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I know I haven’t posted in a little while… my entry for this month’s Iron Cupcake: Earth failed badly so I didn’t post it.

These cupcakes were made for my little sister as a welcome home because she’s getting back from 3 months overseas tonight.
They are a Victorian vanilla sponge cake filled with strawberry jam and topped with fresh cream and half a strawberry.

I used only fresh cream; I didn’t add any icing sugar in it because I wanted that fresh sponge cake taste. It’s so simple to put together and tastes so good! Especially when you get that sweet little burst of jam in the middle.

I think I might go have another…

Strawberries & Cream Cupcakes
Makes 20 regular sized cupcakes

Ingredients:
250g butter
1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
2/3 cups milk

Strawberry jam
300ml cream, whipped
Fresh strawberries, at least 10

Preheat the oven to 160C

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time.

Fold in the flour and the milk. Spoon into prepared cupcake cases. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe a small amount of strawberry jam into the middle of each cupcake. Finally, pipe on the whipped cream and top with a strawberry half.

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plumcupcakes

One of the reasons I started this blog was to enter the Iron Cupcake: Earth Challenge. The theme for December is “Chocolate with a Twist” and when I first found out, I thought… oh boy this is going to be a challenge. What could I come up with that hadn’t already been done before? I thought about it for quite a while until one day I was eating one of my little brother’s chocolate custard desserts.

It suddenly occurred to me that I could somehow incorporate chocolate custard into my cupcake entry. So I decided to make a yummy white chocolate custard. I just needed to pair it with something that would compliment it perfectly.
It all started to come together when I thought about using plums. Then I had the perfect combination; it would be like a Christmas plum pudding with custard… but in a cupcake! That was when I knew I had to add brandy into the custard. I am so happy with the way this turned out. The flavours work really well together and they were eaten very quickly…

Making them mini-sized was actually an accident. I ran out of regular cupcake cases at the last minute and had to use smaller ones. I don’t mind at all though because they are just perfect bite-sized. I think I will definitely have to make these again next Christmas.

I have included the recipes for both the custard and the cupcakes. The custard should be made the day before as it will thicken considerably when it has been in the fridge overnight, making it really easy to pipe.
The cupcakes were really easy to make; I just made it up as I went along and threw in whatever I thought would taste really nice and thankfully, it worked!

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Plum Cupcakes with White Chocolate and Brandy Custard
Makes 48 mini cupcakes

2 cups self-raising flour
3/4 cups caster sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
125g butter melted, cooled
2 eggs
3/4 cups orange juice
250g prunes, chopped

Custard:
600ml single cream
60g white chocolate, chopped
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbs cornflour
1/4 cup brandy

To make the custard, combine the chocolate and cream in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until the chocolate has melted. Bring to the boil and then set aside.
Combine the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour into a bowl and whisk until combined.
Pour the cream mixture over the egg, whisking well.
Return to the saucepan and add the brandy. Stir over a low heat until the custard thickens. When cool, place in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 160C

To make the cupcakes, combine the prunes and the orange juice in a bowl and let them sit for about 10 minutes.
Sift the flour into a bowl and combine with the sugar and spice. Make a well in the center.
Add the eggs, butter, prunes and the juice and fold into the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them cool down and carefully peal the cases off. Spoon the thick custard into a piping bag and carefully pipe onto the cupcakes. Serve immediately!

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All challengers will be competing to win this ETSY prize pack from these artists:

BETTY TURBO as well as a pair of cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
PLUS, IronCupcake:Earth can not forget our good friend, CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice – sweet!

As an added bonus for December we have adorable cupcake pincushions complements of SWEET CUPPIN CAKES BAKERY AND CUPCAKERY SUPPLY.
Last and certainly not least, don’t forget our corporate prize providers: HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS; the CUPCAKE COURIER; TASTE OF HOME books. Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-FLOWERS.

If you like what you see, vote for me here at No one puts cupcake in a corner.
Voting begins on December 29 until January 2nd.

Banana Smoothie Muffins

December 7, 2008

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After baking the Pear and Banana Loaf the other night I was still left with a very ripe banana. I decided to make “Banana Smoothie Muffins” for my brother; recipe by yours truly. So what makes a smoothie muffin? Besides mashed banana they also have strawberry yoghurt and honey. The end result is a very moist and fluffy muffin that actually tastes like a smoothie! The yoghurt makes it a heavier muffin than most; so don’t worry too much that they don’t rise a great deal.

For this recipe you can substitute any flavour yoghurt you like. I also used an organic honey from a friend’s farm which made it taste just that little bit extra. Try different fruits too; experiment and create all different kinds of “smoothie” flavours. I just put in whatever I happened to have at home.
These muffins are great to have in packed lunches, and especially for kids. They taste great warm or cold.

Banana Smoothie Muffins
Makes about 28 cupcake sized muffins

1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 cup yoghurt (I used strawberry)
1 egg
1 tbs honey
2/3 cup oil
1 large mashed banana

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift the flour and combine in a bowl with the sugar.
In a seperate bowl combine the yoghurt, egg, honey and oil. Fold into the flour mixture and gently stir until mixed well. Stir in the mashed banana.

Spoon into a prepared muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Pear and Banana Loaf

December 5, 2008

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About a week ago I posed the question of what to do with a bunch of pears. Last night I looked around the kitchen and saw that I still had those pears and also some really ripe bananas. I decided to bake a pear and banana loaf. It’s really easy to put together… and the result is moist and fruity with a hint of cinnamon.

My little brother is four years old and my favourite critic. He said, “It melts in my mouth” and that he “loves the crust the best”. Now that is the best compliment.

This loaf is just perfect with butter for a Saturday morning breakfast. Or if you really want to impress some guests this doesn’t take long to put together. Just don’t expect it to last long!

This recipe uses oil rather than butter. You can use any oil, I recommend extra virgin if you have it. Oil is actually healthier for you than butter. Whilst there are more calories per tablespoon, oil is monounsaturated fat and low in cholesterol which in the grand scheme of things is a lot better for you.

Enjoy! I know I did 🙂

Pear and Banana Loaf

1 1/2 cups self raising flour
2/3 cups brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1 cup chopped ripe bananas
1 cup chopped ripe pears

Preheat the oven to 170C

Sift the flour into bowl and combine with the sugar, cinnamon and soda. Make a well in the center.

In a seperate bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and oil. Fold into the flour mixture and mix until well combined (don’t beat). Gently stir in the fruit.

Pour into a greased and lined loaf tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool for 5 minutes before slicing and serve.

Tastes great warm or cold.

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Butter Chicken

December 1, 2008

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My favourite Indian dish of all time is Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani; a view shared by many all over the world. “No Butter Chicken, No Business” a manager of an Indian takeaway once told me.
Butter Chicken comes in many variations; some contain cashews while others contain many different spices such as turmeric and cumin.

This recipe I want to share is so easy to put together and it tastes amazing… and the aroma! The ingredients aren’t many or complicated so anybody could make this. Best of all this dish is sure to impress anyone. There is nothing more satisfying than cooking something from scratch and not from a bottle.

For the meat I recommend using thigh pieces. Thigh meat is very soft and tender when cooked, unlike breast meat which I find too dry. If you are being health concious by all means use breast meat but with such a rich sauce I find it defeats the purpose.

All the ingredients should be easy to find; most spices are readily available in major supermarkets. Ghee is a common ingredient in Indian cooking. It is clarified butter and can be found in specialist Indian grocers. It is especially important to use ghee and not regular butter as it significantly affects the taste.

Unfortunatley I cannot take the credit for cooking this meal; it was my wonderful Mum who surprised me knowing it was my favourite. I did however do the food styling, the photography and of course the eating!

So please, try this recipe out and let me know what you think!

Butter Chicken

Marinade
1.5kg (3 lbs) diced chicken
2 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbs finely grated ginger
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Kashmiri garam masala
1 tbs ghee*

Sauce
1 tbs ghee
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
1 onion, finely diced
3 tbs tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs fine shreds of ginger
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp Kashmiri garam masala
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Combine garlic, ginger, lemon juice and spices and rub into the chicken pieces. Set aside for an hour. Scrape off any excess marinade and reserve.

Fry chicken in ghee until lightly browned.

For the sauce:
In a heavy pan melt the ghee and cook garlic and onion until soft. Add reserved marinade, tomato paste, salt, sugar and ginger threads. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream. Add pieces of fried chicken and gently stir through the sauce. Cook until the chicken is done, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with garam masala and coriander.

Serve with rice or Indian bread.

Raspberry and Coconut Slice

November 29, 2008

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My friend Emily and I often have movie days and for today I asked her if she wanted me to bake her anything. She requested “Raspberry and Coconut Slice”.
This is an old fashioned favourite and very easy to put together. It consists of a sweet biscuit-like base, a layer of raspberry jam and finished with a sweet coconut topping.

To be perfectly honest, this is a slice that has apparently eluded me for my entire life! I had never had it before today and it was really nice. I am already thinking of some variations; blueberry jam instead of raspberry served with whipped cream. Yum.

So here is the recipe for you to try:

Raspberry and Coconut Slice
Makes about 20 pieces

2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
90g unsalted butter
1 egg
1 cup raspberry jam

Topping
2 cups desiccated coconut
1/4 cup castor sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200C
Combine flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. I actually used my hands for this, as our food processor isn’t quite big enough. Add the egg and combine until the mixture forms a ball.

Line a 3cm deep 18 x 28cm slab pan with baking paper. Press the base mixture into the pan and bake for 10 minutes or until it begins to brown.
Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 170C

To make the topping; whisk together the coconut, sugar and eggs until well combined.

Spread the jam onto the warm base, microwave for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Next spoon on the topping and using the back of the spoon gently press making sure it is all even.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden and the base is cooked.

Mini Toblerone Muffins

November 26, 2008

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I love morning teas at work. It’s the best excuse to bake something yummy. For tomorrow I baked some mini toblerone muffins! They are so cute and perfectly bite-sized. Normally I’m not really a fan of muffins… I find them quite dry but these were great! Especially a burst of creamy toblerone chocolate and nougat.

So here’s the recipe for you to try:

Mini Toblerone Muffins
Makes about 36

1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
100g butter, melted, cooled
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, whisked
100g Toblerone, chopped

Preheat the oven to 180C

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder. Stir in sugar. Make a well in the center.
Whisk together the butter, milk and egg. Pour into the flour mixture and gently stir to combine. Fold in the chopped Toblerone.

Fill 3/4 of a mini muffin pan (in mini cases if you wish) and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and serve straight away.