Lilac-or Chocolate-Topped Cupcakes

If the idea of catering for a party makes you want to lie down quietly in a darkened room, you’re not alone. In the final episode, the delights on offer are Union Cafe spiced nuts, Halloumi with chilli and Spatchcocked birds for the barbecue.

Total Time: 45 min
Prep: 25 min
Cook: 20 min
Yield: 1 (12-cup) cupcake pan or 3 (12-cup) mini-cupcake pans
Level: Easy


  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup very soft unsalted butter
  • 7 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Few tablespoons whole milk
  • Approximately 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, or instant royal icing
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, with a minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped, or use chocolate buttons
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream


  1. Food coloring paste, I’m using Grape Violet
  2. Gold chocolate button (or any candy coated chocolate)
  3. Special equipment: 1 (12-cup) cupcake pan or 3 (12-cup) mini-cupcake pans with appropriately sized paper baking cups
  4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the cupcakes:

  1. Put all the ingredients for the cupcakes except the milk into a food processor and blitz furiously. Then pour in the milk, and process again until you have a smooth batter. Divide the mixture between either the big muffin pans or the 3 small pans.
  2. Cook the big cupcakes for about 15 to 20 minutes, and the small ones for about 10 minutes, although you might need to keep a closer eye on the little ones. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

For the icing:

  1. To ice the mini-cupcakes, mix the confectioners’ sugar with a tablespoon or 2 of water from a recently boiled kettle or cold water (according to package instructions) for instant royal icing until you have a smooth, spreadable paste. In both cases add water slowly: you don’t want this runny, and nothing is more irritating than having to start sifting more sugar. The merest, tiniest blob of food-coloring paste- in this case, as I said, Grape Violet – will be enough to bring a dizzy and rich-toned intensity to the proceedings; you can always add more coloring if you want, but again the important thing is to guard against having to do any more sifting. And if you have been too heavy-handed and landed yourself with a batch of unusable dark icing, then just make up some more plain white icing and add to tone down.
  2. Slice any peaking humps off the tops of the cakes with a sharp knife and then pour, from a dunked-in spoon, the icing over each cake until the tops are thickly and smoothly covered.
  3. Let stand for a couple of minutes until the icing has set a tiny bit and then dot a gold button or other decoration of your choice on top.

Chocolate Ganache:

  1. Put both ingredients in a saucepan and, over low heat, cook until the chocolate’s melted.
  2. Whisk together with handheld mixer or electric whisk (for ease and preference), watching the mixture become thick and glossy. Spoon and smooth over your waiting cupcakes.  
  3. Let stand for a couple of minutes until the icing has set a tiny bit and then decorate in whatever way you want.

Yield: enough to ice 12 normal-sized cupcakes