Tag Archives: cupcakes

MSC: Pumpkin patch cupcakes

Linus: “Tonight the Great Pumpkin will rise out of the pumpkin patch. He flies through the air and brings toys to all the children of the world. He’ll come here because I have the most sincere pumpkin patch and he respects sincerity.”
Sally Brown: “That’s a good story.”
Linus: “You don’t believe the story of the Great Pumpkin? I thought little girls always believed everything that was told to them. I thought little girls were innocent and trusting.”

note the real pumpkin prop in the background.. slightly contrived, yessss...

note the background prop.. slightly contrived, yessss... and the 'forest green' food-colouring I used turned out to be more of a sea-green in my opinion, but oh well..

Well, I haven’t taken a bite yet, but I’m trusting that these are going to be phenomenal. Firstly, they’re cream-cheese frosted, which always spells ‘winner’.  Secondly, the cakes themselves smell fantastic, rose to a perfect dome and look deliciously moist.  But just looking gets harder and harder… I baked these up to take over to a friend’s house this evening (that way, I can only eat as many as I can stuff my face with in one go), but unfortunately she’s going through a rough time, so I’ve put ’em on ice for now.  Literally.  Which is why I’ve got less than a patch at the moment…
But it’s a sincere patch! You don’t get much more sincere than cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  And although I thought the marzipan pumpkins would be a nightmare to make (especially as I don’t have a leaf cutter.. clearly..) it was actually an easy task and I’ve come away inspired to skill up on the ol’ sugarcraft.. and to revisit the fun of play dough.

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

obviously, I had no leaf cutter and had to play it free style

Somehow, living overseas for most of my life, I’ve developed a passion obsession for any and every tacky holiday tradition – the kitscher (read: tackier), the better.  So this was a perfect pick to kick start the halloween season.  The cupcakes were simple enough to put together, but I had trouble – as usual – getting my hands on pumpkin puree over here.  I made my annual pitstop at Selfridges (the only source of Libby’s 100% I’ve come across in London – as obscenely priced as it is) only to be told that they wouldn’t be receiving the shipment for another few weeks.  Eventually, I overcame the horror and resigned myself to missing out on this one.  (No time for DIY pumpkin puree).
Luckily, and despite having no faith whatsoever, I asked at my local (giant) Waitrose where – lo and behold – the fantastic saleswoman produced the (non-Libby’s) goods after a lengthy search.
Right, er, that’s my long-winded way of giving this bake a 2/5 for availability of ingredients (when living overseas and trying to survive the ‘great pumpkin crisis’ of 2009, apparently) and a 5/5 for simplicity. I can’t comment YET on taste or texture combo.. but I’m predicting high scores.  Big thanks to ‘What the Whisk’ Kim for this perfect seasonal pick, and please check out the other patches here.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under cupcakes, holidays, martha stewart cupcakes

Matcha, mochi and more..

Right well…. I promised to post more pics today of the crumble topped banana apple bread I made for yesterday’s Sweet Melissa Sunday deadline, but my live-in photographer had other things to do so that will just have to wait… which means I’ll have to maintain some self-control to ensure there’s still something to take photos of tomorrow. damn.

So instead, I thought I’d post a few recent experiments:

c

A few weeks ago we went to a fantastic Japanese restaurant – Bento Box, go – for a friend’s birthday and it sparked a bit of an obsession.. I’d been playing around with the idea of joining the Iron Cupcake London challenge and as this month’s theme happens to be ‘Cupcakes of the World’, I’ve made it my goal to put together a tasty Japanese-themed cupcake fit for the competition.  Now, this is a bit odd because although I grew up in Japan, I never really developed a taste for most of the Japanese foods that friends and family seem to love – e.g. sushi, sashimi, ramen.. and especially green tea, bean paste and most so-called ‘desserts’.

But I’ll try anything in cupcake form.

I came across Chockylit’s recipe for matcha green tea frosting and promptly cycled down (yes, cycled..I was that pumped, haha) to the Japan Centre in Piccadilly Circus for ingredients.  This was an easy cream cheese based frosting and – it still shocks me to say this – it’s DELICIOUS. seriously, I love it. The taste is hard to describe – I’d say the matcha almost adds a nuttiness.. or something.. I added a teaspoon of orange extract in an attempt to get a satsuma-ish theme going and an extra teaspoon of matcha powder just to make sure the green tea flavour came through.

b

This is definitely one I plan to use again – for the Iron Cupcake London competition and just for fun.  It went over reeeeeally well with friends.. (Particularly with one friend who I’d describe as a fanatical dessert-hater in fact  – she had 2!!)

* I was going to offer MATCHA POWDER as my ‘most unusual ingredient’ entry for Katiecakes’ fantastic giveaway, but I also picked up this at the Japan Centre:

IMG_1446

No, not the lucky cat.  (ha ha.. what a card I am, eh?).  The package he’s propping up contains Mochiko – glutinous rice flour – which is used to make ‘Mochi’ in Japan.  From what I remember, Mochi is a chewy, mildly sweet bread (?) often filled with sweet bean paste.  Have a look here to get an idea.  I’m guessing that using Mochiko will be my most unusual baking experience – because even though it’s not unusual at all in Japanese cooking, it’s a far cry from my usual bakes and my  typical tastes.

I was NOT a fan of Mochi balls as a child. I always mistook the bean paste for chocolate and felt horribly cheated once I’d bitten in and realized my error.  But the idea of making these Mochi balls, and using whatever filling I fancy, really intrigues me… (though I do intend to try the beanpaste again).  Have a look here, here and here for a few tasty-looking recipes I’ve been considering..

I’ll let you know the verdict once I get around to this one – but in the meantime, check out Katie’s gorgeous blog for a look at what other unusual ingredients her readers have been cooking with! xx

3 Comments

Filed under cupcakes, frosting

MSC: Chocolate Salted-Caramel Mini-cupcakes

“Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn’t in them” (Anonymous)

IMG_1336

I’ve always felt a bit… dubious, I guess… about Martha Stewart.  Having grown up overseas (without access to the cable channels I so desperately craved as a member of the MTV generation), I wasn’t  fed on daily episodes of Martha and I’ve never read Living. I remember being vaguely aware of her stealthy build towards world domination, but Martha really only came into focus for me when she swapped fame for infamy as news of the ImClone scandal broke.  For a long time, this association reigned and I didn’t bother to disentangle images of prison stripes from gingham prints when references to the home ec. guru cropped up.  But I’ve become aware of a shift in the past few years –  Martha-bashing has fallen out of fashion and recently I started to wonder why I’ve never tried any of the lauded MS recipes.  To be fair, I got the impression that Martha (actually ‘Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’) is a bit like marmite – whether you’re a lover or a hater, she’s a trademarked tradition that you’ve got to try. (Or so my boyfriend keeps insisting, in the case of marmite).

So I’m trying!   I splashed out and bought Cupcakes in a spend-happy moment, and promptly signed myself up to the brilliant new MSC baking group – brainchild of the stunningly talented Betty of EAT MY CUPCAKE.

…and I’ve been giddy with excitement about our inaugural bake since Betty announced that we’d be kicking off with Chocolate Salted-Caramel Cupcakes!  See, I recently experienced a gastronomic ephiphany  while on holiday in France – On our last night, we stopped by the most charming ice cream parlor ever in a little town called Maussane (near St Remy and within throwing distance of Nimes).  Naturally, I went for a king size cone with heaps of Nutella ice cream, but my Uncle also convinced us to try a scoop of their Salted caramel flavour too..  and thank god he did.

I know salt is supposed to bring out the flavour of chocolate, and although I haven’t yet got round to chucking salted peanuts in my peanut-butter blondies as Dorie advises, I was willing to believe that the combo might work…  But now.. after that phenomenal scoop.. I am a genuine believer.

So armed with newfound evangelical fervor, I dove into Martha’s recipe with high hopes.

Unfortunately, things went a bit pear-shaped..

IMG_1283
IMG_1299

IMG_1306

I made the full recipe and although it’s technically titled ‘mini-cupcakes’, I decided to make 12 standard sized cupcakes to take to a friend’s birthday, which left enough batter  for about 20 mini-cupcakes… or so I thought..  In retrospect, given the overflows, maybe I should have reigned in the pouring, eh?  My boyfriend described these as looking “like smurfs… in high wind”.

I do wonder though why the extreme lopsided-ness often seems to arise when I make chocolate cupcakes.. I admit I have a bit of a freehand and I do overfill my cups, but the overflows usually seem more balanced with vanilla and carrot cupcakes, for example… mysterious, no? hmmm

Anyway, back to the recipe ..
Mixing these babies up was a dream – the cake recipe was a simple, straightforward one-bowl wonder.. hallelujah, no extra dishes! My taster tried a naked minicupcake and described it as a bit dry – Personally, I found them moist and rich enough – but not quite as good as my usual GO2 (post on this later).  When it came to the caramel though, disaster struck.. and then struck again..

IMG_1317

I made 2 batches and managed to bugger them both up . The first one tasted a bit undercooked – the flavour and colour were far too light, as you can probably tell from the picture..  Then the second batch tasted way too overcooked – I basically ended up burning the bottom layer of sugar before the temp actually reached 360.. My caramalizing skills leave a LOT to be desired.

The frosting though, was amazing – incredibly rich and silky. In fact, I’ve just had several spoonfuls sans cake, and unfortuantely, I’m still going back for more despite how sick it’s made me feel.. It had a beautiful sheen when I first mixed it up, but after an overnight refrigeration and second beating, things dulled a bit.. still tasted great though!

IMG_1338

All in all, I’d say the cupcake recipe is worth trying and the frosting is a new personal favourite for sure.  I’m also gonna keep trying with the caramel because I’m sure the problems I had were more to do with my skills/anxieties/concentration difficulties than Martha’s recipe.

Thanks SO much to Betty for selecting such a brilliant, unique cupcake to kick things off with!! Please take peek a what everyone else has concocted too! (You can find the blogroll on Betty’s lovely site.)

I’m really looking forward to baking up another batch next month, see you all then!

IMG_1362


10 Comments

Filed under cupcakes, martha stewart cupcakes

Soya subs take over my fridge

At this moment I’m stuffing myself with some very un-vegan scones, clotted cream and AMAAAAZING strawberry preserves that I made for tomorrow’s Sweet Melissa Sundays post.  I’m ecstatic- it’s my first SMS post…well, my first bakealong post ever actually, woohoo! But even though it’s past midnight here in the UK by my watch, I’ll have to contain my excitement until the light is better for snapping pics because this stuff is worth it.

But while I’m sitting here in a food coma unable to move, I figure it’s a good chance to write about those vegan cupcakes I mentioned before…

Since my boyfriend’s sister, Ana, went vegan about 9 months ago, I  started looking around for good i-can’t-believe-it’s-soya recipes that didn’t call for bizarre ingredients I’d have no chance of finding here in the UK. The chocolate cake and chocolate buttercream recipes I came across on Baking Bites were absolutely yum, so I really recommend stopping by whether you’re vegan or not.  Both the cake recipe and the frosting recipe are definitely keepers in my book, but I also decided I’d need a good, basic vanilla cake recipe to play with and flavour as I liked.. so the search continued!

Ana has been away saving the world over the last few months, but in anticipation of her return I decided she couldn’t live without ‘Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World’ by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and neither could I.  Unfortunately (only for me and my buy it seemed), Ana’s best vegan intentions had been squashed during her month long stay in Ghana, and she returned much more open to the joy of eggs and cream.. doh..

BUT I still had a go at some of the recipes in this book – and I’m really glad I did! I tried the golden vanilla cupcakes and the chocolate buttercream recipe, both of which were fantastic.  I admit I was a bit worried when I first took the cakes out of the oven because they looked a bit.. umm..shinier (perhaps?) and more dense than other dairy-full cupcake recipes I’ve used..plus, my boyfriend accused them initially of tasting dry.  But I promise that when paired with the chocolate frosting they’re gorgeous-  slightly moorish and definitely moist enough within the first few days.  (I only say that because I just ate the last one today, 5 days later, and it was admittedly nearing the slightly stale – but I’m sure any cupcake would be by this stage!)

vegan golden vanilla cupcakes 4

vegan golden vanilla cupcakes

The basic golden cupcake recipe calls for vanilla and almond extracts, which sound gorgeous, but since I was out of almond I decided to sub 1 tsp orange extract . I also added 1 tsp orange extract to the chocolate buttercream, and although it’s a bit out of character (because I’m generally not a huge fan of the combo – never really took to Terry’s chocolate orange sweets..) I’m glad I did because the flavours were gorgeous – there was a nice contrast between the light not-too-sweet cupcakes and the rich fluffy chocolate frosting, with a subtle orange pulling everything together.

IMG_1054

To be honest, this  frosting was so good that I may have to add it to the Go2 collection..  If anyone wants the recipes, have a google or send me a message!

See you in the morning for SMS!!

Leave a comment

Filed under cupcakes

Cupcakes to kick things off

Righto.

So I’ve done it………………finally!

After poring over so many amazing baking blogs in the past few years, I finally jumped on the blogging bandwagon.  And so far I’ve spent the whole evening sorting out a profile, previewing themes, playing with font colours and cropping candidate headers.  So while I meant to write about these babies, (which I’ve chosen reprezent up top too)

ccakes 18.7.09 purple focus edited

…it’s already midnight and I’ve run out of time to actually write anything meaningful (read: intelligible).

So much for the triumphant first post.

But I’ve got a pile of  photos and recipe reviews ready to share (well.. er, some..) – so more to come soon!

2 Comments

Filed under cupcakes