A note from food editor and author, Anneka Manning: With an uncanny ability to please and charm both kids and adults alike, these chocolate cupcakes are heavenly, simple to make and perfect for any occasion.

Ingredients

Makes 12

  • melted butter, to grease
  • 185g self-raising flour
  • 55g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 245g brown sugar
  • 125g  butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract or essence
  • 170ml water
  • chocolate shavings or curls, to decorate (optional)

CHOCOLATE ICING

  • 250g pure icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons water, at room temperature

Combine and smooth

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) or 160°C (315°F) fan-forced. Line a 12-hole capacity muffin tin with paper cases. Put all the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat for 3–4 minutes or until paler in colour and silky smooth in texture.

Divide and set

Divide the mixture evenly among the lined muffin holes. Bake in the preheated oven for 25–28 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool (this will take about 30 minutes).

Chocolate icing

Meanwhile, to make the chocolate icing, sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir in 2 tablespoons of the water, adding the remaining ½ tablespoon water if necessary to mix to a thick spreading consistency. Spread the cooled cupcakes with the icing and decorate with chocolate curls. Set aside for 30 minutes for the icing to set before serving.

These cupcakes will keep iced or un-iced in an airtight container for up to two days.

Baker’s tips

To make chocolate curls or shavings, you will need a block of dark or milk chocolate (milk chocolate is less brittle than dark chocolate and is more suited to making curls, while the dark chocolate is great for making shavings). Wrap the block in baking paper to protect it from the warmth of your hand. Run a vegetable peeler very firmly along the length of the block (the wider the block of chocolate the larger the curls or shavings will be) and let them drop onto a plate below. If the day is warm keep them in the fridge until ready to use.

This mixture can also be baked in a greased and base-lined 20 cm (8 in) round cake tin at 170°C (325°F) or 150°C (300°F) fan-forced for 50–55 minutes.

Variations

1. Raspberry-studded chocolate cupcakes. Gently fold 200 g (7 oz) frozen or fresh raspberries through the cake mixture just before dividing among the muffin holes to bake.

2. Mocha cupcakes. Dissolve 1 tablespoon good-quality coffee granules in
1 tablespoon hot water. Cool before adding with all the other ingredients for beating.

3. Double chocolate cupcakes. Stir 100 g chopped good-quality dark chocolate through the cake mixture just before dividing among the muffin holes to bake.

Technique and images from BakeClass by Anneka Manning (Murdoch Books), RRP $45, available in all good bookstores and online.