Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chocolate and Fig Preserve Cupcakes

Just about four months ago my best friend K and her husband J brought a lovely new human into this world. Their new baby is happy, laughing, and good natured...seemingly content with everything going around her and pleased with the attentions of her family (including her big sister, my awesomely terrific godchild!).

How wonderful it must be to be a child...napping and drinking milk, having people bathe you and comb your hair. I sometimes wish I could go back to that time, if only to relish this life of being absolutely care-free. I would store this feeling for stormier times to come, when I can then take it out and rub it against my cheek like a blankie.

Then again, I don’t know how long I could be on a diet consisting of milk and milk.

I suppose there is a lot to be said about every stage in life, and the important thing is to make sure we don’t forget to savor each one – embracing all the good that comes with the moment you are in. Like being a child (Kids, don’t try to grow up too fast! You will miss those carefree days when you have rent to pay!). Like being an adult (Yay! My own kitchen...all the raw cake batter I can eat!).

And for all ages, except the strictly milk-drinking set, there’s chocolate cupcakes...

Chocolate and Fig Preserve Cupcakes
(adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate-Cherry Cupcakes in How to Be A Domestic Goddess)

For the cupcakes:
  • 125 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 300 grams fig preserves
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 150 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

    For the icing:
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Candied nuts for garnish

    - Place butter in a saucepan and put over low heat to melt. When it is almost completely melted, add chocolate. Once the chocolate has softened a bit, remove the pan from heat and stir until chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.
    - Add the fig preserves, sugar, salt, and eggs to the chocolate mixture, then mix until everything is well incorporated. Stir in the flour, to which you’ve added the baking powder (do not overmix!).
    - Pour into a 12-bun muffin tin lined with papers and bake in an 180C oven for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out fairly clean.
    - Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out. Wait to cool completely before icing.
    - For the icing, melt chocolate and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk until it’s smooth and thick. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing it out with the back of a spoon or a spatula. Garnish with a candied nut on each – I used candied pili nuts.

    The changes I made to the recipe were substituting the original cherry jam with fig preserves, and using a mixture of all purpose flour and baking powder instead of self-raising flour (which I didn’t have)...and using candied nuts instead of glace cherries for garnish. If you own this book you will notice that the recipe is pretty much the same as her Chocolate Orange Cake a few pages earlier (which I adapted for Yummy Magazine last march), using the cherry jam instead of the orange marmalade. I love both the orange cake and this fig preserve cupcake version – adding the jam/marmalade/preserves to the batter does two things: it yields a moist and rich cake as opposed to a light and spongy one, and it gives another dimension of flavour...the fruit underlying the chocolate. It also makes for a supremely satisfying raw cake batter to lick off everything! I will be experimenting with other fruit preserves soon...

    I made these to take to K’s house for a small tea party. We sat outdoors and enjoyed K’s lovely spread of tea sandwiches (in a proper multi-tiered, afternoon-tea-type tray) and buttermilk scones with cream cheese icing. We chatted and played with the baby and whiled the afternoon away together...enjoying the moment :)

    One day we will introduce K’s little one to chocolate...and I hope to be present on that special occasion. Until then, she’s happy chugging away at her milky sustenance and we are happy just to watch (while having tea and scones and cupcakes) :)

    Anh said...

    Hah so funny. My best friend just gave birth last week and it was so joyful.

    My flatmate S could actually live on milk. She loves it so much that she always has a glass in every meal. ;)

    And how I love your cupcakes!

    Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

    A delightful combination! Those cupcakes look really good!



    MeetaK said...

    haha! nope just milk would not cut it for me - especially when there are scrumptious treats like these to dig in! lovely flavor combo joey!

    Midge said...

    A lot of my friends have babies right now and, while it's adorable to see them drinking their milk, I am awaiting the day when I can be the "bad tita" and introduce them to the pleasure of chocolate!

    Till then, I will try your recipe out on their parents. ;)

    Stepford Mum said...

    Yummy, yummy!! I often wonder, since most people say that cooking can be done according to taste but baking involves following the recipes to the letter, how baking recipes come about in the first place - knowing just how much flour (and of what type), sugar, eggs etc. to put in. Now I know. When one reaches your level of baking expertise, you can adapt and make them up, and always with delicious results!

    ABowlOfMush said...

    I like the fig replacement idea! Sounds really yummy!

    veron said...

    Chocolate cupcakes are my favorite even as a child. I may venture out to carrot and others but I always come back to chocolate!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Anh! Congratulations to your best friend! My hubby loves milk too...drinks big glasses of it! So we actually do consume a lot of it in our home :)

    Thanks Rosa!

    Hi Meeta! Thanks! I do like milk a lot but yes, would need more than that for my grown up self! ;)

    Oh Midge! I’m afraid you have to wait a bit...between milk a chocolate there’s all sorts of other things that need to come squashed carrots. But I know exactly what you mean...I would love to see someone have chocolate (and sushi and foie and truffles!) for the very first time :)

    Hi Iyor! Heehee, I’m not quite an expert...I never change the basic structure of a baked recipe. Like here I replaced 300 grams cherry jam with 300 grams fig preserve...same volume and Nigella did suggest we could try other preserves :) As for the flour, if you don’t have self-raising flour you can sub AP flour and baking can find the substitutions online! The first bakers must have gone through a lot of trial and error!

    Hi BowlofMush! I love fig this was a natural pick for me!

    Hi Veron! Me too! I am still thinking though of which cupcakes will deserve your gorgeous wrappers! :)

    Soma said...

    What a scrumptious combination! would mind being a baby who got to smack the lips & get whatever he/she wants to eat.. other than milk.

    Manggy said...

    I am pretty sure that to a baby, milk is EVERYTHING, hahaha :) And now we have these luscious cupcakes, they'd go really great with a glass of milk too! ;)

    Junglefrog said...

    I truly love milk. I do... but having it all the time and only that.?? Nope, won't do! I mean, how can you possibly not eat those chocolate cupcakes right?

    Irene said...

    Heck ya! These look so good!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Soma! Heehee, me too! ;)

    Hi Manggy! You bet...milk and cuddles :) Yup, these will pair great with milk...that’s how my hubby likes it!

    Hi Junglefrog! We do husband and I consume loads! Always good to have cupcakes on the side though ;)

    Hi Irene! Thanks! :)

    Justin said...

    i don't think i've tried chocolate and figs together before, but i like the sound of it

    Anne said...

    I do believe that having a baby is truly a a mother there were times I hoped my kids would stay as babies forever so I could keep them by my side until I grow old :-)

    Anything chocolate makes my heart beat the cupcakes!

    Kathie said...

    This is perfect, I just harvested figs from the tree in my back yard

    Katrina said...

    Oh, two of my favorite things in one little cup! I'm sure it's delicious. It does seem like Goddess Nigella can do no wrong. My sister baked the Quadruple Choc. Cake recently, and it was as good as you said.

    K can bake cream cheese frosted scones?! How divine that sounds!

    Given this topic, I am wondering what the next post will be about... ;-D

    Erin said...

    A recipe after my own heart! I love, love, love the combination of fig and chocolate.

    ribbiticus said...

    love this post, jo! lovely alternative for anyone who has limits to milk intake - hehehe. =)

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Justin! It’s a wonderful combination...although I have yet to try fresh figs and chocolate which I’m sure will be awesome!

    Hi Anne! I’m sure that’s what our mums wished are truly a blessing :) I loved these cupcakes too!

    Hi Kathie! You have a fig tree in your backyard??? Oh can we be friends? :)

    Hi Katrina! This is like the recipe for the orange chocolate cake I made but using fig preserves instead of the marmalade (and making them cupcakes)...I loved it! Yes, K did...her first time ever to make scones and they were yummy :)

    Hi Erin! Me too :)

    Hi Ribbiticus! Hehe...or anyone who has no limits to chocolate intake!

    Bordeaux said...

    Sounds like a fantastic combination. We have lots of preserves left over for the wedding, might just play around with it and put on some extra winter weight!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Bordeaux! Let me know if you do...the original cake with orange marmalade was also very good :)

    Rebekka said...

    Is it, like, coincidence or FATE that I just finished a batch of homemade fig preserves?

    Jen Tan said...

    I would love to be a baby too...only I am getting to be lactose intolerant! ;D hahaha Imagine a lactose intolerant baby??? perhaps I can just nurse on soy? hahaha ;P

    Those cupcakes look absolutely DELICIOUS joey! Kids must love you coming over =) That outdoor tea party sounds don't have pics of those yummy tea sandwiches by any chance?---so we may lust over them over the net! hahaha

    take care jo!

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Rebekka! Homemade fig preserves??? Oh wow! It’s fate my dear!

    Hi Jen! Oh no...although I love soy milk too :) Thanks! No photos of the tea sandwiches...I had no idea she would go to town with the whole afternoon tea setup! Next time for sure :) You take care too!

    The Woman said...

    Oh wow, this looks amazing! And puuuurrrfect for my cupcake fetish.

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi The Woman! Thanks! :)

    creampuff said...

    While an all-milk diet might be problematic for me as well, I see no problems whatsoever with an all-cupcake diet especially if it's these cupcakes.


    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Ivonne! Ah! The beloved all-cupcake diet...I would have no problems with that either ;)

    redmenace said...

    I am not sure there is a better combo than this. Fabulous! Thank you.

    ChichaJo said...

    Hi Redmenace! It’s a combo I love too :) Thanks!

    shalimar said...

    I thought of you today...because my green grocer gave me some figs and i know how much you love them when you were in Greece. Wished I can send them over to you

    ChichaJo said...

    Ah Sha! What a sweet thought! How I wish we had fresh figs here!