Cupcakes fit for a Masquerade Ball

The four weeks between the end of Spring Break and the beginning of revision week and exams are full “Ball Season” in St Andrews.  There are at least five balls happening (that I know of – I’m sure there are more) in the next four weeks, and I have a ticket for three of them, plus two Wine & Cheeses (dissertation?  What dissertation?) and various other events.  It’s the last few weeks of my final semester here, so I might as well make the most of it…

Even outwith “Ball Season,” I think St Andrews must hold one of the highest numbers of balls compared to other British universities – between those organised by societies, those thrown by the various halls of residences and those put on by the Sports Clubs, there are a lot of balls held throughout the year.  Most balls are Black Tie, so I now associate anything Black Tie-themed with St Andrews (because there are so many Black Tie-themed things around obviously…).  Black Tie cupcakes are no exception, and when I saw these I knew that I was going to have to make them.

I came across the original recipe for Black Tie cupcakes back in February, and they’ve been playing on my mind ever since.  I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to make them (well, not that I need an occasion to make cupcakes, but these sound rather special).   Tonight is the Masquerade Ball, so I think that counts as an appropriate Black Tie occasion.   I’m quite looking forward to it – for some reason I couldn’t go last year (I think it clashed with some other event) – so I decided to jazz up the cupcakes a little bit…

A ball is, of course, synonymous with the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol (well, to the students of St Andrews at least), so I obviously had to substitute some sort of liqueur instead of the vanilla essence.   A clear and colourless liqueur (so that the icing would stay as white as possible) that would go with dark chocolate and cream cheese icing was required.   Cointreau was decided upon (sadly I highly doubt gin would go with this combination).   The original ganache recipe requires corn syrup, which I don’t have, so I just used the tried-and-tested ganache recipe that I use for filling macarons, which also has the added advantage of being fairly alcohol-laden.  I decided to go with the masquerade theme as inspiration to decorate the cupcakes, hence the little masks made of chocolate on top.  Well, that’s what they’re supposed to be anyway.   So there you have it, Masquerade Black Tie cupcakes.   A lot of fun to make, totally presentable and rather tasty, too.

Masquerade Black Tie cupcakes

Makes 20
Cupcakes & icing recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

These cupcakes are yummy, though very alcoholic (just a warning).  You can use vanilla essence, though try and use clear vanilla essence for the icing (if you can get it) so that it stays as white as possible.  I want to try these again with white crème de cacao, which I think would also go well.  It’s quite time-consuming to make them, but well worth the results!  If you don’t have any buttermilk, use the same amount of milk, add 1 tsp lemon juice and allow to stand for about 10 mins.  To make the masks, I just melted some dark chocolate down and then used a fine piping tip to draw the masks out onto a baking paper-lined baking tray and allowed them to cool in the fridge.  Store these in an airtight container in the fridge.


For the cupcakes:
65g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
190g all-purpose flour
300g caster sugar
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¾ tsp baking powder
Pinch salt
2 large eggs
2 tsp coffee granules dissolved in 175ml warm water
175ml buttermilk
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp Cointreau

For the ganache:
40ml single cream
150g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
50ml Cointreau

For the icing:
225g cream cheese
45g unsalted butter
455g icing sugar
2-3 tsp Cointreau


To make the cupcakes:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C, and line a muffin tin with 20 liners, or set out 20 silicon moulds.

2.  Sift the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl and mix together.  Add the eggs, dissolved coffee granules, buttermilk, oil and Cointreau and, using an electric whisker, mix until fully incorporated.

3.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners/moulds, filling them no more than ⅔ full, and bake for 18-22 mins.

4.  Transfer to a wire rack to allow to cool fully.

To make the ganache:
5.  Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the ganache filling.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the chocolate (broken into pieces) and the Cointreau, and mix with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge for about 30 mins.

6.  When the cupcakes are fully cooled, use an apple corer to hollow out a hole in the top of each (make sure not to go through the bottom of the cupcake).  Fill this hole with the ganache filling (make sure you push the ganache down so that it’s properly filled).

To make the icing:
7.  Using an electric whisk, cream together the room temperature cream cheese and softened butter until fully combined.

8.  Set the mixer to low, and gradually add the icing sugar (be prepared for icing sugar clouds if you aren’t careful) and mix until smooth.  Add the Cointreau and mix until fully combined.

9.  Fill a piping bag with the icing, pipe it over the cupcakes and decorate with masks or a dusting of cocoa powder.



Filed under Recipes, Student Life, Sweet Foods

3 responses to “Cupcakes fit for a Masquerade Ball

  1. Wow!! They look stunning!! (Hope the dissertation’s going well! 😉 )

  2. Pingback: White chocolate sloe gin cupcakes | Sharky Oven Gloves

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