Spicy Fudge Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I know. I’ve barely re-appeared and am gracing you with another cake recipe. But this one, I tell you, is different. It’s chocolate, and these are cupcakes, and that frosting is to die for, and they’re so adorably tiny and wee you just want to eat a dozen of them at once.

Which brings me to my next point: we got a puppy.

Not recently (hence my prolonged absence), but 2 months ago we adopted a tiny baby French Bulldog who we promptly christened Holtzmann Pombal Cowan (runner-up name and favourite nickname so far: Anchovy). She was named for our favourite Ghostbuster and a town in Portugal where we spent New Year’s Eve this year, and we couldn’t love her more.


Some details about her:

  • Loves: peeing at unexpected times, snorting, her toy badger (same size as her), laying in sunbeams, napping on one or both of us, eating flowers, my makeup brushes, the fringe on the edge of our living room rug, making weird noises, the coat we bought her 2 sizes too big so she could grow into it… even though she just ended up looking like a vampire when she wears it.
  • Dislikes: being ignored, her bed, baths, the neighbour in the next garden over who yelled at me one time while Holtzmann was doing her business, chasing a tennis ball, full rubbish bags, prams, laundry on the line, this one stump in the park across from our flat.

She’s soft and snuggly and a little bit sassy and the smartest pupper I’ve ever met. She gets really embarrassed if she accidentally barks at us and spends the next ten minutes with her tiny ears back, trying to snuggle us into oblivion. Among her tricks so far are sit, stay, come, shake and ‘go home,’ which sends her directly into her crate (which she loves).

And despite the fact that she still whines when we put her to bed and despite the fact that we’ve gone through an entire bottle of ‘puppy stain’ spray and despite the fact that I haven’t slept in on a Saturday since February, I still love that tiny little baby way more than I ever thought possible. Every milestone with her is a treat to watch, and we’re crazy about her even when she’s causing trouble (approximately half the time).

So in honour of the sweetest pupperoni that ever existed, here’s a recipe for cakes practically the same size as she was when she joined our family. (But obviously don’t feed these to your doggo as they are full of dog enemies like chocolate.)

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. The perfect moist crumb, the softest frosting, and a note of spiciness that permeates all the way through the cupcakes to differentiate it from every other chocolate cupcake you’ve ever had all combine to make these the perfect treat for a lunchbox (or to bribe your coworkers into coming to your department’s monthly meeting… not that I know anything about that).

One year ago: Lemon Pecan Bars
two years ago: Eleanor's Sangria

The recipe:

Spiced Fudge Cupcakes

The directions:

Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
Grease or line with paper liners 2 12-cupcake pans (or make in batches).
Combine lemon juice and milk and set aside.
Sift together baking soda, flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon and salt, then set aside.
Cream shortening, sugar and vanilla until fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.
Add chocolate and blend.
Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with hot water, curdled milk, black treacle and golden syrup.
Beat until smooth, then fill cupcake tins halfway with batter.
Bake 17-20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in a middle cupcake comes out barely sticky.



Cream butter until light and fluffy.
Gradually add powdered sugar in batches, mixing until smooth.
Add salt, vanilla, chocolate and cream and beat until smooth and spreadable.
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

The ingredients:
The cupcakes:

½ c minus 1 tsp milk
1 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp baking soda
2 c minus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1/3 c shortening or Stork
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
½ c hot water
1/3 c black treacle
3 tbsp golden syrup

The frosting:

½ c butter, softened
2 c powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 tbsp heavy cream