These incredibly easy cupcakes use the magical reaction of vinegar and baking powder to create a light and fluffy texture but you’d honestly never know the vinegar was in there I promise. Because of this kitchen alchemy they are completely dairy free, until you smother them in this delicious icing that is, in which the orange and vanilla balance beautifully against the coffee in the cake, but if you wanted to keep them vegan a simple icing of orange juice and icing sugar would still be lovely.
Super-simple chocolate coffee cupcakes with orange cheesecake icing
Makes 12 cupcakes or 20 fairy cakes
225g plain flour
30g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
225g granulated sugar
½ tsp fine salt (if using flakes – Maldon for preference – powder them in a pestle & mortar first)
1½ tsp good-quality instant coffee (I like Kenco Millicano wholebean instant)
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or Madagascan vanilla extract)
6 tbsp olive oil
For the icing:
50g white chocolate
100g full-fat cream cheese
50g soft unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
Zest of 1 small orange
250g icing sugar
Edible glitter, to decorate (optional*)
Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 180/Gas Mark 6. Stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder and sugar together into a bowl (preferably one with a pouring lip, if you have one) until evenly mixed. In a jug dissolve the coffee granules in 250ml hot water, then stir in all the other liquid ingredients. Pour the liquids into the dry mix and stir gently until just combined (don’t worry about the odd lump).
Divide the batter between paper case-lined baking tins, the mixture will make 20 little fairy cakes (tins with hollows measuring 4.5cm at the bottom/6.5cm at the top) or 12 cupcakes (5.5cm/7.5cm). Bake for 15 minutes for the smaller ones, or 20 minutes for the larger, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins before icing.
To make the icing, melt the chocolate in a small bowl – a microwave is easiest for this, give it 20 second blasts, stirring in between, it should take no more than 1½ minutes. Set aside to cool a little whilst you do the rest of the icing. Beat the soft butter and the cream cheese together until smooth, then add the molten chocolate, vanilla and orange zest. Add the icing sugar a bit at a time (to avoid a giant sugar cloud in your kitchen) and beat until thoroughly combined. Spoon into a piping bag and chill for half an hour or so to firm up a bit.
When your cakes are completely cool pipe on the icing and, if wished, sprinkle with edible glitter*. If you aren’t serving them immediately chill the cakes to give the icing a chance to firm.
*Yes I’m aware there’s been some furore over the use of non-toxic ‘edible’ glitter, but seriously, all it does is pass through your system without causing any harm whatsoever. If you’re not happy about that, or you are planning on selling the cupcakes, simply don’t use it.