Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Meringue-y Frosting

I’m not sure if I should be posting these right after some people will have given up chocolate for Lent… but haven’t we decided that legalism is dépassé and heretical anyway? Whether you make these now or save up the recipe for Good Sunday, I’d advise that you try your hand at it sooner or later. Or talk to me nicely.

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I’d been meaning to try Devil’s Food Cake for ages but, being short of time, have used my go-to recipe for the past few chocolate cakes I’ve made. This makes your stereotypical, delicious, fudgy chocolate cake – very dense. Devil’s Food Cakes differ because they are really, really lightweight – it’s bizarre picking them up and feeling how light they are! I think that this sort of thing is perfect for cupcakes rather than a whole cake – though I’ve yet to try the latter – as for cupcakes something that feels nice and light and portable is ideal.

You could top these with whatever icing you want, but I think that the one I’ve used complements the soft texture of the cake-base very nicely: almost meringue-like, it sets hard but is puffy underneath. I tried to pipe it out, but that didn’t really work with the tips that I had at my disposal, so it’s up to you whether you use piping bags or just splodge it on with a spoon!

I got the base-recipe from here, which had the very interesting notion that a sugar syrup keeps cakes moist for a few days – I thought I’d try it, but made so much sugar syrup that I thought I might as well coat them all in it, and so cannot provide the results of a comparative taste-test for you. Up to you whether you try it or not.

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(makes about 16 cupcake-sized cupcakes, less if you’re using muffin-cases)


70g good quality dark chocolate 130g plain flour
190ml buttermilk (sub: 2.5tsp lemon juice, then fill up to the 190ml mark with milk. Stir and stand for 5 minutes)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1.25 tsp baking soda / bicarb soda
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
60g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
180g caster sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Put the chocolate, vanilla, cocoa powder and buttermilk in a heatproof jug and mix together over a bain-marie till the chocolate is completely melted and incorporated.
  3. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, making sure you beat well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together.
  5. Beat in the buttermilk mixture and the flour till everything has been evenly mixed in and the mixture as the texture of barely whipped cream (the mixture should be light, thick and liquid without being completely watery)
  6. Fill your cupcake cases 1/2 full (the mixture will approximately double in size after baking), and bake for 15 minutes or till a wooden skewer inserted into the middle comes out with moist (but not wet) crumbs).

OPTIONAL: To keep the cupcakes wonderfully moist and extend their life by a few days, boil the 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar together till the sugar has completely dissolved, then boil for another 2-3 minutes. Brush it over the top of the cupcakes as soon as they are out of the oven so the liquid is completely absorbed by the cupcakes.


225g caster sugar

  • 70ml water

1 egg white

  1. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg white until stiff.
  2. Place the sugar and water into a large pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and boil until the syrup reaches 115oC on a sugar thermometer.
  3. Remove from heat and let the bubbles settle then slowly pour the syrup on to the egg whites while constantly whisking using an electric whisk. Whisk until the mix just stands in peaks (this will take several minutes).
  4. Spread the frosting over the side and top with some grated chocolate, if desired, before leaving to cool and then storing in an air-tight container.

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