Forgive me whilst I do a little dance… it’s my birthday. Well it was yesterday but as tradition states when your birthday falls on a weekend, it is ‘technically’ all weekend for celebration purposes!
As I approach that next milestone, and I’m not telling you which, you can make your own mind up on that one, I get more excited about my birthday than I did when I was hitting those big end of teenage year ones. I don’t know if it’s because life is just working out, I have a wonderful husband, amazing family and fantastic friends, I’ve done a few things in life now that I’m extremely proud of and I’m loving being back at work. Or whether having my nephew in our lives has renewed the excitement for all things birthday, he’s at that age now when he understands birthdays and he gets so excited about them, it’s just infectious!
We also have our wedding anniversary a couple of days before, and it’s fantastic to celebrate everything together, but I miss my Dad so much that it’s tinged with sadness, and sometimes the ‘mad & excitable Lou’ is a mask for one that’s feeling like it’s heart has been wrenched out. One of the things loosing Dad taught me, was to live everyday as it comes, you never know what’s around the corner, keep going and don’t let it grind you down.
So then, it’s my birthday, smile, think of my gorgeous family, fantastic friends, all the good times, and get ready to roll… Bring on the cake!
Right then, to top everything off this week, it’s been Chocolate Week! Yes, an
excuse celebration of the most divine foodstuff known to… well me, and probably millions of others. So when it came to deciding what sort of birthday cakey treat I’d be making for work this week, I knew I had to combine chocolate.
Last year’s birthday treat was a little something in my bargain Aldi bundt tin for just a couple of us, but this year being my first back at work, there was a small army of chaps and chapesses to treat. We’re of such a number that a week rarely goes by without a birthday, and the kitchen is full of goodies to share. But there are quite a few of us with food and dietary requirements; my no nuts and bananas, along with diary-free, gluten-free, fruit allergies etc, and that’s just in my team. So to make sure that most people, should they want to indulge, could do so, I whipped up two variations of these chocolate sundae cupcakes,.
Now these bad boys have been sat in the back of my mind for a while, ever since we had an ice-cream bar dessert table for our end of summer BBQ gathering. It was so simple, but everyone loved it, got stuck in, made a mess and sprinkled until their hearts were content. It just made me think that putting something like it, into cupcake form would be the perfect treat for a birthday.
To hit a couple of the bad things, that make one of my lovely colleagues a bit queazy, off the ingredients list, I decided to switch out my usual no-fail, best chocolate cupcake recipe ever, with some adaptations for a non-butter, non-gluten and non-dairy twist (although you could do these completely with everything just with a switch or two).
It’s really not hugely difficult to switch things around when you’ve got a tried and tested recipe. Well, I suppose it is, as you’re not sure how the substitutions are going to work together, yadda yadda. But then, when I was in the shop I had opportunity to play around with different ingredients and see how they worked and get the balance right. In essence I did the frustrating bit of watching cakes sink or erupt, the taste test of not quite right or of nothing, and getting things together on this recipe, making sure that it worked. The cupcakes I sent to work did have a dairy-based frosting on top, but the recipe you’re about to read is paired with a dairy-free frosting that I’ve used for years, that works just as well. And if you’re wondering about dairy-free chocolate… yes you certainly can and I find that the nicest for melting and using in recipes is from Plamil, who also do chocolate chips as well, and you’ll never know the difference between it and full-fat chocolate.
So Mr. B, here’s the recipe for you; and following the gin-fuelled birthday celebrations & with a no-hangover bonus, I remembered that I said I’d ‘dedicate’ the post to you, so on my word… Just for you, let them eat
- 50g Dairy-free chocolate, 70% cocoa, melted
- 50g Cocoa powder
- 100g Gluten-free self-raising flour
- ½ tsp Bicarb of soda
- 2 Eggs, medium
- 100g Golden caster sugar
- 100g Light muscovado sugar
- 80ml Vegetable oil
- 100ml Soya milk, curdled
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 2 tsp Fresh espresso coffee
- 50g Dairy-free chocolate chips
- 75g Dairy-free spread, such as Pure
- 75g Vegetable shortening, such as Trex
- 50ml Soya milk
- 1 tbsp Vanilla extract or bean paste
- 750g Icing sugar
- 100g Dairy-free chocolate, 70% cocoa
- 75ml Soya milk
- 25g Icing sugar
- Glacé cherries
- Preheat oven to 180C or 160C (fan) and line a deep muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases.
- In a small bowl, add soya milk and either ½ tablespoon of lemon juice or white wine vinegar. Whisk together and set aside for 10-15 minutes to curdle.
- Add the chocolate to a small heatproof bowl and place over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water. Heat until all chocolate has melted. Alternatively melt in the microwave. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, sift together the gluten-free self-raising flour, cocoa powder and bicarb of soda.
- Add the chocolate chips and mix together, making sure everything is combined and the chips are coated in the dry mix.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, add the caster sugar, muscovado sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and coffee. Whisk until well combined. Add cooled chocolate, and whisk again.
- Add half of the chocolate mixture to the dry mix, and stir in, then add half of the curdled soya milk and mix until combined.
- Add the remaining flour mixture then curdled soya milk. Mix well until smooth and thick.
- Use an ice cream scoop to divide the batter between the cupcake cases, approximately 1 scoop per case.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, gently beat the dairy-free spread and vegetable shortening together until just soft. Be careful not to over beat as it will start to go runny.
- Add half of the icing sugar, half the soya milk and half the vanilla extract. Beat gently until the ingredient come together.
- Add the remaining icing sugar and the remainder of the vanilla extract. Beat gently until smooth, being careful not to overbeat.
- If the frosting is too stiff, add a teaspoon of the soya milk and mix together. If the frosting starts to slacken, stop mixing and add icing sugar to bring it back together.
- Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate ganache for drizzling.
- In a small saucepan, gently heat the soya milk until it comes to the boil.
- In a small heatproof bowl add the chocolate and icing sugar, and pour over the milk, letting the heat melt the chocolate. Mix together and leave to one side to cool.
- When ready to decorate, fill a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain/smooth nozzle with the frosting.
- Pipe the frosting into two mounds on to each cupcake.
- To finish drizzle ½ tsp of the chocolate ganache over the top of each cupcake and let it run down the sides. Sprinkle with sprinkles and top with a glacé cherry.
- To add the final touch, add an ice-cream wafer, but remember these will contain gluten, so you may want to leave them off.
Any leftover frosting or chocolate ganache, can be kept in an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 1 week.