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

Nettle, Lemon and White Chocolate Cupcakes

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 incorporates 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 ½ 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 180℃ 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.

41 Comments

  1. Ananda Rajashekar

    12th May 2014 at 5:55 pm

    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 😉

    Reply
    • Choclette

      12th May 2014 at 6:17 pm

      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.

      Reply
  2. Tammy

    12th May 2014 at 6:54 pm

    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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      12th May 2014 at 7:06 pm

      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.

      Reply
  3. London Unattached

    12th May 2014 at 10:15 pm

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

    Reply
  4. LiSa

    12th May 2014 at 10:20 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 8:58 pm

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

      Reply
  5. Deena Kakaya

    12th May 2014 at 10:29 pm

    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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 8:59 pm

      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.

      Reply
  6. Nazima Pathan

    12th May 2014 at 10:59 pm

    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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:00 pm

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

      Reply
  7. Patricia Shea

    12th May 2014 at 11:23 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:01 pm

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

      Reply
  8. Johanna GGG

    13th May 2014 at 2:03 am

    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 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:02 pm

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

      Reply
  9. Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy

    13th May 2014 at 10:47 am

    Your recipes are always so creative – I am very impressed 🙂 I love that they are green too 🙂

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Dannii – green is a fun food colouring for cakes I reckon.

      Reply
  10. Lou, Eat Your Veg

    13th May 2014 at 1:06 pm

    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!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:04 pm

      Thanks Lou. Baking with stingers definitely gives an added zing to the cakes 😉

      Reply
  11. Katharine

    13th May 2014 at 4:53 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 9:06 pm

      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 😉

      Reply
  12. anthea barton

    13th May 2014 at 5:54 pm

    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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      13th May 2014 at 8:55 pm

      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.

      Reply
  13. Harmony Marsh

    13th May 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Wow! This recipe sounds amazing. Looking out for nettles now!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      14th May 2014 at 5:51 am

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

      Reply
  14. Mummy Mishaps

    13th May 2014 at 8:07 pm

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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      14th May 2014 at 5:53 am

      Indeed, it’s a win win bake 😉

      Reply
  15. Katie

    14th May 2014 at 6:04 am

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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      16th May 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Yes me to Katie – I think I like it most for the colour.

      Reply
  16. Erika

    14th May 2014 at 6:14 am

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

    Reply
    • Choclette

      16th May 2014 at 7:36 pm

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

      Reply
  17. belleau kitchen

    14th May 2014 at 6:42 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      16th May 2014 at 7:37 pm

      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.

      Reply
  18. pixiedusk

    14th May 2014 at 9:29 am

    I love the sound of this! Interesting mix! #recipeoftheweek

    Reply
    • Choclette

      16th May 2014 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks Pixiedusk, interesting is the word. But it is good too 😉

      Reply
  19. Charlene F

    14th May 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Wow such as original idea x

    Reply
    • Choclette

      16th May 2014 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks Charlene, it’s certainly very unusual.

      Reply
  20. Jennifer Ferris

    29th May 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I love this idea! You always have the best flavor combos!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      4th June 2014 at 1:21 pm

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

      Reply

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