Monday, 17 October 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

You all know my favourite chocolate cake recipe is Guinness Chocolate Cake. And that is the recipe I use for most of my cupcakes and cakes. However, when I was asked to make some small cupcakes for a friend's nephew to take to school on his 6th birthday, I deduced all on my lonesome that the parents might not be too pleased with their 6 year old eating Guinness cake. Despite the fact that all the Guinness evaporates in the bakingand that it doesn't taste of Guinness *spoilsports*.

So I decided to make these cupcakes from 'The Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook'. I've made them before and my chocoholic housemate thinks they're the best chocolate cake he's ever tried! Since that accolade very clearly belongs to Guinness cake, we can dismiss his opinion as crazy but it is still pretty good compliment right?

It was fun making these cupcakes as they were so small and cute and I had a ball decorating them! I made 30 and apparently the kids at his school were so enthused that kids from other classes came in to have cake too. The amazing little birthday boy kept one cake for himself but ended up giving it to another kid who didn't get one. So he didn't get to have any of his own birthday cupcakes. I think there is a lesson in there for us all right? DO NOT SHARE CAKE! No. Not really. Caring. Sharing. More along those lines.

However, he did threaten to fight his aunt if she didn't get him more cupcakes which is how I ended up making a few more of these yesterday :)

Makes 24 normal sized cupcakes


For the cakes
3 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 cup hot water
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup cold water
200g softened unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate fudge frosting 
6 cups icing sugar (I reduced this from the original amount of 8 cups)
1 cup cocoa powder
200g softened butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 - Preheat oven to 170C / 325F / Gas Mark 3. Line two 12-hole muffin trays with chocolate-coloured cupcake papers.
2 - Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the coffee, hot water and cocoa until you have a smooth paste. Add the cold water and whisk until evenly combined.
3 - In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the caster sugar a third at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.
4 - Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until mixture is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
5 - Add a quarter of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add a third of the cocoa mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this process twice more. Add the remaining quarter of the flour and beat until thoroughly combined; do not over-beat as this will toughen the mixture.
6 - Spoon mixtures into cupcake papers, filling each about three quarters full. To prevent the cupcakes cracking on top, allow the mixture to sit in the cupcake papers for 20 minutes before baking.
7 - Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from trays immediately and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before frosting.
8 - While cooling make the frosting. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.
9 - In a separate bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the icing sugar mixture, and beat for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
10 - Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for a further 3 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy and of a spreadable consistency. Add extra milk if the mixture is too dry or extra icing sugar if the mixture is too wet.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Bars

I realised as I typed up this recipe that I got it kinda wrong when I baked it - oops. Instead of removing 3/4 cup of the crumble mixture and reserving it for the topping, I removed 3/4 of the mixture. Yup, three quarters of the entire crumple mixture made it on to the top of my bars! Which didn't affect the taste but it sure made for some crumbly bars! I took these to church and honestly, the mess we left on the floor ... sorry! My sincerest apologies to whoever had to hoover the carpet after!

So yeah, if you guys make this recipe, please be smarter than me. Thanks :)

These are some good bars! I love the taste of all things pumpkin so I was always going to like these but other people did too. I got a couple of "your best yet" comments which are really sweet but leave me thinking "hang on what about all the other things I've baked?" But funnily, I don't think many people realised they were pumpkin. One person was insistent that there was banana in it. Somebody else said they loved the peanut butter flavour and one last person loved the custard :) I guess we don't bake with pumpkin much over here so it is pretty unusual.

These are easy to make so I'd definitely recommend giving them a go! And they taste much better the next day!

Recipe from another one of my favourite blogs; Bakers Royale


2 cups flour
1/2 + 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup cold butter
1 1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
226g cream cheese
1 can pumpkin puree (available in the UK at Waitrose)
2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
pinch cloves
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips (I used white chocolate chips instead)

1 - Pre-heat oven to 180C / Gas Mark 4 / 350F. Line a 13 x 9 baking tin with grease proof paper - letting the grease proof paper hang 1 1/2 inches over each side.
2 - In a bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, brown sugar
Using your fork or your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats and pecans.
3 - Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and add in butterscotch / white chocolate chips.
Set aside and reserve for topping. Press remaining mixture into bottom of parchment lined pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
4 - Combine cream cheese and pumpkin; add remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger, all spice, cloves and vanilla and mix until well blended.
Pour over the crust and bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle reserved oat crumb mixture and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.
5 - Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before storing. Cut into squares and serve.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Boston Cream Pie

Has anyone seen the new movie 'I don't know how she does it'? Apparently Sarah Jessica Parker's character is obsessed with lists which help her juggle her wife, mother and busy professional balls. I totally get her. I too, am obsessed with lists!

At present, I have 22 lists in my iPhone 'notes'. They range from my permanent shopping list to a list of songs I want to download and a bunch of quotes that I love and want to keep to hand (sample: "According to aeronautical experts, a bumble bee cannot fly because of the asymmetric relationship between its body shape, size and wing span. She doesn't know this however, and flies anyway").

As usual, there is a link (albeit, as usual, tenuous) between my enlightened write-up random chit chat and today's recipe. And that is my 'to cook/bake' list. This list contains the recipes that jump out at me from all the numerous recipes I book mark and post-it-mark in my cookbooks. If I love it, it goes on here so that I remember it when I have time to bake 'just because'. And this Boston Cream Pie (not a pie, as the name misleadingly implies, but a cake) has been on my list for a very long time!

It is from my favourite Nigella book and as usual the recipe didn't let me down. I LOVE the creme patissiere filling but for some reason, the oil seemed to separate from the butter and chocolate in my ganache so it looked very oily. A few hours later, it was fine but you will notice the oily sheen in my pictures. If anyone knows why this happened, please enlighten me. I should also point out I always struggle with ganache so maybe it's just me!

Happy Sunday folks!

Recipe from Nigella Lawson's 'How to be a Domestic goddess'

  • For the cake
  • 225g unsalted butter, very soft
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 25g cornflour (Nigella believes the combination of flour and cornflour makes for a lighter, more tender sponge but it is fine to replace this with 225g self raising flour, as I did)
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons milk

For the icing
  • 150ml double cream
  • 1teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate

For the creme patissiere
  • 125ml milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g plain flour

The cake
1 - Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Grease and flour 2 x 21cm sandwich tins
2 - Cream the butter and sugar, add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of flour between each
3 - Fold in the rest of the flour (and the cornflour if using), and when all is incorporated, add a little milk as you need.
4 - Pour and scrape the batter into the tins

bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to come away at the edges, are springy to the touch on top and a cake tester comes out clean..

Creme Patissiere
5 - When the cake is in the oven, warm the milk and cream in a saucepan along with the vanilla pod split length-wise.

 6 - Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover and let stand to infuse for 10 minutes. If you're not using the pod, add the vanilla extract later, when you've combined all the ingredients.

7 - In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until creamy,

and then beat in the flour.

8 - With the point of a small, sharp knife, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod into the milk, and add this warm milk to the egg mixture and whisk until smooth

9 - Pour back into the saucepan and stir or whisk gently over a low heat until the custard thickens.
Remove from the heat and let the custard cool by pouring it into a wide bowl and tearing off some greaseproof paper, wetting it, then covering the bowl with it. This stops it forming a skin. Don't put it in the fridge.

10 - When the cakes are done, sit them in their tins on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then turn out and cool directly on the rack. When the cakes and the creme patissiere are cool, you can make the chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
11 - Warm the cream, vanilla extract and butter with the chocolate, chopped into small pieces, and bring to the boil in a thick-bottomed saucepan, by which time the chocolate should have melted.

12 - Remove from the heat and whisk till smooth and thickened. Let cool a little before using, but you still want it runny enough to ice with

13 - Sit one of the cakes on a plate or cake stand and spread with the cooled creme patissiere,

then top with the second cake. Dollop spoonfuls of the chocolate icing on top, letting it spread and drip down the sides of the cake

Serves 8