You will need


Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan). Start by breaking the eggs into a large mixing bowl and whisking until they’re pale and frothy. Add the oil and milk and whisk again to combine, and then repeat with the sugar.

Next, add the flour and Cocoa Powder, and switch to a wooden spoon for mixing – it’s important not to over-beat this mixture or the cakes will be tough and chewy, so just mix until the biggest lumps are dealt with and don’t worry about the little ones.

Grease a 12-hole muffin tin with butter (I actually prefer to use a silicon ‘tin’ as it’s easier to get the cakes out) and divide the mixture between the holes, being sure not to fill any of them more than about two-thirds of the way up, so that they don’t overflow when they rise. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for about ten minutes, and then transfer to a plate to cool completely (you’ll probably find that these cakes are too delicate to cool on a wire rack).

Now’s a good time to prepare the chocolate mint leaves, if you’re going to do them. First, select 24 nice leaves from your bunch of mint, two for each cake. Lay them face-down on a plate or board, with a little space between each one. Make sure you’ve got enough space to put your plate or board in the fridge.

Melt the dark chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring each time. Allow the melted chocolate to cool for a few minutes, then give it a good stir and use a pastry brush to spread the chocolate over the leaves. You need to do a reasonably thick layer – thick enough that you can’t see the veins on the leaves through the chocolate. Lay them on the plate or board (it’s best not to do the chocolate brushing on this) and place in the fridge.

To make the buttercream, beat together the butter and icing sugar. Finely chop a small handful of mint and mix through the buttercream, and add a few drops of green gel food colouring if you want a stronger green – it’s well worth using gel colouring rather than the old-fashioned liquid stuff, by the way, as it won’t cause your buttercream to split.

When the cupcakes are completely cold, top each one with a generous dollop of buttercream. To finish off, gently peel away the mint leaves from the chocolate to leave a beautiful imprint of the leaf behind – if the chocolate layer is thick enough it should be easy with a bit of care. Stick into the top of the buttercream on each cupcake.