Sunday, 25 July 2010

Anna's Peanut Butter Cupcakes

These are actually called 'Reese's Peanut Butter Cupcakes' but I've named them after my friend Anna who first made them, and gave me the recipe and is a whole load of unfulfilled baking talent in one little person. Anna can bake, won't bake. Oh occasionally, a couple of times a year, just enough to leave you wanting more, she'll churn out a spectacular coconut and raspberry cake (that she just 'threw' together from two different recipes) or chocolate filled cookies or these amazing cupcakes but it is only usually after months of begging, pleading and threatening then resorting to throwing a tea party (and asking everyone to bring something) before she'll actually bake. My hope is that she'll read this and be guilted into baking for me once a week. Okay, okay, once a month.

These are really lovely! The recipe is actually by Gizzi Erskine and was featured in a sunday paper as part of a 'We heart SATC' feature (so you know they're going to be good!) The cupcake is chocolate flavoured with bits of Reese's cups in them and the frosting is peanut butter flavoured ... yum! 

Makes: 18 (I found it made 12)
Prep time: 15 mins
Calories per cupcake: 328 (Why you need this info I have no idea! But they've supplied it, so I'm giving it)
Fat per cupcake: 21g (All you need to know is I took out all the calories and fat before I wrote down this recipe so no need to worry about that ;D)

170g softened butter
170g golden caster sugar
3 large free-range eggs
170g self-raising flour
3tbsp cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
3-4tbsp milk
1tsp vanilla extract (I use flavouring so I used 2 tsps)
6 Reese's peanut butter cups or 1/2 Snickers Bar, chopped into small pieces

For the peanut butter frosting
200g peanut butter
170g icing sugar
150ml full-fat cream cheese

To decorate 
Reese's Peanut Butter cups or peanuts (I used 3 Reese's cups, chopped up)

1 - Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3.
2 - Put 18 Cupcake cases in the holes of 2 Yorkshire pudding or muffin tins
3 - Place the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk for around 5 minutes, or until pale and creamy.
4 - Whisk in the eggs, one by one. you may find the mixture curdles a little when you pop in your last egg but it should come together again when you add the flour.
5 - Sift over the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and stir in. Loosen the mixture with the milk and the vanilla extract. You want the batter to fall off the spoon easily - if you think it's too thick, add another tbsp on milk.
6 - Stir in the chopped Reese's Peanut Butter cups or Snickers. Divide the mixture between the cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. You can check this by sliding a skewer into the cake - if it comes out clean, they're done.

7 - Leave the cakes to cook in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer them carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.
8 - To make the peanut butter frosting, beat the peanut butter with the icing sugar and cream cheese for a few minutes, or until smooth
There are no rules when it comes to icing a cupcake except to pile it on thick, so whether you want to use a knife or piping bag, give them some shape or make them smooth, the choice is yours. Decorate with chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or peanuts.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Banana Wholemeal Muffins

I have an embarrassing confession - I can't bake muffins and cookies. And I know you're all thinking what all good muffin bakers say to me; 'Muffins are the easiest thing to make, you just put all the ingredients together and don't over stir!'. Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before and I personally think that is all just a ginormous conspiracy to make me realise how inadequate a baker I am! Okay, so in actual fact I've only attempted muffins once before now so perhaps I judged myself to hastily. But I can make three-layer cakes dammit! I can't believe I was stumped by a silly orange muffin! (In case you're wondering what was wrong with it, it tasted good but was hard as a rock cake!). And I've only made cookies once too,  a very long time ago, and I can't even remember how bad they were but I'm going to go with very bad if I blocked it out of my memory - forgetting food is not something I do often!

On a related aside, when I worked at Penguin, there was this thing called a pulp shelf - basically, all Penguin books that weren't sold in book stores are returned to the publisher and it was cheaper to get rid of (pulp) them than it was to take them back to the warehouse and sort them out so our pulp shelves were stocked every day and we were allowed to take 2 books a day. That was probably the best perk of the job for a bookaholic like me! However, all the books usually went within 10 minutes of the shelves being stocked so luck played a part too. My friend Ben saw and took this book 'Muffin Bible' before I did but after some shameless begging, he let me have it on the condition that I bake them all muffins from the book - bet he regretted that when I brought in my chocolate orange rock cakes muffins! It's an amazing book with lots of different recipes that all look great! Now that I've made my first successful batch of muffins, I might give some of the others a go.

Say hello to my 'You're not a failure' muffins! I liked to think they are pretty healthy as they don't have much sugar (and what they do contain is brown) and they use wholemeal flour so I had them for breakfast for a week! They're not too sweet and were soft and fluffy, just like other people's muffins are! Yay me! And perhaps all those bakers are right, they were very easy to make ;p


2 ripe banana
1 egg
75g butter, melted
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup hot milk
1 1/2 cups wholemeal flour
2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sultanas

1 - Mash bananas and add egg, butter and baking soda dissolved in milk
2 - Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined
3 - Three-quarters fill well-greased muffin pans and bake at 200ºC for 15-20 minutes.