I realize I may have already lost some of you with that title, but if you’re still with me, you’re in for a treat. The inspiration for these cupcakes is Itsi Bitsi in Montreal, where Dear Sister bought assorted flavors for my bachelorette party (8 years ago already). The only flavor I remember was chocolate curry! It was unusual enough at the time that I’d never considered curry in desserts, though I’ve now seen more recipes along those lines, and I’ve also enjoyed “savory” spices mixed with chocolate in other dishes. So over the years, I tried to recreate these cupcakes, or at least come up with something that I’d make again, and I think I’ve got it! To be clear, this isn’t Itsi Bitsi’s recipe, and I don’t think the cupcakes even look similar (maybe theirs had a curry-yellow buttercream frosting, though I can’t remember clearly now). It took some tweaking: I started with 1 teaspoon of curry in the cupcakes, but it wasn’t noticeable at all then. This recipe calls for 2 tablespoons, which makes them almost savory. I only use mild curry, but even then, be warned that the flavor deepens over time, so the cupcakes will have a more pronounced curry taste if you eat them 2 days later (when freshly baked, it was certainly not overpowering, but after 2 days, it got almost spicy). For the base of the chocolate cake, I adapted my friend Jen’s excellent recipe for chocolate cream cupcakes (which is actually from America’s Test Kitchen). The recipe for the base of the frosting is from my favorite chocolate cake, from Minimalist Baker. These were such a hit that to wash them down, the Engineer used up in 2 days the amount of milk that normally lasts him 7 days… Be warned!
For the cupcakes
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup boiling water
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. instant espresso
¾ cup sugar
½ cup lactose-free sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325 °F. Grease and flour a 12-cup muffin tin.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl.
Whisk water, cocoa, chocolate chips, and espresso in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla and mix until combined. Whisk in flour mixture until incorporated. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out with few dry crumbs attached, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool cupcakes in tin 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.
For the frosting
1 cup (16 Tbsp.) vegan margarine, softened
2 - 3 cups powdered sugar (I used 2 cups), sifted
1 tsp. curry
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz. (about ¼ cup) semisweet chocolate (dairy-free if desired), melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
~ ¼ cup lactose-free milk of choice (such as cow’s milk or almond milk)
Once the cupcakes have cooled, prepare frosting by beating together all ingredients until light and fluffy, adding the powdered sugar in small amounts until you reach your desired consistency and sweetness. If it becomes too thick, add more milk. If it's too thin, add more cocoa powder or powdered sugar. With the amounts indicated above, it was great! Not too sweet, and with only a subtle curry taste.