Tag Archives: Cupcakes

Alcoholic sunshine in a cupcake

Baking with SpiritFalling off the blogging radar (i.e. – not really having time to blog) means that over the last few months, I haven’t been participating in the various blogging challenges that I usually join in with.  One of my favourites is Baking with Spirit, hosted by Jan over at Cake of the Week.  (Would saying that it’s my favourite make me sound like an alcoholic?)  After missing several challenges, I was all set to participate last month – I’d set aside time and had recipe ideas and everything – but had forgotten to consider that crème de framboise might be a little difficult (read: nigh on impossible) to come by in rural NZ.  After that total fail in planning on my part, I was terribly excited when this month’s alcohol of choice turned out to be “Limoncello.”  I love the stuff.

Woohoo, I'm back to Baking With Spirit!

I actually don’t know if limoncello is any easier to find in rural NZ than crème de framboise, but I circumvented the issue by making my own over the weekend (and I’ll post the recipe soon).  Yesterday was the birthday of one of my labmates so I had her round for dinner and decided that limoncello cupcakes would make an excellent celebratory end to the meal.  Lemon cupcakes with limoncello drizzled over them after baking (you wouldn’t want any of it to bake out…) and topped off with a cream cheese and white chocolate icing (with limoncello added, of course) and all washed down with a small, digestive glass of limoncello – now that’s a great way to bring some sunshine into what was a cold and tempestuously grim weather day.

Alcoholic sunshine in a cupcake

This post actually should have gone up yesterday evening, but the aforementioned foul weather won out and we were treated to a powercut for most of the evening (though thankfully not until after dinner had been cooked), so my plan to blog (or do anything else requiring electricity, like… writing a thesis) had to be abandoned.  Instead, we huddled under blankets, polished off a few more of these cupcakes and drank limoncello and G&Ts by candlelight.  Hopefully my late entry will be forgiven – sorry Jan!

This is what we were missing during the powercut: daylight.

Limoncello cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes
Cupcake recipe adapted from The Great British Bake Off
Icing recipe slightly adapted from Domestic Sluttery

I used home-made limoncello, which isn’t too sweet, so these have a very lemony flavour, but this may vary depending on the limoncello that you use.  I just went for simple two-tone icing to fancy the cupcakes up a bit, but they can also be decorated with lemon zest or white chocolate shavings (or both).  They are best eaten the same day or the next day, but will keep for a couple of days in an airtight container.  Whilst not super alcoholic (by my standards), do remember that none of the alcohol gets baked out in this recipe, so perhaps not ideal for children.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
1 lemon
100ml whole milk
125g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
200g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
About 90ml limoncello

For the icing:
Yellow gel food colouring (optional)
150g cream cheese, softened
35 ml limoncello
150g white chocolate

Directions

To prepare the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C.  Line a muffin tray with 12 paper cases or set out silicon muffin moulds.

2.  Zest and juice the lemon and set aside, separately.  Stir ½ tsp of lemon juice into the milk and set aside.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk the butter with an electric whisk until creamy.  Add the sugar and lemon zest and whisk together until light and fluffy.

4.  In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs together with a fork.  Add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tbsp at a time, whisking well after each addition.

5.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a medium-sized bowl and stir together.  Fold ⅓ of the flour mixture into the butter with a large metal spoon or a spatula, followed by ⅓ of the milk mixture.  Alternate adding the remaining thirds of flour and milk mixtures, and on the last addition fold together until nearly incorporated.  Add 3 tsp of lemon juice and stir well.

6.  Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases or silicone moulds.  Bake for 25-28 mins until golden and the tops are just firm to the touch.  Allow to cool for 2 mins in the tin or moulds before turning out onto a wire rack.

7.  Whilst still hot, poke holes in the top of the cupcakes (I like using pointy chopsticks for this) and spoon about 1½ tsp of limoncello over the top of each cupcake – do this slowly so that a maximum amount of limoncello soaks into the cupcake rather than running over the top and down the sides.  Allow to cool fully.

To prepare the icing:
8.  Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, prepare the icing.  If you want to pipe the icing onto the cupcakes (as opposed to spreading it over), prepare a piping bag with your chose piping tip (I used a Wilton 1M tip).  If you want two-tone icing, paint three stripes of yellow gel food colouring up the inside of the piping bag.  Set the piping bag in a tall glass (this will make it easier to fill) and set aside.

9.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and limoncello until smooth.

10.  Melt the white chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t reach the bottom of the bowl), stirring regularly until the chocolate is smooth.  Add to the cream cheese and whisk together until the icing is smooth.  Either spread the icing over the cupcakes with a knife or transfer to the prepared piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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White chocolate sloe gin cupcakes

I’ve already submitted an entry to this month’s Baking with Spirit blog challenge, but I’m going to be a little over-eager and submit a second one.  “Gin” is the spirit of choice this month, and well, if you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for gin.  In fact, Janice, the host, very kindly mentioned this fact in her challenge post – I felt rather honoured at being lauded as a baking-with-gin expert.  The flip side of that is that I wanted to come up with something worthy of such praise.  The Leiter Fluid macarons are rather fabulous (if I do say so myself) but I’d already been planning on making them anyway for Skyfall’s NZ release.  I wanted to make something specifically for Baking with Spirit.

I’ve been rather busy and stressed out so I didn’t think I’d actually have enough time to make something in the end.  However, I had a bit of a super crappy day on Tuesday, and when I got home, I knew I had a date with my oven.  It’s an electric oven, so nobody panic.  I meant a date to bake with it and thus de-stress, just to make that clear.  Awkward.  Soooo anyway, moving swiftly on…  I decided to make some white chocolate sloe gin cupcakes since I bought a bottle of sloe gin on a whim (it was on sale…) a few weeks ago but it was still unopened.  A situation that obviously needed rectifying.  And rectifying with panache, obviously, accompanied by a Sloe Gin & Tonic.

There are three steps to this recipe.  The cupcakes themselves, which I based on my white chocolate and hazelnut “naked” cupcakes, are pretty basic – they’re just white chocolate cupcakes.  The fancy-pants part of the cupcakes starts with the hidden ganache centre, an idea I borrowed from my knock-your-socks-off Cointreau-filled Masquerade Black Tie cupcakes.  Ganache, incidentally, is a great way of getting a good dose of alcohol into cupcakes or any other baked goods.  The cupcakes are then topped off with a white chocolate and cream cheese icing which includes a little extra dash of sloe gin, because one might as well go the whole hog.  I made the icing swirly, just because I could.  And it looks pretty.

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest – these cupcakes aren’t the lightest cupcakes you’ll ever eat and they’re also pretty high on the sugar front.  They are not cupcakes for eating every day, unless you’d like to land yourself in a more or less permanent sugar coma.  But for a one-off or a special occasion, they’re rather phenomenal.  The sloe gin goes marvellously with the white chocolate, though it does make for a rather sweet combination.  They’re also suitably sloe gin-y since none of the sloe gin that goes into these cupcakes is baked off – it’s all in either the ganache or the icing.  And that, my friends, is the secret to making alcoholic cupcakes like a pro.

White chocolate sloe gin cupcakes

Makes 14 cupcakes
Cupcakes adapted from Saved by Cake
Ganache by Sharky Oven Gloves
Icing adapted from Home Bake

Just a warning in case you’ve skipped the preamble, these are quite alcoholic and very sweet.  Do use a good sloe gin, whether shop-bought or homemade, since the flavour comes through pretty strongly, particularly in the ganache.  Colouring the icing is obviously optional, but it makes it fun.  You could also colour the ganache if you wanted – add the colour once the chocolate has fully melted as this will help you judge the colour better.  Any leftover icing can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container in the fridge.  These are best eaten on the day, but will keep for a couple of days in an airtight box – like most cupcakes, they are best eaten sooner rather than later though.

Ingredients

For the cakes:
300g white chocolate
100g unsalted butter
180g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the ganache:
40g double or whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
150g white chocolate
40g sloe gin

For the icing:
55g white chocolate
150g cream cheese, softened
75g unsalted butter, softened
2-3 tsp sloe gin
375g icing sugar
Red food colouring gel or paste (optional)

Directions

To make the cakes:
1.  Set out 14 silicone cupcake moulds on a baking tray or line two cupcake/muffin tins with liners.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C.

2.  Break 200g of the white chocolate into pieces and add to a heatproof bowl with the cubed butter.  Gently melt together over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often (make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl as white chocolate can burn very easily and keep an eye on the mixture).  Remove from the heat as soon as the chocolate and butter are smoothly melted together.

3.  Meanwhile, roughly chop the remaining chocolate and set aside.  Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a medium bowl, stir together and set aside.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is smooth, thickened and creamy.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate mixture.  Add the flour mixture and fold in with a spatula until just combined.  Finally, fold in the chopped chocolate.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake moulds or liners, not filling the liners more than ¾ full.  Bake for 20-22 mins until risen, golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Allow to sit in the silicone moulds for a couple of minutes for the cupcakes to firm up a little before removing and them and transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.

To make the ganache:
6.  Whilst the cupcakes are baking, make the ganache.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the white chocolate (broken into pieces) and the sloe gin, mixing with a wooden spoon until smooth (don’t let it boil or you will boil off the alcohol and we wouldn’t want that now, would we?).  Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool fully.

7.  Once both the cupcakes and ganache are fully cooled, use an apple corer to hollow out a hole in the top of each cupcake (make sure not to go through the bottom of the cupcake).  Fill a piping bag (or zip-lock bag with a corner cut off) with the ganache and fill each hole with the ganache (the piping bag makes it way quicker and is also easier to do neatly).

To make the icing:
8.  Break the white chocolate into pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (again, make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl as white chocolate can burn very easily and keep an eye on it). Once smooth, remove from the heat and allow to cool whilst preparing the rest of the icing ingredients.

9.  Prepare a piping bag with the tip of your choice (I used a Wilton 1M large star tip).  If you want the two-tone icing effect, paint three stripes of the red food colouring gel up the inside of the bag.

10.  Add the cream cheese and butter to a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk until smooth.  Add the room temperature white chocolate and sloe gin and beat until smooth.  On a low setting, whisk in the icing sugar in several additions (this helps to avoid an icing sugar cloud).  Add a few drops of red food colouring to get the colour you want and whisk until the colour is uniform.

11.  Transfer the icing to the prepared piping bag and pipe big swirls on top of the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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Guinness gingerbread cupcakes

I got all excited last month about the new blog challenge dreamt up by Janine at Cake of the WeekBaking with Spirit (so excited that I entered it twice…).  Apparently I must come across as a bit of an alcoholic since it turned out that Janine expected my enthusiasm – in the September round-up she admitted/confided that she’d hoped the challenge would be “right up my street.”  For the record, that comment amused me no end – Janine clearly knows me remarkably well!  My enthusiasm for the challenge hasn’t abated, and the alcohol of choice for October is… can you guess?  It’s “beer!”  Because, you know, Oktoberfest.  Clever, eh?

Now, I have a little confession: I don’t like beer.  There are a couple of exceptions – I do quite enjoy fruit beers (although I’m not sure they really count as beer), and I’ve had one or two beers that tasted pretty good for a few sips but then they warmed up too much and the hoppy flavour started coming through too much for me to finish the bottle.  I really wish I did like beer though – I suspect that there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in good beer and I feel like I’m missing out.  And I don’t like being left out.  I think part of the problem is that I’m not particularly knowledgeable about beer, so I wouldn’t know where to start.

Luckily, Baking with Spirit is about baking or cooking with beer rather than drinking it.  I baked some rather scrumptious chocolate Guinness cupcakes about a year ago, but that’s been my sole foray into baking with beer.  I really had no idea what I was going to make, so I was sort of hoping that something would magically come to me.  And then, a few days ago, I came across a recipe for Guinness gingerbread cupcakes.  Bingo!  The combination of Guinness and gingerbread completely intrigued me – I would never even have thought to pair them together.

Boy am I glad that I tried the recipe out, because these cupcakes are phenomenal.  It’s a dark gingerbread, packed full of spices, wonderfully gingery and with a fabulous undertone of treacle that is perfectly matched by the Guinness, which comes through subtly enough but definitely adds depth to the flavours going on in the cupcakes.  They’re also surprisingly light.  I was initially going to make the recipe as one large cake, but after a stressful day I decided that cupcakes were the way forward since the piping bit calms me.  Don’t be put off if you don’t like Guinness – I cannot stand it as a drink, yet I can’t get enough of these cupcakes.

Guinness gingerbread cupcakes

Makes 24
Adapted from Tea with Bea

In the icing I used the Equagold vanilla extract with star anise that I won in a giveaway the other week as I felt the hint of star anise would complement the spices in the gingerbread, but normal vanilla extract would also work, and is what I would ordinarily have used (I don’t usually have vanilla extract with star anise).  These cupcakes will keep for a few days in an airtight container kept away from any direct heat or sunlight (the icing will get a bit melty if it gets too warm), but not in the fridge.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
250ml Guinness
250g black treacle
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
280g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp ground cloves
Pinch salt
1 heaped tbsp fresh finely grated ginger (a piece of about 2-3 cm)
3 eggs
100g caster sugar
100g dark brown sugar
200ml organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)

For the icing:
225g cream cheese
60g unsalted butter, softened
175g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla extract with star anise)
2 tbsp honey
Crystallised ginger pieces, to decorate (optional)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1.  Add the Guinness and black treacle to a tall saucepan (it needs to be tall because the mixture will bubble violently in the next step, and you don’t want it to overflow) and heat over a high heat.  Remove from the heat once the mixture comes to the boil, and stir in the bicarbonate of soda (this is the bubbling violently bit).  Set aside to cool completely whilst preparing the rest of the cupcake mixture.

2.  Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C.  Line two cupcake tins with cupcake liners or set out 24 silicone liners on baking trays.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir together.

4.  Peel the ginger and finely grate it, adding it to a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs and two sugars and whisk together.  Make sure there aren’t any little clumps of brown sugar left, then gradually mix in the oil.  Whisk in the cooled Guinness syrup.

5.  Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula or spoon until just combined (it’ll be quite a liquidy mixture).

6.  Spoon the mixture into the the prepared liners or moulds, filling them about ⅘ full.  Bake for 25-35 mins until the tops are springy to touch and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the tins or silicone moulds and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

To make the icing:
7.  Prepare a piping bag with your chosen piping nozzle (I used a Wilton 1M large star nozzle).

8.  Whisk together the cream cheese and butter in a medium-sized bowl with an electric whisk until smooth.  Sift in the icing sugar and add the vanilla extract and honey and whisk until light and fluffy.  Transfer to the prepared piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cupcakes.

9.  Chop the crystallised ginger pieces and sprinkle them over the cupcakes to decorate.

Enjoy!

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Getting rid of the unseasonal October pumpkin-baking itch

So…  I’ve managed to acquire cuts on the tips of both my index fingers.  One resulted from struggling to get into a plastic carton of grapes (nope, I’ve no idea how I managed it either, but so much for being healthy and eating fruit).  The other came from a minor altercation with a cable tie (again, I’ve no idea either).  Now that we all know that I’m rather skilled at picking up random injuries (you’re perfectly welcome to laugh), my main point is that it hurts a little to type, so I’m going to try and keep this post short (ya, I know, ha ha ha – try is the key word there, ok?).

The majority of the bloggers that I follow are based in the northern hemisphere, so for the last few weeks my Google Reader has been awash with autumnal flavours, pumpkin recipes in particular.  Down here in the southern hemisphere it is, of course, spring, but it feels really strange to me not to be baking with pumpkins and apples and plenty of wintery spices in October, particularly with Hallowe’en coming up.  It’s not so easy to completely reverse seasonal habits and expectations.

To get the need to bake with pumpkin in October out of my system, I decided to bake with kumara (sweet potato).  I know that kumara and pumpkin aren’t the same thing, but pumpkin isn’t really in season any more.  In terms of baking, I think they’re more or less interchangeable anyway.  So I whipped up some spiced kumara cupcakes which turned out lovely and moist, thanks to the kumara.  I love baking with kumara for precisely that reason.  The spices come through wonderfully with the kumara in the cupcakes.  All those flavours are beautifully balanced by the cream cheese icing and the subtle freshness of the lime zest.  And as if they weren’t yummy enough already, I decided to top the cupcakes with roasted pumpkin seeds, just because.  I think I’ve got the need for pumpkin-baking out of my system now.  At least until Hallowe’en…

Spiced kumara cupcakes

Makes 16-18
Cupcakes adapted from Hello Cupcake!
Pumpkin seeds adapted from Serious Eats

The roasted pumpkin seed topping is entirely optional, but does add a lovely little extra something.  There will be leftover pumpkin seeds, and they are great for a snack – store them in an airtight box.  The cupcakes will keep for about two days in an airtight container, but are best eaten sooner rather than later.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
550g kumaras (sweet potatoes)
300g all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
Good pinch of salt
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
150 ml organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the roasted pumpkin seeds (optional):
50g pumpkin seeds
2 tsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
2 tsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the icing:
300g icing sugar
150g cream cheese
60g unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lime

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 205°C/fan 185°C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2.  Scrub the sweet potato and pierce the skin with a fork.  Place on the baking tray and roast for about 40 mins until there’s no resistance when a knife is inserted through the thickest part.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool until it can be handled.  Peel the skin off and roughly mash the flesh in a small bowl with a fork.  Set aside.

3.  Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C/fan 155°C.  Line a couple of cupcake trays with liners or set out silicone cupcake moulds on a baking tray.

4.  Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium bowl and stir together.  Set aside.

5.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and very fluffy (this can also be done by hand, although it will take longer).  Fold in the flour mixture with a spatula or wooden spoon.  Then add the mashed sweet potato, oil and vanilla extract to the mixture and fold in until combined.

6.  Split the mixture between the cupcake liners or moulds, not filling them more than ¾ full.  Bake for 20-25 mins until risen and golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove the cupcakes from the oven but leave the oven on.  Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack.

To roast the pumpkin seeds:
7.  Line a baking tray with tin foil (aluminium foil).  Mix together the pumpkin seeds and oil in a small bowl until the seeds are well coated.  Then add the sugar and cinnamon and stir well.  Spread over the prepared baking tray and bake, stirring occasionally, for about 30 mins or until the seeds are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.

To make the icing:
8.  Once the cupcakes are fully cooled, prepare the icing.  Prepare a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice (I used an open star Wilton 1M nozzle but a round one would also look pretty).  Place the bag in a tall glass (this makes it much easier to fill).

9.  Sift the icing sugar into a medium-sized bowl.  Add the rest of the icing ingredients and whisk with an electric whisk (if you want to do it by hand, I’d advise using room temperature cream cheese – it’ll be a bit easier) until smooth and pale.  Fill the prepared piping bag and then pipe sparingly onto the cupcakes (you’ll need all the icing).  Sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds over the tops of the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

PS – Ok, so I didn’t manage to keep the post that short…  But I realised that if I wrote most of the post on my phone, only my thumbs were required to type – sorted!

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Spiced apple camomile & honey cupcakes

It may be spring soon (hurry up already!) here, but, with the exception of a couple of days last week, the weather over the last few weeks seems to think that it’s autumn.  Dull, grey and blustery.  It’s enough to make one crave apples and all those wonderfully wintery spices, even if pretty flowers are beginning to bloom instead of the leaves turning spectacular colours.  So when I decided to try out a recipe that called for camomile tea and I opened my tea cupboard to get the camomile, I was immediately distracted by a packet of spiced apple camomile.  And as simply as that, I decided to try spiced apple camomile and honey cupcakes instead of just simple camomile and honey cupcakes.  Which is perfect for those of you in the northern hemisphere where it actually is autumn.

It turned out to be a rather marvellous idea.  The flavours are distinctly autumnal and delicious but also delicate.  Without wanting to stereotype too much, I’m tempted to describe these cupcakes as “ladylike” – the lightness of the cake part and the honeyed icing make me imagine these cupcakes set out on a dainty china plate at an afternoon tea party for ladies.  The tea (loose-leaf of course, darling, and served by the butler) would be sipped from fine china cups.  There’s something about the flavours that makes me think “vintage” as well.  I’m not really sure why.  If I had a dainty vintage china tea set, it would feature heavily in this post’s photos.  My mum does, but on the other side of the world, so I can’t really borrow it.  I do, however, have a shark mug.  Which is blatantly the same thing.

See, a shark mug is totally all dainty and lady-like.  Pfffft.  I feel this has turned into a rather lady-oriented post and that I should make it clear that whilst these cupcakes may be all dainty and delicate, they’re not just for the ladies – men will love them, too.  I’m basing that statement on the reaction of my labmates – there was “mmmmm”ing all round, but the boys practically inhaled them (although that’s not necessarily unusual).  Anyway since when are cupcakes just for ladies?  Ridiculous idea.  Pfffft.  This is turning into a bit of a ramble, so just a quick note about the honey icing – I chose a set pōhutakawa honey that I picked up at the Auckland Food Show and which has been starting me in the face every time I open my ingredients cupboard.  This recipe was the perfect occasion to crack open the jar and eat a few cheeky spoonfuls whilst waiting for the cupcakes to cool use this wonderful NZ honey for something delicious.

Spiced apple camomile & honey cupcakes

Makes 12
Adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

I used Twinings’ spiced apple camomile from tea bags.  Other flavoured camomile teas would probably work wonderfully (as long as they go with the honey icing) as would just plain camomile.  You could also use whole dried camomile rather than from tea bags, in which case chop it fairly finely before measuring out the 3 tbsp required. I chose a set pōhutakawa honey for the icing.  Choose a honey with flavours that will complement the camomile.  If using a runny honey, I’d suggest perhaps using 1 tbsp of honey rather than the 2 tbsp stated in the ingredients list.  The cupcakes will keep in an airtight box at room temperature for up to three days.

Ingredients

To make the cupcakes:
140g all-purpose flour
125g granulated sugar
55g butter, softened
3 tbsp spiced apple camomile (I found this to be about 9 tea bags worth)
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
120 ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

To make the icing:
160-180g icing sugar
2 tbsp set honey
4-5 tbsp whipping or NZ pure cream (use heavy or double cream if you can get it)
Ground cinnamon, to decorate

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1.  Line a cupcake tin with 12 liners or set out 12 silicone cupcake moulds on an baking tray.  Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/fan oven 140°C with a rack placed in the upper third of the oven.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla extract.  Set aside.

3.  Add the flour, sugar, butter, spiced apple camomile, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt to a large bowl and whisk together with an electric whisk on medium speed until the mixture resembles fairly fine breadcrumbs (this takes about 5 mins).

4.  Pour half of the milk mixture into the flour mixture and whisk in until just incorporated.  Pour in the remaining milk mixture.  Turn the electric whisk up to a medium-high speed and beat for 1 minute, until blended well.

5.  Split the evenly batter between the prepared cupcake liners or moulds, filling each only up until about half way (you’ll need to scrape the bowl to get every last drop of batter).  Bake for 17-20 mins until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and leave in the tin or moulds for 10 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool completely (be very careful if using silicon moulds – the cupcakes will be fragile and can easily break apart when being removed from the moulds).

To make the icing:
6.  Once the cupcakes are completely cool, make the icing.  Whisk together 160g of icing sugar, the honey and the cream in a medium bowl until smooth.  If the icing is too runny, add a little more icing sugar as required.  Using a small palette knife, liberally spread the icing over the cupcakes (don’t try to pipe the icing, it won’t work because the icing doesn’t have a thick enough consistency – I know because I tried).  If the icing is too runny and looks like it’s going to escape, pop the cupcakes in the fridge whilst it sets.  Once the icing is set, dust with a little bit of ground cinnamon before serving.

Enjoy!

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Sunday Smiles: And stuff like that

I got all excited last week about spring finally getting here and all, but apparently the weather had other ideas.  Despite managing to eat lunch out in the courtyard twice this week (but solely because it’s sheltered from the cold wind and it happened not to be raining on those days) the weather has been very changeable and the weather this weekend has been positively autumnal – rainy and awfully blustery.  And not excessively warm either.  Brrrrr.  Thankfully I’ve got a batch of apple spiced camomile and honey cupcakes in the oven smelling fabulous and warming the apartment as I type (and if they taste as good as they smell, they’ll be showing up in a blog post soon).

Here are my (not particularly concise) Sunday Smiles for this week:

  • Firstly, I finally finished watching the Paralympics Opening Ceremony.  I loved it.  I’m always going to be enthusiastic about something that features so much science.  The Large Hadron Collider was even mentioned, and involving Stephen Hawking was a stroke of genius.  Sir Ian McKellen as Prospero was also fantastic (though that’s hardly a surprise) and I loved that he was involved right the way through and even partook in some awkward dancing at the end.  And of course Boris Johnson seemed to be having the time of his life, no matter how bored some of the other dignitaries looked.  I’ve also been watching some of the Paralympics, but not as much as I’d like since I’ve been buys and it’s not on a continual loop on mainstream TV.  But at least most of it is available online for free on the Paralympics channel (the Olympics should take a lesson from that) so I’ve been able to choose what I watch.  Although bizarrely, the live stream isn’t available in NZ, which isn’t too much of an issue since the time zones are inconvenient anyway.
  • The only good thing about this week’s ridiculously changeable weather (I don’t know how many times I’ve simultaneously required sunglasses and an umbrella) is that we’ve been treated to plenty of rainbows.  I spotted this double rainbow over the university as I made way home the other day.  I love rainbows.  They never fail to make me smile.

  • At the same time as the rainbows above, this was the view in the opposite direction.  Sunshine behind the Sky Tower, but pouring rain in front of it.  I really like this photo (even if it meant that I was getting rained on):

  • I came across these completely amazing hand paintings the other day.  I’m always in awe of anybody with artistic talent.  And maybe a tiny little bit jealous, too.
  • I discovered Pyrenées, a French deli, last weekend, which sold some of my favourite cheeses.  Cheeses that I haven’t had since I moved to NZ seven months ago, which is a big deal for me since I am a total cheese fiend…  So I obviously couldn’t leave without buying any, despite the rather astronomical price.  I’m considering them an early birthday present to myself in order to ignore that.  I’ve been happily nibbling way way through some morbier, comté, brie de Meaux and munster this week.

  • Somebody has finally solved the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster.  Manatees, of course!  (Yes, yes, I know, manatees in Scotland, and in a freshwater loch to boot…  It’s still funny though.)  All those tourists will be gutted, I’m sure.  (Cartoon source)

  • And finally, Flight of the Conchords have written a NZ charity single for sick children which was released about two weeks ago (I think it’s part of the Red Nose Day for Cure Kids fundraising).  Now I’ve heard it several times on the radio and been a little confused because it doesn’t really make any sense.  It contains lyrics such as “kids need us to come together, we can make them better [so far so good], we can get them some feta [huh?]” and “John stop blowing all the money on couches,” there are made up words (“lospital” and “mospital” – to rhyme with hospital) and it’s called Feel Inside (and stuff like that) which also happens to be the chorus.  (Actually, the first time I heard it, I thought they were singing “feeling sad (and stuff like that)” which would have made marginally more sense.)  So I decided to look the song up on YouTube out of procrastination as you do.  And it turns out that there’s a whole sketch that goes with the song.  And once you’ve watched it, the song makes complete sense, because Bret and Germaine visited a school and the lyrics are actually based on what the kids said.  The sketch includes the interviews with the children (they start at 5:07) and ends with the song (sung by plenty of famous Kiwi artists, but I don’t know who any of them are, aside from Bret and Germaine).  It’s 15 minutes that will brighten up your day, I promise.

What made you smile this week?

PS – Look what I accidentally broke whilst being removed from its mould…  Woops.  It went down as “quality control” (gutted, ahem) – scrumptious!

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White chocolate & hazelnut naked cupcakes

It appears that I’m going through a hazelnut phase at the moment.  I’m not sure why – perhaps my vestigial Northern hemisphere-oriented seasonal body clock is attempting to convince me to ignore the bright little clumps of daffodils that I pass on my way to and from uni by distracting me with hazelnuts and other such nutty, autumnal flavours because we’re coming up to September and said body clock thinks it should be autumn soon, not spring.  Or perhaps I toast hazelnuts in largeish batches so that I always have toasted hazelnuts available for use straight away when I bake and may have been a little overenthusiastic with the amount of hazelnuts that I toasted on Sunday such that they didn’t all fit into my designated toasted hazelnut jar (don’t judge) so I clearly had to bake with the overflowing ones.  Perhaps there’s an element of both…

Either way, I baked with hazelnuts this weekend.  More specifically, with white chocolate and hazelnuts.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d borrowed Marian Keyes’ Saved by Cake from the library.  One of the recipes that caught my eye was for white chocolate and macadamia nut cupcakes which she suggests can also be made with hazelnuts.  It sounded like an excellent way to sort out my minor toasted hazelnut over-abundance issues.  And indeed the cupcakes turned out wonderfully.  Now I realise that they don’t look like much, but oh boy are they scrumptious, and in fact their “nothing special” look makes tasting them an even more delightful surprise.  The combination of white chocolate and hazelnuts works fantastically well.  The white chocolate flavour subtly permeates right through the cupcakes and the hazelnuts intersperse it with a lovely toasted nutty flavour and also give a great crunch which keeps the cupcakes texturally interesting.

I’m also aware that they don’t look too much like cupcakes – one generally expects cupcakes to be topped off with great big swirls of icing.  Or even small swirls of icing.  But these are icing-less.  The original recipe doesn’t feature icing, and I’d initially thought that I might add some white chocolate-based icing, but when I tasted the cupcakes I realised that icing of any sort would probably just be too much and overpower them.  I was going to call them “muffcakes” since they look rather like muffins due to their lack of icing, but still have the texture of a cupcake.  Then I realised that that sounds like something else entirely – I haven’t looked it up on Urban Dictionary, but I don’t particularly want to.  So I’ve called them “naked cupcakes” instead.  Which I’m not sure is much of an improvement but it does sound slightly classier.  I’m just going to stop talking now and share the recipe.

White chocolate & hazelnut naked cupcakes

Makes 15 cupcakes
Adapted from Saved by Cake

To toast the hazelnuts, spread them out on a baking tray, place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C and roast for 10 min, until they smell fragrant (be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn).  Rub the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel to remove most of the skins, and allow to cool fully before using.  These cupcakes will keep for a couple of days in an airtight box, but are best eaten sooner rather than later and are perfect for an afternoon tea break.

Ingredients

300g white chocolate
100g unsalted butter
100g toasted hazelnuts
180g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

1.  Set out 15 silicone cupcake moulds on a baking tray or line two cupcake/muffin tins with liners.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/fan oven 150°C.

2.  Break 200g of the white chocolate into pieces and add to a heatproof bowl with the cubed butter.  Gently melt together over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring often (make sure that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl as white chocolate can burn very easily and keep an eye on the mixture).  Remove from the heat as soon as the chocolate and butter are smoothly melted together.

3.  Meanwhile, roughly chop the remaining chocolate and the hazelnuts and set aside.  Sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt into a medium bowl, stir together and set aside.

4.  In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the sugar until the mixture is smooth, thickened and creamy.  Whisk in the vanilla extract and the melted chocolate mixture.  Add the flour mixture and fold in with a spatula until just combined.  Fold in the chopped chocolate and hazelnuts.

5.  Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake moulds or liners, not filling the liners more than ¾ full.  Bake for 20-22 mins until risen, golden and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Allow to sit in the silicone moulds for a couple of minutes for the cupcakes to firm up a little before removing and them and transferring to a wire rack to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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Sharky Oven Gloves turns one!

Today is an exciting day, because it’s my Blog Birthday!  (Blogirthday?  Blorthday?  Blirthday?  Who knows…)

One year ago today, I posted my very first post.  A very short one, which was clearly not a sign of things to come, since I think by now we’ve established that being concise really isn’t my strong point.

Sharky Oven Gloves was an idea that I first ran past Kat whilst queuing for Christmas Ball tickets at some stupid time in the early morning in the snow (oh St Andrews, how I miss your crazy ball ticket queuing strategies), and I thought I’d give it a go and see what blogging was like.  I’ll be perfectly honest – I started more or less out of procrastination whilst working on my Dissertation (of Doom).  It was a great way to get away from the frustration of data analysis which was telling me pretty much nothing except that some bycatch observers can’t tell the difference between certain shark and ray species (which is rather soul-destroying when your dissertation is based around observer data).  However, blogging rapidly became a new form of stress relief which conveniently incorporated my usual method of stress relief (cooking and baking).  It was so refreshing and almost relaxing to be able to just write something in a non academic context, and to not have to back-up every single statement with 56 references.  In the year that has passed since starting Sharky Oven Gloves, there have been several important (and not so important) milestones and events:

  • I finally tried making macarons.  The first few tries were rather dubious, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now!  I’ve definitely got the hang of stuffing them with alcohol.
  • I discovered how easy it is to make blueberry gin.  Cue plenty of alcohol infusion ideas (some of which have been carried out, some of which are on the waiting list).
  • I accidentally found out that there’s a World Nutella Day and a World Gin Day.  My life is complete.
  • The tradition of epic animal-themed birthday cakes appears to have been started.  We’ve had seal pupsmeerkats and killer whales.  What will next year bring?  Or will it be a different theme?
  • Blog challenges appeared on my radar and I decided to join in with some of them.  It turns out that it’s a fabulous way to engage with other bloggers and get involved in the community.
  • I finally made crêpes for the first time since an unfortunate incident involving my crêpe pan and some tuna steaks.
  • I went to the St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time.  I’d only lived there for three and a half years…
  • I stacked all the odds against myself and still managed to successfully make chartreuse soufflés.  Still not entirely sure how that happened.
  • There was a Royal Wedding which involved some pretty famous St Andrews alumni.  William and Kate – I don’t know if you’ve heard of them?
  • After somehow managing to survive for several months on 4-5 hours of sleep a night (I’m pretty sure that I’m still paying for this), the Dissertation of Doom was handed in.  On time and everything.
  • I graduated.  That’s right.  Sharky Oven Gloves BSc (Hons) if you please (not to sound pompous or anything…).  Oh and did I mention that I graduated with the national treasure that is Sir David Attenborough.  No biggie.
  • After four years of learning valuable life lessons, I moved from my beloved St Andrews down to Edinburgh, which is one of my home towns, but this is the first time I’ve lived here.  It’s only temporary though – I have an announcement regarding that, but I’m waiting until everything is finalised, hopefully soon…

I feel I should have some ground-breaking blogging revelations or something, but I’m afraid that I don’t, and I really don’t feel that I’m established enough as a blogger to venture into the “my tips for blogging” territory.  So I think I’ll leave it there for today (being the super-concise person that I am and all).  Oh except one little thing – I’ve set up a Sharky Oven Gloves facebook page!  And did you notice the little shark fin RSS button up at the top of the left-hand column?  I won’t tell you how long it took me to make it, but it was a long and arduous journey which taught me that I really suck at graphic design.  I’m still tweaking it a little, but please do let me know what you think!  There should be facebook and twitter fins joining it in the next few days, so look out for those…

So on that note, Happy Birthday Sharky Oven Gloves (is it weird to wish your own blog a happy birthday?  Seriously, what’s the protocol on this whole blog birthday thing?), here’s to another year of blogging fun made up of ramblings, recipes and general adventures…

In case you haven’t guessed, the grey blob is supposed to be a shark fin, and not a random rock poking out of the sea as my Mum thought.  The icing was pretty gloopy and uncooperative so it didn’t quite work as well as I’d hoped (clearly).  I’ll aim to work on my shark fins for next year…

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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Manly moustachioed Movember cupcakes

As you may know, last month was Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a disease that I feel that most people (in the developed world) are now aware of (though whether they do anything about it is another matter entirely).  Whilst it is, of course, important to raise awareness of breast cancer, there are plenty of other cancers that are hardly spoken of, but really should be.  Have you heard of Movember?  If so, marvellous.  If not, then it’s a campaign that revolves around men’s health and aims to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancers in particular (which are the two most common male-specific cancers in the UK), but other cancers and health issues, too.  I feel that this is an excellent cause, especially since men seem to be notorious for not going to see the doctor when they probably should (based on the men in my family), so the more awareness the better.

Aside from being an important cause, what I also really like about the Movember awareness campaign is they’ve made it fun and different.  The idea is that men who want to take part in raising awareness grow a moustache for the month of November (Moustache, November, Movember.  See what they did there?) and get sponsored to do so in order to raise money which goes towards men’s health charities (I think the charities are country-specific).  It’s fun, it’s different, it’s interactive (sort of).  Excellent.  Now, for obvious reasons, I haven’t grown a moustache for Movember (that would be a newsworthy feat indeed…  And rather worrying), but I’ve gone for the next best thing…  Manly cupcakes with moustaches!  Obviously (because the photos totally hadn’t given that away already).

Now I realise that “manly cupcakes” are a bit of an oxymoron, since cupcakes are supposed to be all cute and everything.  When I first came up with this idea, I wasn’t really sure how I was going to make the cupcakes manly, short of adding bacon to them (which I have actually seen recipes for).  Bacon was out, so what other ingredients could I use?  Beer.  Beer is manly (clearly there’s no stereotyping going on here whatsoever…).  Guinness is very manly.  And I know that you can bake with it because I’ve eaten chocolate Guinness cake before and it was tasty, so chocolate Guinness cupcakes were clearly the answer, adorned with chocolate moustaches for Movember (because clearly that makes them so much manlier).  Sorted.  They turned out rather delicious, if I do say so myself.  They’re wonderfully moist and although you’d expect the combination of chocolate and Guinness to be heavy, they’re surprisingly light.  They were even given a Manly Seal of Approval by Craig (though considering that the last baked goods I gave him were pink Rose Martini macarons, these were highly likely to be deemed manly in comparison…).  So here we go, manly moustachioed cupcakes for Movember!

Chocolate Guinness cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes
Cakes adapted from My Baking Addiction
Icing adapted from Home Bake

Don’t be put off trying these if you don’t like the taste of Guinness, because it’s a subtle flavour that blends perfectly with the chocolate rather than coming through outright and overwhelming the cupcake – trust me, because I really don’t like Guinness as a drink, but I love these!  The chocolate moustaches are a fun decoration, but have a slight tendency to droop a little if the cupcakes are left out somewhere warm, so it’s best to add them at the last minute before serving, or to keep these cupcakes in a cool (but not cold) place.  If you don’t want to make chocolate moustaches, you could just use chocolate sprinkles or a dusting of cocoa powder to finish them off.

Ingredients

For the cakes:
330g all-purpose flour
300g caster sugar
65g cocoa powder (at least 70%)
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
375 ml of Guinness (or other stout)
120 ml milk
120 ml organic rapeseed oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
150g sour cream
100g dark chocolate chips (optional)

For the cream cheese icing:
50g white chocolate
200g cream cheese, softened
100g un-salted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
450g icing sugar

For the chocolate moustaches:
A few squares dark chocolate (at least 70%)

Directions

To make the cakes:
1.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.  Line two muffins tins with 24 cupcake liners, or set out 24 silicone muffin moulds on a baking sheet.

2.  Into a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda, and mix them together.

3.  In a separate large bowl, whisk together the Guinness, milk, oil and extract (using a hand whisk, not an electric one).  Gently whisk in the eggs, one by one, followed by the sour cream (it might start of lumpy, but it will smoothen out, I promise).  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients gradually by adding a little at a time (I started off whisking then switched to a wooden spoon when the mixture thickened a little).  Stir in the chocolate chips (optional).

4.  Spoon the mixture into the liners or moulds, taking care not to over-fill them (the mixture will be quite wet).  If you added chocolate chips, most of them will have promptly sunk to the bottom, so bear this in mind and try to scoop some into each liner or mould.

5.  Bake for 25 mins, until the cupcakes have risen and are set in the middle, but still soft.  Allow to cool in the tins before turning out and icing.

For the icing:
6.  Whilst the cakes cool down, prepare the icing.  Melt the white chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).  Remove from the heat and allow to cool down to nearly room temperature.

7.  In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and butter together using an electric hand whisk.  Once smooth, beat in the white chocolate and vanilla extract.  Mix in the icing sugar a little at a time (unless you’d like a humungous icing sugar explosion), until the icing is fluffy and smooth.

8.  Spoon the cream cheese icing into a piping bag with a large round tip and pipe icing swirls over the tops of the completely cooled cupcakes.

To make the chocolate moustaches:
9.  Line a baking tray or tin with some baking paper.  Melt a few squares of chocolate in a small heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Remove from the heat as soon as the chocolate is smooth, and allow to cool a little.  Spoon the chocolate into a piping bag fitted with a small round tip and pipe out the moustache shapes (if the chocolate is still too hot, you’ll feel it through the piping bag – please don’t burn yourself!).  Allow to harden before carefully peeling off from the baking paper and placing on top of the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

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Cocktail in a Cupcake: Rose Martini

To celebrate the 1st birthday of the We Should Cocoa blog challenge, this month’s theme, set by Chele at Chocolate Teapot, is to bake something for a “virtual birthday party” – something chocolatey, of course!  Whilst a big cake would seem appropriate, I decided to go for cupcakes (I know that I totally missed the boat on National Cupcake Week which was last week) for the simple reason that I’ve had a cupcake idea floating around for a while and this seems like the perfect occasion to try it out.  Actually, it would have been my entry to last month’s We Should Cocoa challenge, for which the special ingredient was “rose” (you can see the round-up here), but my plans fell victim to the lovely bout of tonsillitis that laid me up in bed for a week (I’m still grumbling about it).

When I’d been looking for inspiration for last month’s challenge, I happened across the recipe for a Rose Martini, a vodka-based cocktail that contains white crème de cacao and rosewater.  To me that just sounded like a cupcake waiting to happen!  Incorporating white chocolate would have made it perfect for the theme, and I desperately wanted to see if the flavours would work in a cupcake, but never managed to get round to it (grumble, tonsillitis, grumble)…  However, this month’s theme has come galloping to the rescue, because I think that Rose Martini cupcakes definitely sound fit for a party, don’t you?  Wait, what’s that?  Oh, it’s supposed to be for a 1st birthday party…?  Can one year-olds eat cake?  I have no idea.  I don’t really have anything whatsoever to do with small children (can you tell?).  So anyway, these cupcakes are clearly adult-only.  I’m totally ok with that, because it’s not for an actual one year-old child…

The only problem with deciding to make cupcakes is that they usually come in batches, which is fine if you’ve got people to feed them to, but 12 cupcakes between just my mum and I is a bit much (I do love cupcakes, but I’d rather not make myself sick).  Especially since cupcakes don’t keep all that long, and stale cupcakes are rather depressing.  Thankfully though, I found a recipe to make two cupcakes (or one jumbo cupcake), which I adapted and doubled, and it ended up giving me five cupcakes filled with vodka, rosewater and white chocolate chips.  The icing included the Rose Martini ingredients: vodka, rosewater and white crème de cacao.  I may or may not have gotten slightly too enthusiastic about piping the rose (it took me five tries to get a decent one).  They turned out rather well, though quite heavy, and whilst the flavours do work together I think they could get quite sickly quite quickly.  I’d like to try adapting one of my tried and tested cupcake recipes for a full batch, just to see if it would make them a bit lighter.  We’ll see…  For now though, at least these look pretty!  And they do taste good, they’re just really quite heavy!

So all that remains (before sharing the recipe) is to wish happy birthday to We Should Cocoa – here’s to another year of challenges!

Rose Martini cupcakes

Makes 5-6 cupcakes
Cupcake recipe adapted from Sweet Road

The rosewater really comes through in this recipe, so if you’re not a fan, I would suggest decreasing the amount slightly, and perhaps adding slightly more vodka to cut through the flavour more.  The icing makes enough to pipe five roses, but if you want to just do some swirly decorative piping, you won’t need quite as much.  Also, don’t be worried if the cupcakes don’t really go golden – mine didn’t but they were still cooked!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
75g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
25g unsalted butter
45g caster sugar
120 ml milk, room temperature
2 tsp vodka
1 tsp rosewater
½ tsp white crème de cacao
35g white chocolate chips (or chopped white chocolate)

For the icing:
2 tsp vodka
1 ½ tsp white crème de cacao
½ tsp rosewater
35g butter
70g icing sugar
Rose food colouring paste (optional)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1.  Line a cupcake tin with 5 or 6 liners or set out 5 or 6 silicon liners.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and mix together.

3.  In a different bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well mixed.  Mix in half the milk (make sure it’s at room temperature otherwise it does weird things to the butter apparently), followed by the flour mixture.  Add the remaining milk, the vodka, rosewater and crème de cacao and mix until well incorporated (if the mixture looks like it’s separated or curdled or something, try mixing some more until vaguely smooth.  If that doesn’t work, add a little bit more flour.  If that doesn’t work, bake them anyway and hope for the best.  Sage advice right there.).  Stir in the chocolate chips.

4.  Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 18-22 mins, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

To make the icing:
5.  In a measuring glass or small bowl, mix together the vodka, crème de cacao and rosewater.  Set aside.

6.  Cream together the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for a small icing sugar explosion if using an electric whisk).  When combined to form buttercream, add a tiny, tiny amount of rose food colouring paste (optional) and the alcohols, and mix well until completely incorporated.

7.  Once the cupcakes are completely cool, you can pipe the icing onto them.  To make an icing rose, use a rose petal tip.  Pipe a small blob in the middle of the cupcake, and then, making sure that the fat part of the tip is at the bottom, pipe vertical individual petals around the blob, turning the cupcake as you go (I realise that is a terrible explanation of how to make a rose out of icing – Google it, there are loads of videos available online).

Enjoy!

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