Monday, 30 January 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I had bought a couple of tins of pumpkin purée just before Christmas and instead of making pumpkin pie I decided to get a little more creative, since I liked the pumpkin bread I made a while back I thought I'd go with some pumpkin cupcakes.  The spices in the cupcakes made them super Christmasy, but they are tasty all year round!

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin purée

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4.
Line a cupcake tin with cases.
In a bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar a butter until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well between each addition.  Next, add the vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the pumpkin purée, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases and bake in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes or until firm and a cake tester comes out clean when inserted.  Place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

I topped my cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, but orange cream cheese would also work (and taste so good) or plain cream cheese is always a classic choice.

115g cream cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp lemon extract (or orange or vanilla)
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth (don't over beat the cream cheese or your frosting will become runny).  Add the butter and mix until well incorporated.  Next add your chosen extract and icing sugar.  Pipe or spread the frosting onto your cupcakes.  Top with chopped nuts, toffee pieces or sprinkles of your choice.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Bake A Cake In A Mug In Your Microwave!

Whilst on lunch break at work I often look through Google images for cake decorating ideas, or amazon for new recipe books, or baking blogs for anything and everything.  I stumbled across this recipe yesterday and I did try it last night but wasn't satisfied with how it turned out so I tried it our again tonight and got much better results.

4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp vegetable oil (or canola oil)
3 tbsp chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

(I would've included flour in the photo if only the bag I had weren't a huge 25lb sack, lol)

First, put all the dry ingredients into your mug (try to find a mug that's slightly larger than normal, I used a normal sized mug the first time I made this and there was a little overspill).  Mix the dry ingredients with a fork until well combined.

Next, beat your egg and add to the mug.  Mix well, it will be very sticky.

Stir in your milk and oil.  The mixture will become much easier to mix.  Make sure you scrape the bottom of the cup with your fork to get any unmixed ingredients.

Add in your chocolate chips and vanilla.  If you don't want to use chocolate chips, get creative!  I used mint chips the first time I made this, for this attempt I used butterscotch chips and toasted pecans.  For a more colourful cake add M&Ms, or use peanut butter chips.  Try toffee pieces or fudge!  Whatever your sweet tooth is craving, throw it in there!

Mix the ingredients again, then move it to the microwave!  Cooking times are around 3 minutes for a 1000W microwave or 4 minutes for a 700W microwave.  To be safe (and to save on clean up time) put a plate under your mug when it's in the microwave.

When your cake is done, remove from the microwave and use a cake tester to see if it is cooked properly, it should come out clean when you insert in into your cake. The cake will also deflate slightly as it cools.

And there you have it!  A perfectly sized individual dessert ready in about 10 minutes!  It's great if you want a quick sweet treat and don't have a lot of ingredients on hand.  The cake is really hot so even though it might smell super yummy be careful when you tuck in.


Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Chocolate Meringue Roulade

Every year I go back to my parents' house for Christmas and the last couple I have started baking something to bring with me for us to indulge in after our Christmas Eve dinner.  Last year it was cheesecake brownies with raspberry whipped cream, this year it was chocolate meringue roulade.  I just happened to be watching morning television while I was spending the weekend with a friend of mine in Birmingham and in between our geek out sessions this was on a cooking show.  It looked so good I just had to try it!

5 eggs whites
150g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour, sifted
1 tbsp cocoa powder
400ml double cream, whipped into soft peaks
1 tbsp icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped out

Preheat oven to 150°C
Line a 33x28cm swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.
In a bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add in the caster sugar and continue whisking until nearly stiff peaks form.  Use a spatula to fold in the cocoa powder and cornflour until everything is well combined.  Spoon the meringue into the swiss roll tin and spread evenly.  Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside and is still pliable.  Keep the meringue in the tin to cool.  In another bowl, mix the whipped cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds together.  Spread another piece of greaseproof paper onto your counter and sieve icing sugar over it.  Turn the meringue out onto the new piece of greaseproof paper and then spread the cream over the top.  Use the greaseproof paper to help you lift the meringue and roll into the roulade. 

Don't worry if the meringue cracks, it is meringue after all and I have a suspicion that if you can indeed roll meringue without cracking it you are in possession of some strange and mystical power of kitchen prowess!

Using your greaseproof paper, lift the roulade onto a serving plate and dust with more icing sugar and cocoa powder to serve.