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

Nettle Cakes with Lemon and White Chocolate

Lemon & White Chocolate Nettle Cupcakes

Nettle cakes are a great way to celebrate spring. They’re vibrantly green and you can indulge in a delicious sugary treat in the certain knowledge that some part of the cake is doing you good. It’s also quite fun to keep your friends and family guessing as to the secret ingredient.

Stinging Nettles

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’ve 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.

Do be careful when you pick and wash nettles. Unless you’re a hard nut like CT, wear rubber gloves for both of these activities. Pick the nettle tips, ie the top four to six leaves, only as the lower ones are usually tougher. And pick them in spring when they’re young and fresh. I have more information on this in my nettle soup post.

Nettles in Cake, Really?

Despite my love of this stinging weed, nettles were not something I’d 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. For 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.

Nettle Cakes

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. Don’t you 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.

East Prawle - South Devon Coast.

So what do the nettle cakes taste of? Well actually there was some debate as to whether the nettles could be tasted or not. Both CT and I felt that we could, but that was a positive rather than a negative. They give a bit of an umami flavour to the cakes which adds rather than detracts. CT was aghast that anyone could fail to detect the flavour. But thankfully he kept his thoughts to himself.

Nettle Cakes

Whether notes of nettle were evident or not, everyone loved them. And they especially liked the vibrant green colour.

Nettle Cakes with Lemon & White Chocolate.

The best bit of course, was feeling as though we were having a nutritious snack whilst tucking into a sweet indulgent treat.

Lemon & White Chocolate Nettle Cakes

For the nettle cakes, 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. The quantity in the recipe is enough for fifteen cupcake size cakes or twelve larger muffin sized ones.

Nettle Purée

The first thing you need to do is make a nettle purée. Wash the nettle tips well. Don’t shake too much of the water off them as this will be used for cooking. Put them in a saucepan and cover. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for about five minutes.

You’ll then need to drain the water off. There won’t be much of it, but it’s worth keeping as it’s really nutritious. I drain it into a cup and just drink it. It’s surprisingly delicious. But you could keep it to add to a soup or sauce.

Blend the nettles to a purée. I use a stick blender for this to save on washing up. But a jug blender should work too. In fact my Froothie Evolve* power blender blitzes these sorts of thing to a super fine purée in no time.

Making the Nettle Cakes

Apart from making a purée from the nettles, these cupcakes follow the same method as for most others. Although there is the white chocolate element to contend with too.

As I always try to keep my washing up to the bare minimum, I use a large bowl to melt the white chocolate in. I then use this bowl to mix the rest of the cake batter.

So, suspend the bowl with the broken pieces of white chocolate over a pan of hot, but not boiling water. As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and add the cubed butter. This will help the butter to soften. Then add the sugar and lemon zest. Cream the whole lot in the normal way until you have something light and fluffy.

Then it’s time to beat in the eggs. Follow this by mixing in the flour. You can use either half wholemeal and half plain flour or a hundred percent wholemeal spelt flour. I started off with the first method which works really well. But as I prefer to bake with whole grains, I now use only wholemeal spelt. When I use a mixture I don’t worry about the bran as there’s less of it, but when I use only wholemeal spelt, I sieve our the largest bits of bran as they inhibit the cake’s ability to rise.

Finally stir in the lemon juice and nettle purée. Pop into cupcake cases and bake.

Lemon White Chocolate Mascarpone Icing

Mascarpone icing can be a touch on the runny side, so I add a little white chocolate to firm it up. It’s still quite soft though, so if you prefer something stiffer you might want to fiddle with the quantities. We really like it this way though as it has a nice mouthfeel. It also tastes super scrummy and I find it hard not to gobble it all up before ever it hits the cakes. A touch of lemon, both zest and juice adds a lift to the wonderfully creamy mascarpone.

Lemon & White Chocolate Nettle Cupcakes

Other Recipes for Green Cakes You Might Like

Keep in Touch

Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you make these nettle cupcakes, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Do share photos on social media too and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, follow me on TwitterFacebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

Nettle Cakes. PIN IT.

Nettle Cupcakes

Nettle Cakes – The Recipe

Lemon & White Chocolate Nettle Cupcakes
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Nettle Cakes with Lemon and White Chocolate

These individual cakes are a great way to celebrate spring. Naturally green, they're also made with lemon and white chocolate and topped with mascarpone icing.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Picnics
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cakes, cupcakes, foraged food, lemons, mascarpone, nettles, spring
Servings: 15 cupcakes
Calories: 245kcal

Ingredients

Nettle Cakes

  • 100 g of young nettle tops (top 4 leaves)
  • 50 g white chocolate
  • 150 g unsalted butter - cubed
  • 115 g golden caster sugar (I used homemade vanilla sugar)
  • ½ lemon - preferably organic, but at least unwaxed
  • 2 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200 g wholemeal spelt flour - or use half regular wholemeal and half plain They both produce a slightly different texture, but both are good.
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Mascarpone Lemon Icing

  • 25 g white chocolate
  • 125 g mascarpone cheese
  • ½ lemon - preferably organic, but at least unwaxed
  • 75 g icing sugar

Instructions

Nettle Cakes

  • Wash the nettle tops, then simmer with a little water until they're cooked - about 5 minutes.
  • Drain off any excess water and puree with a hand blender.
  • Melt the white chocolate in a large bowl suspended over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water. Remove from the heat.
  • Add the butter followed by the sugar. This will help to soften the butter.
  • Grate in the zest of ½ a lemon (reserving the other half for the icing) and cream until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.
  • Sift in 200g the flours and baking powder.
  • Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.
  • Add the nettle puree and stir until just combined.
  • Spoon into 15 cupcake cases and bake in a preheated oven at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for about 20 minutes when the cakes should be well risen and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  • Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Mascarpone Lemon Icing

  • Melt the white chocolate in a large bowl suspended over a pan of hot, but not boiling, water. Remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the remaining lemon zest and mascarpone cheese.
  • Squeeze in the remaining lemon juice.
  • Sift in the icing sugar and beat well. Leave in a cool place to firm up whilst the cakes bake and cool.
  • Spread the icing on top of the cakes.

Notes

Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on exact ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 139mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 532IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 1mg

Sharing

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

I’m sending at least one of these cupcakes 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 it qualifies for this month’s Calendar Cakes over at Dolly Bakes.

45 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
  21. Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    3rd March 2020 at 7:58 pm

    I’ve never cooked with nettle before, I love how you’ve made them into a tasty sweet treat!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      11th March 2020 at 9:28 am

      I grew up eating nettles, but mostly as soup. So it’s fun to try them out in a completely different recipe.

      Reply
  22. Nickki

    5th March 2020 at 9:52 pm

    I dont think I’ve ever tried anything with nettles. I would love to give these cakes a try. The lemon frosting sounds gorgeous!

    Reply
    • Choclette

      11th March 2020 at 9:23 am

      Once of the nice things about adding nettles to cakes is that you can sort of feel virtuous when you tuck into one.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *