Recently, I volunteered my services to this motley crew of designers, and signed myself up for what I'm sure, if required, is going to be a long few days of baking, decorating, and - let's face it - eating, in preparation for a delicious little fundraiser. In an attempt to raise some money in support of the first ever issue of their new publication, the kids over at Meta have determined that perhaps the most effective way of extracting money from their fellow students is by offering them something appetising, affordable, and altogether eye-catching to snack on between lectures, which is why in the coming days, and depending on other generous offers of funding, I may be called upon to bake a helluva lot of cupcakes.

For a few days now I've been bursting with enthusiasm at the idea of spending my evenings elbow deep in chocolate chips and icing sugar, but my enthisiasm changed to concern when the boy turned to me last night and posed the question "So these cupcakes - are they going to taste any good?" I realised I hadn't even decided upon a recipe yet, and in pursuit of an answer to my boyfriend's pointed question, I set about making a trial batch of enticing, sugary little offerings. After all, If I am called upon to provide baked goods for this fundraiser, I aim to be prepared! I'm not a big fan of standard vanilla cupcakes, so I decided upon a chocolate cupcake recipe that took my fancy. It originally appeared in Delicious magazine, and a torn out page bearing the recipe has been sitting in my pantry since 2005 waiting to be tried out. I whipped up a quick dozen and the things were so damned good that I have decided to share the recipe with you all. Immediately. So, without further ado:

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes in the World, or Chocapocalypse.
(Adapted from Delicious magazine, September 2005)

What you will need:

- First and foremost, 450g of good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
- 250ml thickened cream
- 5 eggs
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Just a splash of brandy (optional)

What you will need to do:

- Take a moment to come to terms with just how bad for you this recipe actually is. These things are delicious, and I daresay you will have a hard time stopping at just one, so a quick mental preparation at the outset may save you a horrendous case of the guilts further down the track. These cupcakes are fatty, they are sugary, you are going to put them in your mouth. Ok, now for the fun part.

- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius and line your muffin tin with patty pans.

- Place cream and chocolate in a saucepan, and stir over a very low heat until the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

- In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs and sugar together. The recipe advises that your eggy, sugary mix should "turn pale and double in volume" but as my electric beaters are currently out of action, I just beat them together with a whisk until they went a little fluffy. Things panned out just fine, so the doubling in volume is not necessary. (However, attempting this with a whisk may burn a few calories which - let's face it - can't hurt...)

- Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder, and pour over the cooled chocolate / cream mix. At this point I added a generous splash of brandy, because I like my cupcakes to taste of alcohol fuelled debauchery. (The recipe doesn't call for this alcoholic addition, but I think it adds a richness to the flavour without upping the sweetness.) Stir to combine.

- Divide the mixture between your patty pans, and bake for 15-20 minutes, during which time you should probably leave your kitchen, as the cooking smells are so overwhelmingly chocolatey you may resort to snacking on any leftover chocolate bits to quell your cravings, not leaving any room for the cupcakes themselves.

- Once your cupcakes are passing the age old skewer test, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool slightly before serving. Enjoy with a strong cup of coffee, and a burgeoning feeling that you don't give a shit how bad for you your cupcakes really are, the prospect of rapid weight gain just isn't bad enough to make you want to miss out on all that chocolate.

The original recipe actually includes a chocolate sauce for serving (100g dark chocolate and 1/3 cup of cream, melted together) but these cupcakes are rich enough as it is, I mean they are more like individual mudcakes, and I don't think smothering them with extra chocolate is really necessary. I served mine dusted with a little icing sugar, and I also iced a couple to see how they'll look, all dressed up and ready for the fundraiser. The icing makes them extremely sweet, but they look lovely, right?

I think it must be some sort of throwback to the children's birthday parties of years past, but I swear I will eat just about anything if it comes with pink icing and sprinkles. I'm already aware that this same strange compulsion applies to my two housemates, and I speculate the reach of this sprinkle-loving phenomenon extends beyond our household too. I mean how can you refuse a foodstuff that's just so damn cute?

And speaking of cute, check out these knitted delights that the boy gave to me as a part of my birthday present:

If you're interested in knitted incarnations of baked goods, and all sorts of other lovely things, check out All their stuff is made in accordance with fair trade practices, not to mention it is all absolutely adoreable.

And finally, something sweet to listen to:

Bandit Queen by Colin Meloy (Live)
Scythian Empires by Andrew Bird
Leaves that are Green by Simon and Garfunkel

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