Christmas Pudding Cupcakes

Now I am the first to admit I am not the biggest fan of Christmas pudding the traditional way. After a huge dinner the last thing I want is a heavy pud. Also by that time of the day, the thought of anything brandy soaked on top of the bucks fizz and wine that has been consumed throughout the day fills me with dread… So these are a perfect alternative. And they have chocolate in! Thanks again to the Good Food Channel. 🙂

Ingredients:
50g dark chocolate , in chunks
140g butter , plus extra for greasing
100ml soured cream
3 eggs , lightly beaten
140g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
85g dried sour cherries , plus a few extra to decorate

For Decoration:
250g icing sugar , sifted
1 tsp custard powder, sifted
12 small bay leaves

  1. Heat oven to 170oC/gas mark 5. Butter a non-stick 12-hole muffin tin, and stick two criss-crossing strips of baking parchment in each hole.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter over a low heat. Cool a little, then stir in the soured cream and eggs.
  3. Mix the flour, sugar, almonds, cocoa and baking powder in a bowl. Pour in the chocolate and stir until smooth, then stir in the cherries. Spoon into the muffin holes so they are 3⁄4 full.
  4. Bake for 20 mins. Cool in the tins. Can now be frozen in plastic bags for 3 months.
  5. To decorate: Mix the icing sugar and custard powder with 2 tbsp water to make a thick icing. Remove the muffins from the tins and cool on a rack. Cut off any rounded tops, stand upside-down on the rack, then spoon icing over. Leave to set, then top with bay leaves and cherries.

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Chocolate Beer Cake

This is one of my favourite Delia recipes and is my boyfriends choice every birthday – “but dont you want to try something new?” I ask every year. And I always get the same reply – “why would I want anything else when this cake includes my two favourite things – Beer & Chocolate??”…

So I should share it, the way to a man’s heart is truly through his stomach… Enjoy!

Ingredients:
50g cocoa powder
200ml stout
110g very soft butter
275g dark soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
Âź teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

For the icing:
110g icing sugar, sifted
50g very soft butter
2 tablespoons stout
110g dark chocolate (50-55% cocoa solids)
25g walnut pieces, finely chopped

To decorate:
8 walnut halves
cocoa powder, for dusting

  1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180°C.
  2. Grease 2 x 8-inch (20cm) sponge tins, 4cm deep. Line the bases with lightly greased baking parchment.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar, beating together thoroughly for 3 – 4 minutes until pale and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  6. Weigh the cocoa and put it in a separate bowl, gradually stirring the stout into it. Now carefully and lightly fold into the egg mixture small quantities of the sifted flour alternately with the cocoa-stout liquid.
  7. When fully incorporated, divide the cake mixture equally between the two tins and level out.
  8. Bake the sponges in the centre of the oven for 30-35 minutes. The cakes should be flat on top and feel springy and will have shrunk slightly from the side of the tin. Leave them to cool in the tins for 5 minutes before turning out on to a wire rack to cool further, carefully stripping off the base papers.
  9. To make the icing: beat the icing sugar and butter together until blended, then gradually add the stout, making sure it is thoroughly mixed in after each addition.
  10. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over hot water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then, when it’s melted, remove the bowl from the water, and carefully fold the chocolate into the icing mixture.
  11. To make the icing, beat the icing sugar and butter together until blended, then gradually add the stout, making sure it is thoroughly mixed in after each addition. Now melt the chocolate in a bowl set over hot water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then, when it’s melted, remove the bowl from the water, and carefully fold the chocolate into the icing mixture.
  12. Now remove a third of the icing to a separate bowl and stir in the chopped walnuts. After all the icing has cooled to a spreadable consistency, sandwich the cake with the walnut icing. Then spread the remaining two-thirds of the icing on top of the cake, using a palette knife. Next, dust the walnut halves with cocoa powder and arrange on top of the cake.

Seriously, although the picture looks good, it can in no way describe how yummy this cake is!

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

I love these cupcakes. They are so simple yet so visually effective. A simple technique made to look complex and a great way to show off. 🙂

Ingredients:
150 g butter, softened
150 g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
150 g self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk

For the frosting:
200 g butter, at room temperature
250 g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk
green food colouring

To decorate:
Silver balls, sugar stars or hundreds and thousands

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and pale.
  3. Gradually mix in the beaten egg alternating with the flour to stop the mix from curdling. Finally, stir through the vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Place 12 paper cupcake cases into a muffin tin and divide the mixture between them.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
  6. For the frosting: in a mixing bowl beat the butter with a spoon or spatular until smooth, then start to sift in the icing sugar, stirring regularly. Add the vanilla extract and milk. The frosting should be light and creamy.
  7. Mix your green food colouring into the icing to give an even green colour.
  8. Once the cupcakes are totally cool, pipe the icing onto them starting from the outside of the cake and working into the centre to create tall Christmas trees. Decorate with silver balls, stars or hundreds and thousands then allow to set for at least 30 minutes so that the icing has a slightly crispy finish.

Black & White Cupcakes

Many thanks to The Guardian Online for this delicious sounding recipe, an absolute classic.

Ingredients:
115g dark chocolate
85g butter
175g soft dark brown sugar
2 eggs (separated)
185g plain flour
ž tsp baking powder
ž tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
250ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dark chocolate (to decorate)

Vanilla buttercream
115g butter
60ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g icing sugar

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / gas mark 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and smooth. Slowly add the egg yolks and beat well. Next, add the melted chocolate and beat again.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Measure the milk into a jug and stir in the vanilla extract. Alternatively add the flour and the milk to the main mixture, beating well.
  5. In a clean bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed. Then carefully fold this into the main batter.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cases to two-thirds full. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes, until raised and golden.
  7. Once cool, ice with vanilla buttercream (recipe below) and decorate with shavings of chocolate.
  8. For the frosting: Beat together the butter, milk and vanilla extract, and half the icing sugar.
  9. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat to a smooth buttercream.
  10. Keep any unused icing in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-4 days.

Sherbet Lemon Cupcakes

Wow – this is a fantastic recipe for some of the most unusual but delicious cakes I have made so far…

For the sponge:
120 g self-raising flour, sifted
145 g golden caster sugar
40 g butter, at room temperature
2 lemons, zest only
120 ml whole milk
1 large egg

For the frosting:
225 g butter
400 g icing sugar, sifted
1 lemon, juice only
few drops yellow food colouring
3 packets sherbet dip dab sweets, sherbet only

To Decorate:
Dip dab lollies, or coloured sherbet

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and line a 12-hole tin with cupcake paper cases. Tip the flour, sugar, butter and lemon zest into a food processor and blitz on a slow speed for one minute, until you achieve a sandy consistency.
  2. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until just incorporated. Don’t worry if it looks a little messy at this stage – it will come together! In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining milk together with the egg. Pour into the batter and beat for a couple of minutes until smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl to catch any unmixed ingredients as you go.
  3. Divide the mixture between the 12 paper cases, filling each one up two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until the golden sponge bounces back when prodded with a finger. Leave to cool on a wire rack while you make the frosting.
  4. For the frosting: Tip the butter and icing sugar into a food processor and beat until well combined. Add the lemon juice, colouring and sherbet, and then beat again for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. When the sponges have cooled completely, carefully spoon a third of the frosting into a piping bag and use it to decorate the first four cupcakes. Repeat until you have finished them all. Alternatively, just use a palette knife to spread about 2 tbsp of frosting onto each cupcake.
  6. Decorate with the dip dab lolly, or a sprinkling of colourful sherbet.
Thanks to the Good Food Channel for another ace idea 🙂

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

The image for these is what totally enticed me into giving them a go – the peanut butter cup filling looks too yummy!

Makes 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients:
200g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
110g vegetable oil
1 tbsp water, warm
3 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
24 miniature peanut butter cups, unwrapped

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, egg and vegetable oil. In a small bowl, stir together water, instant coffee and vanilla, then add to sugar mixture. Whisk flour mixture into the bowl with the sugar, mixing just until everything is combined and no streaks of flour remain.
  4. Place about 1 tbsp of batter into each cup of the prepared muffin pan. Place an unwrapped miniature peanut butter cup into the centre of each cup, pressing down gently. Top with about a tablespoonful of batter, just enough to cover the peanut butter cup. It is better to have some batter leftover than to overfill your muffin pan. The cavities should be approximately 3/4 full, or slightly more.
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until cake batter is set.
  6. Allow cupcakes to cool completely on a wire rack.

From http://bit.ly/uHtvHb – Thanks 🙂

Halloween – A Few Great Additions To The Party Table

So Halloween is quickly approaching and being my 6 year old’s 2nd favourite occasion of the year, only beaten by Christmas, I am now under pressure to make this year’s annual family Halloween bash better than last year’s.

Sure we had cake, sweets in the shape of spiders – so fizzy they hurt your mouth, a treasure hunt in the garden during which we almost drowned in the torrential rain and costumes so good Madame Tussaud would have been green with envy, but the inevitable truth is now we are expected to top it this year.

After going through a variety of emotions – fear, sadness, worry, excitement and finally the realisation that I actually do need to get off my bottom and source some stuff I got on the internet; a mums best friend these days where the time to go to the shops is becoming more and more scarce, and found some fab stuff. So here are my top products which will be either adorning the table or assisting in my preparation for our Halloween party this year…

1. Halloween Chocolate Moulds – Super cute – chocolates can be eaten as they are or used as cool edible cake toppers.

2. Wrapped Halloween Chocolates – Great for kids party bags, prizes for games or treasure hunt items.

3. Pirate Cupcake Kit – For those budding pirates, young and old.

4. Haunted Mansion Cupcake Stand – A cool centre piece for the table.

5. Skeleton Drinks Cooler – The perfect place to keep the drinks… Briefly!

6. A Halloween Cupcake Kit – Cute ideas in this book with accompanying decorations.

7. Ghoulish Goodies Cupcake Book – having bought and tried this out, The kids absolutely love the recipes and decorations.

Enjoy!