The last few years have brought a huge trend for macarons and cupcakes (at least in Britain) which I pretty much didn't subscribe to. Most macarons I had tried were pretty chewy and tasteless (until I realised that you have to have the ones from Ladurée to be able to tell why they are so exceptional!) and most cupcakes looked to me like something geared towards 3-year-olds, with their radioactive Technicolor looks and Barbie-doll decorations (come on, who needs a butterfly on top of their "small muffin"?). However, there are some that break the mould, and I discovered a few interesting cupcake recipes in the exceptional book Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache (which I've written about in a more than a few past posts).
The book calls these Cappuccino cupcakes, but sometimes too much embellishment is not really needed, and since these don't contain any real coffee (let alone any cappuccino!) I've converted my adapted recipe into just Coffee cupcakes. Another worry that I always have with cupcakes is the amount of butter and the extreme sweetness of the icing, which (although I have a relatively sweet tooth) I always found too much for my taste. This version uses mascarpone and less butter than the average, which makes a much creamier and lighter icing, and I reduced the sugar in the recipe, upping at the same time the amount of mascarpone, which made the result even less sweet, and really well-balanced.
After icing them, I put them in the fridge for the icing to set, and I discovered they they are great even cool, served with some vanilla ice-cream. I took some to the office and they were a great success, so I guess I'll be changing my mind about cupcakes, at least about the non-Technicolor variety! They look great, they're very light and moist, and they go fantastically well with some iced coffee...
Source: Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache
- 2 eggs
- 160g caster sugar
- 200g peeled and finely grated sweet potato
- 100g flour
- 100g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence
For the icing
- 50g cold butter
- 170g icing sugar
- 60g mascarpone
- 2 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl for 5 minutes, add the grated sweet potato and whisk again to incorporate. Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and coffee essence and mix again.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cupcake cases, spoon the mix into the cases and bake for 20 minutes.
For the icing, cut the cold butter into cubes and whisk until it is pale and fluffy. Add 100g of the icing sugar and whisk to create a paste, beating for an extra 10 seconds. Add the mascarpone and coffee essence, along with the rest of the icing sugar, and mix by hand with a wooden spoon, until everything is incorporated. Keep the icing in the fridge until the cupcakes are out of the oven and have cooled down. After the cupcakes are completely cool, put the icing in a piping bag and decorate, adding a chocolate coffee bean on top of each cupcake.