These were a very tentative project. They happened because I spent three days leading up to Mother’s Day attempting to figure out what on earth to do for my meticulously picky and intrinsically-difficult-to-please mum (I’m sorry, you’re amazing, but it’s true! haha…) I mostly did this figuring out by suggesting ideas that were turned down on by one, until out of exasperation I got a half-answer:
Herself: ‘Maybe try those licorice cupcakes you showed me.’
Myself: ‘You told me you thought they looked disgusting.’
Herself: ‘I know, but I thought I should be more adventurous.’
Terrifying? Yes! And as it turned out, these turned out...decent…they didn’t turn out great. Although once decorated, they took an incredible photo!
I’m being very honest here – I screwed up the icing, probably by being overgenerous in flavouring it (never ignore advised measures for liquid icing flavouring) and unwise in my choice of liquids (cheap cordial) to do so. I still think that these have potential though – after all, this recipe is adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery’s Home Sweet Home Bake Book (yay, birthday!) and their stuff is manna, so I would definitely encourage fans of the lesser-seen cupcake varieties to try this.
The cake base is by no means a strong whack of black licorice – notes of this ingredient waft through it in a decidedly subtle manner, bouncing off the darker tones of the blackberry jam filling and producing a lovely, shaded sweetness to your bites.
Cupcake Ingredients (Makes 12):
4 Licorice Tea Bags (I used these)
210 ml Whole Milk
70g Butter, softened
210g Plain Flour
250g Caster Sugar
15g Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
2 Large Eggs
12 Fresh Blackberries
100g Blackberry Jam
Frosting Ingredients (Please Follow Religiously, Avoid My Errors):
500g Icing Sugar
160g Butter, Softened
50ml Whole Milk
Pick’n’Mix/Licorice Candy of choice
Construction – creating blackberry cores!
1. Start this in good time before the real baking starts! Before anything else happens, pour your milk over your four licorice teabags – I used a bowl for this, simple enough. I also stuck the mix in a microwave for a minute, then let it stand for a few hours. Once time is up, Squeeze the bags in the milk extra hard before disposing of them.
2. Line your Muffin tray and preheat that oven: 170 for those of you who don’t believe in fans, and 150 for those of you who have seen the light of the fan. Mix together butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt til you have a fine-crumb consistency.
3. Combine licorice infused milk and eggs in a separate bowl. Using an electric whisk, add half the liquid mix to the butter crumb mix and combine til even. Once even, add the other half and re-combine to smoothness. Pour the batter into a measuring jug and use that to distribute into muffin liners. Press a fresh blackberry into each cake! Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (mine took 21), then take them straight out of their tins and place on wire racks to cool, at least forty five minutes.
4. Before final assembly, whip up your frosting. First, cream your butter to fluffiness with that mixer, then dose it gradually with icing sugar til the full 500g is in the mix and no large chunks of butter remain. Combine milk and syrup or cordial in a separate container, then pour this into the butter and icing sugar and beat to an even, light, fluffy consistency.
5. Construction stage! I love using this ridiculous but wonderful contraption to core and full cupcakes – whim buy that’s now a staple in my creative drawer. You don’t need it though – a spoon, knife and delicate hands will do. Excellent tutorial here! Hollow a centre to about halfway down the middle of the cupcake, pop out the spare cake and set aside on a plate. Take a roughly equivalent amount of jam and spoon into the cupcake core. Repeat times twelve – crumble up the spare removed cupcake and scatter over the jam fill. Finish up with some icing (pipe or spoon, it’s all good!) and artistically arranged candy toppers.
As it turned out, my mum was about as impressed with this first attempt at the recipe as I was – but she was absolutely mad about these guys. Pirate themed mother’s day? Absolutely. Give both a go – tell me about it afterwards!