I’ve been temping lately and Friday was my last day of work in a lovely office so I decided to make some queencakes aka buns aka muffins aka cupcakes aka fairycakes (take your pick!) to bring in for morning tea. The cookbook that I would normally turn to in this kind of situation would be Nigella‘s Domestic Goddess but, in the absence of that, I had to rely on the internet throwing up one of her recipes. Fortunately it didn’t take too long before discovering a recipe for Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes. It’s a variation on her recipe for Chocolate Orange Cake which uses a jar of marmalade as one of the main ingredients. It’s a cake that, despite the off-putting marmalade, is fantastic – all dark and chocolaty, with an intense orange flavour, and I’ve often made it in the past.
During my online wanders I also discovered something called Black-Bottom Cupcakes from Chez Panisse pastry chef David Lebovitz on the Leite’s Culinaria website so took down the details for those too. Just as well, as there wasn’t a jar of cherry jam to be had in Pack’N’Save supermarket for love nor money so I got some cream cheese instead and determined to make the Black-Bottom Cupcakes (although, personally, I still call ’em queencakes).
I came home and got stuck into the recipe in double quick time. They’re pretty simple to make – a rich chocolate muffin mix on the (black) bottom with a tangy cream cheese topping. But I wasn’t altogether happy with the results (top photo) – my cream cheese topping bubbled all over the top and didn’t look anything as good as Mr Lebovitz’s creations. Still, looks might not have been that important if the taste was ok but I made the mistake of having one hot from the oven and, as a result, could only taste heat. The following morning I had to reconsider my too-hasty judgement as the Black-Bottom Queencakes proved that looks aren’t everything and that the juxtaposition of intense chocolate base and the light, almost cheesecake-type topping was a sure-fire winner.
That night, though, things weren’t looking good. I was lucky, it being Thursday, I had a date with the Boyfriend to hit the late night shopping at Northlands Shopping Centre. When we arrived there I realised that Countdown, not being a bare basics supermarket like Pack’N’Save, just might have cherry jam – and it did. So I came home from the shopping centre and made another batch of queencakes, this time Nigella’s Chocolate Cherry ones (middle photo). It was getting late by the time I finished up but they had to be iced so I spoke to family in Ireland on the phone as I worked – no point in wasting time!
In the end I took some of both types into work and I didn’t hear any complaints. The Chocolate Cherry Queencakes transformed a jar of cherry jam into something perfect for morning tea, or even desert. They lasted well in an airtight container for a few days, getting slightly moister, in a good way, as time went on. Black-Bottom Queencakes weren’t as good at keeping – but they didn’t need to be. The next time I make these I don’t think I’ll fill the bun cases as much and hopefully I’ll manage to get some better looking Black-Bottoms!
Chocolate Cherry Queencakes
Soft unsalted butter – 125g
Dark chocolate – 100g, broken into pieces
Cherry jam – 300g
Caster sugar – 150g
Salt – a pinch
Eggs – 2 large, beaten
Self-raising flour – 150g
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Get two sets of bun tins ready and lined with bun cases.
Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.
Scrape and pour into the bun papers in their tins and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.
[Nigella says that she normally gets a dozen out of this mixture, for me it was more like 18.]
Dark chocolate – 100g
Double cream – 100ml
When the queencakes are cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces and add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and then whisk until thick and smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon, and stand a cherry in the centre of each.
Adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson.
The recipe for Black-Bottom Cupcakes is available online here.