Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

July 15, 2010

When I first heard someone say “chai tea” I sort of cocked my eyebrow and thought to my self; “wait, what?”. Suddenly this phenomena of chai burst out of nowhere and at first I thought it was pretty funny. Technically ‘chai tea’ is a misnomer. In Hindi and a lot of other languages the word chai means tea. It’s not a type of tea, it’s the word for tea. So when someone says “chai tea” I hear “tea tea”. It’s kinda like when someone says “ATM machine” hehe

Then, I discovered the chai latte. And I fell in love. My favourite cafe serves these wonderful vanilla chai lattes sprinkled with cinnamon. I love the flavours immensely.

They remind me a lot of Indian desserts with cardamom and cinnamon, things my Mother makes. So I decided to try and replicate those flavours purely by taste. I have no idea how to make a chai latte, but I do recognise those spices. Today I experimented with a recipe I wrote up last night and amazingly it worked. The batter was incredible and the aroma when they came out of the oven! Amazing. I will share the recipe because it’s something that should be shared in my opinion. I think lovers of that “chai” flavour will love these.

Vanilla Chai Cupcakes

(Makes 12)


100g butter

1 cup caster sugar

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs

½ quantity chai spice mix (recipe follows)

1 ¼ cups plain flour, sifted

½ cup buttermilk

½ tsp bicarb soda

½ tsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar is fine)

Chai Spice Mix

1 ½ tsp ground cardamom

1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Vanilla Chai Buttercream

125g butter

½ tsp vanilla bean paste

3 cups icing sugar, sifted

½ quantity chai spice mix

1-2 tbs cold milk

Preheat the oven to 160C

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and beat in one egg at a time. Stir in half the quantity of chai spice mix. Fold in the flour and buttermilk alternately and stir until combined, don’t overmix. Mix together the bicarb soda and vinegar and mix into the batter.

Spoon into prepared cupcake cases and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter until it is creamy and very pale in colour. Stir in the vanilla and the rest of the chai spice mix. Slowly beat in the icing sugar about ½ cup at a time. If the buttercream is too thick add 1-2 tbs of cold milk until the desired consistency is reached.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve!

Deviled Eggs

May 10, 2009

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I love deviled eggs… they are just the easiest thing to make in the world and they look amazing.
There are so many recipes for deviled eggs online, but I’ve noticed a strange trend… they seem to all be lacking curry powder. I have always thought deviled eggs had curry powder, how else are they ‘deviled’? Ah who knows, but I love this recipe and they are eaten so quickly. I made some for a work morning tea a few weeks ago and one particular woman just kept coming back for more.
I noticed they are more popular with women, I asked one of the male workers if he was going to try one and he said they looked “too delicate”. Haha I suppose they do.

The curry powder I use is Keen’s. Deviled eggs is probably the only recipe that I would actually use curry powder in – never EVER for an actual curry; that is blasphemy in our house. It’s the perfect flavour for these though, it seems to stir childhood memories of curried egg sandwiches which I think is the reason why they are so popular.

I pipe my filling back into the eggs, but you can always spoon it in too. They are so easy to make! And they taste so good. I always end up with extra filling so I put it into a sandwich. Nom nom.

On hard-boiling eggs; it’s quite easy. Carefully place the eggs into a saucepan of water and let it boil. Stir a few times so the yolks don’t settle right on the edge. Boil for about 10-15 minutes and they’re done.

So here’s the recipe. Perfect for your next dinner party or morning tea, or just because you can!

Deviled Eggs
Makes 12

6 eggs, hard-boiled
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp curry powder (I use Keen’s)
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika

Cut each hard-boiled egg in half and scoup the yolks out into a bowl. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the mayonnaise, curry powder, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth, add more mayonnaise if it looks a little dry.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe the mixture into each empty egg. Sprinkle with paprika.

Enjoy!

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These cupcakes are hands down my favourite. The icing is probably the best part which is why my second favourite cupcakes are red velvet (I will get around to making these eventually).

This recipe has taken me a little while to perfect – one day I decided to try the combination of vanilla, cinnamon and banana and it was amazing… the aroma that filled the house as they came out of the oven freshly baked was just incredible.

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I’ve been hesitant to post the recipe because I like it being a secret; but I realised that you can give the same recipe to a bunch of people and the end result will all be completely different. It’s amazing how it works, this recipe might work wonders for me because I created it but it might completely fail for someone else simply because of attitude. In the end though, what does it really matter? Recipes should be, like food shared amongst anybody who is interested.

So here you are, a dozen banana cupcakes just waiting to be baked. I know it’s all in metric but it shouldn’t be too hard to convert… one of these days I promise I will write both measurements in!

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Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing
Makes 12

125g butter, softened
3/4 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
100ml milk
Walnuts (optional)

Cream Cheese Icing

30g butter, softened
125g cream cheese, softened
2 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven to 160C

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and add the vanilla and cinnamon. Beat in the bananas. Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture, alternating with the milk.

Spoon into 12 prepared cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes* until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

To make the icing: Beat the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the cream cheese and beat well, and slowly add the icing sugar until the icing is thick and creamy.
When the cupcakes are cool spoon or pipe a generous amount of icing onto each cupcake and top with a walnut.

Note: DO NOT refridgerate these cupcakes! They will dry out so eat them at room temperature. If you plan to eat them a day or two ahead, leave the icing to the last minute and keep the icing in the fridge.

*This is an estimated time; I don’t actually pay attention to how long they bake for I just look 😛

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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.

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.

Free-form Peach Pie

November 23, 2008

Last night when I made my own shortcrust pastry I said I was in the mood for some pie. Today was the perfect weather! A cold, wet and dreary Sunday great for a freshly baked fruit pie.

I decided to bake a free-form peach pie. Free-form means that it doesn’t use a baking tin, rather the edges are folded over to keep the filling in. I think the end result looks simple, yet really tasty and inviting. So here’s how to make your own, subsitiute the peaches for anything you fancy.

Rolling out the pastry

Rolling out the pastry

Roll out the pastry until it is about as big as a dinner plate; making sure it’s all even. If you want a perfect circle you can use a plate to cut one out.

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Apricot conserve and brown sugar

Melt some apricot jam (or conserve in my case) in the microwave carefully, and spread onto the pastry leaving a border around the edge. Then sprinkle on some brown sugar.

Arranging the peaches

Arranging the peaches

Layer the peaches onto the pastry, I attempted to make it look fancy…

Ready to bake!

Ready to bake!

Sprinkle the peaches with more brown sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry to partially enclose the filling. Now it’s ready to be baked!

Fresh out of the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve! The smell is divine; warm stewed peaches, I couldn’t wait to eat it.

It was really tasty!

It was really tasty!

Serve a slice with some double cream and try not to eat the whole pie! I am so incredibly proud of this dessert; it’s the first time I have ever made my own shortcrust pastry and it turned out light and crispy just as I hoped. And here is the recipe!

Free-form Peach Pie
Serves 4

1 quantity of shortcrust pastry
2 tbs apricot jam (or conserve)
2 tbs brown sugar
415g can sliced peaches
Icing sugar to dust
Cream, ice cream, custard etc to serve

Preheat the oven to 200C

Roll out the pastry into a rough circle shape as big as a dinner plate.
Melt the apricot jam in either a saucepan or the microwave. Spread onto the pastry leaving a 2cm border around the edge. Sprinkle with 1tbs of the brown sugar.

Arrange the peaches on the pastry. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and carefully fold the edges of the pastry partially enclosing the filling.

Place the pie on a baking paper lined tray and bake for 25 minutes or until golden. Let it cool slightly and serve!

Enjoy!