Comforting Cocoa-butter Cupcakes (Dairy Free, SCD)



Finley was tucked up in bed, piggy under one arm when I arrived home yesterday evening after a two hour driving lesson. Next to him on the bottom bunk was Nick, all six feet improbably squashed into the tiny bed for a last cuddle before sleep. Amazingly, Nick has been known to fall asleep like this in the five minutes between finishing a story and turning out the fairy lights that twinkle at the end of the bed. Last night he was still awake and two faces turned up to me like peas in a pod, as I leaned in for a goodnight kiss. Fin's face wore an expression of pure bliss and I remembered it distantly - that feeling of completeness that comes from falling asleep on someones lap, or holding a hand, of hearing my grandad's smooth Dublin tones fade away as I gratefully gave in to sleep.

Making my way quietly downstairs I was overcome with the need for something delicious to eat, something to curl up in front of our rented movie with and munch gratefully - something warm and buttery with a deep vanilla note, to soothe my desire for comfort and hush my jangled driving lesson nerves.

I reached for - you guessed it - my tub of cocoa butter - kept securely in the special things cupboard. The opening of which resembles the iconic scene from pulp fiction where Vincent Vega flips the combination on the briefcase to reveal.......something so amazing that he is flooded with golden light while a far away smile creeps onto his face. That my friends is how I feel every time I get down the cocoa butter - the most delicious fat I own!

In a very few minutes I was sliding a tray full of filled cupcake cases into a hot oven and instructing Nick to fire up the movie in anticipation. When they were done, we ate one as soon as they were cool enough to touch, blowing on each piece as we went. Then - purely for comparison's sake you understand - we ate another cooler cake, slowly, our feet touching as the film unfolded and my nerves sighed with the relief of homecoming.

Cocoa-butter Cupcakes (makes 8)

You could ice (frost) these if you want with creme fraiche and honey, marshmallow icing or butter cream, but I prefer them plain to let the cocoa-butter speak for itself. When the cakes have completely cooled, the cocoa-butter gives them a very satisfying density.

I buy my cocoa butter from Detox Your World, but there are plenty of other online retailers who sell it - just don't buy a huge amount at once as it can go rancid like any other fat (and it will bankrupt you) and check out the return policy, because if you get sent some cocoa butter that is no good then you should send it back. If it doesn't smell chocolaty, creamy and slightly alcoholic - if it has a bitter smell - then it's probably started to go off and won't taste good.

2 1/2 oz raw (food grade) cocoa butter
3 large free range eggs
Heaped dessertspoon white almond butter
(or hazel/cashew butter)
6 heaped tsp mild tasting set honey
2 caps full of bourbon vanilla extract
(contains no sugar)
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cider vinegar or lemon juice
6 oz finely ground almonds
(almond flour)

Preheat the oven to 160C fan assisted, (175 without) fill a muffin tray with 8 paper muffin cases and pour water into the empty spaces.

Melt the cocoa butter in a bain marie or a dessert bowl over a small pan of simmering water. As soon as it is melted, take it off the heat and set aside.

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl with your chosen nut butter, honey, vanilla extract and bicarbonate of soda. Beat with an electric mixer until light and frothy.

Pour the melted cocoa butter in a thin stream into the eggs with the beaters still going, until it is all incorporated. Beat for an extra minute to get as much air as possible into the mixture.

Sprinkle in the vinegar/lemon juice and beat again to distribute.

Add the ground almonds to the bowl and fold in thoroughly with a metal spoon. Pour into a jug and fill the waiting cases evenly.

Bake for 17-20 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container for up to three days (or eat whilst still hot and try not to burn yourself)