Believe it or not, I am one of those weirdos whose opinion, according to Marmite’s ad campaign, doesn’t really exist. I don’t love the stuff – nor do I hate it. I just like to eat it from time to time.
The Man, however, is firmly on the love side, so over the weekend – as the rain made going outside the gloomiest prospect – he helped me try out an unusual recipe: Chocolate Marmite Cupcakes from Kerstin Rodgers’ Supper Club cookbook.
You may remember me mentioning Ms Rodgers on this blog before – for it is she who made those lovely Cake Pops (and curated the Global Feast, no less).
Known as MsMarmitelover herself, she too is in the ‘I Heart Marmite’ camp. And when I stumbled across her crazy recipe, I was seriously intrigued.
I’ve had Marmite Chocolate before (Paul A. Young’s Marmite Truffle being the one that really rocked my boat) and thought that the flavour combo was pretty darn great. Bit of saltiness, bit of sweet, with a tang that makes the taste buds zing.
As it turned out, these Cupcakes were no exception.
Slightly more fiddly than your average handheld sponge, they consisted of three components: a Marmite ganache, a cream cheese frosting, and – of course – the cakes themselves.
Boy, does that lady make a good sponge. Moist with a cup of hot cocoa and Marmite (you can choose to use coffee instead, but I wanted to keep things hardcore), they were gloriously rich and slightly gooey – a bit like that flourless absinthe cake, but deeper and just a bit salty.
They would have been awesome on their own, but my Marmite adventure did not stop there.
Once the cupcakes had cooled, it was time to add the filling. With a bit of amateur carving, the Marmite ganache went into the sponge and was topped with the scooped cakey crown.
I say ‘ganache’ but in fact this mixture was nothing more than whipped double cream and a teaspoon of Marmite (more than enough for that strong salty taste).
On its own, I’ll admit, it was a bit much – quite savoury, in fact – and I wondered if there had been some kind of mistake in the recipe.
You see, as I’m sure you Ogglers know, ganache is normally made with melted chocolate. However, despite the recipe referring to this cream as a ‘chocolate Marmite ganache’, there was nothing of the brown stuff in there (unless you count the Marmite itself).
Nevertheless, I carried on unperturbed, using all of the cream I could fit (note to self: make less ganache next time – there just wasn’t room for it all).
The final stage was to mix and spread the cream cheese icing, which was flavoured with a blob of the ganache. At that point, I was convinced that something was missing: where MsMarmitelover’s iced Cupcakes were a dark and muddy brown, my frosting was anaemically pale.
Adding some cocoa powder for extra colour, I decided to carry on slopping; spreading cream and icing all over the joint, lacking the patience to make them look their best (what can I say? I was hungry).
Presentation skills aside, we all know that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. To my surprise, they tasted divine.
Even The Man, who usually balks at my messier dealings, could not stop himself at one mouthful.
Sure, they didn’t look as fancy as they could have – and sure, I needed a spoon to eat them – but the overall texture and taste of the cakes was amazing. The frosting and ganache (by turns too sweet and savoury on their own), came together perfectly, making a cake that was beautifully moist and balanced, bursting with a rich umami tang.
Perhaps they would have been better still with a touch of melted chocolate in the cream.
Then again, perhaps that would have messed with the equation. Without it, there was still a harmony of flavour and juiciness: a cake that was salty, but not overwhelmingly so.
I’m not sure if everyone would like them, mind. Marmite Haters might very well turn up their noses – although they’d be missing a treat.
Perhaps you’re one of those people yourself.
If that’s the case, don’t worry: I won’t urge you to change your ways.
Without you, you see, there’s more for the Pud-Hog.
Surely, that can only be a good thing…