I JUST wrote about how I can’t stand chocolate in my previous post. So what am I doing making another chocolate cupcake? Because this one contains an ingredient that might make chocolate more tolerable – mayonnaise.
I love mayonnaise. I love anything that has it – sandwiches, potato salads, burgers, Japanese pizzas, California maki, mentaiko pasta, and now, maybe even chocolate cake.
I’ve seen mayonnaise being used to make chocolate cake in several different cookbooks. Apparently, they’re all adapted from a classic recipe by Hellman’s, a mayonnaise brand. Replacing butter in a recipe, mayonnaise supposedly offers an unrivalled moistness to a cake.
And it’s true. My cupcakes turned out really tender, moist and really black, like devil’s food cake. To my warped disappointment, there was no taste of mayonnaise at all. But its vinegar content nullified all the sugar, so what was left was just a taste of plain chocolate in a cupcake case.
Which was might as well. Because another highlight of this recipe is the caramel-butterscotch buttercream. And I love, love, love caramel and butterscotch. These recipes are taken from Jill O’Connor’s Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, a gorgeous desserts book I’m reviewing for the newspaper. She highly recommended that this plain cake be paired with this frosting, presumably because the bland chocolate is given a heady boost by the fragrance of burnt brown sugar in the buttercream.
I must say, though, making the buttercream wasn’t a walk in the park. First, there was the making of caramel sauce, which required careful stirring of sugar syrup till it turns just the right shade of amber before you add cream. I left it boiling for a little too long, and when it cooled, I got not caramel, but toffee. (Thankfully, it could be turned back to caramel by just heating it with some water – but not before I flicked huge blobs of toffee, which I also love, into my mouth.)
Then, there was making the butterscotch buttercream, which involved whisking eggs and dark brown sugar over dangerously simmering water, sticking in a candy thermometer to see that it gets up to the right temperature, before transferring the mixture to my Kitchen Aid for more heavy-duty whisking.
But after butter was added and the watery mixture emulsified into a luxurious, glossy buttercream, it tasted glorious with this rich, mellow undertone. Mix in the caramel sauce, and it was heaven on your finger.