Vegetarian food blog featuring nourishing home cooked recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Nettle, Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcakes, Easter, Wild Food | 12th May 2014 | By

There is no doubt about it, nettles are jam packed full of goodness and there seems no end to their health benefits. Be wary of their sting when raw by all means, but once cooked, they make an excellent spinach substitute. At a time of year when there is not a lot ready to be harvested in our gardens, plots and fields, they fill a handy gap. Some of the nicest home brew I have tasted was nettle beer. We use them to enrich our compost heap and make a tea for both ourselves and the garden. Recently I noted in a guest post by Urvashi Roe over at Fuss Free Flavours that toasted nettle seeds are good scattered over salads or even porridge. That’s a new one on me and I can’t wait for the nettles to start seeding so I can try it. Despite my love of this stinging weed, nettles were not something I had ever thought of adding to cakes. I was quite startled when I saw a recipe for nettle and lemon cake over on Veggie Desserts. I really shouldn’t have been too surprised, however. Kate includes all sorts of interesting vegetables into her bakes and desserts and if you haven’t yet come across her blog, I urge you to take a look.

My love of nettles and my experimental inclinations very soon got the better of me and it wasn’t long before I was having a go myself. Over Easter, I met up with some old school friends for a fabulous walk along the south Devon coast near East Prawle (just love that name). I suspected they would be intrigued rather than aghast at the thought of eating nettle cakes, so I took them along to picnic on after our walk. I sort of followed Kate’s recipe, but reduced the quantities somewhat and adapted it in order to add white chocolate. I also topped it with a mascarpone icing.

This is how I made:

Nettle, Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

  • Picked 100g of young nettle tops (top 4 leaves). Washed them, then simmered with a little water until they were cooked – about 5 minutes.
  • Drained off any excess water and pureed with a hand blender.
  • Melted 50g white chocolate in a large bowl over a pan of hot water.
  • Added 150g cubed unsalted butter and 115g vanilla sugar (golden caster). 
  • Grated in the zest of Ā½ an organic lemon (reserving the other half for the icing) and creamed until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs (large hens eggs) and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Sifted in 200g flour (half wholemeal, half white) and 1 tsp baking powder.
  • Squeezed in the juice of half a lemon.
  • Added the nettle puree and stirred until just combined.
  • Spooned into 15 cupcake cases and baked at 180ā„ƒ for about 20 minutes when the cakes were well risen and an inserted skewer came out clean.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Stirred the remaining lemon zest into 125g mascarpone cheese.
  • Squeezed in the remaining lemon juice.
  • Sifted in 100g icing sugar and beat well.
  • Spread the icing on top of the cakes.

The icing was a little on the runny side, so you might want to fiddle with the quantities. But it tasted most satisfactory as did the nettle cupcakes. There was some debate as to whether the nettles could be tasted or not, but all enjoyed them and loved the vibrant green colour. CT was aghast that anyone could fail to detect the flavour; thankfully he kept his thoughts to himself. The best bit of course, was feeling as though you were having a nutritious snack whilst tucking into a sweet indulgent treat. Maybe it was both?

As nettles were very much in season when I made these cakes and in fact still are, I am entering them into Simple and in Season with Ren Behan.

One of these cakes at least is being sent off to Emily of  A Mummy Too for her #recipeoftheweek.

Spring is the time for nettles and I can’t think of a better veg to celebrate it with – well maybe I can, but it is one of my favourites. Celebrating Spring is the theme for this month’s Four Seasons Food which is being hosted by Lou of Eat Your Veg. Anneli of Delicieux hosted last month.

This was a bank holiday cake bake for taking on a picnic so qualifies for this month’s Calendar Cakes over at Dolly Bakes.

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    Ananda Rajashekar
    12th May 2014

    Few weeks before i got introduced to Nettles when i went for herb learning walk along the fields, there i ate nettle soup, loved. Today i found some fresh nettles growing near my work place wanted to try the soup. when i saw your cake, i wan’t sure if it was same in the cake, wow this is amazing Choclette, the zing of lemon and mascarpone would have taken it to a new level, would love eat them right away šŸ˜‰

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th May 2014

      So glad you got introduced to nettles Ananda, they are one of nature’s many wonders. Nettle soup is one of my favourite soups too.

  2. Leave a Reply

    Tammy
    12th May 2014

    Wow what a delicious and interesting sounding cake. I would love to give these a try. I am very tempted, though I wouldn’t know where to find nettles. Nevertheless, I love this!

    Toodles,
    Tammy<3

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th May 2014

      I don’t know where you are Tammy, but in the UK and Europe they are fairly easy to find, even in cities. Just look to the wild and forgotten places.

  3. Leave a Reply

    London Unattached
    12th May 2014

    they look very pretty and interesting. I wonder what the nutritional value of nettles is? I’d guess something similar to spinach

  4. Leave a Reply

    LiSa
    12th May 2014

    I have heard of nettle tea, but never really thought to use it in baked goods! I have heard of earl grey cupcakes so why not nettles?? They look very interesting, I might have to try them out myself sometime!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Well, to be fair Lisa, I’d never thought to use them in cakes before this either – jolly good idea though.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Deena Kakaya
    12th May 2014

    Goodness, how original and alluring; the colour is just fabulous! I’ve probably said this before but I will say it again, lemon is my fave ingredient in bakes. What does the nettle taste like in here? X

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Well I couldn’t really detect it, Deena, there was a certain added something that felt like it might be good for you, but it was hard to pin down. CT could taste it, but thought it went very nicely with the lemon.

  6. Leave a Reply

    Nazima Pathan
    12th May 2014

    love the idea but not tried nettle other than nettle tea. Am not a great one at foraging so will have to look harder as am seeing lots of nettle recipes right now

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Oh nettles would go down very well in one of your supper clubs I’m sure Nazima – worth a try anyway!!!

  7. Leave a Reply

    Patricia Shea
    12th May 2014

    Wonderful – I love curious ingredients. I am in Maine, USA and have not seen nettles like the ones you have in UK growing wild here otherwise I would definitely try my hand at these – thanks!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Thanks Patricia – hmm, yes good point. I’m not exactly sure where nettles grow outside of Europe.

  8. Leave a Reply

    Johanna GGG
    13th May 2014

    fantastic – these look so beautiful and green it seems a shame to ice them – could you put some green nettle juice into the icing or did you want the surprise of a regular looking cupcake being so so so luciously lurid šŸ™‚

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Haha, yes Johanna, it was a bit of a shame, but I was going for the surprise factor – and it worked!

  9. Leave a Reply

    Lou, Eat Your Veg
    13th May 2014

    Only you could combine chocolate with nettles!!!!! Genius! I too have been very excited by Kate at Veggie Dessert’s Nettle Cake and will one day try baking with the stingers too! Well done Choclette on your gorgeous wee cakes, so pretty!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Thanks Lou. Baking with stingers definitely gives an added zing to the cakes šŸ˜‰

  10. Leave a Reply

    Katharine
    13th May 2014

    You’re such an inventive cook! I’ve only tried nettles in savoury dishes (soup and risotto) but these little cakes sound delicious. And such a wonderful colour too.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Well Katherine, I can say in all honesty, that I doubt I would ever have thought of adding nettles to cakes. Kate at Veggie Desserts is responsible for that šŸ˜‰

  11. Leave a Reply

    anthea barton
    13th May 2014

    This looks and sounds amazing. The colour is so vibrant. I’ve never tried nettles in baking or cooking. Do you always need the young leaves? #recipeoftheweek

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th May 2014

      Thanks Anthea – young leaves are best as the older leaves can be rather tough and stringy. You can always chop nettles back to get young growth later in the season.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th May 2014

      Thanks Harmony, they are generally not hard to find, but you might want to take along some rubber gloves.

  12. Leave a Reply

    Mummy Mishaps
    13th May 2014

    ooooh i love the colour of the sponges and whast a great way to get so much nutrition in to something so yummy x

  13. Leave a Reply

    Katie
    14th May 2014

    Wow how inventive and what a fabulous green colour. Makes me think of pistachios or macha tea.

  14. Leave a Reply

    Erika
    14th May 2014

    I have never tried nettle anything, it looks really interesting and the cakes look delicious!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th May 2014

      Well they aren’t the easiest thing to deal with Erica, but they are quite tasty and very good for you.

  15. Leave a Reply

    belleau kitchen
    14th May 2014

    NO WAY!!!!!!!!!… i cannot imagine this. I guess it means I have to try and make it… You know I love using nettle but I had never thought of it as an inclusion in something sweet… the colour is amazing too… fab post!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th May 2014

      I was somewhat taken aback to Dom when I first came across it. I had to try it and now I’m convinced. Brilliant natural dye.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      16th May 2014

      Thanks Pixiedusk, interesting is the word. But it is good too šŸ˜‰

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      4th June 2014

      Thanks Jennifer, that’s very kind. but it’s true, I do love experimenting.

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