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) :)