This is cold weather food right here. Right now, it’s late, I’ve had two car rides and two train journeys to get home, the wind is battering the windows and rain is trying to drill a hole in the pavements outside – I have a feeling that nights like these are what make these gorgeous, gooey centre cakes even better.
This is another recipe that’s my own. It’s the outcome of a couple of things: there’s my years-long friendship with Nutella (anybody who says they have never eaten it out of the jar with a spoon is either lying or intensely unhappy). There’s the ongoing fascination I have with chocolate-fruit combinations (I firmly believe that people who aren’t fond of this concept haven’t tried it when it’s done properly. This includes the nation of Roses‘ Strawberry Dream and Orange Crème haters – give this a chance!)
Finally, there’s the fact that I recently discovered Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard, and have been unable to leave this show alone for…a good…ten…days? Yes, I just admitted that to the internet. Streamed television: blessing, yet curse. It’s made me get all ambitious-creative brain. So here you go…
…Moist, fragrant chocolate cake surrounds a magical, delicious centre (the secret!): layered fillings of baked cherry jam and soft, silky Nutella. Topping it all off is a sweet, creamy icing, carrying gentle notes of vanilla and deeper notes of cherry. Finally, laced throughout cake, filling and icing are the some cheekier, lovely tones of Cherry Brandy – the ingredient that moved this from CupCake to CupTail!
You only need one of these to see yourself through a long movie, busy afternoon or the final stretch of an essay in the late hours– they’re proper, feed-your-inner-army stuff. So, so good – be kind to yourself in this terrible weather, and give this a go!
For the Cupcakes (Makes 12):
125g Butter, Softened
125g Caster Sugar
2 Large eggs
125g Self Raising Flour
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Milk
125g Black Cherry Conserve (to make Cherry Goo)
2 Doses 30ml Cherry Brandy (to make Cherry Goo)
For the Icing:
500g Icing Sugar
2 Tbsp Hazelnut Milk
2Tsp Vanilla Extract
Remainder of Cherry Goo
Maraschino Cherries, for topping
Sprinkles, for topping
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C for the non-fan-user, or 170°C for the fan-enabled. Line your trays. Beat together the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy – about three minutes. This step makes all the difference for a gorgeous cake consistency! Follow up by adding the eggs, flour, cocoa powder and milk to the bowl, one at a time, beating to a smooth consistency at each addition. Your batter is made!
2. Next, prepare your fillings. Take Cherry Jam and one of your 30ml shots of Cherry Brandy. Tip both into a smoothie blender and pulse the mix til completely smooth. Pour this into a bowl and heat it in the microwave for about forty five seconds. Voila! Cherry goo – the heat will help stabilize the jam puree. Take about a third of the mixture from the bowl and set aside for the toppings. Take your Nutella, ensure no gold foil lid remains on the jar and microwave that for a minute, too, to soften (this may not be necessary if you’re lucky enough to not live somewhere it snows in March.)
3. Spoon into your paper cases: A shallow filling of batter; a spoon of Nutella; a spoon of Cherry Goo; spoonfuls of batter to top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the tops seem quite firm to touch. Remove the cakes from their tins and put them straight on a wire rack to cool for at least an hour before icing.
4. For your icing, cream the butter with an electric blender until it’s very fluffy – try just going at it for a good three minutes. Dose it with the icing sugar, about a fifth at a time, and blending to even consistency until you’ve added about four fifths of the sugar. Add half of your Cherry Goo, the tablespoons of milk and the Vanilla Extract to the mix, blend to evenness, and then the rest of the sugar to finish – beat well to ensure it’s thoroughly creamy and smooth! Add a dose more Cherry Brandy if you’re feeling naughty. Pipe onto cakes; drizzle icing with the last of your Cherry Goo; top with maraschino cherries; sprinkle with sprinkles. Steal away to bed with one.