These Liquorice Allsorts Cupcakes start out as a vanilla cupcake with anise extract to give it a subtle liquorice flavour. They aren’t overpowering and are perfect for a Halloween party
Time flies when you’re eating cupcakes
Can you believe we’re a third of the way through October already?? Well, with Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to get baking some weird, wonderful and fun creations that you can only get away with at this time of year. You know, like little wrapped sausages that look like mummies and cookies in the shape of tombstones, ooh ooh, frosting that looks like brains and cakes covered in spiders. (side note: I so should have put spiders on top of these Liquorice Allsorts Cupcakes. Maybe I’ll remake them next year like that and post a new photo 🙂 )
I must admit, I was a little nervous about baking something liqourice flavoured, I mean, I love liqourice but in a cake? Hmmmmm. I’d never tried Liquorice Cupcakes before this but there’s a first time for everything, so here they are.
So we have 4 layers to these little babies;
- Perfect little anise and vanilla flavoured cupcake
- A little black fondant frill to get in the Halloween mood
- Fluffy, whipped vanilla buttercream
- All topped off with a liquorice allsort
So how do you get that liquorice flavour into a cupcake? Well, that turned out to be very easy. I came across some anise extract so, a quick fist pump, “Yes!”, a nervous look around to see who was watching, then I happily put that little bottle into my shopping basket.
Now, it’s rare – very rare – for me to get something all the way home before tasting it – just check out the drama I had with cherries in my post for Cherry Crumble Cake. Possibly, with that disaster in mind, I got my little bottle of anise extract all the way home before I unscrewed the little white cap and dabbed a little drop on my finger. It tastes just like liqourice. Well, duh! I’m not sure what I thought it was going to taste like considering the whole reason I wanted to use anise extract is because it tastes like liquorice.
Fun fact: The Liquorice plant and Anise Herb are two totally different plants and not even related but they have very similar flavours. So much so that, while true liquorice is made using Liquorice root, Anise (from the same plant those cute little star anise come from) is often used instead. Just like in this recipe.
It all starts with the Perfect Vanilla Cupcake
So, these little cuties start with my favourite vanilla cupcake recipe which then has the anise extract added to give it a little liquorice hit. The flavour is only subtle in this recipe, and you can absolutely flavour them to your own taste.
My Perfect Vanilla Cupcake recipe is a bit of a different recipe for cupcakes but it works, the only problem with it is that the batch makes around 18 cupcakes (not such a problem, since they’re freezeable). Well, for this recipe today I tried to convert it down to 12 (which has been very unsuccessful in the past), and this time round, they were lovely. The texture was a little denser than in the original recipe but the flavour, oh that flavour, was still totally there.
I was going for just a subtle hint of liquorice in these cupcakes and that’s what the recipe below will give you, but if you are a massive liquorice fan then feel free to add a little bit more extract.
The buttercream is heavenly. It’s my whipped vanilla buttercream with the addition of a little more anise so the liquorice flavour carrys on the whole way through the cupcake. These are so cute with little Liquorice Allsorts dropped on top.
Liquorice Allsorts Cupcakes for Halloween
For the cupcakes:
- 215 g 1 2/3 cups plain (AP) Flour
- 30 g corn flour / corn starch
- 1 cup 200g caster / granulated white sugar
- 1/3 cup 67g light brown sugar
- 1 ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 135 g unsalted butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 teaspoons pure anise extract
For the Frosting:
- 250 g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups icing (powdered / confectioners) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon pure anise extract
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons milk (see notes)
- 100 g black fondant, optional
- 12 liquorice allsorts
For the cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan forced) / 350F. Line 12 muffin tin holes with paper cupcake cases.
In a large bowl, sift together the plain flour and corn flour. Add the sugars, baking powder and salt and stir well so everything is evenly distributed
Beat the eggs well, until they become frothy (you can do this by hand, or with a hand beater or in a stand mixer). Add the buttermilk and both extracts and mix well. Now add the melted butter while whisking to completely combine.
Pour half of the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well. When mixed through add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir just enough to fully combine everything.
Fill the cupcake liners about ¾ full, then bake for around 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Make sure to turn the tray halfway through cooking so they all cook evenly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before transferring the cupcakes to a wire rack.
For the buttercream:
In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter along with ½ cup of the icing sugar for 8 minutes (yes, that long. We’re going for whipped butter here). Scrape down the sides as necessary and continue beating.
With the mixer on low, add the remaining sugar 1 spoon at a time until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the salt, both extracts and milk and beat for 5 minutes at medium speed until it looks light and thick and creamy.
To top the cupcakes:
Roll out the fondant if using to very thin and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles (or any shape desired).
Place a small amount of buttercream on the top of each cupcake and press the fondant shape down on top.
Pipe the buttercream on top then top with a liquorice allsort.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (4 teaspoons worldwide)
- Tip: When baking, if weights are provided it is best to weigh out your ingredients. For instance, a cup of flour scooped out of your tub will always weigh much more than a standard cup (130g) as the flour gets compacted as you scoop. Similarly, a cup of brown sugar will weigh less when scooped than if firmly packed as most recipes call for. If you can’t get hold of kitchen scales, use the spoon and level method. Spoon the flour out of your tub into the cup measure, then without tapping, use the back of a knife to level it off. Kitchen scales are very affordable and invaluable when wanting to get perfect baking results.
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