Whilst I may be enjoying a well-earned four day bank holiday weekend rest, this blog never sleeps. And what better way to celebrate Easter (and the start of spring) than with a recipe for some adorable little Chocolate Seedling Cupcakes.
There’s absolutely no actual dirt involved. Promise.
This time of year is all about getting ready for new things, and hoping that the summer sunshine won’t make us wait too long before we can get our summer dresses and beachwear out of the closet. I’m severely struggling not to start getting my holiday wardrobe together for our Southern Europe trip this summer, and there’s still almost four months to go. You’d think I’d be more concerned with packing for our impending house-move, but I’ve never been one to get my priorities in the right order, right?
Before I get stuck in to some proper summer baking, we’d better keep things at least semi-seasonal around here and have some fun with these cute chocolate cupcakes. They’re baked in silicone flowerpot cupcake cases (AmazonUK / AmazonUSA) and topped with my favourite cocoa flavoured chocolate buttercream.
And the soil? Well, as much as it looks like real-life dirt, it’s actually just some trusty Oreo crumbs.
Modelling Paste Plants
Believe it or not, these seedling cupcakes mark my first ever foray into modelling paste. I’ve made plenty of cute little things out of regular fondant icing before, but these little plants called for something a little more heavy-duty. I picked up some green Renshaw modelling paste from Amazon, and it worked like a charm!
Modelling paste feels much like regular ready-to-roll fondant icing, but it dries much harder. This makes it perfect for plants, which have little leaves that just want to droop down all over the place. You will want to make your modelling paste plants a day ahead of assembling the cupcakes, as they need at least 12 hours to dry out properly. I made mine the night before I needed them, and this was plenty of time.
One very important thing to note: even though the dry modelling paste plants will be nice and hard when you’ve left them for 12 hours, once they are in the top of your cupcakes they will soak up some moisture from the buttercream. This will result in some wilting after a day, so if you are making these for a special occasion then don’t pop the seedlings into the buttercream until you’re ready to serve them!
There’s yogurt in these?
The chocolate cupcake batter itself is my very own tried and tested recipe, which has long been a staple of this blog. It’s the base for all of my chocolate cupcakes (see: chocolate cherry cupcakes, mint chocolate chip cupcakes, or chocolate bourbon biscuit cupcakes) and is the perfect mix of soft, moist, chocolatey.
I’m a big fan of adding some extra moisture to cakes, whether it’s sour cream or buttermilk in my layer cakes, or yogurt in my cupcakes. I find that sour cream keeps things a bit denser than yogurt, and that’s why I use it in layer cakes, and keep the yogurt for cupcakes. The last thing you want is a dry cupcake, and adding yogurt is a greatway to make sure this NEVER happens… assuming you don’t leave them in the oven too long. Nothing can save you from an overbaked cupcake.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the number of you who have been loving and pinning the hell out of my recent recipes, and it’s definitely keeping me motivated and spurring me on. Never underestimate how much a lovely comment, a pin, or a follow on twitter means to us bloggers.
And for the first time ever, my very own little blog is actually going to have made some money this month. Not very much money, but it’s considerably more than I ever imagined back when I started What Charlotte Baked back over two years ago. And it’s all thanks to you guys ?
- For the fondant seedlings
- Edible green modelling paste
- 150g (5.3oz) good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate (I used 70% Lindt Excellence)
- 100g (2/3 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 75g (1/3 cup) plain or vanilla yogurt
- 175g (1½ cups) plain or all purpose flour
- 25g (3 tablespoons) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- Pinch of salt
- 240ml (1 cup) milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 340g (1½ cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 120g (1 cup) cocoa powder
- 625g (5 cups) icing sugar or powdered sugar
- 120ml (½ cup) milk
- 6 Oreo cookies
- You will need to make the seedlings at least 12 hours before assembling the finished cupcakes, as the modelling paste needs time to dry and harden. Knead the paste in your hands and then shape 12 little plants out of it, making sure to leave enough stalk to insert them into the top of the cupcakes. Leave them out to air-dry (I left mine overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F (170°C fan) and line a cupcake or muffin tin with 12 food-safe plant pot cases, or just regular cupcake liners.
- Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or over a saucepan of boiling water. If using the microwave, make sure to stir the chocolate every 20 seconds to avoid burning it. Set aside.
- Cream the butter using a stand or hand-held mixer, until it is pale and creamy, and has no lumps. Add the sugar and mix well.
- Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the melted chocolate and yogurt, and beat well.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and mix gently until just combined. Try to avoid over-mixing. Pour in the milk and vanilla extract, and mix gently until fully combined.
- Fill the cupcake cases ¾ full, as the cupcakes will rise when baking. Put in the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Cream the butter with a hand or stand mixer until it is pale and creamy, and no lumps remain.
- Add the cocoa, icing sugar, and milk to the butter, and mix well until fully combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again.
- Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle (or a disposable piping bag with the end cut off), and pipe a large blob of buttercream on top of each cupcake.
- Place the Oreo cookies into a heavy-duty plastic bag and beat with a rolling pin until they have completely turned to crumbs. You can also use a food processor or blender for this. Place the crumbs into a small bowl, and gently dip the top of each of the cupcakes into the crumbs. Make sure all the buttercream is completely covered with the 'soil', and then place the pre-made fondant seedlings into the top of each of the cakes.
- The fondant seedlings may wilt after a day or so of being in contact with the buttercream, so it may be best not to insert them into the top of the cakes until you are ready to serve them.
- The cupcakes will stay fresh for 3-4 days if stored in an air tight container in a cool dry place. The unfrosted cupcakes can be frozen for 2-3 months - just defrost at room temperature and then cover with frosting. The frosting can also be frozen for 2-3 months - just defrost overnight in the fridge and then use immediately.