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.

Ingredients
CAKE
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

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

FROSTING
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.

July: Quite Nice Carrot Cake

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

Ingredients
CAKE
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

FROSTING
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.

No Pastry Pear Tartlets

What can I say – these sounded delicious, and I haven’t made tartlets of any sort before. Simple, quick, and best of all – no pastry to worry over. They also use icing sugar in place of regular, which I haven’t seen before. I had all the ingredients on hand, so I thought I’d try them.

I only have 4 tartlet pans, so I adjusted the amounts.

Ingredients:
120g butter
45g plain flour
120g icing sugar
65g ground almonds
2 large eggs, beaten
2 small pears, thinly sliced

Method:
Preheat oven to 200C, and butter the tartlet tins.
Melt the butter.
Sift flour and sugar together, then stir in the ground almonds. (I actually didn’t sift anything – it all turned out fine).
Mix in the butter and eggs.
Divide between the tins and place pear slices on top. (I only used one pear, and put a sliced quarter on each tin.)
Bake 10 mins.
Turn the oven down to 170C and back a further 5 mins, or until evenly golden brown.

Yummy.

These were indeed delicious; I was a little surprised that there was no spice, no vanilla, just that very short ingredient list, but they’re perfect. Buttery, crisp at the edges, dense and cakey, they would work equally well with other fruit I think – maybe plums or raspberries, anything sweet and juicy like that. Sadly the pear I used wasn’t nearly as ripe as I thought, so that aspect was a bit disappointing. I shall try again with a much riper one!

Also point to note – even cut down, this made more mixture than would fit comfortably in the tins. I took the precaution of setting the little tins in a bigger roasting pan and it’s just as well; the one in the photo was the only one that didn’t overflow, volcano-like.

Mocha Orange Brownies

Here we are again, right up at the end of the month and no recipe posted! Panic! Then these brownies caught my eye; mm chocolate and orange, and with the added attraction of not requiring a shopping trip for ingredients.

Normally I’m happy with my regular brownies, recipe refined over the years, but these sounded so yummy (and easy! One pan – win!) that I had to give them a try. They’re also completely different to my usual sort, using cocoa/coffee instead of melted choc.

As usual, I’ve converted the amounts and/or fiddled the ingredients to be UK-friendly.

Ingredients:
150g butter
65g cocoa
1 tsp instant coffee granules
200g sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
110g flour
100g dark choc chips
1 tsp orange zest*

(* My oranges refused to cooperate so I substituted a tsp of orange extract.)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease/flour a brownie pan.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat.
3. Stir in the coffee and cocoa and mix well to dissolve. Take a moment to inhale in bliss.
4. Stir in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time. Be prepared to stir hard; the mixture will seize in a worrying way. I added a half-handful of the flour between eggs to prevent what I feared might be scrambling.
5. Stir in vanilla and give it a good mix.
6. Stir in the flour, chocolate chips and orange. Take another moment to stand and sniff. Yum.
7. Spread the gloriously dark, gooey batter in the prepared pan and bake for ~30 mins. (25 in a fan oven did the job nicely).
8. Let cool in the pan. (Hah!) Sift a little icing sugar over the top to serve.

Batter in the panI used an 8×8 pan and worried that it might be overfull, but it turned out fine, it’s not a big riser.

Brownie on a plate

Verdict:
Fudgy and squishy and very rich. Definitely a keeper, well suited for serving with ice cream as a last-minute omg-I-forgot dessert. Extra bonus points for ease of assembly and using ingredients you likely have on hand.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Wattleseed Buttercream Filling

I’ve wanted to make whoopie pies for ages; so cute! And like little, flat, filled cupcakes, you can make them in almost any flavour combination. I’ve also been wondering about using wattleseed in a frosting. As usual with me, I went and found half a dozen recipes and picked one that looked good (Buns In My Oven) and then hacked it.

Unfortunately I was so mesmerised by the delicious pictures and so preoccupied with anxiety over the meringue buttercream, that I failed to absorb the level of faff factor involved. OMG. I had no buttermilk, so improvised. And then when it came to the frosting, my assumed two boxes of eggs turned out to be four eggs poorly distributed; so I went with no-meringue buttercream instead 🙂 So be warned. This recipe will use ALL THE BOWLS. And make sure you have everything you need, before you start 😉

Last note: the recipe calls the cake drops “cookies”. I maintain that like the proprietary brand with the smashing orangey bit, these are in fact cakes. Tasty, tasty cakes…

For the cake drops:
425g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
40g cocoa
1 cup strong brewed coffee
250g light brown sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment. (Or just use nonstick, or silpat. If you use parchment you will need many sheets ready.)
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
In another large bowl or jug, whisk together the cocoa and hot coffee until completely combined and dissolved.
In a medium bowl (!), stir together the brown sugar and oil. Ick. Add this to the cocoa mixture and whisk until combined.
Add the egg, vanilla and milk and whisk again until well mixed and combined.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine well. (The recipe says to fold gently, but I just used the same old whisk and gave it a good stir around. Did no harm..)
Now the tricky part. Drop dessert-spoonfulls of the mixture on to the prepared baking sheets, leaving some space for spreading. I found it nigh impossible to make them all the same size; a sized scoop might help. I also tried piping, but that turned out to be no better than just glooping it out with a spoon. The mixture is very runny and sticky as hell. Good luck.
Bake for 10 – 15 mins, until the cakelets bounce back and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. (Note: mine took exactly 9 minutes in a fan oven.)
Recipe says to let cool in tray. I have no idea what kind of huge-ass trays the lady has but there was no way that mix makes one batch. I let them cool a little, then spatula’ed them off to a cooling rack, de-crumbed the trays and reused until done. This amount of mixture made four batches of 12 cakelets. (48 cakes; 24 pies). If you are using parchment, be aware.
Note: try to keep them flat while cooling, as they will bend unnervingly. I had to pile mine; that also made the nice smooth tops all crumby 😦

For the filling: (the one I used)
5 oz softened butter
11 oz icing sugar, sifted
5 tsp wattleseed essence (made by brewing it strong through my Aeropress).

In a large bowl beat together the butter and half the sugar, gradually adding more sugar as it combines.
Add the wattleseed essence and beat in well; add more sugar if the frosting gets too soft.

To assemble the whoopie pies, first match up similar sized cakelets in pairs. Working pair by pair, butter the frosting on to one (flat face), then sandwich together with its buddy. You can pipe the buttercream, but it was a nice spreadable consistency, and the cakelets were sturdy enough to hold, so seemed far easier just to plaster it on. Be generous, the frosting makes more than enough 🙂

The dark, slightly bitter-chocolate of the cakes goes extremely well with the wattleseed buttercream, as I hoped. Yummo!

Lemon Poppy Seed Kugelhopf Cake

My sister gave me a copy of Sarah Raven’s Food For Friends And Family for my birthday. What a lovely book; wonderful pictures, and lots and lots of interesting recipes which my sister has assured me work very well, even if they sound a bit unusual.

So given that my sis was spending the day with me today, we decided to make something from the book. I only realised I could blog it when the batter was pretty much already made, so the pictures start half way. 🙂

Ingredients:
225g soft light brown sugar
225g softened butter
4 eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
grated zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons milk

For the syrup:
juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted

For the icing:
7 tablespoons icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon lemon juice
lemon strands, for sprinkling on the top

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Lightly grease and flour a kugelhopf cake tin or a 23cm springform tin.
Put the sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl and beat together until light and fluffy. Gradually stir in the beaten egg and flour (alternating the two).
Then stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, poppyseeds and milk.
Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the mixture down with a rubber spatula or palette knife.

Smoothed

Place in the middle of the oven and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until firm. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup by stirring together the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small bowl*.
Using a skewer, prick the top of the cake and pour over the syrup.

Glisteny!

Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin. When cool turn out on to a serving plate.
Next make the icing. Mix together the icing sugar, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water and pour over the top of the cake, allowing the icing to trickle down and sides (if using a springform cake tin, do the same but smooth the icing over the top of the cake with a palette knight). Sprinkle the top with the lemon strands.

Makes enough for 8 – 10.

This is surprisingly light, and really yummy. Lemony and buttery, not overly sweet, very moreish. Yum!

 

(* Add the lemon juice just a little at a time, make a fondant and then dilute it, or it’ll go sort of blobby.)

Coffee Cupcakes

Regularly purchasing these delights from ‘Insert Random Good Cause Here’ events led to a mild addiction. Then Nom fu arrived, giving me just cause to beg and plead for the recipe and attempt them for myself.

These are yummy, scrummy light cupcakes with a deliciously more-ish buttercream frosting, at least when the lovely lady who bakes them for charity makes them.  I can almost hear the sniggering from the peanut gallery, for who on this planet could foul up a simple cake recipe? However, I shall be unafraid of the deceptively simple looking recipe, I will be resolute at attempting this without electrical aids … I WILL make yummy, scrummy cupcakes!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes
6oz Butter
6oz Self Raising Flour
1tsp Baking Powder
2tbsp Coffee, dissolved
3 Eggs, whisked

Frosting
2fl oz Semi-Skimmed Milk
1lb 1oz Icing Sugar, sifted
2tsp Vanilla Extract
4oz Butter, at room temperature
2tbsp Coffee, dissolved

Other
Muffin Tray
Paper Cases
Many, many bowls

Cupcake Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Sift the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl.
  • Gradually, add the eggs and the now cooled coffee, a little at a time with 1tbs of flour and beat well. Mwahahahaha!
  • Fold in remainder of flour.
  • Half fill paper cases and place in muffin tin.
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until firm. Oven = Gas mark 5
  • Allow to cool before adding frosting!

Frosting Method:

  • Beat the milk, butter, coffee and vanilla extract with half the icing sugar until smooth, gradually add the rest of the icing sugar to produce a smooth buttercream.
  • Using diverse means such as spatula, spoon, piping thing and/or psychic powers, cover the top of your now cool cupcakes with the buttercream, to create visually appealing cupcakes, not just tasty ones!

Notes:

  • Have many, many BIG bowls
  • Possibly not enough icing sugar as my frosting was a tad runny
  • I tried to stretch the mixture out to 14 which resulted in some smaller, delicate cupcakes so probably best to stick with 12.