Man in Black (aka Johnny Cashew) Cupcakes

Doron Petersan

Black Chocolate Cupcake with Toasted Cashews, Black Chocolate Frosting, Spun Sugar Hay and Cashew Chocolate Boots


  • 11.25 ounces sugar 
  • 10.5 ounces all-purpose flour 
  • 2.5 ounces black cocoa powder 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt 
  • 11 ounces water 
  • 2 ounces coffee, brewed strong, cooled 
  • 4 ounces oil 
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla 
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar 
  • 1 cup chopped toasted, unsalted cashews 
  • Black Chocolate Frosting (recipe below) 
  • Spun Sugar
  • Cashew Chocolate Boots (recipe below) 
  • Special equipment: cowboy boot candy molds 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

Line a standard cupcake pan with 16 cupcake liners. Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium-size bowl. Set the bowl aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the water, coffee, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until just incorporated. Add the vinegar and incorporate. Do not over mix the batter. 

Fill the 16 standard cupcake cups 3/4-full and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of toasted cashews on top of each cupcake. Bake for 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into each cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes completely.

Black Chocolate Frosting

Yield: 2 quarts


  • 8 ounces non hydrogenated vegetable shortening (recommended: Earth Balance
  • 8 ounces non-hydrogenated vegan margarine (recommended: Earth Balance)
  • 22 ounces 10x powdered sugar
  • 2 ounces black cocoa powder
  • 6 ounces melted dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup soy milk


In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip shortening and margarine. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that all ingredients are mixed thoroughly. Then, slowly add sugar and cocoa powder a little at a time. Once the sugar is incorporated, mix on medium-high speed until all ingredients are combined and frosting is fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, add in melted chocolate and soy milk until incorporated. Put the frosting into a pastry bag and cut 1/2-inch off the tip.

Cashew Chocolate Boots


  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted, unsalted cashews


Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt using a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in the toasted cashews. Spoon the melted chocolate into cowboy boot chocolate candy molds and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Remove from the molds and place candies on parchment paper until ready to use.

To assemble: Pipe a dollop of Black Chocolate Frosting on top of each cupcake. Place a Spun Sugar Hay bale on top of each cupcake and garnish with a Cashew Chocolate Boot.

Cook time: 
16 cupcakes
  • When it comes to cooking sausage, it's all about heat management

    "If you're going to grill, you can mark it first on a hotter part of the grill," says Chris Ying, editor in chief of Lucky Peach and co-author of The Wurst of Lucky Peach. "Then move it to the cooler, indirect heat to finish cooking gently and slowly, and let all of those fats and everything break down inside of the sausage."

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Host Francis Lam wins multiple 2017 James Beard Media Awards

Host Francis Lam won several awards at the 2017 James Beard Foundation Media Awards for his work as food writer and cookbook editor.