I thought that these cupcakes would be pretty unpleasant.
A friend gave me a book of cupcake recipes for Christmas. As I was flicking through it, this recipe immediately caught my eye but not necessarily for the right reasons.
Chocolate has long been paired with spices like ginger and cinnamon. Chocolate with chilli is fairly unremarkable these days. You can now buy wasabi flavoured chocolate. But chocolate and curry? It sounded, quite frankly, a bit weird.
We’ve all experienced those meals where a chef seems more concerned with the latest fashionable technique or the craziest combination of flavours than the actual food. Forgetting, it seems, that all we really want is to do is to eat something delicious. While I am all for innovation, sometimes ‘shock value’ wins out over taste.
And this is, I have to say, what I expected from these cupcakes. I made them more for a joke than anything else. So imagine my surprise when they actually turned out to be incredibly good. Like ‘I don’t know if I’ll ever eat a cupcake that’s quite so good’ good.
They don’t, I should stress, taste like curry particularly. Rather, the spice adds a sort of indefinable warmth and depth of flavour. It’s a little bit spicy and a little bit fragrant but not so much of anything as to overwhelm. The cupcake itself has a perfect texture and, as you can see, the whole batch rose perfectly. That almost never happens when I bake cupcakes so should be considered a victory in itself.
The buttercream is made with butter and coconut milk and is as smooth and rich as you would imagine. The original recipe calls for the coconut milk to be infused with lemongrass. Due to a traumatic childhood event, I can’t bring myself to use lemongrass but I do concede that a note of sharpness would probably work very well especially if, like my boyfriend, you tend to find buttercream quite sweet. A touch of lime would also have done the job I think.
There is probably a lesson that I can learn from these cupcakes about being slightly more open-minded. Or I could just eat them.
Chocolate curry cupcakes with a coconut buttercream
For the cupcakes:
- 25g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
- 80ml (1/3 cup)boiling water
- 1 largeegg
- 105g (3/4 cup) plain/all purpose flour
- 110g (1/2 cup)caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoonmedium curry powder*
- 1/4 teaspoonbaking soda/bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 teaspoonsalt
- 75g (2/3 stick)unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the frosting:
- 40ml (just under 3 tablespoons) coconut milk
- 50g (3 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200g (2 cups) icing/powdered sugar
- A pinch ofsalt
- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases.
- In a mug, mix the cocoa powder with boiling water until you have a smooth paste.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 teaspoon of the cocoa mixture until fully combined.
- Sift all of the dry ingredients together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and cocoa and beat on low until all the dry ingredients are wet. Increase the speed to medium and beat for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth.
- Add half of the beaten egg and beat for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the egg and beat again for 30 seconds or until all the egg has been incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into cupcake cases, filling them about 3/4 full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm to the touch. Place on a wire rack to cool.
- To make the buttercream, beat the butter and half the sugar together until smooth. Add the coconut milk and salt and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the rest of the sugar, continuing to beat, until you have reached the desired consistency.
* It was surprisingly hard to find curry powder. I had to go to four different stores to get hold of some although I’m sure that most big supermarkets will have some. For reference, the main ingredients in mine were coriander seed, tumeric, ginger and cumin. There was also a little fenugreek, mustard seed, garlic, all spice, black pepper and cayenne. You really are using such a small amount though that I’m not convinced there is much, for example, garlic in each cupcake.