Over a year ago we were fortunate to have a special guest post, by former MasterChef contestant Brendan Pang. Since his first appearance on Masterchef he has been busy from social worker to TV cook, the opening of his first dumpling kitchen in Fremantle called Bumplings and more recently contestant of Masterchef Series 11. He shares his simple yet nostalgic chocolate cupcake recipe. A food prodigy to two quintessential women in his life—his baker mum and home cook grandmere (grandmother)—Brendan owes a lot of his influences to his Asian and Mauritian heritage.
I have always had an enormous appetite, so you could say my love for food began at a very early age. But further to this, food has been central to many things in my family. A visit to my grandmere’s is never without a home-cooked meal and family gatherings are often planned around food. I fondly recall spending my school holidays sitting around the dining table with my grandmere learning how to make noodles and wontons from scratch.
My grandmere and mum taught me how to cook. Grandmere specifically taught me the fundamentals of Mauritian cooking—dishes such as Masala curry and rougaille (a Mauritian stew), whilst mum’s teachings in the kitchen spanned across different cuisines. She taught me how to make my very first spaghetti bolognese and how to bake an apple crumble.
I can’t name a single moment when I realised cooking was what I wanted to do, but multiple moments across my life which have influenced this including helping mum start her own cake business—Marguerite Cakes—moving out of home, and travelling. I must admit however, my ongoing inspiration in the kitchen will always be my grandmere and mum. And if I am ever stuck on anything food-related, they are the first people I will approach for advice.
This recipe makes up to 14 cupcakes.
- Muffin pan
- Cupcake liners
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Digital kitchen scale
- Large and medium mixing bowls
- Stand mixer (optional)
- Piping bag and a piping tip
- Kitchen torch
For the chocolate cupcakes
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 large eggs, at room temp
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup buttermilk, at room temp
For the meringue frosting
- 2 egg whites
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix well. Set aside until required. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla.
- Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients followed by half of the buttermilk. Gently whisk for a few seconds. Repeat with the remaining wet ingredients and buttermilk. Make sure to stir until just combined (do not overmix).
- Pour the cupcake batter into the liners and fill only halfway. Bake for about 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- For the meringue frosting, add egg whites, brown sugar and cream of tartar to a metal stand mixer/mixing bowl. Place over simmering water and whisk mixture until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are frothy and warm to the touch.
- Place mixing bowl in stand mixer/mixing bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Whisk in vanilla during the last 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a large piping bag fitted with a piping tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Lightly char using a kitchen torch.