Sunday, September 4, 2016

Chocolate and Merlot Red Wine Cupcakes - Wilton Shot Tops Kit

I've long been making cocktail cupcakes and bundts, experimenting with recreating the flavours of my favourite tipples in the form of cake. So I was really excited when I went to the Lakeland product launch in July and saw this Shot Tops kit from Wilton - and even more excited when they gave me one to try.

The set contains little plastic pipettes in the shape of either wine bottles or cocktail glasses; you fill them with alcohol (or any liquid) and insert them into the top of the cake, for people to squeeze the liquid into or over the top of the cake as they eat them. I'm sure I remember someone doing something similar on the Great British Bake Off but having to use 'proper' pipettes, I don't think they were sold for home baking at the time!

The kit I received also contained a small recipe book, and there were some great-sounding recipes for cocktail-based cupcakes in there, but disappointingly not all the recipes actually involved the pipettes. I wanted to make one of the recipes that did, and also thought about inventing my own cocktail recipe, but decided that to review the kit properly I should make one from the book.

I was going to stay with a good friend down in Devon over the August bank holiday and she enjoys various cocktails but is a particular connoisseur of red wine -she actually helped me pick the wine we had at my wedding. So I decided to make a rather unusual sounding chocolate and merlot cupcake - not strictly speaking a cocktail but apparently chocolate and red wine go together. Wilton says: "The concentrated, rich taste of merlot wine and not-so-sweet dark chocolate is a natural match when combined in these intensely flavoured cupcakes."

The cupcakes consist of a chocolate base, buttercream with red wine reduction and pipettes containing red wine that you drizzle over the top.

The recipe says this makes about two dozen cupcakes, but I got 16 large ones out of it. You need:
2 cups plain flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar (I used caster)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream

for the icing:
2 cups merlot wine
1 cup butter, softened (the original recipe says to use half butter, half shortening, but as that's basically lard I didn't want to)
4 cups icing sugar

for the infusion:
1 1/2 cups merlot wine
Wilton Shot Tops infusers

Preheat oven to 180C, 350F. Beat the sugar and oil with an electric mixer in a large bowl then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add some of the flour mixture, alternating with the sour cream, until it is all mixed in.

Place cupcake cases in a muffin tin and divide the batter evenly between the cases.

Bake for 16-19 minutes in the oven and allow to cool.

Bring the wine to the boil in a small saucepan and simmer until it has reduced to a couple of spoonfuls. Allow to cool completely.

For the buttercream icing, beat the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl. Add the reduced wine and beat again.

Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.

Cut a small opening in the tip of each Shot Tops infuser and place in a cup of wine; squeeze to draw the liquid into the pipette and when you stop squeezing, it should stay inside. Insert into each cupcake and when you serve, squeeze the Shot Top to infuse the cupcake with wine. You can taste the wine in the middle and it gives the centre a nice moist texture. I don't expect I will use these Shot Tops that often but they really are a great idea!

I'm sharing these with Treat Petite, hosted by Kat at the Baking Explorer and Stuart at Cakeyboi.

- And also with We Should Cocoa, hosted by Choclette at Tin and Thyme.

Charlotte at Charlotte's Lively Kitchen runs a blog challenge called the Food Calendar and there are several things happening this month that these cupcakes would be great for, including National Cupcake Week from Sept 12-18, International Chocolate Day and the Macmillan Coffee Morning.

UK food days, weeks and months in The Food Calendar for September 2016


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