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Chocolate Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day which calls for some romantic baking! Dark chocolate and raspberry are a match made in heaven…here I have spiced up the combination in a cupcake recipe with the addition of some pink peppercorns. The spice adds an interesting little kick we well as being a pretty decorative flourish!

This recipe makes approx 16-20 cupcakes. Feel free to half the recipe if you don’t wish to devour this many between you and your loved one!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn

Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 100g unsalted butter,
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 8g cocoa powder
  • 120g good quality 70% dark chocolate
  • 160ml whole milk

Ingredients for the Raspberry Buttercream

  • 100g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • Handful of pink peppercorns

Method

  • To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 160°C/315F and line two 12-hole muffin tins with 16-20 paper cases.
  • Place the chocolate, milk and half the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until all the chocolate and sugar have dissolved.
  • Meanwhile beat the butter and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the mixture from the sides if necessary.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the butter and sugar mixture and mix gently until just combined.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and mix again, scraping any mixture down from the sides if necessary.
  • Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the top of the cupcakes are springy to the touch.
  • Leave to rest in the tray for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely (note: tops of the cupcakes sink slighltly on cooling which is normal)
  • To make the buttercream, place the raspberries in a small saucepan with a small splash of water and heat gently until soft. Remove from the heat and mash. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl, scraping the sieve to get as much of the juice as possible. Return the raspberry puree to the saucepan and simmer gently until the juice has thickened and reduced by about half. Leave to cool and thicken further.
  • Meanwhile, beat the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for approximately 10mins until light and fluffy. A little at a time, add the concentrated raspberry puree to the buttercream, mixing between each addition, until the desired strength of flavour is achieved. Take care not to add too much such that icing is too runny.
  • To finish the cupcakes, pipe the raspberry buttercream on each cupcake and sprinkle with crushed pink peppercorns!

January Baking – Mincemeat Scones

I always make a batch of homemade mincemeat in December, ready to make mince pies or other festive goods throughout the month. My version is vegetarian and sweetened only with the dried fruit itself so I feel it is a tiny bit healthier (!). This year I made these scones for Christmas morning but with a spare jar of two of mincemeat in the fridge come January I thought they are also a great bake to use up leftover mincemeat after the festive season. With a hint of spice and the sweetness of the fruit they are deliciously comforting straight from the oven with a cup of tea on a dark and cold January day!

Mincemeat Scones

Ingredients for the Mincemeat Scones:

  • 500g self-raising flour
  • 100g unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • Good pinch baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • Grated zest 1 small orange
  • 250ml full-fat milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 jar mincemeat (homemade or shop bought), approx 200g
  • 1 egg mixed with a little milk to glaze
  • Handful flaked almond (optional)

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.

Step 2: Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the salt and stir to combine

Step 3: Add the butter and rub into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Step 4: Add the caster sugar and stir to combine.

Step 5: Add the mincemeat and orange zest and stir again until just combined.

Step 6: Mix together the egg and milk before adding to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. If a little dry add some more milk to make a moist dough.

Step 7: Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll lightly with a rolling pin until approx 3cm thick.

Step 8: Cut out scones using a round cutter. Place scone on a lightly greased or lined baking tray and brush with the  egg/milk wash. Sprinkle with flaked almonds if using.

Step 9: Bake for 15-20mins until golden.

Step 10: Remove from the oven and place on a warm rack to cool.

Step 11: Enjoy as soon as possible with a little melted butter or some jam!

Storage: Scones are best enjoyed on the same day but can be stored in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.