Chocolate and Ginger Cupcakes
I had never thought that baking was something I would particularly enjoy. Firstly, because I am very much a 'throw it in and see what happens' type of cook and this is not conducive to baking. Secondly, I have an extremely savoury tooth, I love the french phrase for this: 'j'ai le bec salé', literally: I have the salty beak! Indeed, if I am planning a meal for a dinner I can think of numerous options for starter and main course and then come to a sudden dead halt when thinking of a dessert...Hmm, ice-cream??
However, I was given a wonderful present last christmas of Lilly Higgins' book Make Bake Love along with some pretty baking accessories and I have been on a baking exploration ever since! Lilly's book is beautifully laid out and incorporates lots of small twists on classic recipes that make for delicious eating. My colleagues have been the lucky recipients of most of my baking experiments, partly because I love to treat people and partly because I don't want my waistline to expand as rapidly as my baking repertoire!
After a few recipes I am now completely hooked on baking as it appeals to my creative side and I like planning how to decorate and present things. Marie at Yummeelicious talked this week about struggling with the creative aspect of baking (the gastronomic girls think she's fab at it though) but I do think some of the techniques are quite tricky to master - evidenced by the fact that I've tried making meringue roulade, unsuccessfully, twice this week...
I'd had a plan in my head to make easter cupcakes so I decided to bake for a meeting in work this week. I knew I wanted them to be chocolate flavour so I decided to opt for the Chocolate and Ginger cupcake recipe in Make Bake Love with chocolate buttercream icing, neither of which I had made before.
I infused 100g chopped crystallised ginger with 120ml milk for ten mins on a low heat and then whizzed it in a food processor. I creamed 220g caster sugar with 100g softened butter with my fab new hand whisk that I treated myself to during the week, it makes baking so much easier! Then I added 2 eggs, one by one. Once they were really well mixed in I added 160g plain flour, 20g cocoa powder and 1.5 tsp of baking powder that I'd already seived. I then added the whizzed milk and ginger and it was all stirred just until it was mixed through. Lilly recommends an ice cream scoop to transfer your batter to the bun cases. I found they ended up a little big but my cases may have been a bit on the small side. I then baked them for 20mins in a 160c fan oven.
|Ready for Icing|
The chocolate buttercream recipe is also from Make Bake Love and involves whisking 55g softened butter with half of 230g seived icing sugar until fluffy. Then add in the other half of your sugar with 40g cocoa powder, 5tbsp milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and whisk until the icing is as fluffy as you would like. I then used a mini spatula to spread the icing onto the cakes making a hollow in the middle and trying to make the edges look as 'nesty' as possible. I am sure my icing skills still require a lot of work but, once the eggs were added, I think these looked the part... But, the best part, by a long stretch, was the flavour. Steeping the ginger with the milk before adding it to the mix is an inspired idea. The resulting ginger 'tingle' makes these quite an adult cupcake and offers a lovely balance to the sweet chocolate icing. The perfect combination for those of us with a reclusive sweet tooth. I'm currently pondering an experiment involving similar steeping of pink peppercorns....
|Easter Nest Chocolatey Goodness|
If you fancied an easier option (especially as I've left this post a bit late for easter) these chocolate cornflake nests are very cute and a great activity for small people; the nests below were made by my 7yo cousin. Recipe was a bit made up on the day but was about a bar and a half of melted milk choc and about 150g of cornflakes stirred together to make the quantity below. Make sure to make little hollows for your eggs and chicks. Oh, and to leave the house asap after your aunt gets home before she realises how hyped up on sugar you've made her kids...! Happy Easter!