Off the Shelf
Aided by the recommendation of my lovely friend Caroline of ‘The Patterned Plate’ fame, I think I have stumbled upon the loveliest chocolate cupcakes thus far in my quest.
What, you didnt know I was on a quest to find the perfect chocolate cupcake?
Darling, that has been one of my missions in life! That and finding out once and for all where all the socks go when they disappear from the washing machine….
What makes them so successful? Think dense, chocolatey crumb, that holds together well, moistly tangy (must be the buttermilk and vinegar) topped off with a chocolate frosting that’s just too delicious! And not a melted chocolate bar in sight!
I was sold. Are you?
Adapted from the ‘Love Bakery’ by Samantha Blears.
For the cakes:
60g unsalted butter (room temperature)
150g caster sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
20g cocoa powder, sifted
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp, Bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
For the frosting:
60g unsalted butter (room temperature)
125g icing sugar
50g cocoa sifted
4 tbsp semi-skimmed milk.
1. Preheat oven to 160 deg. C (Fan oven) Otherwise 180 deg. C.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer for 7 minutes until light and fluffy.
3. Add egg and mix for 1 minute.
4. Add flour, cocoa and buttermilk and mix for 2 minutes.
5. Add bicarb and vinegar and mix for another minute.
6. Divide equally between 12 muffin cases and bake for approximately 25 minutes.
7. Once the cupcakes are cold, cream the butter and icing sugar together in the mixer for 2 minutes, add the cocoa powder and mix in by hand, then add the milk and mix (in mixer) for 2 minutes.
8. Top the cupcakes with the frosting. I used a ‘large star’ tip and decorate as you wish.
9. Apply to face, ensuring the correct ratio of cupcake to frosting. Repeat.
Marks out of ten? 10.
Would I make these again? Oh yes, again and again……
Would I do anything differently? Nope.
It’s Easter Day 20th April 2014.
Ive made these cupcakes again, using a different make of cocoa powder and found them rather too chocolatey for me, verging on a ‘dark chocolate’ taste.
While the rest of the family loved them, they were a little too bitter for me, so do bear this in mind if you also choose a different cocoa powder from normal.
I would perhaps use slightly less in the buttercream next time, maybe 25-30g and increase the amount of icing sugar slightly to compensate.
Hope this helps.
Who doesn’t love the classic combination of apple and cinnamon? Nothing brings these muffins quicker to mind than a couple of apples sitting languishing in the fruit bowl. Warming and homely, the entire kitchen smells divine! Rushing around today, on my morning off, I wanted to whip up a little something to treat my family and the staff who work for us in our business. What could be nicer? So, amidst thoughts rushing round my head, of new cameras (Canon or Nikon?) The Gym (Which class can I try next? Am I good enough to try advanced step?) they came into being.
Nigella’s Apple & Cinnamon Muffins
Adapted from ‘Kitchen’ by Nigella Lawson.
2 eating apples
250g plain flour
2 tsp. Baking powder
2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
125g light brown sugar, plus 4 tsp. for sprinkling
60ml runny natural yoghurt
125ml flavourless vegetable oil
75g natural, unblanched almonds.
1. Preheat oven to 200deg.C. (180deg.C Fan oven)
2. Peel and core the apples and chop into small dice.
3. Measure flour, B.P and 1 tsp. of the cinnamon into a bowl.
4. Whisk together the brown sugar, honey, yoghurt, vegetable oil and eggs in another bowl or jug.
5. Chop almonds roughly and add half of them to the flour. Put the other half into a small bowl with the other tsp. of cinnamon and the 4 tsp. of brown sugar.
6. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, add the chopped apples. Stir to combine, but don’t overmix.
7. Spoon mix into muffin papers, top with the nutty, cinnamony, sugary mix.
8. Bake for 20 mins.
9. Once they are golden brown and cooked through, let them stand out of the oven for 5 minutes, before transfering to a wire rack to cool.
10. Serve with a lovely big cuppa! No, not in that mug…..in that BIG one…..should last while you’re scoffing a muffin….or two.
My girls, if you’re reading this, one day you will no doubt have need of a really, really good brownie recipe – fudgy, squidgy, chocolatey and with that ‘proper’ crackly top that good brownies have.
Listen to your mother! I have found just that recipe for you both…..These are just The Best!
I’ve made brownies which are too ‘cake-like’, too under-cooked, too over-cooked, but these beauties really are perfect! And how apt that they come from my most loved cookbook of all time, Nigella Lawson’s awesome masterpiece ‘Feast’.
I have halved Nigella’s recipe, as otherwise it makes far too many (Can one have too many brownies?)
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast’.
190g dark chocolate
175g Caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
115g plain flour
Half tsp salt
125g white chocolate chips or chunks
icing sugar for dusting.
1. Preheat oven to 160degC (fan oven)
2. Line the sides and base of a small rectangular brownie pan (mine is 24cm x 27cm) with foil or baking parchment.
3. Melt the butter and dark chocolate (I do it in the microwave in short bursts, stopping before the chocolate has completely melted. It finishes melting in the residual heat)
4. In a bowl beat the eggs with the caster sugar and vanilla.
5. Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt, then stir in the white chocolate chips/chunks.
6. Pour the mix into the prepared tin.
7. Bake for 25 minutes.
8. When cool dust with icing sugar.
I’ve been a little quiet here on my blog lately and I feel that I should explain why, so that if I do post a little less regularly than is usual, you’ll at least know why.
I’ve been on a bit of a health kick recently, trying to lose some extra weight which has crept on steadily over the past few years. Unfortunately when you like your food and baking as much as I do, this can be one of the side effects.
I’m not very good at moderation.
I’ve decided that I’ll be very strict with myself until most of the weight has gone and then try Weight Watchers or similar to help keep the weight off.
That being said, I can now tell you that I had quite a tough time, because I decided to cut out carbs, sugar, diet coke (My great vice!) sweeteners, caffeine and most dairy in the space of a week! Looking back now, that may not have been the wisest thing to do…I had headaches, nausea, aching bones for a whole week. A really bad case of Induction flu. I really felt awful.
But now it’s over, I feel great, like a fog has lifted, that’s the only way I can think of to describe it.
Being as I’m restricting myself so much, I feel that the little food I do eat, must completely satisfy me and be of the highest quality my pocket can manage.
And be lovely. Really lovely.
That’s why I treated myself today to these lovely Waitrose King scallops, which I generously shared with my husband.
Aren’t I kind?
I’ve made Nigella’s scallops with chorizo a few times and to me it feels like you’ve been spoilt when you’ve had this.
Spoilt but happy.
Nigella’s Scallops with Chorizo
Adapted from Nigella Express.
110g Chorizo sausage
400g Small scallops (mine were huge, so I halved them)
Juice of half a lemon
Chopped fresh parsley.
1. Slice the chorizo into rounds (No thicker than 3mm says Nigella)
2. Heat a pan on the hob and fry the chorizo until crisped on either side, you won’t need to use oil as the chorizo releases lots of lovely orange oil.
3. Remove chorizo from pan and fry scallops in the chorizo oil for about a minute a side.
4. Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let it bubble for a few seconds before adding the parsley.
(Apparently serves 8 as a starter. I must disagree here, 4 sounds better, but then maybe that’s why I need to diet in the first place!!)
D’you know, the funny thing about kicking off my ‘Off the Shelf cook book challenge’ with this book, is the fact that it’s one of my latest purchases! It’s hardly had time to settle in, before it’s being whipped off the shelf!
It’s a cute little book, which has achievable, yet tasty, Japanese recipes. I’ve always wanted to know a little bit more about Japanese food, so this easy book is the ideal, painless way in.
The recipe I chose was the Chicken Teriyaki, a family favourite of ours.
Easier, even, than the recipe I usually follow from Nigella Lawson’s book ‘Kitchen’.
Authentic? I don’t really know…
Chicken pieces are fried off in a little vegetable oil to colour them, removed from the pan and set aside.
A Teriyaki sauce is made up from: half a cup of sake, half a cup of mirin, half a cup of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of caster sugar.
This bubbles away for a few minutes, reducing slightly, the chicken is added back and it’s cooked for a few more minutes so that the chicken cooks through.
Marks out of ten? 6.
Would I make it again? No.
Would I do anything differently? I’m sticking to Nigella’s recipe from now on, a little more complex in the taste department!
Lately it seems, that every time I browse through my local book shop, or on the net, something which feels an awful lot like guilt, stops me from buying any more cook books.
I have so many on my shelves, a lot which have been cooked from, but a lot which haven’t been.
My challenge is this – to cook at least one recipe from EVERY book in my collection….
Can it be done?
I don’t know, but I’m going to try.
I’ve put an ‘Off the Shelf’ tab at the top of the page, where I will list the books I cook from alphabetically by author and then name of book. I will link back to the relevant post as I complete them.
I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I’m going to.
At the bottom of the post, I’ll also answer these three questions:
Marks out of ten?
Would I make this again?
Would I do anything differently?
(These are my books which are not relegated to boxes in the loft!)