Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Buttercream

You may have surmised from my recent OCD posts that I am a bit competitive.    No, really, I am.  🙂

Well, one of The Hubs’ colleagues at work has a girlfriend who runs a cupcake catering business.   Her cupcakes are sublime.   We have tasted many at different company functions and even purchased others from her shop for our own enjoyment.

The Hubs said that everyone would be bringing treats for Valentine’s Day to the office and he suggested I make cupcakes.

“That would be pretty cocky of me, wouldn’t it?   Because you know that the professional cupcake maker will be sending some,” I rationalized.

“So, show her up,” replied The Hubs.

The Cupcake Smackdown was on.

Thanks to Sommer and her Cherry Cupcakes  (see my Valentine’s Day Post) and Chef Sarah from The Canebrake, I had two supreme specimens to enter into this unofficial cupcake contest.

Thank you, Chef Sarah, for sharing your Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake recipe with us at your cooking class.

Chef Sarah’s go-to chocolate cake recipe is an heirloom one, her family’s chocolate mayonnaise cake.

Yes, I know the first thing you thought was “that HAS to be a misprint!”   This vintage cake recipe does have mayonnaise as an ingredient!   A little bit of culinary history is in order to explain this.   During World War II, fresh baking ingredients such as eggs and butter were rationed and sent overseas to the troops.   War time bakers learned to use alternative ingredients as substitutes for the rationed ingredients.   Other examples include apple sauce and beets used in cakes.   This recipe comes from my great grandmother’s vintage handwritten cookbook.

Chef Sarah's mini cupcake.

Chef Sarah’s mini cupcake.

You could tell that Chef Sarah cherishes this recipe from her great-grandmother.

Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake
From Chef Sarah of The Canebrake

1 c. mayonnaise
1 c. boiling water
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda

Whisk together boiling water and mayonnaise in a medium mixing bowl until evenly combined.   Whisk in vanilla, sugar and flour until a smooth batter forms.   Whisk in cocoa powder until well-combined.    Stir in soda.

Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake in 350 degree oven until done, approximately 10-15 minutes for cake layers and 5-10 minutes for cupcakes.

It was asked whether or not one could use the olive oil mayonnaise that is now in the stores.   Chef Sarah said, “Yes.”    There were three sisters sitting out our table who swore that their mother made this same recipe using Miracle Whip.   Chef seemed a bit skeptical.

But what about the raspberry part of this cupcake?    Half bake the cupcakes, then put a frozen raspberry in the center and finish baking.   The cupcake will settle a bit and and look fallen in the center, but you are frosting them anyway.

Like Chef Sarah, I made mini-cupcakes.   According to the original recipe, this will make two 8-inch cake layers or a dozen large cupcakes.    I got about thirty mini cupcakes out of the recipe.

The inspiration for the frosting comes from Chef Sarah’s love of a “steaming cup of Earl Grey tea with a chocolate biscotti.”

Milk Chocolate and Earl Gray Buttercream Icing
From Chef Sarah Leavell of The Canebrake

1/4 c. boiling water
3 Earl Grey tea bags
1 lb. butter (room temperature)
2 lbs. powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 c. cocoa powder (depending on how rich you like your icing)
1/2 c. chopped milk chocolate (melted)

Place the tea bags in the boiling water and allow them to steep until the tea is very strong.  Remove tea bags.

Place the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a stand mixer and start mixing on low.  Slowly increase the speed of the mixer until the icing is whipped and is very light and spreadable.    With the mixer on low, slowly add the melted chocolate to the icing, mixing until evenly combined.

Add the tea to the icing and add more powdered sugar for desired consistency.

Tip:   Use paddle attachment for your stand mixer, not the whisk.   This surprised me.   The paddle will “bust up” the chunks of butter.    In fact, Chef Sarah was adamant that the only time you would use the whisk attachment would be for a royal icing.

Another tip:   Use a large rose tip and do a vertical ribbon frosting design.

Ribbon and star-tipped frostings.

Ribbon and star-tipped frosting designs.

So, who won the cupcake smackdown?    I guess I did because the caterer’s cupcakes never showed up.    Win by default, I guess.

Stay tuned for some more great recipes from Chef Sarah’s Chocolate Cooking Class.

23 comments to Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Buttercream

  • I totally love this chocolate buttercream with earl grey tea! You are so creative!

  • You are always a winner in my book. You know how I feel about family recipe, cherished. And cooking with tea…home run with one!

    • Reallly, this is the only recipe of Chef Sarah’s that I have reproduced. I had spectacular results and this is a keeper! The truffles and other delicacies will have to wait for the holidays. 🙂

  • Woo Hoo! Fabulous! My Nana made chocolate mayonaise cakes all the time and when my cousin was stationed far away, we would send him one because it was not greasy and it kept the cake moist for the long trip. I bet these were fantastic! P.S. – another tip I learned was that using mayo instead of butter when making grilled cheese keeps the bread from being greasy and it browns more easily. I use it all the time!

  • A win is a win, chica. Ohhhhhh, the earl grey.

  • Ha! I am competitive the same way! I bet you would have won anyways! These both sound terrific. I have a recipe that calls for mayonnaise in the cake too. The entire book is mayo recipes. I have made the cake one and you would never know!

  • Yum, sounds wonderful and what a fun story!

  • What a delicious and creative little cake! Great use of Earl Grey tea. I bet it gives that buttercream an unusual and unique flavor.

  • Ha! I love this post. I am competitive too. My old office had a cookie contest every year during the holidays that I couldn’t stand not to win or at least place. 😉 I bet these would have won regardless of whether the professional was there or not. What a great flavor combination–they look delectable. (I like the vertical ribbon design too.)

    • I loved that Chef Sarah showed us that beautiful ribbon design. I would never have thought of that. (Mine, did not come out looking exactly like hers though. I think my frosting wasn’t quite stiff enough OR my rose tip wasn’t as big as the one she used.)

  • Liz

    Haha…I’m SO glad you won!!! Yup, I remember a mayo cake from my childhood…all the rage in the 70’s! Your cupcakes sound perfectly wonderful!!!

  • I’ve always heard those mayonnaise chocolate cakes are pretty darn good. I really have to try one of those old recipes one of these days. If it was good enough for our moms and grandmas, it’s good enough for me!

  • […] I made Chef Sarah’s Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Earl Grey Buttercream, I defrosted some raspberries for the delicious center of these cupcakes.    I had about 2 cups […]

  • Aw, a bit disappointed there was no true competition b/c I really think you would have given her a run for her money with these! Very impressive! I’ve heard of the mayo chocolate cake, good things, but haven’t tried it. So need to!