Monday, 13 August 2012

Black Forest Muffins (with a vegan option)

Baking Mad asked if I would like to test out another one of their recipes, this time using Silver Spoon Homegrown sugar, which is the ONLY sugar grown in Britain. As I already buy Silver Spoon products, I was happy to oblige.
"Silver Spoon sugars are made from sugar beet . The sugar beet that goes into Silver Spoon sugars travels a short distance to the factory (an average of only 28 miles) direct from the fields around Bury St Edmunds in East Anglia. Silver Spoon work with 1,200 local farmers to grown the beet, which is then made into their range of homegrown sugars for families all over the country."   The first 10,000 people to register with Baking Mad before 30th September 2012 will receive a free Silver Spoon mystery gift (UK only).  
I decided to go for the rather indulgent looking Black Forest Muffins, as cherries are cheap and plentiful in the UK at the moment. These are quite time consuming to make (compared to simple muffins), with the cherry pitting and soaking, but worth the effort for a special dessert. I cooked two batches - one non-vegan and one vegan - as I didn't want my lovely vegan readers to miss out on these (the vegan variations are in italics). Of course, that meant a lot of muffins to eat, but my family bravely stepped up to the mark and helped out!

For the muffins:
  • 450 g fresh cherries pitted and halved
  • 2-4 tbsp kirsch, white rum or cherry brandy
  • 150 ml water
  • 110 g dark chocolate chips (Silver Spoon Create) - v.o dairy free chocolate
  • 225 g unsalted butter, softened v.o dairy free spread
  • 175 g caster sugar (Silver Spoon Homegrown)
  • 3 free range eggs - v.o option Orgran No Egg or similar egg replacer
  • 400 g plain flour 
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 140 ml sour cream - v.o dairy free vanilla or plain yogurt
For the topping:
  • 400 ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar (Silver Spoon Homegrown)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Vegan topping:
  • 200g icing sugar (Silver Spoon Homegrown)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Boiled water to mix
  • 12 cherries to decorate
  • Chocolate shavings or chocolate chips, to decorate - v.o dairy free chocolate
Combine cherry halves with the kirsch, cover and set aside over night or for at least 2 hours. 

Heat the oven to 180°C/170 °C Fan Oven/350°F/gas 4.

Place paper cases in a 16 hole muffin tin.

In a small pan, over a low heat combine the water and chocolate chips. Heat, stirring frequently until the chocolate has melted. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

(For the vegan option, at this stage cream the 
sugar and dairy free spread, then add the remaining muffin ingredients including egg-replacer and mix until just combined. Then continue as for regular muffins.)

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the cooled chocolate, scraping the sides of the pan and mix thoroughly.

Mix together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in batches, alternating with the soured cream, mixing on low speed to incorporate.

Spoon half of the mixture into the paper cases, add a spoonful of cherries - about 6 halves - (reserving the liquid) and top with the remaining cake mixture, so that the paper cases are filled to the top. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes; turn out and cool completely on a wire rack.

Using a skewer or cocktail stick, poke several holes in the top of the muffins. Drizzle or brush the reserved cherry liquid over the top of the muffins and allow to soak in.


For the whipped cream: whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk until incorporated. Place a spoonful of whipped cream on top of each cupcake. 
For the vegan topping: Mix the icing sugar with the vanilla and just enough water to make a thick, but spreadable icing.
Decorate with fresh cherries and shaved chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Verdict
Not bad at all! The vegan muffins were a pretty good match for the non-vegan ones both in appearance and taste. In my photos above, you can see the slightly more bumpy-looking vegan muffins in the plain cake cakes and the non-vegan ones in the patterned cases.I found that both batches were a little drier than expected though, so I've reduced the amount of flour in the recipe above (compared to the original recipe from Baking Mad). I also felt that the original mixture didn't look dark/chocolaty enough, so I also added some cocoa powder. When I bake these again, I'll  mix the cherries and kirsch into the batter so they're distributed through the cakes rather than in one layer in the middle, as I think this will improve the taste and moistness of the cakes.

Integrity Statement
This is a sponsored post. I received free cooking ingredients (sugar, flour, chocolate chips and vanilla extract) in return for mentioning Silver Spoon Homegrown Sugar and Baking Mad. Original recipe courtesy of Baking Mad.

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  1. Oh yes! These look like a great way to enjoy a retro classic.

  2. Wow! These look really delicious!


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