for 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add remaining tea by the tablespoon, beating after each addition. Continue beating until icing reaches desired consistency (it should hold its shape when piped and cooled), about 2 minutes.
For the salted caramel, I made a half batch of this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker. To assemble, pipe or spread icing on the cupcakes. Spoon cooled salted caramel over the top. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.