Now before you start grimacing at the thought of beer in a chocolate cake, let me assure you that these are the best chocolate muffins I've ever made. The ale comes through, not in its regular, slightly bitter tanginess, but instead it brings a haunting malt flavour which only serves to amplify the chocolate.

Ingredients - makes 12

For the muffins

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1tsp bicarb
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar 
  • 125g dark chocolate chips
  • 225ml ale (golden or brown) 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted  

For the ganache

  • 225g Bourneville chocolate, roughly chopped 
  • 225ml double cream 


Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases. 

Into a large mixing bowl sift the flour, bicarb and cocoa powder then stir through the caster sugar and chocolate chips - I stir this with a whisk, to ensure everything is well blended. 

In a jug or another bowl, beat together the ale, eggs and butter until well mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter comes together smoothly - again, I do this with a whisk to avoid over-mixing. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling them almost entirely full, just under 1 centimetre from the edge of the muffin case. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.  

For the ganache, place the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan over a high heat, just until it starts to bubble at the edge. Pour the warm cream over the chocolate chips, leave it for 30 seconds, then stir it to form a smooth, glossy ganache. If some of the chocolate chips don't melt - the stubborn little buggers - put the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until the ganache is smooth. Pour onto a large plate and allow the ganache to cool to the consistency of Nutella on a hot summer day. Spread or pipe the ganache on top of the cupcakes. 

Did you know that John now owns a cookery school in the heart of rural Lancashire? If you didn't know that, or to get a little more info on his courses, click here