Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Baking: Fudgy Earl Grey Chocolate Cupcakes

Earl Grey has long been my favourite tea.  I love the delicate flowery taste, and it's perfect with just about anything sweet.  So when this recipe appeared in my Tumblr feed, courtesy of gastrogirl again, it sounded just perfect.  I'd never thought to put Earl Grey tea in a cake, let alone a chocolate cake, let alone a chocolate cupcake!  I spent a week trolling delis, health food shops, and  chocolate supply shops looking for lavender extract, but it seemed impossible to find.  Finally, I discovered the online baking supply store Baking Pleasures (to Dave's trepidation), and there I found my lavender essence.

The Earl Grey I used is Earl Grey Blue Flower from The Tea Centre.  This my favourite Earl Grey tea.  It's so beautiful and the flavour is smooth and not overpowering.  I was very excited to use it in my cupcakes!  You will also need 24 foil cupcake cases - the foil helps to insulate each cupcake and stops them from rising too fast and spreading all over the top of your tins (yes, I'm speaking from experience).  Because the surface of the cupcakes is quite delicate, I recommend piping the icing rather than spreading it with a knife.

My recipe is adapted from Semisweetie's recipe, who in turn adapted it from What We're Eating's recipe.  My icing recipe is from The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook, by Jennifer Graham.  Enjoy!

Fudgy Earl Grey Chocolate Cupcakes With Lavender Icing
Makes 24

15g      Earl Grey tea leaves (about 6tsp/6 bags)
125g     butter
1 1/4C   plain flour
3/4C     cocoa powder
1 1/2C   dark brown sugar (packed)
1 1/2tsp baking soda
2 1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp   salt
3        eggs
2C       buttermilk

200g     butter, softened
1/2C     milk
1tbsp    vanilla extract
8C       icing sugar, sifted
3drops   culinary lavender essence
2drops   blue food colouring
1drop    red food colouring

Preheat oven to 160C.  Line 2 12-hole muffin tins with paper and foil cases.

Grind the tea leaves into a fine powder using a spice mill or coffee grinder, or a mortar and pestle (what I used).  Place butter and tea powder in a small saucepan over low heat.  Cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the tea is infused into the butter.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.  Stir until evenly combined.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and buttermilk.  Add buttermilk mixture and the cooled butter mixture to the dry ingredients.  Whisk or beat until just combined - the batter will be slightly lumpy.

Divide the batter evenly between the holes of the muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire racks to cool completely before icing.  The cakes will be slightly sticky and soft, not dense.

Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add the milk, vanilla extract, and half the sifted icing sugar, and beat for at least 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency.  Add extra milk if the mixture is too dry, or extra icing sugar if the mixture is too wet.  Add the lavender essence and the food colouring and beat until evenly mixed.

Pipe the icing onto the cupcakes in whatever pattern you wish.

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