Monday, 17 September 2012

Dark and Stormy Cocktail Cupcakes

Dark and Stormy cupcakes

Cupcakes have slightly fallen out of favour in the last few years. Largely down to their over-exposure and their over-buttercreamed tops.  The Sex and the City girls made them de rigueur in the late ‘90’s and early noughties and everyone else followed suit. They were obligatory offerings at product launches, corporate events, birthday parties and weddings. Cupcakes were the bunting of five years ago and, like bunting is today, they were absolutely everywhere. But people got tired of these sweet individual treats and moved on to newer pastures. The doors were opened for macarons and cake pops, but can't we find enough room for everyone?

Lots of Brits bemoaned the rise of cupcakes, fearing they were overshadowing our lovely little fairy cakes – cupcakes' more petite cousins. I adore fairy cakes, or, better still, butterfly cakes. Barely two bites of cake (or one, if you’ve got a big gob) and you’re done. There are no sickly billowing clouds of piped buttercream to sit heavily in your tum after a fairy cake. In fact, the more I think about it, they're practically a diet food. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are for greedier days, when a single bite just won’t cut it. The days when you need to give in to pleasure with total and mischievous abandon.

Cupcakes are about convenient indulgence and the good ones really can’t be beaten. Soft, moist cake topped with a splodge not a spade’s worth of buttercream, royal icing or Italian meringue. They’re already made to be the perfect portion, so there’s no need to cut it up and get crumbs all over the floor. They come in their own little wrapper, so you won’t be left with a mountain of small plates to wash up and they come in as many flavours as your imagination can come up with. And, if you make them yourself, they don’t need to be two-thirds icing to one-third cake. Unless, of course, that’s just the way you like them.

As it’s National Cupcake Week, I thought I’d push the boat out and make a cupcake you could raise a glass to. But a glass of what? Dark and Stormy cocktails are clean, refreshing and just a little bit fiery: dark rum, hot ginger beer and a squeeze of fresh lime. Mimsy ginger ale isn’t welcome here. You want a full on ginger kick to stand up to the spiciness of the rum.  This recipe is gluten free, but it needn’t be. For a wheaty version of the sponge, simply replace the rice flour and baking powder with self-raising wheat flour.

This is a great cake for the lazy, as there’s minimal washing up and you don’t need to wait for the butter to come up to room temperature before you put your pinny on.

Dark and Stormy cupcakes

Makes 12

150g unsalted butter
100g molasses sugar
5 tbsp golden syrup
150ml whole milk
2 eggs, beaten
185g rice flour
2 level tsp baking powder (choose GF baking powder if you want to keep it gluten free)
4 tsp ground ginger
The finely grated zest of 2 limes
4 balls of stem ginger, finely chopped
A pinch of salt

For the syrup

3 tbsp ginger syrup (from the stem ginger jar)
2 tbsp rum
The juice of 1 lime

For the buttercream

100g soft, unsalted butter
200g icing sugar, sifted
A good splash of dark rum, to taste
Finely grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to 160°C (150°C Fan)/ 325°F (300°F Fan)/ Gas Mark 3

Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan set over a gentle. Stir until melted and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 5 – 10 minutes. Whisk in the milk and eggs and then sift over the flour, baking powder and ground ginger. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth batter and stir in the lime zest, salt and chopped stem ginger.

Spoon the batter into a muffin tray lined with 12 cupcake cases and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. While the cakes are baking, pop all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan over a gentle heat until the alcohol has burnt off.

When the cakes are out of the oven, stab them all over with a skewer before drizzling a little syrup over each cake.

To make the buttercream, whisk the butter until soft and sift over half the icing sugar and beat together before sifting the remaining icing sugar over the top and beating it in. Whisk in the rum to taste, this will also slightly slacken the mixture, and spread a little buttercream over each cake before sprinkling a little lime zest over their tops.

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