11 September 2006

September Celebrations Part Two

To borrow the words from the great Jackie Gleason,

How sweet it is.

A little more than one year ago I began a new adventure with
this post.

Since then I've cooked, eaten, researched and waxed lyrical, and became a better cook because of this little site.

I've met and corresponded with so many wonderful people. Thank you so much for all of your support--not only for your kind words but also for dropping in to see what culinary nonsense I've gotten myself into.

So...the big question. How to mark such a tasty occasion? Well...with chocolate. Yes, I know you were probably thinking I'd mark it with cardamom (from where on Earth would you get that idea?), but, well...you see...I was flipping through
Nigella Lawson's Feast, and her Honey Chocolate Cake beckoned.

Besides liking honey and chocolate and cake, what cinched it for me were the darling marzipan bees that dotted the pictured cake. Plump, chocolate striped and complete with almond flake wings and two little chocolate eyes, these little confectionary insects instantly won my heart in a Winnie-the-Pooh sort of way.

I wound up making the recipe, but as fairy cakes (each with its own bee), as my birthday treats in the office. Incredibly moist and sticky-sweet, thanks to the chocolate-honey glaze, the cakes, bees and all, disappeared within a couple of hours.

I didn't tamper with the recipe that much, as I added some vanilla to the cakes and honey and played with the chocolateness of the glaze: not enough to call the recipe mine, but enough to give me licence to rename this treat.

Nigella's Chocolate-Hunnycakes

Makes 20-24 cakes

For the cake--
100g dark chocolate (86 per cent cocoa solids, if you can find it), broken into pieces
275g light muscovado sugar (light brown sugar)
225g soft butter
125ml runny vanilla'd honey (or 125ml runny honey with 1 dspn vanilla extract)
2 eggs
200g all purpose flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (real cocoa, not cocoa mix)
250ml boiling water

For the sticky glaze--
60ml water
125ml runny honey
1 dspn vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids), broken into pieces
2 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
7 tbsp cocoa powder (real cocoa, not cocoa mix)
75g icing sugar

For the hunnybees--
125g yellow marzipan
yellow food colouring paste (optional)
40-50 almond flakes (plus more...just in case)

For the cakes:
  • Preheat oven to 180˚C/350˚F and line two 12-bowl muffin trays with paper inserts.
  • Sift together the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder; set aside.
  • Either in the microwave in 30-second bursts between stirrings, or on the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the honey (and vanilla) and blend some more.
  • Beat in one egg and one tablespoon of the flour mixture into the sweetened butter, then do the same again. Fold in the melted chocolate followed by the rest of the flour mixture. Beat in the boiling water until the batter is smooth--don't worry if the batter is a bit thinner than you're used to. It's supposed to be that way.
  • Pour into the lined muffin cups and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean and the cake tops spring back when prodded lightly. Let cool completely.

For the glaze:

  • Add the water, honey, chocolate pieces, butter and cocoa to a pot and let everything melt together, while stirring, over medium-low heat. Take it off the heat when little bubbles start forming at the sides.
  • Sieve in the icing sugar and whisk until smooth.
  • Spoon over the individual, cooled cakes.

For the hunnybees:

  • Knead in as much foodcolouring as you want into the marzipan. If you've never used the paste, be careful as a very little goes a long way.
  • Divide the marzipan into 24 equal pieces (they'll be about a teaspoon-and-a-half's worth of confection) and roll into "fat, sausage-like bees' bodies, slightly tapered at the ends."
  • With a skewer or a toothpick paint chocolate stripes with the glaze--I agree with Nigella that three look best per marzipan sausage. Add two almond flakes for wings. Then, if you wish, paint two little eyes at one of the ends.
  • Perch a hunnybee on each of the cakes.


  • As usual, "dspn" means dessertspoon (1 dspn = 2 tsp)
  • This is a very sweet and sticky cake. There. I've warned you.
  • If you are lucky enough to have little ones wandering around, you can employ them into bee-making...at least rolling out the bodies.
  • If you want to minimize the cute factor (why??) you can not paint the eyes...mind you, if you want to truly minimize the cute factor, you can do away with the bees entirely...but then they just become Chocolate Honey Cakes.



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onewholeclove said...

So cute! However, I am nervous to try this one myself. I can forsee my bumblebees looking like they sunk or got swallowed up by a gigantic, chocolate cupcake bubble.

Helene said...

These look adorable! I admire your patience!

Kat said...

cute cuppy cakes! Happy Birthday(Otanjoobi omedetoo!)to your blog!

Jennifer said...

Those little bees are most cute!

peabody said...

Oh my goodness, those are sooooo adorable!

Ellie said...

I've seen this recipe feature a few times throughout the food-blogosphere, and each time those little bees make me squeal with delight! I love that you've turned this into a cupcake, even more cuteness than the original!

jenjen said...

this looks so cute, I would feel bad eating those adorable honey bees!

Tanna said...

Wow, I sure wish I worked in your office.
These are just pure fun to have on your plate.
I love the bees but they must have been a bit labor intensive!
Congratulations on the blog!!

Sara said...

Ha! Jasmine, I love your bees! Those are super cute.

Brilynn said...

Those may well be the cutest cupcakes I've ever seen... it makes me want to build a whole hive of them...

Jasmine said...

Hello all

Sarah Lou - Don't worry about drowning your bees in sticky syrup...if you are making the cuppycakes, then just put the glaze on one or two teaspoons at a time...and let it ooze down the sides.

Helene - Welcome! Thanks...don't know if it was patience or insanity...maybe a bit of both. But they were so cute, I couldn't NOT stop...

Kat - Thanks so much!

Jennifer - Welcome! Thanks so much. I wound up having visitors who just came to see the bees...

Peabody - I know...Mummy has dictated that I make lots of bees for her. Oi. what have I gotten myself into? And I don't even LIKE fussy foods...

Ellie - Thanks. Given there's a crowd at work, and some people like to take BIG slices of cake, I thought fairycakes were the easiest solution for portioning...and of course, you can't have some cakes with bees and others without...

JenJen - I know...there was something positively wrong about it...

Tanna - Thanks! Unfortunately, I have a reputation for bringing in home-made treats and the biggest threat I can make is "you're off the list"-- people get really upset when they aren't invited for a foodie event. There are also a couple of rules. Come when you are called and don't ask me to save anything for you. My treats usually disappear after a couple of hours and then I get calls six hours later asking if I have any treats left...silly people...

Sara - Thanks -- the top picture is now my wallpaper at work.

Brilynn - Welcome! I know what you mean :)


Lis said...

Jasmine, congrats on your blog birthday! I'm so happy you decided to blog a year ago =)

I have drooled over this cake in my own copy of Feast but haven't made it yet myself.. I really like your idea of turning it into cupcakes - too cute!

I have a question for you.. I've seen it on a few blogs but I'm not familiar.. what is "runny honey" ?

Ivonne said...


I cannot express how happy I am that you made that decision one year ago to go on this little adventure! You are a treasure and your blog is a warm place that feels like a hug every time I visit.

And your little cakes are just too cute!

Happy Anniversary!

blue plate said...

the honeybees are sooooo cute!

Jasmine said...

Hello all

Lis - Thanks so much! Runny honey is liquid honey, as opposed to the solid or creamed forms.

Ivonne -- That is very sweet of you to say. Thank you so very much.

Blue Plate - Aren't they, though?


Lisa said...

Wow! I love your cupcakes!

I just made this cake last month and then I ran across your blog today and saw the bees on your header. Aren't they great?

I have enjoyed looking around. Your blog is inspiring!