Tag Archives: Mint

Cocktail in a Macaron: Mojito

A friend who came up to visit from Wellington about ten days ago asked if I could show her how to make macarons when she was here.  Of course I agreed – it may be a little time-consuming, but I do love making macarons.  We just had to decide what flavour to go for.  Which, considering the near-endless possibilities when it comes to macarons flavours, wasn’t quite as straightforward as it might sound.  We wanted something colourful and for some reason green kept popping into my head, which I kept associating with mint.  And suddenly it struck me: mojito macarons!  Of course!!

There’s something so summery and refreshing about mojitos, and I love them.  They taste like they should be sipped on the beach or by the poolside, whilst on holiday.  It’s not the first time that I’ve made mojito-based baked goods – I made mojito cupcakes a while ago (which, incidentally, I thoroughly recommend if you’re also a mojito fan).  And I’ve actually made mojito macarons before, about a year and a half ago, but with a buttercream-based filling rather than the white chocolate ganache that I used this time.  The buttercream version was just a little too sweet when combined with the already sugary shells, so between the two I much prefer the ganache version.

My initial mojito macarons were made with bright minty green shells since half the fun of macarons is being able to make them all colourful, but it actually looked rather garish and I wasn’t happy with them (one of the reasons I never blogged about them).  I tried swirly shells for the first time when I made kir macarons a few weeks ago, and I loved the swirly shells so much that I decided that I wanted to try them again for these macarons.  The swirly idea turned out to be the perfect way to make the shells colourful without being lurid, and I really think it’s just the right amount of green.  What do you think?

I must confess that I totally forgot to add lime to the ganache.  I was so focused on the mint that the lime just completely slipped from my mind (woops).  So I’d suggest adding the zest of a small lime and about 1 tsp of juice to the ganache to make it more mojito-like, although despite the omission the macarons still tasted just like a mojito (albeit a rather sweet version) and felt all summery whilst we wait for summer to get its skates on and hurry over to the southern hemisphere…  I’m fed up of winter!

After my friend had left to go back to Wellington, packed off with a little box of macarons and the knowledge of how to make more, I looked up the blog challenge themes for this month.  Imagine my pleasant surprise when I read that the theme for this month’s We Should Cocoa, hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog, is “cocktail-inspired” – a special theme chosen to celebrate two years of the challenge.  Happy birthday to We Should Cocoa!!!  Mojito macarons clearly fit the bill perfectly – the ganache is made of cocktail, white chocolate and cream – so I’m submitting them.  I then discovered a new blogging challenge started by Janine at Cake of the WeekBaking with Spirit which this month involves baking or cooking with “rum.”  I’ve already entered my banana, hazelnut and spiced rum upside-down cake but I’m also going to submit these macarons since they involve white rum which is just so different to spiced rum (no kidding).

Mojito macarons

Makes about 60 small macarons (so about 120 shells of 1.5/2 cm diameter)
Macaron shell recipe based on Mad About Macarons!
Ganache recipe by me

Whilst I forgot to add lime, it would make these even more mojito-y.  I’d suggest adding the zest of a small lime and 1 or 2 tsp of freshly-squeezed lime juice to the ganache at the same time as the rum, and decreasing the quantity of rum so that you’re only adding 40g total of liquid (excluding the cream), otherwise the ganache will be too liquidy to set.  Make sure you leave these at least 24h before eating them, in order to allow the ganache to soak into the shells a bit.  They’re best stored in an airtight box in the fridge – just remember to bring them out at least 30mins before eating them, so that you can appreciate the flavour fully!

Ingredients

For the macaron shells:
Green food colouring paste or gel (optional)
100g room temperature egg whites (take them out of the fridge 2h beforehand)
66g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
Raw sugar or golden granulated sugar, to decorate

For the ganache filling:
Small handful of fresh mint leaves (about 4-5 sprigs or 10g)
40g whipping cream (NZ: pure cream)
150g white chocolate
40g white rum
2 drops mint extract (optional)

Directions

To make the macaron shells:
1.  Line three or four flat baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.  Prepare a piping bag with a plain round piping tip.  Brush two or three lines of food colouring up the inside of the prepared piping bag (this might be a bit messy.  I did three stripes, so if you want your shells to have slightly less green, then just paint two stripes).

2.  Blend the icing sugar and ground almonds together (don’t skip this step!).  Sift them through a medium sieve into a large bowl.  Sift them again if necessary.

3.  Make the French meringue by whisking the egg whites into glossy firm peaks, gradually adding the caster sugar.

4.  Incorporate the French meringue into the dry ingredients using a large spatula and mix well.  Now work on the mixture by pressing down well with the spatula, going backwards and forwards, to press out the oxygen from the egg whites (this is the macaronnage stage), until you have a smooth mixture.  Don’t do this for longer than 5 minutes.  The result should be a soft and brilliant mixture that forms a “ribbon” on the spatula.

5.  Transfer the mixture to the previously prepared piping bag and pipe out the desired size of rounds (mine were about 1.5-2cm in diameter).  Press the nozzle right down on the paper and finish off with a flourish to obtain a nice round.  Leave a good space between them so they can spread out.

6.  Sprinkle the shells with the raw sugar and leave the shells to set for about 30 mins (this helps to produce the feet).  Preheat the oven to fan-oven 160°C.  When you can feel that a skin has formed over the top, they are ready to go into the oven.

7.  Bake one tray at a time in the centre of the oven for about 8-10 mins (to see if they are done, touch the top – if there is a “wobble,” leave them in 2-3 mins longer).  Leave them to cool on the baking trays, and when they are completely cool, carefully remove them and pair them up by size.

To make the ganache filling:
8.  Whilst the macarons are setting and cooking, make the ganache filling.  Remove the mint leaves from their stalks if necessary, and finely chop.  Set aside.

9.  Heat the cream, and as soon as it starts boiling, add the white chocolate (broken into pieces), the rum and mint extract and mix 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?).  Once smooth, stir in the chopped mint leaves.  Allow the mixture to thicken in the fridge (or freezer if necessary).

10.  Once cool, use a teaspoon to deposit a dollop of ganache onto one shell of each pair.  Then place the partner shell on top, and use a slight twisting motion to squash the shell down onto the filling.

11.  Leave in the fridge for at least 24h before serving (I know, it’s difficult!  But so worth it!!)

Enjoy!

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Mint & ginger mini palmiers

Something terribly exciting happened on Wednesday – the Bookshelf Saga which has been ongoing since I moved into my flat at the beginning of March came to its conclusion.  To cut a long rant story short, my landlord didn’t consider a bookshelf to be a fairly standard piece of furniture and decided that it would “overcrowd the flat” (which is total nonsense by the way – somebody is clearly just being stingy).  However, since I really do need a bookshelf, I had to buy one myself, and it (finally) arrived on Wednesday.  Definitely the highlight of my week (I need to get out more) and now all my books, folders and DVDs are neatly arranged on shelves instead of being unceremoniously piled up in a corner.  And guess what?  The bookshelf doesn’t overcrowd the flat.  Not even remotely.  In fact, it has uncrowded the flat by freeing up all that space that the piles of books, etc. were taking up.  Just as well I don’t have my landlord’s email address or I would seriously consider emailing him a photo saying “I told you so.”  Not that I’m petty like that or anything.  Obviously.

My new bookshelf means that all my cookbooks are now neatly lined up – much more practical for choosing my Random Recipe entry than trying to count books scattered about in various piles.  This month’s theme is “first and last” which means randomly picking a cookbook and then making either the first or last recipe (or both, if you’re feeling keen). The random number button on my trusty calculator directed me to book number 5, which turned out to be Cusine Express, a French book full of quickly-prepared recipes.  I wasn’t too enthralled by anything on the first page of recipes, so I flipped to the very last page, where there were eight recipes to choose from (spoilt by choice, I know).  I opted for the mint and ginger mini palmiers, partly because I was intrigued by the combination of mint and ginger together, and partly because I’ve been a big fan of palmiers since I was a little girl, but never actually tried making them myself.

These aren’t quite like the slightly sticky palmiers you get in French pâtisseries, so I was a tiny little bit disappointed initially, but once you get past that, they are rather tasty in their own right, and I can’t wait to have a couple for my afternoon snack later.  The mint and ginger go together remarkably well – the freshness of the mint counterbalances the slight hotness of the ginger.  They’re missing that slightly caramelised covering that I loved when I was little (and still love) – next time I might try sprinkling some brown sugar over the top before baking, or lightly brushing a sugar syrup over the top as they come out of the oven.  I’ll definitely be trying these again – they’re so straightforward and hardly take any effort.  Except grating the ginger, which does take effort if you do it by hand, but it’s worth it.

Mint & ginger mini palmiers

Makes about 30
Adapted from Cuisine Express

You can, of course, make your own puff pastry, but I don’t really have the time for that, so I nearly always use shop-bought puff pastry, and I find that it works just as well, though make sure that when buying it, you choose puff pastry that has been made with all butter.  These make a wonderful afternoon snack, accompanied by a cup of tea.  These are best eaten on the day that they are made, but will keep overnight in an air-tight box (although they may lose a little bit of their crunchiness).

Ingredients

6 tbsp finely chopped fresh mint leaves (about 18-20 g)
4 tbsp finely grated ginger (about a 5-6 cm piece)
5 tbsp organic rapeseed oil
Icing sugar
350g all-butter puff pastry

Directions

1.  Mix the mint leaves, ginger and oil in a small bowl to make a paste.

2.  Roll the puff pastry out on a surface sprinkled with icing sugar into a rectangle of about 30 x 40 cm.

3.  Spread the mint and ginger paste over the surface of the pastry.  Fold or roll the pastry along a long edge to the middle, and do the same from the other side so that the two rolled/folded bits meet in the middle.  Press the whole “log” of pastry into a roll, wrap in cling film and chill in the freezer for 25 mins.

4.  Line two baking trays with baking paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 210°C.

5.  Remove the puff pastry log from the freezer and cut into 10-12mm thick slices (don’t worry if there are little gaps between the pastry rolls – they pastry will expand in the oven).  Place on the baking trays and bake for 15 mins until golden.  Transfer the palmiers to cooling racks and dust with icing sugar.  Allow to cool fully.

Enjoy!

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Buy a mint plant, get a free surprise caterpillar

This month’s We Should Cocoa was hosted by Chele over at Chocolate Teapot, and she chose the theme “something green“, which I think is pretty self-explanatory.  The very first thing that popped into my head when I first read the theme was a delicious recipe for mint chocolate chip muffins from Mad About Muffins, my go-to book for muffin recipes.  A few days later, I realised that the only copy of the recipe that I have is in the actual book in my shipment which was being rifled through waiting for clearance by NZ Customs.  Minor issue there.  I also figured that mint and chocolate was probably going to be a fairly popular combination for the challenge, so perhaps I should do something else…

I mentioned this to Kat over a Skype chat (thank goodness for Skype), and it turns out that she happened to have a copy of the recipe, from when she’d stayed with me over the summer of 2010 – the summer which I think really cemented our friendship, and during which we spent a large amount of time baking together (gin and wine may have featured pretty heavily, too, which are always great for cementing friendships).  So I knew that I just had to make the muffins, in honour of that, and all the fun we had in St Andrews, because I baked these up several times for various parties, and they always went down really well.  And also because the only bakeware that I have with me are my muffin moulds.  Well, that’s not strictly true – all my stuff arrived yesterday (hurrah!!!), but it’s still being unpacked, so it’s not exactly readily accessible to bake with yet.  It makes me sad that I won’t be able to share this batch with Kat though.

At the Farmers’ Market last weekend I bought a few basic herb plants (basil, parsley, thyme and mint), so I decided to add some of the fresh mint to the muffins, just because I could.  After noticing a few rather sizeable chunks missing from several of the leaves that had most definitely been intact last Saturday, I discovered that the mint plant had come with a free caterpillar.  Said caterpillar didn’t touch any of the other herbs, only the mint, so I don’t think it’ll be suffering from halitosis any time soon (total anthropomorphism, I know, shhhh!).  I realise that this isn’t exactly a disaster, but I’m bad enough at keeping plants in good condition (I am very much not green-fingered) in the first place, without throwing something that eats them into the mix.  So between the caterpillar and the leaves I used for this recipe, the plant is looking a little sorry for itself now…  Hopefully it’ll grow back pretty quickly.  I had hoped that the mint leaves would make darker flecks of green through the light green of the muffin, but that didn’t happen – perhaps if I’d used far more it would have been more visible.  They still tasted delicious though – wonderfully moist, with a good minty flavour, balanced out by the chocolate.  I should add that the muffins also came out slightly darker on top than usual because I’m still getting used to having an oven that actually works properly.

Mint chocolate chip muffins

Makes 14 muffins
Recipe adapted from Mad About Muffins

The green food colouring is obviously optional, but it adds a fun touch.  This time I used a smidgeon of “leaf green” gel colouring, but I’ve used standard green liquid colouring in the past, and it works perfectly, too, so just use what you have.  The original recipe doesn’t use any crème de menthe, but it helps with the colour and the flavour – if you don’t want to use any, just use a total of 190ml of milk.  These muffins are delicious warm, but I do also love them cold with a glass of milk for breakfast.  As with most muffins, these won’t keep for very long, but can be stored overnight in an air-tight container.

Ingredients

340g all-purpose flour
130g caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of fresh mint leaves
100g unsalted butter
2 eggs
150ml milk
40ml crème de menthe
¾ tsp natural peppermint extract
½ tsp liquid green food colouring (or a smidgeon of gel colouring)
200g dark chocolate chips

Directions

1.  Line a muffin tray with 14 liners or set out silicone moulds on a baking sheet.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C.

2.  Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix together.  Rinse the mint leaves, pat them dry, chop them (somewhere between finely chopped and roughly chopped is good) and stir into the dry ingredients.

3.  Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave or in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, lightly beat the two eggs with a fork.  Add the milk, crème de menthe, peppermint extract and green food colouring and lightly beat together (if using gel colouring, make sure that it doesn’t fall into a little lump at the bottom of the bowl).

4.  Add the wet ingredients and the melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir with a large metal spoon until just combined (the batter should be a bit lumpy with some flour still visible).

5.  Gently fold about 150g of the chocolate chips into the batter.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin liners, and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips.

6.  Bake for 18-22 mins until well risen and the tops spring back when gently pressed down (don’t press down on a chocolate chip though – they get really hot!).  Transfer to a wire rack to cool a little before eating.

Enjoy!

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Pimm’s cupcakes to celebrate the Royal Wedding

In case you haven’t heard (since there wasn’t any media coverage of it or anything), there was a Royal Wedding earlier today.  If you’ve vaguely followed the run-up to the wedding, you’ll know that William and Kate Catherine met at the University of St Andrews, so whilst they’re generally loved across the country, I think we all have a particular soft spot for them up here.  St Andrews is full of bunting (I have a secret love for bunting) and Union Jacks and a lot of people have been throwing parties, or attended the Royal Breakfast hosted in St Salvator’s quad, and have just generally been using today as an excuse for a celebration (it’s a busy weekend anyway with the May Dip on Sunday morning).

Unfortunately, I have a dissertation to write (which is why things have been a little quiet on the blog lately – I’ll start posting regularly again soon, I promise!), so no partying for me…  (Don’t be too sad, I’ll make up for it once the dissertation has been handed in.  iPlayer.  Royal Wedding Drinking Game.  Enough said.)  Instead I’ve spent the morning in the Bute computer lab with Kat, watching the Wedding on one computer and dissertating on another, whilst eating cupcakes.

Since they were in celebration of the Royal Wedding, they couldn’t just be any old cupcakes.  I decided to attempt Pimm’s cupcakes, because Pimm’s is just so quintessentially British and summery, with the added bonus of being super tasty, too.  They didn’t turn out as Pimm’s-y as I was expecting, but they were still lovely and fruity, and I think they can be declared a success.  Hurrah!  My dissertating, on the other hand was not such a success…  (30 words in 4 hours?  Epic fail.)  Never mind, the lack of productivity was worth it – the Wedding was beautiful to watch, Kate was beautiful (no surprises there) and so was her dress.  Though I would just like to say that I absolutely loved Pippa Middleton’s maid-of-honour dress – it suited her perfectly and she looked absolutely stunning in it.  So before I go off and dream about one day managing to look that exquisite (ha ha, good joke right there), I’ll just share these cupcakes with you for this wonderfully British celebration.  I’d also like to offer my congratulations and wish all the best to William and Catherine – I think they will make an absolutely superb royal couple.

Pimm’s cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Adapted from BakeSpace

This recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  This would be a perfect street party food (to be kept in mind for the next royal event?)  I usually make Pimm’s with strawberries, but the raspberries worked really well with the cupcakes as they cut through the sweetness of the cupcakes perfectly.  I’m sure these would be wonderful served with a jug of Pimm’s.  Yummy!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
3 shots Pimm’s No. 1
Handful fresh mint, chopped (or you can use 1 tbsp dried mint)

For the glaze:
8 tbsp Pimm’s
2 tbsp brown sugar
Handful of raspberries
Further 6 tbsp Pimm’s No. 1 (optional)

For the icing:
170g butter, softened
370g icing sugar
Zest & juice of 2 limes
Zest & juice of 1 lemon
Fresh raspberries (to decorate)
Fresh mint, finely chopped (to decorate)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a muffin with tin with 16 paper cases or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Add all the other batter ingredients and mix well.

3.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
4.  Whilst the cupcakes bake, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan and mush in the raspberries.  Set on a low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until a little syrupy.

5.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven, poke a few holes into the tops of each (I used a pointy chopstick) and spoon about 1 tsp of the glaze per cupcake into them.  Spoon in a bit of extra Pimm’s over the top of the glaze (optional, but so good).  Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing:
6.  Cream the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for an icing sugar explosion).  Add the rest of the icing ingredients (except the raspberries and chopped mint) and continue mixing until smooth.

7.  Pipe the icing over each cupcake once they have fully cooled.  Sprinkle with some raspberries and freshly-chopped mint before serving.

Enjoy!

Right.  I should probably get back to the dissertation now…  Joy.

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An April adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

I finally got myself organised and went to St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time last month, bringing home some fantastic cheddar, as well as some Mojito jelly from one of the condiments stands.  The cheese was eaten pretty rapidly, but I haven’t used the Mojito jelly yet, mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it.  The man who I bought it from suggested simply serving it with lamb (as you would serve mint sauce), and the idea of Mojito lamb has been playing on my mind ever since, though I felt like it should be kept for a special occasion, so I hadn’t really pursued the idea further.

A special occasion presented itself on Saturday evening – Craig’s birthday dinner.  Perfect.  Conveniently, Saturday morning was also this month’s Farmers’ Market, so I decided that I’d get lamb from the market in the morning, and then it could marinate in the afternoon as necessary.  It all sounded like a great idea, but I just had to work out exactly how to do it.  None of my recipe books had anything remotely resembling Mojito lamb (the closest recipe I found was tequila chicken, and it really wasn’t very similar at all), and searching online wasn’t especially inspirational either.  When I stopped by Luvian’s (my local bottleshop) to get wine to go with it, Rich sounded rather unconvinced (though it might have helped if I’d known exactly how I was doing it – “uhm, well there will be rum, mint, sugar.  I’ll probably marinate it, oh ya, throw in some lime zest, too.  Might fry it, or roast it, depending on the cut, or something like that.  I have no idea what I’m serving it with, possibly couscous of some description.  And I haven’t decided what kind of rum I’m using yet either” probably isn’t the world’s best explanation).  Kudos to Rich for managing to make sense of my haphazard description, but I came out feeling distinctly doubtful of the whole thing.

By Saturday morning, I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing.  This resulted in a good 10 minutes of dithering in front of the lamb stand trying to decide which cut I wanted.  I like my meat cooked very rare (practically galloping off the plate in fact), Kat likes hers well done, and Craig likes his somewhere in-between.  A roast was never going to please everybody, so I went with leg steaks, so that they could all be fried for different lengths of time and (hopefully) everybody would be happy.  One of the fundamental rules of having people over for dinner (particularly when it’s a special occasion) is to have previously tested the recipe (which by default means you should have a recipe in the first place).  Consequently, I committed a serious dinner-hosting sin – when I eventually got around to doing the marinade a couple of hours before dinner, I very much made it all up as I went along (there was definitely no recipe, never mind a tried-and-tested one).  I’m not sure how, but thankfully it turned out fine.  More than fine actually – when fried, the lamb acquired a slightly caramelised flavour from the sugar, which was counter-balanced by the rum and lime zest, as well as the chilli and lime zest in the couscous that was served on the side.  Thank goodness!  Oh, and I should add that I completely forgot to add the Mojito jelly to the sauce as I’d originally thought I might.  Oops.

Mojito lamb

Serves 4
Recipe from my imagination

This is actually a fairly quick recipe to prepare, since everything is more or less just mixed together and left to marinate before frying.  I served it with couscous to which I had added a finely chopped de-seeded chilli pepper, the zest of 1 lime and about 5 finely chopped and sautéed shallots.

Ingredients

For the marinade:
150ml spiced rum (add more as you feel necessary)
50g demerrera sugar
15g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (keep the lime, the juice is needed later)
4-5 tbsp olive oil

650g lamb leg steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Mix all the marinade ingredients together with some ground black pepper in a large dish or bowl.

2.  Trim any fatty bits off the lamb leg steaks and add them to the marinade, making sure that they are well coated.  Cover the dish or bowl with a lid or cling film and allow to marinate for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge.

3.  When ready to cook, drain the steaks, though reserve the marinade.  Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the leg steaks for several minutes on each side, until done to your liking (this will depend on the thickness of the steaks and also on your personal preference).

4.  Remove the steaks to a serving plate and cover with tin foil to keep them warm.  Deglaze the pan with the lime juice, then add the marinade and allow to simmer down for a few minutes.

5.  Serve the leg steaks garnished with some fresh mint (optional) with the Mojito sauce on the side (a bit like a gravy) and a shallot, chilli and lime couscous.

Enjoy!

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Cocktail in a cupcake: Mojito

In case you weren’t aware, yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  This partially stems from a couple of incredibly awkward situations when I was still at school, but mostly it boils down the fact that I’m a little bit bitter and more than a little bit cynical.  (Though I’ll happily take any roses that unexpectedly come my way – they happen to be my favourite type of flower.  Which I realise is totally cliché.  And probably a little hypocritical, too.)

So the obvious way to ignore Valentine’s Day: cocktails and a James Bond film (we chose Goldfinger) with a couple of friends who share my cynicism.  A suitably non-pink cocktail: the Mojito.  And because we love baking: mojito cupcakes.  Oh yes…

These cupcakes turned out very rummy (would you have expected anything less?), and very yummy – the glaze and added rum soaks right into their centres.  As Kat put it, “I think these are my new favourite cupcakes!”

Mojito cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Recipe from BakeSpace

Adding rum after the glaze is totally optional, but let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?  The recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  I’m sure that if you used dark or spiced rum, the cupcakes would taste quite different, but equally yummy!

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
Zest & juice of 1 lime
2 shots white rum
Handful fresh mint, chopped (or you can use 1 tbsp dried mint)

For the glaze:
5 tbsp white rum
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp brown sugar
A few leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried mint)
Further 8 tbsp white rum (optional)

For the icing:
85g butter, softened
185g icing sugar
Shot of white rum (perhaps a little extra…)
Zest & juice of ½ a lime (about 1 tbsp zest and 1 tbsp juice)
Brown sugar, to taste
Fresh mint, finely chopped (to decorate)

Directions

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a muffin with tin with 16 paper cases or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Add all the other batter ingredients and mix well.

3.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
4.  Whilst the cupcakes bake, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Set on a low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until a little syrupy.

5.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven, poke a few holes into the tops of each (I used a pointy chopstick) and about 1 tsp of the glaze per cupcake into them.  Spoon in about ½ tsp of extra rum over the top of the glaze (optional, but so good).  Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing:
6.  Cream the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for an icing sugar explosion).  Add the rest of the icing ingredients (except the chopped mint) and continue mixing until smooth.

7.  Pipe the icing over each cupcake once they have fully cooled.  Sprinkle with some freshly-chopped mint to garnish before serving.

Enjoy!  (Responsibly, of course…  Ahem.)

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Filed under Ramblings, Recipes, Sweet Foods

Warm minty feta salad

My amazing friend (and fellow food-lover) Kat and I first tried this salad whilst she was living with me over the summer.  I think it must have been September-ish – so it was still technically summer, but starting to get cold again (which would imply that it had actually been warm this summer – it wasn’t).  A semi-warm salad sounded like an excellent idea.  And indeed it turned out to be rather fantastic.

We both had a bit of a reminiscent craving for it over the weekend.  We decided to have a fridge left-over-based meal before leaving for the holidays, so we made this as a main course.  Yummy!

Apparently we ate most of the feta off the top - oops

We drank a chardonnay – Olivier Leflaive – Les Sétilles 2009 (Bourgogne) with it – which balanced the mint out really well.  Incidentally, I’ve previously ranted about the bizarre cork for the 2008 Les Sétilles, and we were glad to see that they appear to have sorted that out and just used a normal fake cork.

Warm minty feta salad

Serves 2
Adapted from Waitrose.

This salad would work well as a starter, or as a main course, or as a side salad to go with a barbeque (lamb skewers perhaps?).  Simply adjust the amount of each ingredient that goes in (particularly the cheese) as you see fit.  The measurements are completely adjustable anyway – that’s the beauty of salads!

Ingredients

200g of feta cheese (200g is the smallest amount in my local supermarket – might as well just use it all)
4 tbsp mint sauce (use less if you’re not a huge fan of mint)
1 small pack of mixed salad leaves
½ a small cucumber
2 tomatoes
175g jar of black olives in brine, drained
1 tbsp fresh mint, shredded (don’t worry if you don’t have any, just use extra mint sauce in the marinade)
1 tbsp vinaigrette (or more, depending on how saucy you like you salads)

Directions

1.  Cut the feta into about 16 even chunks.  Place these in a small bowl, add the mint sauce and gently mix without breaking up the cheese, until evenly coated.  Set aside to marinate for at least 10 mins.

2.  Cut the tomatoes and cucumber into 2-3cm chunks, along with the salad, if necessary.  Place in a salad bowl with the olive, fresh mint and vinaigrette and toss to combine.

3.  Warm a small non-stick frying pan over a medium to low heat.  Add the feta and cook  gently for about 4 mins, until the cubes start to melt a bit, but don’t colour.  Either spoon the salad into plates and serve the feta on top, or add the feta to the big salad bowl and gently mix.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods