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.

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