Chocolate spider webs and lacking fondant skills

freshOne thing I notice about lots of Halloween-themed baked goods is that they often require fondant skills – something that I definitely don’t have. While I wish that I had the dexterity to craft mini pumpkins or witches hats out of fondant, I just don’t. So I stick to basic decorations… chocolate I can work with! The great thing about these spider webs is that you don’t even need a piping bag, you can just use a snaplock bag.

Choc chip pumpkin cupcakes and Halloween desserts

fourI mentioned in my previous post that my parents didn’t consider Halloween a very Australian holiday. And I’ve inherited this view to some extent.

It’s odd trying to translate the dark, spooky images that permeate the idea American Halloween to Australia’s October, when the weather is mostly sunny and warm. It doesn’t stop me wanting to make Halloween-themed goodies, though!

So for this year’s Halloween, I’m focussing on another thing that I equate with the American Halloween; pumpkin. I remember making a pumpkin pie for my family, years ago, and they all cringed at the idea of it. It was delicious (how modest of me…) but pumpkin and dessert don’t often meet in Australia.

Chocolate Malteser cupcakes and Mental Health Week

aboveThese cupcakes came about because The Boy has a ridiculous obsession with Maltesers. I was never that big a fan of them, but I’m an official convert. I made them yesterday on my day off and he was delighted with them when he came home from work. It reminded me how the tiniest of gestures can change someone’s day completely.

Which is why I thought I’d talk a little about Mental Health Week. For me, food and love go hand in hand, so when I want to let a person know that they’re special to me, or even just that I’m thinking of them, I bake. If you could bake (or buy baked goods) for a loved one at any point this week, do so!

Dark chocolate cupcakes and Camp Quality

ranuncsDo you ever have days where you’re in awe of how wonderful people can be? I had one of those days today. I was recently invited to get involved with Camp Quality’s Dine at Mine fundraising event. Basically, you invite a bunch of your friends over, cook delicious things for them and have a wonderful time.

You can pick any date in August, and choose whatever food you like. I chose afternoon tea, because I love nothing more than drinking from pretty tea cups while eating too many baked goods.

Almond berry cupcakes and favourites

unwrappedThese cupcakes are officially my new favourite thing. I love experimenting with lots of different kinds of sweets, but there are a handful that I could cook at the last minute and know that they’d be a hit. There’s mum’s sticky date, cinnamon scrolls and Nutella fudge, just to name a few. These are recipes that I can always rely on to be brilliant. And I know them like the back of my hand, which helps!

Bakewell cupcakes and English food

aboveRecently I spoke about discovering the deliciousness that is an Eton Mess. There were many things in my year of living in England that stuck out, and I’m just realising that waaaay too many of them are food-related. Yorkshire puddings? Possibly the simplest of all of my food discoveries, but so satisfying. Yorkies – the label says they’re not for girls, but I ate so many of those chocolate bars! I visited tea shops and bakeries and bought ridiculously cheap 12 packs of doughnuts from Asda more frequently than I’d care to admit.

I relished in the healthy things too – proper Sunday roasts, complete with boiled cabbage (which I LOVE) and brussels sprouts with Christmas dinner.

Moving and lacking

flowersHello dear readers.

This is a bit of an unusual post (namely because there is no recipe involved) so I’ll keep it short. Lacking is the theme of my life at the moment, but it’s going well. It’s an adventure!

I haven’t been posting any recipes lately because The Boy and I have moved out. I talked about it in my last post, so check that out if you haven’t already.

chair cupOur kitchen is a bit of a shambles – I barely have enough room in our little apartment for all of my props and baking tins!! The Boy has imposed strict conditions on how much of our place will be dominated by blog stuff (95% of the space is reasonable, right?), so I’m currently trying to jam all of my teapots into our linen cupboard.

I don’t know how long it will be before I manage to get the next recipe up, but I promise that I’m trying to get the place in order as quickly as possible so that I can get recipes on the blog. We also have no internet, which would kind of getting in the way of blogging if I was doing it.

chevronsIn the meantime, keep an eye on my Instagram feed. That is just about the only thing in my life that is thriving right now. You can take bets on how many days it takes for us to get our dining table up three flights of stairs (we’re on day five of no table at the moment) and see various photos where I perch my tea cups on things that are not tables.

There is a distinct lack of Norman, I must admit. That won’t be for long though, I’m going home to visit the handsome man next week.

firstFor now, this photo of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes will have to keep you satiated. They were the first things I baked in my new kitchen (!) and they were for a charity event at work. It’s going to take a bit to get used to the oven, but they turned out okay! I couldn’t help but sing “chocolate and vanilla, swirl, swirl” as I was making them.

I hope some of you are Orange is the New Black fans!

Looking forward to regular internet and regular baking adventures!

Chocolate raspberry muffins and familiarity

previewChocolate and raspberries are such a familiar combination. One of those things that I always fall back to when I need a fail-proof result. The sweet and tart notes of the raspberries, mixed with the sophistication of the dark chocolate turn out perfect, comforting little bites of homely muffins.

I always have raspberries in my freezer. They’re an easy way to jazz up a dessert, they’re a great addition to a smoothie, and I happily munch on them straight from the freezer sometimes. Actually, the reason I whipped up this recipe was because I needed to finish off my freezer stockpile.

Blueberry cranberry muffins and colds

tearIt’s probably not hard to see that I love cooking. One of the things that I love about cooking is the sharing aspect. I love nothing more than foisting food upon my loved ones. So when somebody that I love is unwell, I turn to food for the solution.

My brother’s girlfriend currently has a terrible cold, so I made her an immunity-boosting soup and these muffins.

They’re packed full  of blueberries and cranberries, which have antioxidants, vitamin C by the bucket load.

Lemon zest is great for eradicating toxins in the body. I realise that the sugar is probably counteracting the eradication slightly, but when you’re sick you need comfort food. We can’t be good all the time, right?

You’re doing your body a favour by eating one of these little muffins. Go on, make a batch.

Blueberry cranberry muffins

Makes 24

  • 1 cup frozen blueberriesbite
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 2 ½ tsp bicarb

Topping:

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest, grated
  • 1/3 cup sugar

berriesPut ½ a cup of the blueberries and ¼ cup of the cranberries into a small saucepan with the water and one tablespoon of the sugar. Heat the mixture over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly and squishing the berries as you go. Keep on the heat for 5-8 minutes, until the water has mostly evaporated and you’re left with a small amount of syrup. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool. If you want a berry pulp, grab a fork and mash the berries further – I kept lots of whole large chunks in mine, but you can make them whatever consistency you like.

foldCream together your butter and sugar, then add in the vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Mix in the bicarb, then gently fold in the remaining blueberries and cranberries so that their colour doesn’t bleed into the mixture.

Mix together your sugar and lemon zest for the topping. Set this to one side.

sugarSpoon into cupcake cases, then top with 1 tsp of your blueberry cranberry mixture, then sprinkle a generous teaspoon of the lemon sugar topping over the mixture. When the sugar topping bakes, it should caramelise slightly to create a satisfyingly crunchy coating for the top of the muffin.

Bake at 180° for 25-28 minutes.

aboveIf you’re after a healthy beverage to go with these super muffins, try a lemon tea. Enjoy!

preview

Milo cupcakes and dinosaur themed birthdays

wrapperI have wanted to do a themed birthday party for a long time now. When I was given some adorable cupcake wrappers by Illume Design, I knew what my theme would be – DINOSAURS!!

I very rarely do manly posts. Without even thinking, I drift towards florals and polka dots and tea pots. Browsing through previous blog posts, one might suggest that I don’t actually own anything monochrome or beige. I promise that I do! In an effort to counter this slightly, I styled a dinosaur themed birthday party (which any boy OR girl would happily attend.)

IMG_9589Milo isn’t a very pretty food, but it is delicious, which is why I love it. The very fact that Milo is kind of bumpy and ugly means that it is perfectly suited to a dinosaur-y landscape. It also makes the cupcakes extra delicious.