Introduction: Chilli Chocolate Coffee Cupcakes

About: I'm a twentysomething baking obsessive, working as a baker and cake decorator, and gradually fattening up my housemates one recipe idea at a time.

Combining chilli and chocolate is pretty much a no brainer, and there's no cuter way to serve things than in cupcake form.

The addition of coffee, inspired by some amazing Devonian chocolate a friend found, adds a rich, bitter depth to the cakes, and if you're adding coffee then you may as well splash some Kahlua in there too.

FInally, the crunchy candied chilli topping brightens up the plate, and acts as a warning sign for the spice that lies within.

Step 1: Ingredients and Equipment

Makes 12 cupcakes, with some leftover mousse.

For the cupcakes:
  • 120 g dark chocolate
  • 120 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp strong coffee (make this up quickly with a large spoon of instant coffee and a little hot water)
  • Chilli powder (about 1 tsp, depending on its strength)

For the mousse filling:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 20 g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp strong coffee
  • Kahlua (optional)

For the fudge icing:
  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 50 g butter
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua (optional)
  • 100 g icing sugar

To garnish:

  • Bowls, spoons, saucepan, spatulas etc.  general kitchen equipment
  • An electric whisk or a very strong mixing arm
  • Piping bags will help
  • A cupcake tin and cupcake cases
  • Oven
  • Fridge
  • Hob

For anyone without scales, a good weight to volume conversion guide can be found here.

Step 2: The Cupcakes

The first step is to bake a rich, spicy cupcake base. Preheat your oven to 160 C (325 F/Gas 3), and line a 12 cup cupake tin.

Melt together the chocolate and butter in a small saucepan. Lave this to cool for a little while.

While the chocolate is cooling, put the sugar and eggs into a mixing bowl and beat until pale, thick and increased in volume. Beating up the eggs adds lift to the cupcakes, helping them rise, so don't skimp on this step.

Next measure out the flour, stir in the chilli powder, and sift this into the sugar and eggs. Gently fold the flour through. Finally, pour in the chocolate mixture and strong coffee, and fold these into the mix until everything is fully combined and you have a smooth batter.

Spoon this into your tin and bake for around 20 minutes, unti  the tops are risen and springy.

Step 3: The Mousse Filling

The cupcakes are filled with a smooth mousse, rich with chocolate, coffee and Kahlua is you want to give the cakes a real kick. Make the mousse while the cupcakes are cooling in the tin.

First, put your egg whites in to a large clean bowl, and whip them until they form stiff peaks. This means that when you take the whisk away the peaks stand up in small points, like snowy mountain tops. Remember, for egg whites to whip up properly all equipment must be clean and free of grease. A quick way to remove any residue is to wipe bowls and beaters over with lemon juice, and dry with some clean kitchen towel. This will stop the whites falling flat into a disappointing mess.

When you have stiff peaks, begin to add the sugar, one spoonful at a time, beating in between each addition. Beat the mixture until it is smooth and glossy.

Put the whites to one side and melt your chocolate. In a large bowl, stir in the egg yolk, coffee and kahlua if you are using it. Don't worry if the chocolate seizes a little, as the whites will loosen it up again.

Add one third of the egg whites to the choclate, and fold it through until fully combined. This will loosen up the mix, making it easier to stir in the rest of the whites, so you don't have to be too gentle.

Add the rest of the whites, and this time use a gentle touch as you fold them through. Beating too hard will knock the air out of the mousse, making it too dense.

Step 4: Assembly, Part 1

Before making the icing, assemble the first part of the cupcakes.

Hollow out the middle of each cake with an apple corer or small sharp knife.

Spoon the mousse into a piping bag,and fill the middle of each cake with mousse.

Put the cakes in the fridge for the mousse to set a little while you make the topping.

There will be leftover chocolate mousse, which is in no way a bad thing. Spoon it into small glasses or ramekins, cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge until dinner, breakfast or when you can resist no longer.

Step 5: The Fudge Icing

The cakes are now topped with a mocha fudge icing.

To make this, melt the butter, chocolate, milk, coffee, and kahlua in a small saucepan, stirring until fully combined intoa smooth sauce. Sift in the icing sugar and stir through, until you have a smooth icing. Leave this to cool a little before spooning on top of the cupcakes.

Step 6: Assembly, the Final Steps

To finish off the cakes, take them out of the fridge and spoon over the icing. If you wait until the icing is almost completely cool, it should actually be firm enough to pipe for an extra pretty touch, but I got impatient.

Scatter over some crumbled candied chilli, and leave the icing to set.

Eat! (An especially fun stage if you haven't warned your friends about the spicy kick.)

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