Chocolate Lamington Cupcakes

I have been baking non stop. I think today is the only day I haven't made anything in the last like ten days. That's pretty bad. In those last ten days I have made another brownie, hot cross buns, countless cookies including the white chocolate, maple syrup spice cookies that I have yet to perfect and a double layered vanilla bean cake. I think it is just turning into a habit. I really need to stop.

I think the problem is that it is actually quite lonely in our little three person flat. The others are always doing something away in their rooms. I like being alone but I prefer friendly company more. Sometimes you don't even have to interact with the person. You can just sit there doing separate things but still feel like you are being part of something and spending time with that person. Take my best friend Cara for example. We can sit in the same room for hours not talking (although lets be honest, going without talking to her never lasts long!) but we still feel like we are spending quality time together. I think thats why my friends sometimes just find me sitting on the end of their bed, or on their couch just chilling, just absorbing the friendly, loving vibes that are around.

How did I get onto this? ah right, I am substituting in-flat human contact with baking. After all baking equals love. Hmm gift giving (especially of the edible kind) and kind acts of service (get your minds out of the gutter people!) are my expressive love languages.

So now it seems I have a whole stack of recipes I need to blog about. Looks like a job for this coming weekend! But for now I will share with you some delicious cupcakes.

Lamingtons are having a bit of a comeback in the trendy department. You find some very cute looking ones hiding away in some nifty cafes. There is nothing better than a fresh lamington filled with whipped cream and a dollop of really good berry jam. Nom! They are quite a retro wee cake, reminiscent of tea rooms and bakeries stopped at during long family car trips in small New Zealand towns. They are on the same sort of nostalgic level as the mighty custard square.

In the Treats from Little and Friday book I have they have these amazing looking lamingtons. The only thing is that thy aren't your typical lamingtons. They are in fact a cone of really moist, dense chocolate cake smothered in ganache and thickly desiccated coconut. They looked amazing. I really wanted to make them. The only problem was that I didn't have the cone shaped moulds that they baked them in.

So instead of making cone shaped lamingtons I made cupcake sized ones. But I didn't make a dense heavy cake, I made a light and airy chocolate cupcake sponge instead which I then smothered in chocolate ganache. They were divine. They looked really effective too. They certainly didn't last long, especially after giving some to the neighbours as well as Maria, Jamal and Jolene on my way to the gym. Its a good thing most of them were given away, like I said, there are only three of us here.

So the cupcake recipe I used came from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf but I made a wee change. Instead of using 140g of caster sugar I used instead muscovado sugar. This is a less refined sugar as it still has molasses in it. This doesn't make it any better for you though! It has a greater moisture content and the granules are slightly bigger. It lends a wonderful colour and more intense flavour than regular caster or even regular brown sugar. This is perfect for making chocolate cakes with. It make the cakes slightly more velvety that they usually would be. It's hard to describe but I feel like velvety is a good world.

Now for those of you who have never made a ganache before (dear lord you have been missing out!) it is really easy but you are gonna want to do it a few hours before you want to use it as it needs to set in the fridge.

In a double boiler (ie a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water) you want to heat your cream. Once the cream is hot enough so you cant put your finger in it for longer than five seconds you can pop in your chocolate. Now I like using the Nestle dark chocolate melts for this. I just like the intense flavour but the sweetness too. For these cupcakes I used just a block of Cadbury 70% cocoa solids chocolate but substituted in about a quarter of it with just plain dairy milk to make it sweeter. It's all up to personal preference. Stir in the chocolate until it is all melted and smooth. Take the bowl of the water (carefully!) and leave to sit on the bench until it is cool enough to pop in the fridge. Don't cover it while it is still hot because then you get condensation dripping back into it. Then once it is almost fully set (still spreadable but firm), use a hot knife or palate knife to artfully swirl the ganache onto the cupcake. Then sprinkle over the coconut and you are ready to go.

I used rather large cupcake cases for these. The Jaytee ones (in the supermarket) I find are quite small. I wanted a decent sized cupcake for this. Just whatever you do, only fill it to 2/3 of the way up otherwise you end up with a very messy spill over! Not ideal!

Chocolate Lamington Cupcakes
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Makes 16

200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
280g muscovado sugar (brown sugar will also suffice)
3 teaspoons baking powder
80g butter, softened
240ml (1 cup) milk (preferably whole but it doesn't really matter)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

about a cup of large flaked desiccated coconut

for the ganache:
400g good dark chocolate (If using really high cocoa solids try try substituting in a proportion of milk chocolate to make it sweeter if you wish)
1 cup full fat cream

To make the ganache, heat the cream in a heatproof bowl over some simmering water. Place the chocolate into the bowl, leave to sit for a minute then stir until melted and smooth. You may want to take the bowl off the heat if you are worried about the chocolate burning on the bottom. Leave to cool on the bench before transferring to the fridge for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder until a fine sandy consistency is achieved.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together. Slowly add, in thirds this mixture to the dry mixture. Beat well after each addition. Once all the liquid has been added, beat on high for a minute so that the mixture becomes thick and smooth.

Spoon the mixture into a muffin tray lined with large paper cases until they are two thirds full (!!!).

Bake for 20 or so minutes or until the sponge bounces back when touched, a skewer comes out clean, your house smells like baked cupcake or you can hear them no longer sizzling away.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Leave to cool completely before smothering in ganache and sprinkling with coconut.