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Spicy double dark chocolate cupcakes

If you're partial to a chunk or two of dark chocolate, you'll love these.

  • Preparation Time35 mins
  • Cooking Time20 mins
  • Serves12
  • DifficultyMedium
625g plain flour
2 2/3 tsp baking powder
2 2/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda
110g dry chocolate pudding mix
15g wheat germ
1 tbsp ground white pepper
1 1/3 tsp salt
790g sugar
255g vegetable shortening
6 whole eggs
2 tbsp plus 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla essence
170g unsweetened cocoa powder
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Line the cups of a standard-size 12-cup cupcake tin with paper baking cases.

2) Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a small bowl. Add the pudding mix, wheat germ, pepper and salt to the flour mixture and set the bowl aside.

3) In a bowl of an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the sugar and shortening together, until the mixture is fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and then slowly add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla essence.

4) While adding the eggs, put 850ml water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Put the cocoa powder in a medium bowl and pour the boiling water over, whisking until smooth.

5) Turn off the mixer and add the liquid cocoa to the batter. Let the mixture come together then add the dry ingredients to the batter. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and scrape the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients. Fold in the chopped dark chocolate.

6) Fill the prepared paper cake cases three-quarters full with batter and bake until a toothpick inserted in the top comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Leave the cupcakes to cool completely.

7) Fill the centre of the cupcakes with the cherry filling and top with the pistachio mascarpone icing.

To make the cherry filling:
Mix the cherries and cognac together in a bowl and leave to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.

To make the pistachio mascarpone icing:
Cream the cheese with the pistachio compound and almond essence (don't over mix). Add the icing sugar to taste.

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