The blackberries have made their grand late summer entrance, which can only mean that autumn is drawing nearer. Whilst I’m not quite ready to let go of summer just yet (in the garden or kitchen!), there’s no better late summer activity I enjoy more than going foraging for a big bowl of blackberries!
Come late August through to October, blackberries aren’t hard to find, they’re at their peak in August & early September though. They’ll spring up anywhere from hardy brambles in the garden, dense woodlands & roadside hedgerows to wasted, neglected shrubbery! It’s about the only invasive plant that I can tolerate, only because it tastes so damn good.
Blackberries grow in clusters, making them much easier to spot in those brambles (be careful of those thorns though, they’re not as easy to navigate!). Always look for deep, purple-black berries & give them a quick check for any maggots that may be lurking. Top tip is to soak your blackberries in a a big bowl of water with a good pinch of salt to get rid of any nasties, if present they’ll all rise to the surface, making it easier to wash them away from the fruit.
Blackberries are a perfect last hurrah for summer, one last juicy berry to enjoy in crumbles, jam or liqueur. Normally, that’s exactly what my foraged exploits are destined for, but not this year (ok so there’ll probably be some jam). This year, I thought I’d try to make something a little bit sweeter & prettier out of them.
I don’t to pretty often, not unless it’s simple at heart & that’s exactly what this recipe is, simple. Light, moist little blackberry & chocolate cupcakes, topped with a sweet, (gloriously coloured) blackberry stained buttercream.
I’ve kept sweetness to a minimum here to let the blackberry flavour stand out, the cocoa in the sponge helps to give it a helping hand & the lemon juice in the buttercream helps them to cut through that oh so sweet icing.In true Marmalade Teapot style, I’ve kept the decoration on these simple & natural, using a little smashed blackberry & whole blackberry to finish. These are just as delightful to eat as they are to look at.
For the cupcakes:
- 200g blackberries
- 110g butter
- 100ml milk
- 2 large eggs
- 225g self-raising flour
- 175g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
For the buttercream:
- 150g blackberries
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 175g butter
- 600g icing sugar
For the decoration:
- 12 blackberries
- Grease or line a 12 hole cake pan with cupcake cases
- Begin by using a fork to roughly mash the blackberries for the cakes
- Next, gently melt the butter either in a small saucepan or in the microwave
- Add the milk & eggs to the melted & whisk together
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder & caster sugar
- Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture before pouring in the warmed butter mixture & mashed blackberries
- Fold everything together until there are no more pockets of dry flour
- Divide the mixture equally between the cupcake cases
- Bake at 180°c for 20-25 minutes, until well risen & the cakes spring back when pressed lightly with a finger
- Allow the cakes to cool for 5 minutes before removing & placing on a cooling rack to fully cool
- To make the buttercream, begin by blitzing the blackberries in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth & liquid
- Next, add the butter & half of the icing sugar to large bowl & beat with a spoon or a hand mixer
- Add the remaining icing sugar & beat again (it will be quite stiff at this point, don’t worry)
- Take 2 tbsp of the pureed blackberries & set to one side for later
- Add the rest of the blackberry puree to the bowl & beat until well incorporated, be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl (if the buttercream seems a little slack, add in 2 – 3 tbsp more icing sugar & beat until thick)
- Pop the buttercream in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes
- Either add the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle to pipe the buttercream onto the cakes or simply use a small spatula or spoon to spread it on top
- Drizzle a little of the reserved blackberry puree over the top of each cupcake before topping with a single blackberry