Culinary experimentation

I have a floppy white sun hat. Well, it used to be white. Now the crown of it is dotted purple. We’ve had a banner year for blackberries this year, and since I’m out walking nearly every day, and nearly every walk takes me by blackberry bushes in greenbelt/public spaces, and since I’m apparently part magpie, I cannot help but pick ripe blackberries. And what better place to put said blackberries than inside my hat? It’s a perfect receptacle.

I’d been brainstorming for a few weeks about ways to use the blackberries; I don’t want them to go to waste after I spend all that time picking them, but there are only so many blackberries one can eat in a day. I made blackberry peach jam, a blackberry peach crisp in July and a lemon cake (from lemons given to me by a friend) with blackberry sauce. I started to think about what kind of dessert I could make that would include both blackberry and chocolate (because sometimes, you just want chocolate, yes?). I found a recipe for blackberry chocolate chip pie, but the idea of making a pie crust and baking a pie for 50 minutes when it’s been as hot out as it has been just didn’t sound appealing.

Finally, we were invited to a party over the weekend and I knew I wanted to make something to contribute. I hit upon the idea of making chocolate cupcakes with blackberries inside, and took to social media to determine whether the general populace would find that combination a tasty one. Responses were mixed, and then I realized that we were out of both butter and eggs (we only shop once a week in Santa Rosa to minimize the use of gas). So there went that idea, because I wasn’t about to spend small-town grocery store prices (read: twice as expensive) on eggs and butter.

But then, my friend Cadi came to the rescue, sending me a recipe for cupcakes that didn’t use milk OR eggs. For icing, I decided that I could just melt chocolate chips to spread on top rather than try to make a chocolate buttercream with butter-flavored Crisco, which was the only thing we had that resembled butter (because it didn’t sound like it would taste very good). So here I present you with my final recipe for chocolate blackberry cupcakes, no butter or eggs needed.

Chocolate blackberry cupcakes

makes 22 cupcakes, or 12 cupcakes and one 8×8 cake

1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 ½ scant cups milk
2 1/8 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 1/8 cups sugar
2/3 cup cocoa powder (I recommend dutch process)
½ cup oil
1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Approximately 2 cups ripe blackberries (enough for 4 berries per cupcake)

Preheat the oven to 350º. Spray 22 muffin cups with nonstick spray or line with paper cupcake liners. Or, if you only have one muffin tin, line that with paper liners and line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a liquid measuring cup and fill the cup with milk to equal 1 ½ cups. Stir well and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl whisk together the milk mixture, canola oil, and vanilla. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.

Drop 2 blackberries in the bottom of each muffin cup. Fill each muffin cup with ¼ cup of batter. Add one more blackberry to the top of each cup. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Do the same with the 8×8 pan with remaining batter, if using.

Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes from the pan and place on a wire rack. Let the cupcakes cool completely before frosting. Frost with desired icing and then add one blackberry to the top of each completed cupcake.

One response to “Culinary experimentation

  1. Yum! I love the idea of putting whole blackberries in the cupcakes.

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