Tag Archives: cream

Choc Chip and Almond Cupcakes

21 Feb

After watching  a charming DVD called The Human Centipede, I needed something sweet and wholesome to rehabilitate my brain and re-inflate my shrivelled soul. And what could be more comforting than chocolate chip and almond cupcakes?

I had a very glamorous assistant to help me with this recipe. His name is Al. Because he probably wouldn’t want his face splashed across the interwebz, here’s an artist’s impression of us cooking together – based loosely on a still from the music video “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon:

“You can call me Al,” Paul Simon seems to say, brandishing some Sainsbury’s chocolate. (So that’s why he’s soft in the middle!) Please note his hairnet. We take elf and safety extremely seriously here at Hudson Towers.

This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking

Ingredients:

4 egg whites

125g butter, melted

2/3 cup ground almonds

3/4 cup icing sugar

1/4 cup plain flour

100g dark eating chocolate, chopped finely

1/4 cup double cream

100g dark eating chocolate, chopped,  extra

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 200 oC. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan.

2. Place egg whites in a bowl and beat with a fork. Stir in butter, ground almonds, sifted icing sugar and flour, and chopped chocolate.

3. Bake cakes about 15-20 minutes. Leave to cool.

4. Meanwhile, combine cream and extra chocolate over heat until combined. Stir until smooth. Stand until thick. Spoon mixture over cupcakes.

Separating the egg white and yolk is always fun. Above is the yolk, and below is the white:

This is not one of the more visually-arresting shots.

Lovely ground almonds. The parmesan cheese of the baking world.

Chocolate. Expertly chopped by Al. It was incredibly difficult not to scoff the lot at this stage.

The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Just give the ingredients a quick mix…

… And that’s it. The recipe uses a surprisingly small amount of flour. I imagine the cakes will be quite light and fluffy in the middle.

And lo! They are. While it looks a little like a rock cake, it has none of the heft. It’s like a prop from an action movie – You could throw it at Bruce Willis’s head and it would bounce right off rather than knocking him out.

Melting double cream and extra chocolate to form a rich topping. (Not pictured: cheeky fingers dabbling in the bowl.)

The creamy chocolate shines when it’s first added…

… Before hardening to a slightly crisper (and matte) top.

VERDICT

Taste:

Delicious. The cake is light and spongy while the chocolate chips give a sweet kick. The chocolate topping is lovely too.

Recipe pros:

Almost impossibly easy, and uses few ingredients.

Recipe cons:

None. I just wish I’d made more.

Now perhaps you’ve had Paul Simon stuck in your head since I first mentioned him at the beginning of this post. If so, lance that popular musical boil by watching this YouTube video:

Skip to 2:10 for the piccolo solo, followed by the nifty synchronised footwork. Imagine that with a spatula and raw eggs, and it’s almost exactly what was going down in my kitchen. Just call me Betty.

Advertisements

Berries and Cream Cupcakes

3 Jan

This is my first proper attempt to bake something. I chose the recipe because it looked simple and delicious. Also, it didn’t involve many ingredients, which is good because I can’t afford long shopping lists at the moment. Plus: Fruit! It’s good for you!

This recipe is taken from the Australian Women’s Weekly Complete Book of Cupcakes and Baking.

Ingredients:

3 eggs

1/2 cups caster sugar

1/4 cup cornflour

1/4 cup plain flour

1/4 cup self-raising flour

300ml whipping cream

pink food colouring

5 large strawberries, 200g fresh blueberries, 150g fresh raspberries

icing sugar, for dusting

Method (makes 10):

1. Preheat oven to 180 oC. Line 10 holes of a 12 hole muffin pan with paper cases.

2. Beat eggs in small bowl with electric mixer for about 5 minutes, or until thick and creamy. Gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time, mixing after every addition. Transfer to large bowl.

3. Sift the dry ingredients twice then sift over egg mixture; fold ingredients together.

4. Drop 1/4 cup of mixture into each paper case. Bake cakes for 25 minutes. Turn out immediately onto wire rack, then turn cakes topside up to cool.

5. Meanwhile, colour unwhipped, chilled cream pale pink. Whip the cream until it barely holds its shape.

6. Top each cake with a generous layer of the cream and a mixture of the berries. Dust berries with a little icing sugar before serving.

Adjustments:

I’m using Sainsbury’s Basics plain flour and self raising flour. It says on the bags “less refined but still rises to the occasion”. I like that. If only we could all be as witty and self-deprecating.

I’m also using Sainsbury’s Basics frozen berry mix instead of fresh berries. It costs £1 for a 400g bag, which seems like a good deal compared with the exorbitant prices of fresh blueberries – especially at this time of year.

I forgot to take pictures of the egg-sugar mix, but it looked pretty spectacular. Anyway, as if by magic, here are the cakes:

The cupcakes are slightly dented on top because of the wire rack. I put it on top of the the cakes while they were still in the muffin pan and then turned it upside down, before right-siding the cakes. Should I have let them cool more first? It doesn’t really matter in the end, as they’re being covered by icing.

The cakes look bouncy, but has the “unrefined” Basics flour had a detrimental effect?

This is the whipping cream coloured pink. I started to panic at this point that it wouldn’t be firm enough to top the cakes with. I started whipping with a whisk, but ran out of stamina after about 80 seconds. I used the electric mixer instead and it was a breeze.

Not sure if this is over-whipped or not whipped enough, but it had thickened up enough to use as frosting. Next time, I might make it pinker, as it looks a little blah.

The frosting does look rather sweet on the cakes, though I’m a little concerned it also looks like cottage cheese (bleugh). I used the back of a spoon to smooth it around, but would it be better to use what I think is called a palette knife?

Topped with berries. You can see the colour starting to bleed a little into the cream, but not to worry!

I’m impressed by how much these look like the picture. Yes, the berries on mine are a little frumpier, and the cases aren’t as cute, but it’s a good first-time effort.

For some reason, icing sugar wouldn’t stick to the top of the cakes. Perhaps the wet berries soaked it all up.

VERDICT:

Taste:

Good. Like a deconstructed cream bun. The sponge was a little heavier than I’d anticipated – I wonder if that has anything to do with the Basics flour? Overall, while it wasn’t the most exciting of cakes, it was definitely tasty.

Recipe pros:

– The sponge part was very simple to do. Who knew whisking eggs and sugar could create such a voluminous eggy mass? Childlike wonder ensued.

Recipe cons:

– I’m disappointed with the frosting. Because it’s made from fresh whipping cream, it goes off quicker than other toppings – plus you have to keep the muffins in the fridge, which I think negatively affects the sponge. It does taste delicious though.

– The frozen berries looked great in their frozen state. However, once they were defrosted, they lost their shape and oozed a lot of juices. Also, when I put them atop the muffins, they bled a little into the cream. In the future, I would use fresh berries and (probably) damn the expense.