Thursday, 31 May 2012

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes and Individual Cupcake Stands

I know people extol the virtues of Ikea. How stylish they are, how cheap, how cheerful. I have one word for these people- FLATPACK. It is no fun, especially if you are about as DIY-friendly as a one eye-ed, one-armed almost-blind pensioner. Which I am. I have no skill in that area. One Christmas I got a Barbie Jeep from Santa and I was so excited (you could open the roof of the Jeep and it became this sort of caravan thing in fairness). Flash forward four hours later and Dad is trying to screw the jeep door to the windscreen and cursing under his breath because the instructions don't make sense and there is a mysterious piece, the purpose of which is one of seven mysterious of the world. I'm bawling and crying impatiently... But when I saw these individual cupcake stands I thought I could cope with sliding the three pieces together. And they are very easy to assemble, as well as a lot more sturdy than they look. At €2.95 from Kitchencraft they also don't break the bank. Adorable I think you will agree.

These cupcakes are an Eddie Rockets malt in a cupcake. By special request from the BF. I basically fiddled around with a few different recipes and am really really happy with these. Moist malty chocolate sponge with an airy, melt in your mouth malt frosting. Delicious! 

For the cupcake 
115g chocolate, preferably 70% cocoa solids
85g unsalted butter softened
175g light brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten in a cup
185g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g ovaltine
75ml milk

1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave for 20 seconds at a time, giving a good stir in between.
2. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy.
3. Pour in the eggs, quarter at a time with a heaped tablespoon of flour. Continue adding egg and flour until all the egg is gone. Give a good beating.
4. Fold in the dry ingredients.
5. Add the milk and fold in.
6. Bake for 20 minutes @ 180oC.

Icing recipe to follow!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Iced Chai Latte

We are getting a great spell of weather here, the kind that would make Edward Cullen go sparkly (first and last Twilight reference I promise). I love sitting outside basking in the sun with a good book and a cold drink in my hand. I first had a chai latte hot in one of those chain coffee shops. They are delicious but pricey! Making your own is a so easy, its embarrassing that we pay for them at all. The chai concentrate is so fragrant that it fills the kitchen with dreams of the Indian ocean.

The concentrate will last in the fridge easily for a couple of days.

Adapted from

Enough for 3 chai lattes

3 tbsp sugar
8 cardamon pods, seeds removed
1 and a half cinnamon sticks, snapped in long pieces
one thick slice ginger, peeled
5 whole cloves
4 whole black peppercorns
2 black teabags
3 star anise
1 tbsp honey
3 cups of milk

1. Place all the ingredients except the honey in a large pot with 2 american-sized cups of water. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Squeez out the teabags and remove. Allow the spices to infuse for 5 minutes.
3. Strain taking away all the spices.
4. Add the honey and stir to dissolve.
5. Allow to cool completely.
6. Use 7 tbsp of this concentrate for every cup of milk. Depending on your taste for chai you might like to add another tbsp.
7. Add ice and serve immediately.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Kitsch Cupcake Cases!!

My work contract ended on Friday and I had to take one last look into my favourite shop in the town before I left, Jono's Home Shop in Monaghan. For a provincial town they have an impressive stock of all things baking as well as crockery, kitchen utensils and gifts. I couldn't leave empty handed... These are definitely the most adorable of my cupcake case collection (and yes 'collection' is an accurate description at this stage!)

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Chocolate and Carmel Fondants

You've had a hard week. Trust me on this. Work has been annoying and stressful, your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/significant other is driving you mad. The way they load the dishwasher, answer the phone, blow their nose leaves you very irritable. The children (if any) are just being little demons, pulling each other's hair out and crying constantly. The dog has just pooed in the middle of the sitting room floor and is grinning at you comically while you try to give out to him.

You need some TLC. And I've got just the treat for you! These caramel, chocolate fondants are rich and luxurious, the culinary equivalent of a hot stone massage. A thin chocolate sponge encases  caramel and chocolate liquid gold. Clear the house of all other humans and animals, put a few of these bad babies in the oven, get your favourite box set out and be prepared to totally relax!


100g butter softened, plus extra for greasing
50g plain flour sifted, plus extra for dusting
100g plain chocolate (minimum 70% coco solids)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
1 tin condensed milk or tin nestle caramel
Fresh whipped cream to serve.

1. Boil your tin of condensed milk for about 1.5 hours. Do not let the water boil off or you will have a caramel explosion on your hands. (Trust me, alot less fun than it sounds). You can buy the caramel post-boiling now if you like. I now Nestle produces it.
2. Greasing and lining your tins is very important. I used small ramekin dishes. You could use heatproof cups or dariole moulds. Cut out a circle of greaseproof paper the size of the bottom of your ramekin. Melt some butter in a small dish in the microwave (about 10g only). Use a pastry brush to brush butter all around the dish, bottom and sides. Push the greaseproof down to the bottom of the dish and dust the sides with a bit of flour. Place the dishes in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
3. For the fondants. Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water or alternatively in the microwave for 20 seconds at a time, stirring briskly in between. Allow to cool for ten minutes.
3. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until light, fluffy, about 5-6 minutes. Beat the chocolate mixture in then gently fold in the sieved flour.
4. The mixture will be very light- this is OK.
5. Spoon the chocolate mix into the prepared dishes until they are less than 1/3 full. Then place a heaped teaspoon of caramel into the centre of the chocolate mix. Cover the caramel with the rest of the chocolate mix until you have filled all 5 dishes. The dishes will probably only be 2/3 full but that is OK because the mix is very rich.
6. Put in the freezer for around 2 hours. This will help the mixture to firm up and prevent collapse later.
7. Bake at 190oC for 15 minutes until the sponge is wobbly but has a spring to it.
8. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
9. Run a knife around the outside of the mould numerous times, freeing the fondant from the dish. Then very gently invert the fondant. I usually run the knife around a good few times, place a plate on top of the dish then invert the whole lot.
10. Serve with cream.

Monday, 21 May 2012

PME Butterfly Cutter Giveaway!

One's bank balance can suffer significantly from a love of baking paraphernalia... I could spend hours in kitchen shops picking out cutters and sprays, glitters and stencils. One of the perks of the blog is that people who weren't quite aware of the depth of my obsession with baking are now happy to buy me baking stuff at Christmas and birthdays. And I love it! I love the thrill of a new toy to play with and experiment with. Anyway getting back to the point at hand I have realised that I have two sets of these butterfly cutters, one pack I bought myself and the other I got as a present and I thought I should give a chance to fellow bloggers to blag themselves a set!

To enter:
A. You must 'follow me'- click 'join this site' or 'follow by email'
B. Leave me a comment on your favourite cupcake flavour.

I will pick a few of my favourite and then pick the winner at random from that group! I'll contact you via your profile that will be made available to me when you follow me.

Thanks and Good Luck!!!

Closing date is 11th June! xx

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing

As seen on Red Velvet Cupcakes below!

85g cream cheese
225g icing sugar
62g unsalted butter at room temperature
drop of vanilla extract.

Beat the cream cheese and butter together until softened. Add the icing sugar one-third at a time and beat for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth and no little buttery lumps are visible.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mini red velvet cupcakes

Grandparents hold a special place in a grandchild's life. Unfortunately mine were all dead by the time I was eight. It;s sad because at that age you just can't understand the wealth of love and support that grandparents provide. From juicy scandal to hurl against your parents in the latest bout of hormone driven teen angst ('Granny said you were caught drinking behind the school when you were 15!') to stories of times gone by and memoirs of great moments in modern history, I feel like I've missed out.

My boyfriend's grandfather died this week and I wanted to be supportive in any way I can. Just as with births and marriages, each culture has its way of marking the death of a person. In Ireland it is traditional to hold a wake where the relative's or close family member's house is opened up and people come to give their sympathies to family members and say a few prayers if they choose. It may sound weird and intrusive but really its a celebration of the deceased and an offering of support to those grieving. In true Irish hospitality there is always an accompanying cup of tea, sandwiches and baking for visitors. These red velvet cupcakes were perfect, special but not showy and always a winning combination with cream cheese icing to accompany the moist red chocolate sponge.


65g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
130g plain flour
125ml buttermilk, at room temp
1 large egg
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 tsp red food colouring paste
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

1. Cream butter and sugar in a bowl for 5-6 minutes until fluffy. The mixture should be very pale.
2. Beat the egg lightly in a cup and add one third egg and a heaped tablespoon of flour and beat well after every addition until all the egg is incorporated.
3. In a large bowl mix the buttermilk with the red food colouring. If the buttermilk is too cold the colouring might congeal so let the buttermilk come to room temperature first.
3. In a clean dry flour sieve the remaining flour, cocoa powder together and then add the salt.
4. Add one third of the buttermilk mix, followed by one third of the flour mix well after each addition until all the flour and buttermilk is gone.
5. Mix the bicarb and vinegar in a small cup until fizzy and quickly fold into the cupcake batter.
6. Bake at 180oC fan oven for 18-20 minutes until cool. A skewer should come out clean when inserted.

Cream cheese icing recipe to follow!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sweet Coconut Rolls

If anyone notices that I've actually blogged this recipe before then I want to reward you handsomely... with love and affection rather than actual goodies. Yeah I wish I was one of those fancy blogs that gives stuff away but alas no! Anyway before I get accused of base laziness I have two good reasons for blogging this recipe again. The first being that the picture on the original was horrendous. It was like I was taking a picture on a dry-iced nite-club dance floor it was so hazy. And secondly I've adjusted this recipe as I felt the original filling was a little too dry.

For the dough
500g strong white flour, sifted
60g unsalted butter
1 x 7g sachet fast action yeast
40g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 large eggs, at room temp beaten
about 200ml lukewarm milk

For the filling
100g desiccated coconut
75g unsalted butter
50 light muscavado sugar

To make the dough
1. Toast the coconut in a non stick frying pan for about 5 minutes or until golden, stirring constantly. Tip into a bowl and add the icing sugar, then leave to cool.

2. Sift the flour, rub in the butter until breadcrumb texture. Add the yeast, caster sugar, coconut and salt and stir to combine.

3. Mix the eggs and enough milk to make a soft but not sticky dough. Knead for 5 minutes. Leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour or until doubled in size.

4. Meanwhile make the filling. Toast the coconut in the frying pan. In another pan or in the microwave melt the butter and sugar until liquid-y and add the coconut. Leave to cool.

5. Punch down the dough and turn onto a floured surface.

6. Roll out the dough into a thick rectangle approx 24x48cm. Roll up from the long side and rest the edge down on the board. Cut the log into about 12 circles. Place on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Leave to rise for a further hour. 

7. Bake for 15-20 mins at 190oC until golden.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Butterfly Cookies

Nothing spells summer like butterflies. One of my strongest memories of primary school is catching caterpillars and putting them in lid-holed jars, observing them turning them into chrysalis and then delightfully coming into school to have them fluttering at the windows on sunny mornings. I saw the first butterfly of the season last week and so I wanted to recreate them in cookies.

Spiced biscuits - From Gizzi's Kitchen Magic

250g butter softened
110g golden caster sugar
1 free range egg yolk
1/2 tsp ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice each
300g plain flour

1. Preheat the oven to 180oC. Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl with an electric beaters until creamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Crack the egg yolk in, add a heaped tablespoon of flour and beat until smooth and no traces of yellow yolk.
3. Sift the flour and mix until the dough comes together in a ball. Put in the mixture in the fridge in cling film for half an hour.

For the Royal Icing
500g icing sugar
2 medium egg whites
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp water.

1. Sift the icing sugar. Add the egg whites and lemon juice and beat together.
2. Beat for 4-5 minutes.
3. The icing will probably be very stiff. Add the water if you need and beat again until smooth and shiny.

Pipe the outline of the wings with a small nozzle. Allow to dry for a half an hour. Add water to the icing so that it is a little lighter then use a teaspoon to spoon into the wings and tease out with a cocktail stick.

Add details including the body and head. 

Friday, 4 May 2012

Poached Spiced Pears with Meringue

I hate the way you don't get the desert menu with the main meal and starter menus in most restaurants. How can you properly consider whether you're going to get a starter or not? I have a baby appetite unlike Mr Mushroom Hater who considers it blasphemous not to have every available course course when we go out to dinner. But he is a bottomless pit of food; I've seen him eating a bacon sandwich half an hour after a full roast dinner. I don't like to be too full, I feel queasy and sleepy. Only if the desert selection is uninteresting will I usually order a starter. Another disadvantage is deciding what you're going to get for your main course. This makes me sound like a freak but I like to have some continuity between my courses. Like if I'm getting something hot and spicy for mains I'll order something cooling and simple for desert. I also judge a restaurant on its desert menu. It's my area of expertise in a way. If the desert menu is lacking imagination and strongly suggesting 'I was made three days ago but put me in the microwave and you can charge what you like' then I don't have high hopes for the establishment as a whole. What can I say? I'm a hard girl to please!

This desert is a perfect accompaniment to a heavy meal or for those who like something light and fresh for desert. The pears are poached in syrup infused with cinnamon and star anise, a liquorice-y spice available in most supermarkets and great value if you buy in an asian food store. The fluffy meringue is set off by the crunch of the flaked almonds.

From Neven Cooks 2
1 pint apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
100g caster sugar
4 ripe pears (Conference are best)
1 orange cut into round slices

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1/2 vanilla pod split with seeds scrapped out

1. Place apple juice in a pan with cinnamon stick, vanilla pod, star anise and caster sugar. Cook over a low heat. Stir until all is dissolved and there is no grainy sugar at the bottom of the pan.
2. Cut the pears in half lengthways and scoop out the core and seeds with a teaspoon. Leave the stalk, it looks pretty for presentation.
3. Add the pears to the apple juice with the orange slices and bring to the boil. Once at a rolling boil reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until just soft. Pierce the centre with a knife if you're not sure, but we gentle and don't break the pear.
4. Remove with  a slotted spoon. Leave the syrup in the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes until thick and glossy. This is also AMAZING on fruit salad.
5. Preheat the oven to 190oC.
6. To make the meringue put the egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric whisk until stiff and forming soft peaks. Add half the caster sugar, beat, then add the vanilla seeds and rest of sugar and beat until you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays put! Probably about 3 minutes of steady beating.
7. Arrange the pears on a baking tray and spoon a heaped tablespoon of meringue over the hole where the core was. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes until the meringue browns.
8. To serve sprinkle flaked almonds over the pears. Place the pear on an orange round to stop it sliding.  Spoon a little syrup over and put a little scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.