We’ve had a bit of heartbreak in our house this weekend – our wonderful little Norman passed away.
Norm was an integral part of our little family, so we’re feeling a little miserable at the moment – for such a tiny critter, she made a huge impact on our lives and her absence has left our house feeling pretty empty. There’s a lot of silence – no snuffling, clinking of her water bottle, or thumping as she has a scratch. It’s too quiet for our liking.
As a four year-old rat she was a bit of a marvel. Not only is four rat years around 200 human years, she also conquered everything from colds to tumours! We had a few scares with her over the years resulting in several late-night sprints to the emergency vets, but in the end it was age that took her – she was her usual snugly self on Thursday night, then when I went to wake her up for a play in the morning she was gone.
Norm’s the only one clever enough to look at the camera!
Norm’s age made her a bit of a superstar at the vets – they would never let us pay for her checkups and always did everything they could to make sure she was as happy as possible. Everytime we visited the vets would comment on what a fabulous diet she must have to be so healthy at such an old age… little did they know Norm was a frequent gobbler of sweet treats including small pieces of chocolate, icing and cake. If it was sweet, Norm loved it!
But there were two foods Norm absolutely adored – peanut butter and chocolate. She could sniff them both out a mile away and would wiggle and snuffle until she laid her paws on whatever you were holding. So when it came to coming up with a cupcake in honour of our little family member, it wasn’t hard to work out what the main flavours should be.
The trick was coming up with something special enough to reflect the gaping hole her absence has left in our family unit – this cupcake took quite a bit of brainstorming! But after much brainstorming I cracked what this ‘Normy cake’ would look like – a moist chocolate cupcake, filled with creamy milk chocolate buttercream, topped with peanut butter Swiss meringue buttercream and dipped in milk chocolate.
These cupcakes are as special as they sound. The cupcake is moist and soft, the filling rich and creamy, and the icing unbelievably smooth and flavoursome. Then there’s the crisp milk chocolate shell! If you love peanut butter and chocolate, these cupcakes will definitely make you weak at the knees – it’s taken all my restraint not to devour them all… you know, in honour of Norm.
Kevin and I sat down with one of the cupcakes each this afternoon, indulged in a peanut butter and chocolate feast and reminisced about Norm, sharing some of our favourite stories. She was a fabulous little critter, full of personality and always up for a snuggle.
We miss her a million already.
Makes 24 cupcakes
- 1 cup buttermilk (milk + ½ Tbsp white vinegar)
- 1 cup black coffee, cooled
- 2 cups plain flour
- ½ cup cocoa
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 ¾ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup oil
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 100g milk chocolate, chopped
- 50g butter, softened
- 3 cups icing sugar, sifted
- 2 Tbsp milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 340g butter, softened and cubed
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 4 tsp vanilla essence
- 225g milk chocolate, chopped
- 1 Tbsp castor oil
- Preheat oven to 180 Degrees Celsius. Line two 12 hole cupcakes pans with cases.
- Make coffee and set aside to cool. Prepare homemade buttermilk and set aside.
- Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Add eggs, vanilla, oil, coffee and buttermilk and mix on a low speed until combined. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute.
- Pour into prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool completely before filling.
- Place butter in medium bowl and beat until creamy. Add 2 cups of icing sugar and 1 Tbsp of milk. Mix until well combined and smooth.
- Place milk chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts, mixing well between each. Once melted, pour into icing mixture and beat until combined.
- Add remaining icing sugar and milk (if required) and beat for 1 minute or until light and fluffy.
- Core each cupcake and fill with milk chocolate buttercream. Trim off cuts and replace tops on cupcakes.
- In a metal bowl, whisk together sugar and egg white until combined
- Place bowl over pot of simmering water, taking care that water does not touch the bowl, and carefully whisk until mixture reaches 70 degrees Celsius.
- Carefully pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium-high until mixture is white and creamy (it’ll look like shaving cream)
- Turn mixture down to medium and add cubed butter one piece at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Add peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.
- Place buttercream in piping bag and snip the end. Pipe buttercream onto top of each cupcake.
- Place cupcakes in freezer until icing is firm to the touch, approx 20 minutes.
- Place milk chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts, mixing well between each. Once melted, add oil and mix until completely combined.
- Pour melted chocolate into a wide-mouthed glass. Carefully dip the icing of each cupcake in chocolate, gently tapping the cupcake on the edge of the glass to remove excess chocolate.
- Allow chocolate to set at room temperature.