21 December 2010

mystery box cupcake: chocolate licorice peach cupcakes

Last New Year, my flatmate, Fran,  and her equally competitive sister challenged each other to go without chocolate for a whole year. I can understand the sibling rivalry/dare thing (I've got a date with my little brother to see who can eat a tub of ice cream the fastest) but chocolate? A whole year? It did not compute. Thankfully they had a clause in their contract* whereby they could eat chocolate if it was covering licorice.

Jamieanne of Sweetest Kitchen challenged her readers to create a cupcake for a special someone and I couldn't think of a better way to legally provide my flatmate with chocolate.  

I would've loved to just put pieces of licorice in cupcake papers and drown them in chocolate but I knew that would be pushing it a bit and Fran would refuse to eat them. I used a recipe by Chockylit that used cocoa powder instead of chocolate, adding in some licorice and dried peach/apricots and topping them with a licorice cream cheese frosting.

And how did Fran like them? Well, she ate four before I'd had a chance to frost them and she is very particular when it comes to cake! Poor thing, deprived for so long. But seriously, it's not just the chocolate component that's awesome about these cupcakes because the combination of a dried peach (or apricots) sandwiched between softened licorice is heavenly. 

I can't abide 'chocolate' cupcakes that taste more like generic cake than chocolate and these don't disappoint. Think intense chocolate but without the cloying richness of a brownie. I'm also not really a fan of licorice but the flavour is mellowed in these cupcakes and it pairs really well with the chocolate and peach/apricot.

The frosting I created was, sadly, average. I wanted to use licorice root powder I'd found in a health food shop but it was so bitter that you couldn't use enough to give the frosting a licorice flavour without leaving a horrific aftertaste. Also the powder doesn't taste like licorice you buy so I guess it was all a bit of a waste of time! Next time I'll just stick to a chocolate cream cheese frosting.

Now these are gone, Fran's back to counting down to 1 January so she can gorge herself on chocolate (one whole year without chocolate and suddenly allowed it all? I'm scared).

Chocolate Licorice Chocolate Cupcakes
I used this recipe from Chockylit for the cupcakes. I filled 1/4 of the cupcake liners with batter and then lined the top of the batter with slices of licorice going from side of the liners to the other. I topped the slices with either a half dried peach or three dried apricots. The recipe made 15 cupcakes.

Once cooled, I used this recipe from Cupcake Project for chocolate cream cheese frosting but instead of cocoa powder I used 2 tablespoons of licorice root powder.

*I'm pretty sure it's just a verbal contract - contrary to what may come across with their not eating chocolate, they aren't really crazy.

For more information on the Mystery Box Cupcake challenges, click here.

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Fran looking at her cupcakes while I'm taking photos of them


Toby said...

wow.. what a combination of flavors. Love the idea of pairing licorice and peaches!

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