It was David's birthday yesterday and for once, I immediately knew what to do with the cake situation. I don't usually bake cakes, mostly because while I like my "special occasion" cakes to be professional looking works of art, the reality is that I generally lack both the patience and skill to bring about that result.
Cupcakes however are completely different situation. Ever since I tried my hand at the first recipe I pulled out of my much loved Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, I was in love with the whole cupcake process. And ever since David sampled the results of this fantastic recipe, he has been in love with them too.
It's probably important to mention for any cupcake purists out there that this recipe is not going to deliver your familiar style of light, chocolatey sponge. (You've been warned!) These are most definitely cupcakes on steroids. However, what they lack in fluff, they make up for in pure density of ultra rich dark chocolate--not to mention that smooth layer of tangy cheesecake! Traditional? No. Divine? Most definitely.
For the chocolate base
- 190g plain flour
- 120g caster sugar
- 40g cocoa powder, plus extra to decorate
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 40 ml sunflower oil
- 1½ tsps white vinegar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- *50 g dark chocolate mini chips. This is optional adaptation, but gives sponge base a richer texture.
For the cheesecake filling
- 140g cream cheese
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt
- 100g milk chocolate chips
For the cream cheese frosting
- 300g icing sugar, sifted
- 50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 125g cream cheese, cold
- Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) Gas 3. For the chocolate base put the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl and mix with a handheld electric whisk on slow speed until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated.
- Put the oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and 125 ml water in a bowl and whisk to combine. While the electric whisk is running in the flour bowl, slowly add the contents of the liquid mixture, increasing the speed of the blender as the mixture thickens. Continue to beat until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
- Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with paper cases. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases until two-thirds full and set aside. *NOTE: for optimal fudginess, moisten your fingertips and press the doughy mixture solidly into each case.
- For the cheesecake filling: beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla extract and salt in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until smooth and fluffy.
- Stir in the chocolate chips by hand until evenly dispersed. Don’t overmix, otherwise the cream cheese will start to split.
- Scoop about 1-2 tbsp of the cheesecake filling on top of the cupcake mixture. I recommend covering the entire surface of the chocolate base as the cheesecake gives a great contrast to the less sweet chocolate layer.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cupcakes are firm to the touch and they have an even golden colour on the cheesecake filling.
- Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- For the cream cheese frosting: beat the icing sugar and butter together in a freestanding electric mixer (or use a handheld electric whisk) on medium-slow speed until the mixture is well blended. Add the cream cheese and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy. Do not overbeat, as it can quickly become runny.
- When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the cream cheese frosting on top and decorate with a light sprinkling of cocoa powder (optional). Or in the case of a birthday, we went with festive gold leaf stars!