Chocoranginger Cupcakes

Baking therapy, it’s like retail therapy but less painful for your bank balance and usually with nommier results. However, it is somewhat dependent on whatever you have in your cupboard, otherwise you have to go shopping and then it turns in to retail therapy anyway.

The thing is, given I haven’t done any baking in a while, I was a little understocked in certain areas, and didn’t have all of the ingredients needed to make any of the recipes that I could find.

So naturally my only course of action was to take one of the recipes that I had most of the ingredients for, and then Make Stuff Up.

120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tblsp cocoa
2 tsp ground ginger
40g butter, softened
50g dark chocolate, melted (I used 70% cocoa)
1 egg
125ml orange juice
30g stem ginger, cut in to small chunks
50g dark chocolate chips

3 tblsp caster sugar
orange juice – enough to make it go to a thick syrupy consistency for drizzling

125g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
1 tblsp cocoa
3 tblsp orange juice
50g dark chocolate, melted (I used a mix of 90% and 70%)
30g crystalised ginger, cut in to teeny tiny chunks
50g dark chocolate chips, for decoration

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and ground ginger. Add the butter and mix until combined. (May require the butter rubbing in to the dry ingredients as the ratio leaves things a bit dry at this point.)

3. Whisk the melted chocolate, egg and orange juice together in a jug.

4. Stir the chocolate mixture in to the flour until just combined.

5. Add the stem ginger and chocolate chips and mix in until distributed evenly.

6. Spoon the mixture into the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

7. For the glaze, mix the orange juice and sugar together to form a thick syrup. After the cupcakes have cooled for 10 minutes, and whilst they are still warm, drizzle the syrup over the top. Leave cupcakes to cool completely.

8. For the frosting: Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and stir in carefully. Beat for a further 5 minutes. Beat in the orange juice, melted chocolate and crystalised ginger.

9. Decorate cupcakes with the frosting then sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Outcome rather yummy. Though having attempted the first one with fingers I’d say they definitely benefit from plate/fork approach. Couldn’t really taste the orange, it was overpowered by the ginger. Only had orange juice to hand though, possibly orange zest would bring it to the front a bit more.


August: Awesome Pie

Ok, so this technically isn’t a new recipe for me. But several people have asked for it and in order to get myself back on track as far as monthly posts go, I’m going to go with this – because, well, at one point it was new, and I do have a TARDIS.

This recipe has been in my family for years. Two years to be precise, when I found it on teh intarwebz and adapted it for my own world dominating needs.

Cow bits, some. I usually go for rump steak… possibly about 1.5kg, cut in to chunks
Flour, enough to coat the cow bits
Salt and pepper for seasoning
shallots, about 10 medium sized ones, peeled and chopped in to quarters
button mushrooms
carrots, peeled and cut in to chunks.
garlic puree, 1 tblsp
tomato puree, 2 tblsp
Dark ale or stout, 500ml
Beef stock, 500ml
Fresh thyme, about 3 sprigs
button mushrooms
puff pastry (I get the prerolled stuff from the supermarket)
egg, beaten

1. Mix the salt and pepper in to the flour, then add in the beef and mix it up until the beef is thoroughly coated.

2. In a large hot pan (one that has a lid), brown the beef in batches and set on the side.

3. Add some more oil and add the shallots and carrots and stir for a few minutes. Add the garlic puree and tomato puree. Add the ale. Enjoy the bubbles.

4. Turn the heat down and return the meat to the pan, mixing everything together thoroughly. Add the beef stock and stir some more.

5. Add the thyme and button mushrooms. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.

6. Preheat oven to 170C (or whatever your pastry instructions suggest). Transfer to pie dish and top with pastry. Brush egg over pastry to glaze.

7. Put in oven for about 25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

July: Quite Nice Carrot Cake

I found a recipe called Yummy Scrummy Carrot Cake – how could I possibly not try and make it?

175g light muscovado sugar
175ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
140g grated carrots (about 3 medium)
100g raisins
grated zest of 1 large orange
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg

175g icing sugar
1½-2 tbsp orange juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan 160C. Oil and line the base and sides of an 18cm square cake tin with baking parchment.

2. Tip the sugar into a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the eggs. Lightly mix with a wooden spoon. Stir in the grated carrots, raisins and orange rind.

3. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then sift into the bowl. Lightly mix all the ingredients until combined and evenly distributed through the mixture. The mixture at this point will be fairly soft and runny and look an awful lot like vomit – try not to be disturbed.

4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until it feels firm and springy when you press it in the centre. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn it out, peel off the paper and cool on a wire rack.

5. Mix together the frosting ingredients in a small bowl until smooth – the icing should be about as runny as single cream, this will require a lot of adding a bit more icing sugar, then a bit more orange juice, oh no, too much, a bit more icing sugar then… until you get bored. Set the cake on a serving plate and make a mess of the kitchen whilst trying to drizzle the icing across it in an attractive diagonal pattern.

All in all this was quite nice, but not the yummy scrummy that had been promised. It was very light for carrot cake, which was nice, but all the guinea pigs were disappointed by the lack of cream cheese frosting. If I make it again, and I might, because it was quite nice, I’d probably go with cream cheese.

June: How to get the husband to eat fish

So, the husband hates fish. Hates it. Unless he’s stabbed it himself whilst diving – in which case it’s just about fresh enough to be tolerable. Unfortunately I don’t dive and am more likely to stab myself than whatever I’m aiming at if given a sharp implement. So I paid some men to stab a fish for me and cooked it on the same day. The hubby said he’d at least try whatever I cooked up…

1 extremely large cod fillet, cut down to 2 nice sized steaks.
1 chili
3 spring onions
2 stalks of lemongrass
2 tblsp creme fraiche
1 lime

1. Preheat oven to 170C

2. Chop the chili and spring onions and put in a bowl. Add the juice and zest of the lime and mix thoroughly.

3. Make a small foil parcel for each fish steak. Add a lemongrass stalk to each and then place the steaks on top.

4. Add the creme fraiche to the chili mixture, stir well, then divide between the parcels.

5. Cook in oven for about 20 minutes.

6. Serve with vegetables and stuff.

And, in the end, hubby not only ate it, but said it was lovely 🙂

May, no really it is: Beef and Brocolli Pasta Thing

This is a great one for when quick and easy but nommy food is needed. It only takes about 15 minutes total.

Pasta (100-150g per person)
rump steak
Boursin (the peppery one works particularly well)

1. Put the water on to heat for the pasta.

2. Slice steak in to thin strips. Chop brocolli in to small pieces.

3. When the water is boiling, put the pasta on to cook.

4. Put some oil in another pan. Once hot, add the beef and stir fry until just starting to brown. Add the brocolli. Stir fry for a couple of minutes then add the boursin. Stir until boursin is melted.

5. Drain pasta and then add to beef and brocolli.

6. Mix thoroughly and serve.

7. Nom!

Chocolate Baked Alaska

Because everything is better with chocolate….

I remember my mum making baked alaska when I was little. Once. Not sure why she never made it again because I seem to remember thinking it was awesome. And when discussing how best to charm the Mother-In-Law, hubby decided that baked alaska sounded like an Impressive Thing. So here we go.


Chocolate Sauce
100g caster sugar
100g butter
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
125g 70% cocoa chocolate
75ml water
1 tbsp cocoa

baked alaska
ready made chocolate brownies (I used a full pack of Gu brownies)
50ml vanilla liqueur
3 large scoops of good quality chocolate icecream
3 large scoops of good quality vanilla icecream
3 egg whites
75g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas7.

2. Chocolate sauce: Place sugar, butter and vanilla seeds in to a saucepan and heat over a medium heat until melted and combined.

3. Add chocolate, water and cocoa and heat for about 6-8 minutes until chocolate melted and sauce is thick and glossy.

4. Baked alaska: Crumble brownies and press in to the base of an 8″ oven-proof dish.

5. Drizzle over vanilla liqueur, then add a couple of tablespoons of the chocolate sauce.

6. Pile icecream in the centre, away from the edges, and then place in freezer to keep chilled.

7. Whisk egg whites with 25g of the sugar until thickened. Add 25g more of sugar and whisk until combined. Add the remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

8. Remove dish from freezer and spoon meringue over the icecream, making sure the icecream is completely covered.

9. Bake in oven for 3-4 minutes until meringue starts turning golden brown.

10. Serve with generous quantities of chocolate sauce.

Serves 4

Asparagus Wrapped in Parma Ham with Hollandaise Sauce

Mothers Day is upon us and so the time has come to gain faction with the Mother-In-Law. Hubby is sorting out the main course, leaving me to handle the starter and dessert. So first up, given she’s rather fond of asparagus, I’m trying this out.

12 Asaparagus spears
12 slices of Parma ham

Hollandaise Sauce
2 large eggs, separated
1 dessert spoon lemon juice
1 dessert spoon white wine vinegar
110g butter
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/392F/Gas6.

2. Place each asparagus spear lengthways across a slice of Parma ham and roll up to completely envelop the asparagus.

3. Place asparagus and ham parcels on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until ham is crisp.

4. Place egg yolks in a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper and blend thoroughly with a food processor or blender for one minute.

5. Put lemon juice and vinegar in a saucepan and heat until the mixture starts to bubble and simmer.

6. Switch on blender and pour lemon/vinegar mixture in to egg yolks in slow steady stream. Switch blender off again.

7. Using the same saucepan, heat the butter over a gentle heat, being careful not to let it brown. When butter is foaming, switch the blender on and pour in the butter in a thin, slow trickle.

8. When all the butter is incorporated, turn the blender off and wipe around the sides of the bowl with a spatula to get all the sauce, then blend one last time to incorporate it all.

9. In a separate, clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form peaks. Fold in to sauce immediately and serve.

And I was so eager to get eating that I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so here’s a picture of the leftovers:

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