Happy Anniversary

You’re thinking I might be channelling my inner goth, aren’t you?  Don’t blame you one bit.  Because, you know, she’s in there.  The goth, that is.   Always has been.  Occasionally I let her out.  I do  😉

But when I looked at my stash of goth and blackest, darkest cupcake finery … hmmm, not this time.  My inner goth will have her moment.  But it is not this moment.  Not today.

Nor is it my attempt at a Halloween cupcake.  No fondant spiders, ghost and ghouls here.  No pumpkins were harmed in the making of these cupcakes.   I don’t do of the novelty cakes, you know that.

Today is Chocolate Chilli Mango’s first anniversary … birthday … whatever it’s called.   Blogiversary?  Really???  I’m clearly not down with all the hipster blog speak.  I had to look it up just now.  Literally 🙂

So, what the heck is up with these black cupcakes????  I’ll get to that …

Ahh … Do I detect a look of disapproval in your eye?  Tough beans buddy, ’cause that’s the way it’s gonna be.     (spoiler alert)

When I started this blog, I did not think it would survive long enough to see its first blogiversary.  Frankly, I gave it a few months before I’d give up, pack up, shut down, and move on.  I honestly thought no-one would ever take a look let alone follow the blog or a Facebook page or actually give the recipes a go.  But WOW …  I am so grateful to all of you fantastic followers and fellow bloggers.  In the past twelve months, I’ve met some unbelievably fabulous and generous bloggers and bakers, both professionals and amateur, like myself.  I’ve also been so lucky to have met and gained a following of fitness crazed wonderful guys and gals and I’m so proud to be one of you, albeit with my dirty sweet secrets.   Your collective feedback and encouragement has been awesome but the best part is hearing back from you when you’ve tried a recipe, maybe modified it, and loved it too … and sharing lots of ideas and recipes.  Whether you’re here for the sweets or the protein and healthy recipes or both.  ‘Cause THAT is what it’s all about.

Thank You Awesome Peeps xxx

Originally, this blog was going to be about complex pastries with, of course, a heavy reliance on chocolate.  I quickly realised, though, that simple things, done a little differently, or maybe just a great classic, are much more fun to blog about.  Plus, I’m no longer making special occasion cakes.  It’s a rare day in which I find the time to set aside a few hours and create something amazing.  If I do, I like to be in the moment and not thinking about the time of day, the lighting, and if I will get a great shot of it for the blog.  So it’s all evolved into something more organic, impromptu, and maybe that’s a good thing.  But there’s a good deal of chocolate in there.  Can’t give up on cacao.  EVER.  Somewhere along the line, my obsession with protein-packed and other healthy treats seems to have taken on a life of its own.  This is perhaps the most challenging part for me and so far it’s been a blast learning from those of you with the knowledge and experience, researching ingredients, and creating my own recipes that are healthy but taste awesome too.

I’ve got a backlog of things to make and post … haven’t forgotten the banana split inspired idea, more lime bars, more chocolate, and some I have thought about and designed but haven’t had time for yet … so for now, I’ll stick around, as long as there is still someone out there who gets a kick out of reading the posts, or making the recipes or just wanting to share in our collective love of baking, food, and chocolate.  What I don’t know about blogging would fill a galaxy but it’s fun to be on the learning curve on the outer spiral arm.  I’m also going to be overhauling the blog with a whole new layout that should be easier to navigate between Wicked and Healthy etc.  Watch this space (just gimme some time…LOL).

So … BLACK CUPCAKES.  What’s that about?  Well, seeing as it’s CCM’s blogiversary (god, is that really a word?), I thought I’d share a little something of myself with you.

From a very young age, I have admired and loved, possibly even worshipped, Audrey Hepburn.  Massive girl crush!  But don’t we all love her?  I have seen all her movies countless times, read and collected books on her life and work, and have this gorgeous poster sitting above my desk to look at every day.   I’ve even got a board on Pininterest devoted to Ms. Hepburn.

She’s my avatar on all my online personal stuff, and good friends call me Holly, because she’s just EVERYWHERE in my universe.  I don’t just admire her sense of style.  I admire her as a human being.  She was such a wonderful combination of ingenue, intelligence, style and substance.  Throughout her successful career and in life, she never gave herself airs and graces, was always grounded, and always put others before herself.  Through it all, she maintained her poise and grace and a fabulous sense of humour.   She was a wonderful humanitarian.  Plus her movies totally rocked. 😀

I wanted to make a cupcake that was elegant and evoked something of Audrey – her personality and style.  Yes, it’s also a bit inspired by her Breakfast at Tiffany’s character, Holly Golightly.   It had to have a simple flavour profile, something that evokes childhood innocence but also sophistication.  A subtle sweetness with a little intensity.  Maybe something that is also good for you.  A little nostalgic, a little elegant richness.

It had to be black.

I mean, she raised that whole simple, pared down, black outfit deal into an art form.  That means no frothy gaudy frosting.  No clashing flavours.   I hope I have gone some way towards doing all this with The Audrey Cupcake.

The cupcake base is light and super soft, and the flavour of the cake is pure, untainted by added flavourings.  It’s not bland though.  By browning the butter first the cupcakes have a deep, rich nutty flavour.  Yeah, I like doing that.  It tastes amaaazing!  So it’s both simple but also buttery lightness.  Very Audrey.  For the frosting, I went with a version of my favourite cream cheese buttercream.  It’s not overly sweet but has a luscious creamy and velvety texture that never sets hard.  Velvety, elegant and rich.  Wait for it …

The flavouring?  Licorice.  There’s something sweet, innocent, and nostalgic about licorice.  But it can also be rather sophisticated, elegant, and intense.  Not licorice candy.  I used pure licorice extract instead of melting down candy.  The flavour is clean and subtly sweet.  I used three teaspoons in the frosting for a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the buttercream and the brown buttery goodness of the cake underneath.  Start with one teaspoon and add more, until you get the intensity of flavour you wish.   Even if you are not crazy about licorice, I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.  My doubting taste test panel fell in love with them and I must admit, I love them too, despite not being much of a cupcake aficionado for the most part.

Some black food colouring for visual effect looks rather cool I think.  Audrey cool?  It’s optional.  The frosting will be a light coffee colour without it.  Still looks lovely.  Final touch is a little edible black glitter.  Understated bling for her understated elegance.  Are they elegant?  I think so … a bit Holly Golightly maybe?  I know they’d be better than a bagel for breakfast at Tiffany’s any day 🙂

There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion

I hope I am not guilty of doing that here.   Here’s to you, Ms. Hepburn, with love … my humble tribute to you, in a cupcake.   Simple but deliciously lovely.

A note on the cupcakes:  I have a few cupcake recipes on this blog.  THIS is the best.  The lightest, softest, most delicious perfect cupcake ever.  These cupcakes do not dry out and I’ve purposefully kept some for 5 days and they are still as lovely as when freshly made.

Enjoy 🙂

The Audrey Cupcake

Makes 24 small or 15 large cupcakes

125 grams unsalted butter
125 grams sugar
2 x 60 gram eggs
125 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres milk
1 teaspoon fresh lime or lemon juice

Licorice Buttercream
125 grams unsalted butter
250 grams cream cheese
125 grams icing sugar
2 – 3 teaspoons pure licorice extract*
black food colouring (optional)
edible black glitter (optional)

*available at some health food stores and naturopaths or from European professional baking suppliers.  I got mine from a naturopath.

Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Place 24 small cupcake liners on a baking tray and set aside.

Cut the butter into pieces and place in a saucepan over a low heat.  Melt the butter and cook until it starts to brown and gives off a warm, nutty aroma.  Stir from time to time to make sure the butter browns evenly.  Take care not to let it burn.  Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl.   Set aside to cool slightly and then refrigerate until it starts to set again but is not too firm.  It should be the consistency of softened butter.

Add the sugar to the butter and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth and light.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the lemon or lime juice to the milk.  Add half the flour to the batter and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and finally the remaining flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth and light.  Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  You can store these, at room temperature, in an airtight container, if making ahead before frosting with the buttercream.

Licorice Buttercream
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.   Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened.  Add the butter to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth.  Add a little licorice extract to taste.  Finally, add a little black food colouring, if desired, to give the buttercream a deep licorice tint.

Cover and refrigerate the buttercream for 20 – 30 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.  This buttercream pipes beautifully and holds its shape without setting or becoming hard on standing or refrigerated.

Pipe the buttercream on to each cupcake.  If desired, add a little edible black glitter for a touch of bling.

Unfrosted, the cakes keep well up to a week if stored in an airtight container.  Frosted, store in the refrigerator.  They will keep for up to 5 days at least and be as delicious as freshly made.

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