Chilli cinnamon chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with salted caramel sauce and chilli vanilla sugar

Well, I passed the assessment round for my PhD yesterday (hurrah!) so now there’s no excuse for me not updating this blog like, seven, no, eight times a day. At least. When I’m not too busy celebrating by hemming curtains. Which I spent all morning doing because ain’t no point in having curtains if they’re the wrong length, right?

Anyway, while I figure out some sort of stupidly elaborate thing to bake to celebrate entering the next stage of my PhD candidacy, here is what I baked for the lab meeting last week. (In case you were wondering how I create so many sugar-packed, buttery sweet things, yet don’t seem to be blogging from hospital, it’s because I cater for my lab’s meetings, which enables me to give the sugar-packed, buttery sweet things mostly to other people. Mostly. If you see a lab tag on a post, you’ll know why.)

I was lazy for last week’s lab meeting and didn’t come up with my own recipes, so here are the two recipes I used:

Buttermilk chocolate cupcakes from Chocolate Fool
- I made these into the cinnamon chilli cupcakes by adding 1 tsp chilli powder and 2 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
- May I also recommend beating the butter and the sugar together then adding the eggs, rather than beating the eggs and the sugar together then adding the butter. Butter + sugar, then eggs = easier and quicker and will give you the right consistency faster.
- A useless note, but in these cakes I used fleur de sel chocolate by Mast Brothers Chocolate which I bought when I was in NYC but couldn’t eat because it was a bit too salty for my tastes. I think the chocolate was put to good use in this recipe.

Salted butter caramel sauce from Almost Bourdain
- I ended up adding about 3/4 tsp of salt, but this recipe is amazing. A+, would sauce again.

And over the top I sprinkled some chilli vanilla sugar from Lanacoora Chillis, but you could make your own by mixing 1 tsp chilli powder (or 1 tsp dried, very finely chopped/processed chillis) with a cup or two of sugar and keeping it in an airtight container with a vanilla pod buried in the sugar. Sweet.

  9 comments for “Chilli cinnamon chocolate buttermilk cupcakes with salted caramel sauce and chilli vanilla sugar

  1. anabela pereira
    August 8, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Delicious ;-)

  2. August 8, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Congrats on passing your assessment round! (The system sounds quite different in Australia than the U.S., so not quite sure what that means, but is awesome nonetheless!).

    These cupcakes look awesome – so intrigued by the use of chilli powder…

    • Jess
      August 12, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Yeah I think the Australian system is quite different from a lot of other PhD systems, because they want to make sure it’s a very structured experience so we can become somewhat competent researchers in 3.5 years, rather than the longer durations that a lot of other countries have. At least at the university I’m at, we have rounds of assessment that usually involve submitting a document (containing literature reviews, our results, information about our progress, etc), doing a talk for an audience, and having a meeting with a panel of assessors (I guess the talk and the meeting are kind of like a mini PhD defense). And this is done 3 times, after each year of progress, with some variation. Fun fun fun!

      Apparently the idea with combining chilli powder and chocolate is that the chilli sensitises the tastebuds and thereby improves perception of the chocolate. Not sure if that’s the legitimate reason, but I’m a fan nonetheless!

  3. August 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Congratulations! And you are such a woman after my own heart – lately I’ve been adding cinnamon and chilli to baked goods like my life depends on it. But topping such flavours with salted caramel? You’re my golden girl.

    • Jess
      August 12, 2010 at 10:47 am

      Salted caramel is something that my brain has only just realised the potential of. Kind of like WHERE HAS SALTED CARAMEL BEEN ALL MY LIFE? SALTED CARAMEL IN EVERYTHING FROM NOW ON!

  4. August 10, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Congratulations on passing your assesment Jess. To be honest, it comes as no surprise. You’re brilliant both in and out of the kitchen.

    Seeing this recipe, you had me at salted caramel sauce. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm. And these cupcakes look so good. I love your interesting flavour combinations. It would definitely be a party in your mouth.

    • Jess
      August 12, 2010 at 10:50 am

      My assessors during my panel interview (two of whom know about my baking predilection) semi-jokingly asked me why I didn’t bake anything for them. Well, BECAUSE THE BRIBERY ASPECT WOULD HAVE BEEN A BIT OBVIOUS. They said they would have conveniently ignored that aspect. I guess I’ll know better for the next round of assessment…

  5. August 13, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Wow! I’m totally drooling. You should try this recipe for sweet potato cupcakes- they’re my all-time favorites!

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