Saturday, 22 January 2011

Duck Cupcakes

Following on the success of the penguin cupcakes, myself and 2 fellow bakers - Caroline and Dave decided to attempt making the duck cupcakes from the What's New Cupcake book. These were slightly easier to make compared to the penguin ones and turned out fairly well.  There was some creative license involved of course :)

Spread frosting on top of cupcake. Attach mini donut for the head and a marshmallow cut diagonally for the tail. Place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes. 

 Dip the cakes in orange coloured frosting. We used Betty Crocker's Vanilla frosting - place in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until runny.  

Add the beak - a piece of fruitella shaped like a beak. 
Pipe on the 'eyes' and voila!

 'Nerd' duck with a book and 'iPad' 
Jordan duck 
Tan-tastic duck 
 Girly duck 
 Count Duckula 

Evil duck with cute hat 
The happy family :) 

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Rocky Road

This month's we should cocoa challenge is surplus stock or leftovers.  Two things immediately sprung to mind - rocky road or compost cookies/bars.  I then saw this post on ultimate rocky road and decided that it had to be rocky road hummingbird style with a little me flavour :)
I had a lot of leftovers from the festive baking as I bought way more than I needed as usual.  I also didn't quite bake everything I had planned to for the festive season. I still have dates that I bought for last month's we should cocoa challenge but decided against using it this time. Look out for a future date recipe though.
A picture speaks a thousand words so it's probably best to illustrate the ingredients that way. The 2 large slabs of dairy milk chocolate were initially for a chocolate fountain at my friend's new year's eve party but everyone was too full and drunk for it to even materialise.  I had marshmallows, nuts, dried cranberries and chocolate chips leftover from baking various things during the festive period. I seem to have a bit of everything leftover so this recipe was perfect! The rich tea biscuits I had in the cupboard and the maltesers were for a malteser cupcake which is still on my to bake list.  I have to admit I did buy the chocolate bars after reading the recipe.

Ok now here's a secret.... I'm not a huge fan of rocky road but I'm a total convert now.  I usually use Nigella's recipe when I make them but I have to say that these are seriously amazing!! You really, truly have to try them. I brought them to work and they disappeared by lunch time!! I have to echo Steven of Adventures of a foodie and proclaim these the ultimate rocky road. The plus side is it's a no bake recipe. It's so simple and quick to make, I'm actually making these again tomorrow as I still have a lot of leftovers to use up!

 melt chocolate 

 bowlful of goodies! 

 I thought it looked a bit plain so... 

 .. I added some rainbow sprinkles 

 large, chunky rocky road 

 the crunchie bar is my favourite bit 

This is the actual recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

1.4kg milk chocolate, roughly chopped
8 regular sized chewy, filled chocolate bars of your choice, roughly chopped (eg snickers, mars, crunchie, etc)
100g marshmallows
180g chocolate-coated malt honeycomb balls (Maltesers)
100g dried apricots, roughly chopped
100g raisins
100g cornflakes
100g chocolate vermicelli

a 33 x 23 x 5 cm baking tray, lined with greaseproof paper

  • Put the milk chocolate in a large saucepan over medium heat and heat until melted and smooth, stirring occasionally. 
  • Put the chocolate bars, marshmallows, honeycomb balls, apricots, raisins and cornflakes in a large bowl and pour in the melted chocolate. 
  • Mix with a wooden spoon until everything is well mixed and the dry ingredients are evenly dispersed. 
  • Press this mixture into the prepared baking tray, using a  tablespoon to flatten and compress it.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate vermicelli all over the top.
  • Leave to cool completely then cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Engagement Cupcakes

Exciting news! My colleague just got engaged!! Of course I had to make some cupcakes suitable for the occasion and am very pleased with how they turned out as are the prospective bride and groom! I went with plain vanilla mini cupcakes which I hand frosted and then used barbie glitter writing icing to write the message.

 Congratulations Libby & Simon!!  

 had to arrange the cakes pre-icing to make sure it fit and that I could spell! 

 i used pink frosting for the hearts 

For the vanilla cupcake (Recipe from the primrose bakery)
(Makes 22 mini cupcakes and 5 mini heart cupcakes as shown)
110g unsalted butter,at room temperature
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self-raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
120ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

For the vanilla buttercream icing (I used half a recipe)
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
60ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
500g icing sugar, sifted

  • Preheat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after each addition. 
  • Combine the two flours in a separate bowl. 
  • Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract to it. 
  • Add one third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. 
  • Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. 
  • Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added. 
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into cases, filling them about 2/3 full.
  • Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes (regular size) or 15 minutes (mini size) until slightly raised and golden brown. 
  • Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool.
  • To make the icing, combine all ingredients and beat until smooth and creamy. 

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Chocolate Chestnut Cake with Cranberry filling

This is a belated Christmas post. I decided to make a variation on the chocolate chestnut cake I made last year but made the same cranberry filling. I also made a plain chocolate version as I ran out of chestnuts! I could not believe how difficult it was to find chestnut puree this year. So I decided to make my own... bit of a nightmare peeling all those chestnuts but I got there in the end! The recipe I used is actually for a truffle cake so it was really soft and gooey. It's not very pleasing to the eye but let me reassure you that it was delicious! Very rich and decadent. Probably not the best idea to make it into a giant cupcake though. Next time I'd make the plain chocolate cupcake in a giant mould and the chestnut cakes as regular sized cupcakes.

 cooked and peeled chestnuts 

 making chestnut puree 

 filling my giant cupcake mould 

 cranberry filling in the middle

 cream cheese frosting with dried cranberries 

 giant cupcake which I didn't have time to frost properly! 

 cake was really soft and crumbly 

 chocolate cupcakes 

 fill with cranberry sauce 

 top with dried cranberry frosting 

Chestnut and chocolate truffle cake recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
250g dark chocolate, in chunks
250g unsalted butter, cubed
250g peeled, cooked chestnuts
250ml whole milk
4 eggs, separated
125g caster sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Melt the chocolate and butter together in a pan over a very gentle heat.  
  • In another pan, heat the chestnuts with milk until just boiling, then mash thoroughly with a potato masher (or process to a rough puree in a machine).
  • Put the egg yolks in a bowl and mix with the caster sugar.
  • Stir in the chocolate mixture and the chestnut puree until you have a smooth, blended batter.
  • Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold them carefully into the batter.
  • Transfer the mixture into a cake tin/cupcake mould/cupcake cases (don't worry if the batter is very liquid).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is just set but still has a slight wobble. 

Cranberry Filling
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and halved
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

  • Add the ingredients to a saucepan and cook down until thickened, stirring occasionally, approximately 20-30 minutes.
  • Cool and store covered in the refrigerator. 

Cream cheese frosting with dried cranberries
250g cream cheese
100g butter
600g icing sugar, sifted
200-300g dried cranberries (to taste)

  • Beat the cream cheese and butter together until creamy.
  • Gradually beat in the icing sugar.
  • Finally add the dried cranberries. 
Chocolate Cupcakes - recipe from the Primrose Bakery
115g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) 
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
175g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, free range or organic, separated
185g plain flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
250ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Break the chocolate into pieces and melt (In a microwave or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water).
  • Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth. Leave to cool slightly. 
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer. 
  • In a separate bowl  and with clean beaters, beat the egg yolks for several minutes. 
  • Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well. 
  • Next, add the melted chocolate to the mixture and beat well. 
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. 
  • Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract to it.
  • Add one-third of the flour to the chocolate mixture and beat well. 
  • Pour in one-third of the milk and beat again.
  • Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added. 
  • In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. 
  • Carefully add the egg whites into the batter, using a metal spoon. 
  • Do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture. 
  • Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full.
  • This is a fairly liquid batter, so take care when spooning out.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. 
  • Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Guinness Cupcakes with Baileys ganache filling and Baileys buttercream icing

Happy New Year 2011!! Hope everyone had a good time. Incidentally my blog is also 1 year old today so happy birthday to my blog :) Lots of reasons to celebrate.

I went to a fabulous New Years Eve party and made some boozy cupcakes for the occasion.  I decided on a slightly Irish theme - Guinness cupcakes with Baileys ganache filling topped with Baileys buttercream icing! I had lots of ganache left over so I rolled those into little truffle balls.  I have to admit that I didn't follow the recipe exactly when measuring the Baileys. I just kept pouring until it looked about right! The Baileys is quite strong in the ganache and icing but I don't think anyone got drunk on my cakes! The guinness cake was quite dense and you can't really taste the Guinness in it.  I made a batch of vanilla cupcakes today to go with the leftover Baileys frosting which works better as the frosting by itself is delicious.
Here's to another year of fabulous baking. Thank you everyone for reading, commenting and/or stopping by. I hope 2011 brings you everything you wish for and more.


 guinness and butter 

 ready to go in the oven -the batter is quite liquid but cooks well 

 adding Baileys to the chocolate ganache - i used a 'glug' method! 

 make a hole in the centre of the cake 

 fill with ganache and replace the cover

 cakes and truffles at the party 

Makes ~ 20
For the Guinness cake 
250mls Guinness
225g butter
85g cocoa powder
220g flour
250g caster sugar
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
157mls sour cream

For the Baileys ganache filling
225g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
157mls heavy cream
28g butter
2 teaspoon Baileys Irish cream (I just poured - see pic!)

For the Baileys buttercream frosting
113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
330-440g icing sugar, sifted
4-8 tablespoon Baileys Irish cream (again I just poured it in!)

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Combine Guinness and butter in a medium pan over medium heat. 
  • Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool slighlty. 
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. 
  • Add the guinness-butter mixture and beat just to combine.
  • Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  • Bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 17 minutes.
  • Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
  • To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. 
  • Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the melted chocolate.
  • Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. 
  • Add the butter and Baileys and stir until combined. 
  • Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. 
  • Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the centre of the cupcake.  Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes. (I was in a hurry so mine were a little liquid but it still worked fine)
  • To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  • Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
  • Gradually add the icing sugar until it is all incorporated. 
  • Mix in the Baileys until smooth.