Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

I can not proclaim to be a good baker, I can bake, but I could never claim it to be my favourite past time. But when it comes to special celebrations, I do like to create a cake of some sort. This year, for Justin’s cake, I went with something very simple. Nice moist chocolate cupcakes, with caramel frosting. I am not a huge fan of sweet things, so I tend to tone down on the sugary side when it comes to baking.

The secret to a really moist cupcake or cake, is fat. Souse oil instead of butter, and buttermilk instead of milk. That way, it will always be a winner. This one, I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used full cream milk.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
(makes +- 40)

Ingredients For Cupcakes
1.5 cup cocoa
4 cup flour
4 cup castor sugar
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 egg
2 cup good quality coffee
2 cup full cream milk
2 cup oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel Frosting
2 cans caramel treat
250ml fresh cream

Method
Preheat oven to 180°C and line cupcake trays with cupcake liners.

Sift all dry ingredients together 3 times and place into your kitchen aid bowl

Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract and beat well, until well incorporated. Slowly add the boiling hot coffee

Fill the cupcakes liners until ¾ way full

Bake for 25 minutes.

Test if ready, prick cupcake with skewer and if it comes out clean with no mixture on, then the cupcakes are ready.

Cool completely before icing.

For the frosting, beat the cream until soft peak, add the caramel treat and beat until smooth and all incorporated.

Apple Marmalade with Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka

I got a couple of packets of apples from one friend, and a bag of oranges from another…I thought well, how could I combine these two…my mind went straight to marmalade…but I wanted something different…so I thought about the vodka flavours I have been infusing, trying to come up with the perfect welcome cocktail for the wedding in January…all these thoughts brought on this…

Apple Marmalade, with Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka

Firstly, you have to infuse the vodka, and let it stand for at least 3 days.

½ cup Vodka
2 Rosemary Sprigs
Place vodka and rosemary together in a glass bottle, and keep in a cool dark area

½ cup Vodka
1 Vanilla Pod, split
In a separate jar, place vodka and vanilla together, and keep in a cool dark area

Let infuse for 3 days, remove the rosemary and vanilla and pour the two flavours together. I let the combination infuse for another day.

If you not going to cook with it, add a can of Sprite and you have a beautiful refreshing drink.

Apple Marmalade

1kg Apples (mixed) – Peeled, cored & sliced
1 large Orange, sliced, seeds removed
1 Large Lemon, sliced, seeds removed
2 cups white sugar
1 cup Rosemary & Vanilla Infused Vodka
2 Sterilize Jars (Read Tandy’s Post on how to quickly sterilize glass jars)

Place the citrus slices in a pot and pour 1 – 2 cups of cold water over, just until covered. Bring to a boil, add apples to pot, add more water, just to make sure apples are covered so they do not discolour.

Bring back to a boil and reduce head, let simmer until reduced by ¼, add the sugar stir until dissolved and let reduce until at least half, and your citrus slices are soft and sticky, stir gently occasionally.

Remove from heat, pour in vodka and leave to cool.

For the scones, follow this link to my Easy Peasy Scones

And while I am about it….Lavender & Lime has a regional & seasonal challenge for the month of September…this will be my entry…oranges being my season ingredient!

5 Days of French Toast Memories – Day 3

The Tease

The memory that brought this recipe on, I was just fresh out of high school, myself, my mom, a good friend Lianna, and her mom went one Saturday morning to the RedBerry Farm in George, and had such a blast picking strawberries, you don’t have to take everything you pick, but we did. We went home, belly’s full of strawberries, and packets of strawberries, ready for my Dad to WOW us with ideas of what we could all do with our treasure.

The best part about this recipe is just how diverse it is. I used strawberries simply because they are slowly making a proper appearance again, and I absolutely love these little balls of red, juicy, sexy happiness. I shared this with my good friend Chris-Mari, over wine, chit chat and laughter….exactly how food should be enjoyed!!

The common garden strawberry that we use is actually a hybrid species that is cultivated worldwide for its fruit. I love how it can be utilized in so many different ways, from something as simple as Strawberries dipped in Chocolate for a romantic night or a Strawberry and Chocolate salad dressing, preserves, used fresh or frozen, pie filling, ice cream, and of course mixing with Chantilly cream to fill my French Toast.

If you, for some reason, don’t like strawberries, you can use blue berries, or kiwi fruit, cherries, chocolate, pomegranates, grilled peaches….the list is endless! Be creative!

Inspiration of the Day: Don’t let the fear of striking out stop you from playing the game

French Toast stuffed with Strawberry Chantilly Cream

2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 drops vanilla essence
4 thick slices of brioche
1 punnet strawberries
250ml fresh cream
3 tsp castor sugar

Whisk together the eggs and milk
Whisk Cream with sugar and vanilla essence to make Chantilly Cream, add some sliced strawberries to cream.
Cut a slit into the thick slice of brioche, and fill with cream and strawberry mixture
Soak the brioche in the eggy mixture and fry off until golden brown on both sides.
Serve with a nice dollop of the Chantilly & strawberry mixture, and a drizzle of honey (or chocolate, if you have time, make a decadent strawberry compote which will add so much great dimension to this simple dish)

For the Brioche, I used Gordon Ramsey’s recipe, (www.gordonramsay.com)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2/3 cup (150ml) tepid milk
2 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for dusting
3 ½ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten

1) Whisk the yeast into the milk with a teaspoon of sugar and set aside until it starts to froth.

2) Meanwhile, sift the flour and salt into a large bowl set on a damp cloth to hold it steady. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs and then mix in the remaining sugar. Make a well in the center then pour in the yeasty milk and all but 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg. Mix to a dough and shape into a ball with your hands.

3) Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for about 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and has an elastic consistency. Place the dough ball in an oiled large bowl and turn the dough to coat it with oil. “Proof” the dough by covering the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

4) Punch down the dough, then knead until smooth. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about a 1/8 inch (3mm) thickness. Using a 2 inch (5cm) cutter, press out 40-48 rounds, rerolling if necessary. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Tomorrow…The American Flight French Toast

Quick and Easy Scones

I had to make scones today for a kid’s party and although I did not use this recipe today, it did remind me of this easy peasy quick recipe that anyone can do! It’s a great way to enjoy a quick Sunday afternoon tea when you have unexpected guests.

Easy Peasy Scones made with Sprite

4 cups self raising flour
Generous Pinch of salt
125ml fresh cream & 125ml half buttermilk mixed together
1 can Sprite

Sift flour and add salt
Slowly add cream & buttermilk, the mixture should look like coarse crumbs
Add sprite to crumb mixture, slowly mixing in the liquid. Knead lightly– careful do not over knead
Roll out dough onto floured surface and pat down. Using a dough cutter, cut your required size.

Bake in a preheated oven 190 C for about 12 – 15 minutes.

Malva Pudding Cupcakes

Yesterday I managed to catch up on some of the challenges that Lavender & Lime set out for the fellow bloggers…I did a Citrus Curd Sweet Pastry Tart followed by a Onion, Bacon, Sage and Gorganzola Tart…just as I was posting, an email came through that a new challenge has already been set out! The new challenge – Malva Pudding. When I saw it, I knew immediately what I wanted to do!

Now…baking is not my strong point…I will never classify myself as a pastry chef…but because its my weakness in the kitchen, I tend to want to do more and more of it, to practice…I believe its important to be able to do every aspect within the kitchen environment.

Malva pudding…and to but this politely…is definitely not my favorite thing to make…or eat…I find it boring and bland…and every second restaurant and their mother has this one their menu…and 9 out of 10 times, it’s the one you get from the supplier, all you have to do in microwave it for 1 minute, through some cream or custard on it and vola. I have gone out of my way to try and test and see what works…although malva pudding is pretty much the same, no matter how you make it…I find that I need to somehow make it less boring…and bring some spunk to a boring old classic…and with that thought in mind, I made:

Malva Pudding Cupcakes

The Cupcakes

1 egg
1 cup self raising flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup milk
4 tsp melted butter
1 tsp white wine vinegar
4 tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 170 C and grease a muffin try (I made 6 large ones, or you can make 12 small ones)

Cream egg and sugar together until pale, thick and fluffy

Sift flour and bicarb together

Add half milk and half flour to the egg mixture, blend well

Add remaining flour and milk to egg mixture, mix until smooth

Add melted butter, vinegar and 2 tbsp apricot jam to mixture

Divide the batter between the muffin holes. You looking at filling it about half to 2/3rds

Bake for 30 minutes

Remove from oven, poke holes in with a skewer stick, and pour the sauce over the top. Let cool. I made a hole in the middle and filled it with more apricot jam for extra taste.

Sauce

1 cup cream
100 g unsalted butter
125g sugar
30ml brandy

Melt butter in a hot sauce pan over a low heat
Add sugar and mix well
Add brandy, and mix well until bubbles form
Add cream, and mix until smooth

Icing

Cream
Vanilla extract
Icing sugar (depends how sweet you want it – omit this if you don’t like to sweet)

Whip cream until soft peaks form
Fold in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.