Black truffle & vanilla cupcakes with science bee honey icing

Tash challenged me to include truffles in a cupcake recipe, and because I’m always up for a baking challenge, here it is. As far as I know, there is no other sweet recipe in existence (well, nothing acknowledged on the internet) that uses truffles, apart from a truffle ice cream made by Dr Yukio Hattori on Iron Chef, when for some reason he decided to challenge Iron Chef Michiba (madness! — of course Hattori lost). I searched the internet long and hard to find information about what sweet ingredients go well with black truffles, to little avail. So as a testament to all the stupid search results I got that were about chocolate truffles, these cupcakes are also topped with hand-made honey chocolate truffles.

When I say “science bee honey” I mean that this is the honey collected from the bees used by the visual & sensory neuroscience research groups at the QBI. If you don’t have access to science bee honey because for some strange reason you’re not a researcher at an institute that has a honeybee lab, I suppose you can use non-science bee honey, but you will diminish the novelty and awesomeness of these cupcakes significantly.

Recipe after the cut.

Black truffle & vanilla cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is a variation of the ubiquitous vanilla cupcake recipe from the Magnolia Bakery. It makes about 24 cupcakes.

  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 120g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 120g black truffle butter*
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs vanilla paste (or extract)

 
*The truffle butter I used, by Poddi Tartufi Terni, is 5% black truffles by weight. If you’d prefer to use actual truffles instead of truffle butter, just use 240g of softened unsalted butter in total for the recipe along with 6g of finely grated black truffle.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Combine flours in a small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth (if using unsalted butter and truffle butter, cream these together; if using unsalted butter with grated truffle, cream the butter, add the grated truffle, and cream again to mix the truffle through evenly).

Add the sugar slowly and beat until light and fluffy (around 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after the addition of each one. Add the vanilla to the milk and whisk well. Add the flours to the mixer bowl in 3 parts, alternating with the vanilla milk. During this, regularly scrape down the insides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure the ingredients are all combined properly. Be careful not to overbeat.

Fill a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners so they are about 3/4 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, so that the tops are golden and a cake tester or skewer inserted into a cake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in the muffin tins for 15 minutes, then remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

 
Icing

  • 250g cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened.
  • 1/3 cup honey

 
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, cream the cream cheese and butter together for about 5 minutes until smooth. On a medium speed, slowly add the honey and beat until evenly distributed. You can use more or less honey depending on how sweet you want the icing. Spoon the icing onto the cooled cupcakes.

 
Honey chocolate truffles

  • 250g dark chocolate (I used 85% cocoa solids)
  • 150ml thickened cream (pouring cream, 35% fat)
  • 3 tbs honey

 
Chop or break the chocolate into pieces and put in a large bowl. Put the cream and honey in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the chocolate and leave to stand for a few minutes. Stir with a spoon until the mixture is glossy with an even consistency and just looks like melted chocolate. Leave this ganache to stand for 10 minutes to cool down a bit, then place in the fridge for 10 minutes. Check the ganache regularly to make sure it doen’t solidify too much. Mix with a fork if the outer areas are cooling more quickly than the inner areas.

When the ganache is solid but malleable, remove from the fridge. Take 2 teaspoons of the ganache and roll it in your hands to make a ball, then place on a tray lined with baking paper. (This is a messy way of doing it, but it really is the best way to get the ball shape — although it’s far from a perfect sphere of course. I’ve tried using spoons and melon ballers but they don’t really work as well. Making the truffles with your hands works best when your hands are clean because the friction with your skin helps with the shaping, but the ganache will melt onto your hands a fair bit so just wash and dry your hands after ever 4 or 5 truffles.) When you have finished making the truffles, put them in the fridge for 5 minutes so that the surface firms up a bit. At this point I decorated the truffles by pushing silver cachous into them. The truffles then went back into the fridge for another 10 minutes so they were firmer and easier to handle.

Decorate the cupcakes with the truffles by pressing the truffles into the icing to hold them in place.

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