Sunday, 24 February 2008

My new cupcake obsession

We woke up this morning to bright February sunshine and finally the need to turn the heating down slightly. I was even able to open the blinds and let the kitchen flood with natural light. Ah, what a perfect beginning to a Sunday.

Since the temperature is rising slightly and another month draws to a close we knew it was time to get properly started on the garden. However, before we got going with all that I had even more important things in mind: cupcakes!

I have become slightly obsessed with the idea of cupcakes recently. I just love the pretty decorations and
outrageous icing colours you can lavish on them. They are also so versatile, there are so many different flavours or combinations of flavours to choose from I don't think you'd ever get bored. So last week I splashed out and ordered some posh paper cupcake cups and a range of exciting sprinkles (I also bought cookie cutters which will no doubt make an appearance sooner or later!). The package of baking goodness arrived yesterday. I tried to hold out until Baking Day - which is next week, so not exactly ages away - but I just couldn't resist.

So this morning whilst listening to Desert Island Disks on Radio Four I began my cupcake experiment:

I had a vanilla cupcake recipe and decided to adapt it to make it chocolate in order to top them with coffee icing and little bear sprinkles. I also thought that to indulge my decorating needs even further I would make some bright red vanilla icing and add some chocolate star sprinkles, thus continuing the red theme I have adopted.

I think the results came out rather well, and they were just the thing with a cup of tea after a hard afternoon's work clearing the garden.

Mocha Cupcakes: (this mix makes 12, but I halved it - there's only so many two people can eat and we're trying to be good!)

For the chocolate cupcake batter:

125g self-raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
1⁄2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
six squares of very dark chocolate (melted)
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons milk, approximately

Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC/ and line a 12-muffin pan with paper cases. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour. Then add the melted chocolate, vanilla extract, cocoa powder and fold in the rest of the flour, adding the milk to get a dropping consistency. It will look as if the mixture is not enough to make 12 cupcakes, but it is as they will rise well so you only need to fill each cup by two-thirds full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are cooked and golden on top (it took me 20 mins for six as the chocolate make the mixture stickier). As soon as bearable, take the cupcakes in their cases out of the tin and let cool, right way up, on a wire rack. Decorate the cupcakes after they’re completely cool.

Mocha Icing:

50g butter (softened)
100g Icing sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Camp coffee (or to taste)

Cream together the butter and sugar until stiff and smooth, add the vanilla and mix, then add as much of the coffee as you require for taste.

I also made the plain vanilla icing. This time replacing the coffee with 1/2 tsp of red food colouring.

Ah cupcakes, so many possibilities, so little time!

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