Sunday, 5 July 2009

Chocolate chilli cupcakes: unexpected star of English tea party

Chocolate chilli cupcakes, mystery treacle offering, jug of the Norse Goddess's sangria. The cupcakes are sitting on a cakestand I inherited from my Grandad.

We hosted a tea party yesterday, in honour of our visiting friends, the Norse God and Goddess. It was the fourth of July so it seemed like a fitting time to get some friends together - what with it being Alice in Wonderland Day and all :) This is a very well known English event, which I had been planning to celebrate for precisely two days, ever since I saw a poster advertising it in the Covered Market in Oxford. Oxford is, of course, the home of Alice, since C. S. Lewis was a don there, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, the site of the famous Treacle Well is near the city [interlude: Roger Federer has just won Wimbledon. During the course of the match I have moderated some essays, read a magazine, read the manual for my new camera, downloaded some pictures and made some bread. But winning Wimbledon sounds pretty good as well]. It was a coincidence that the (Canadian) Norse Goddess had come up with treacle as her first thought for an English tea party, but a happy one. She associated it with the Famous Five, so we were covering lots of children's literature bases.

The Norse Goddess gets creative (and personalised) with the cupcakes

I'll write more about how we turned the treacle theme into reality later, but this post is about the unexpected and not very English star of the tea party - the chocolate chilli cupcakes. This was inspired by the very first entry on my 2009 Cupcake Calendar, so I've been waiting a while to make it. My fellow dairy-reducing friend Vicki has shamed me into also reducing the amount of dairy products I use to bake for other people , so I didn't actually use the recipe from the calendar, but instead adapted the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World. The calendar recipe called for the addition of chipotle chilli powder to the batter; we didn't have that, so I used regular chilli powder, and some of the sauce from a jar of chipotle chillis in adobo in lieu of some of the vanilla extract. I did go with the orange frosting the calender suggested, just using vegan marge instead of butter.

The Norse Goddess's over-sized butterfly bun (verdict: nom nom - in a Canadian accent)

The cakes were a big hit. There was a good hit of chilli - everyone noticed it, but it wasn't enough to make your eyes water (I'd been a bit worried about this). Our poor friend Neil, who got ambushed by the salt on the margarita-ish cupcakes I made a few weeks ago was also surprised by the chilli, but it doesn't seem to have been enough to put him off my baking, fortunately. No one complained that they tasted of soya milk either, so thank you Vicki for inspiring me to ban the cow's milk and butter :) The Norse Goddess and I got creative with the icing, and when I realised that she'd never had a butterfly bun, I turned one of the extras into her own little English fusion treat.

Cupcake ready for nomming, modelled by Mike

Our Alice party was a lot of fun, and was only slighted marred by the odd raindrop, which just served to push us inside to watch the Wimbledon women's final. The Norse Goddess made us up some sangria, which I've just realised I was drinking without diluting with lemonade, and The Scientist repeated his sandwich-making triumph from the cricket tea. His egg mayonnaise got particular mention in dispatches. The Norse deities were able sandwich minions, and the Norse God made the decorative bunting (environmentally friendly - made from Sunday newspaper colour supplements). Everyone was happy apart from Bamber the dog, who was kept confined to the car to avoid cat spooking. He didn't get a cupcake (naturally - chocolate being very bad for dogs indeed), but he did get a walk once the tea had gone down a little.

Eco bunting (note Andy Murray on third flag from the right!)

Chocolate chilli cupcakes (adapted from Vegan Cupcakes...)
Made 12 fairy cakes and two big cupcakes with the leftovers

1 cup soya milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp adobo sauce from a jar of chipotle chillis
1 cup plain white flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder

1. Preheat oven to 175 C and line a muffin tin with paper liners
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the soya milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes to curdle. Add the sugar, oil, vanilla and adobo sauce, and beat. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Add in two batches to the wet ingredients and beat until there are no large lumps. Add the chilli powder and stir to combine well.
3. Pour into the cupcake liners, filling three quarters of the way (this will create quite flat tops for icing. If you want to make butterfly buns, put a bit more in to get a domed top). Baking 18-20 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and allow to cool before frosting.

Chocolate orange frosting (from the 2009 Cupcake Calendar)
1 cup icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier (or Tia Maria)
1/3 cup butter or vegan margarine

Blend all of the ingredients together in a processor. The instructions said to sift the sugar but I didn't bother. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Or, slice the top of the domed cupcakes and halve the cut-off top. Frost the top of the cupcake and then balance the two halves on top so that they look like wings (see photo)


Johanna said...

beautiful photos, beautiful cupcakes, beautiful frosting - sound like a great party - hope you all wore your alice headbands

Eco Sis said...

that is one tropical butterfly... i got jabbed today, damn americans and their desire for up to date diptheria vaccinations...

goodbye to the Norse deities :)

Vicki said...

I didn't really mean to shame you (well maybe a little bit) but now I'm very glad I did because you've reminded me that a dairy-free life doesn't mean chocolate free, thanks to cocoa powder - hurrah!

Squishy said...

Ooh, I like being called the Norse Goddess! So...I tried making the cupcakes for book club last week. Unfortunately, I put the oven at 175 F instead of C so they didn't cook the first time through. :( But I changed the temp and cooked them again and voila! They were very tasty and highly praised by the book clubbers but the cupcakes didn't have that lovely little bite of chilli that yours did! I used Amaretto in the icing and that went down very well. Thanks for the recipe!