Category Archives: Cupcakes

My Blue Heaven

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Milkshakes are such a big part of childhood.  I always feel a little sad and as though I may have missed something essential about growing up because I was never into milkshakes as a child.  Something important.  Like a rite of passage, you know?

I have never drunk milk in my entire life.  I was already an adult before I would let myself to even try having a coffee with milk added.  As a child, I thoroughly despised dairy milk (we didn’t even think about non-dairy alternatives so let’s not go there).  So, milkshakes were something I eyed with a good measure of skepticism.  Tall chilled silver glasses filled with fabulously flavoured milk … it was still just a lot of milk to me.

Everyone would have their favourites … chocolate, of course, strawberry, banana, butterscotch, vanilla, pineapple, caramel … mostly standard stuff.  But there was one flavour that had us all just a bit fascinated and intrigued.  It had an air of mystery to it because we could never quite pin down what this fantasy flavour really was … blue heaven.  It just sounds so celestial.  So divine.  As if it could transport you somewhere fabulous with it’s gorgeous sky blue mystery flavoured milkiness.  Blue Heaven is an iconic Australian milkshake flavour invention that defied logic, by being madly successful.  So successful, it’s still around today in various forms.

Even my aversion to all things milky didn’t stop me from trying a blue heaven milkshake, out of curiosity.   It tasted like vanilla, but somewhat disappointingly, like an artificial vanilla (which, of course, it was).  Depending on where your research leads you, it actually was (and is) just artificial vanilla with blue colouring, or artificial vanilla raspberry with blue colouring.  The manufacturers of the flavouring apparently claim it to be the latter.  Now, that is cool, because raspberry is a fantastic mystery prize.  Sure, it is artificial raspberry that never comes close to real fruit, but who would have guessed?

I still don’t drink milkshakes, although I am partial to the odd smoothie.   I do love all things vanilla and raspberry though … and blue food?  I still love the idea of blue heaven as a flavour.  Would it work in a non-milkshake form?  Here in Australia, you can buy blue heaven syrup, blue heaven topping for ice cream, and blue heaven jelly.   Well, that’s a bit artificial and boring, despite being a testament to blue heaven’s ongoing popularity.

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So why not create my very own version of blue heaven, from scratch?  Real vanilla, real raspberry, and a little blue colouring for the sake of nostalgia?  Why not create it in cupcake form?  Good idea, yes?

Great idea.  Yes.  I still don’t drink milkshakes, remember?  😉

These moist cupcakes are pure vanilla and totally light blue, like the milkshake.  The cream cheese frosting is also pure vanilla deliciousness and blue like the heavens.  But take a bite of a cupcake and you get a surprise …  a fresh raspberry confit centre, sweet and tart.

I think it captures the essence of Blue Heaven, don’t you?  They do taste absolutely heavenly … and they’re blue 😀

I added some chocolate covered raspberries for decoration and little straws in honour of the milkshake that inspired them.

I hope you enjoy my blue heaven 🙂

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Makes 10 cupcakes

Ingredients
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
125 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
125 grams sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 x 60 gram eggs
125 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres milk
1-2 drops blue food colouring (water-based)

Raspberry Confit
200 grams fresh or frozen (and thawed) raspberries
200 grams sugar
15 millilitres freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blue Vanilla Frosting
125 grams unsalted butter
250 grams cream cheese
125 grams icing sugar
1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 – 2 drops blue food colouring

10 chocolate covered raspberries

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Directions
Blue Vanilla Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Place 10 cupcake liners on a lined baking tray and set aside.

Place the sugar, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth and light.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the lemon or lime juice to the milk.  Add half the flour to the batter and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and finally the remaining flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth and light.  Add a drop of blue food colouring and whisk until the colour is evenly distributed and the batter is a light pastel blue.  If required, add another drop or two, one drop at a time.  I only needed one drop to achieve a pale blue colour.  Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and cooked through.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  You can store these, at room temperature, in an airtight container, if making ahead before filling and frosting.

Raspberry Confit
Puree the raspberries and strain them well to remove the seeds.   Place the raspberry puree in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice.   Cook over a low heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring it gently.   Raise the heat and cook until the raspberry confit mixture reaches 104℃.  Test the confit by dropping a small amount on to a slightly chilled plate.  It should start to set fairly quickly.  When done, remove from the heat and transfer a small amount to a 12″ piping bag.  Place on a workbench and let cool slightly.

While the confit cools, cut a small round from the top of each cupcake and make a small cavity in the centre of each cupcake, about half of the way through.  Remove the crumbs* but reserve the round cut from top.  It will form a lid.  Snip a small tip off the end of the piping bag and pipe a small amount into each cavity to just under the top of the cupcake. Replace the round cut from the top to form a lid on top of each cupcake.  They are now ready to be frosted.

*The crumbs are lovely sprinkled on top of ice cream

Blue Vanilla Frosting
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.   Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened.  Add the butter to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth.  Finally, add a drop of blue food colouring to give the frosting a pale blue colour.

Cover and refrigerate the frosting for 15 to 20 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.  This cream cheese frosting pipes beautifully and holds its shape without setting or becoming hard on standing or when refrigerated.

Pipe the frosting on to each cupcake.  Top with a chocolate covered raspberry.
For that blue heaven milkshake vibe, add a small straw for decoration.  I just snipped a standard straw into 4 equal pieces to get the right size for each cupcake.

Without frosting, the cupcakes keep well for up to a week, if stored in an airtight container.  Frosted, they must be stored in the refrigerator.  They will keep for up to several days at least and will be as moist and delicious as freshly made.

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Bite into a cupcake for a fresh raspberry surprise 🙂

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Raspberry and Chocolate Financiers

I know that many bloggers cook, bake, and generally prepare fabulous food and recipes with their blog in mind.  Out comes the semi-professional food photography gear, amazing props, flowers, table settings, and hey presto, a few days of intensive preparation and forethought produce stunning pictures to accompany posts that are thoughtfully written, peppered with witticisms and engaging anecdotes that give you a sneak peak into the author’s life, interests, and passion for cooking.  I love those blogs.

This is not one of those blogs.   This blogger still struggles with being able to time her baking and food preparation to coincide with a photo shoot that can only occur within a small window of opportunity during the course of any given day, weather permitting, so that the combination of camera and lighting won’t destroy what the naked eye can plainly see, and the other senses experience.  Breathe.  All despite some rather nifty equipment.

This blogger refuses to rent or buy fancy schmancy food photography props and doesn’t spend hours lost in homewares stores gushing over tableware and assorted knick knacks that would look just so.  She simply doesn’t have the time or the storage space at home to keep it all.  Her pantry is full of baking equipment, chocolate making gear, kilos of chocolate, shelves upon shelves of ingredients, and more chocolate …

This blogger doesn’t prepare recipes for the blog.  She just blogs them when she can, because they are worthy of being shared, at least she would dearly love to think so.  Sometimes, they’re recipes she’s been making for years, or maybe something she’s only just created and made a few times to make sure it’s fully tested, and reliably reproducable.   But she usually bakes and prepares them to be eaten, by herself, by the family, by friends, at functions … so her photo shoots are generally hurried, not always in the best light, and  largely raw and unstylised.

Her blog posts are not planned, thought through, rehearsed, or proof-read.  She simply writes what comes to mind.

But the love that goes into each recipe knows no bounds … and so it’s with gratitude to everyone who follows and supports this blog, that I’m sharing with you all, this recipe for my raspberry and chocolate financiers.

I love financiers.   Like eclairs, I sometimes dream of opening up a financiers bakery with the aim of making financiers the next big thing.  They are so wonderfully buttery and sweet, and lend themselves to infinite variations in flavour and texture.   Commercially available ones more often resemble stodgy bricks of solid almond meal, with what I can only imagine is a tonne of sugar and shortening, and have little in the way of flavour.  Worse still, they are usually served stone cold.   They are an insult to what is a classic and elegant French almond cake.

A real financier starts with butter, browned to an aromatic and nutty perfection.  Egg whites whisked to a frothy foam and nut meal, flour and sugar folded in.  The flavourings you choose to add are infinitely varied.  Fruit, nuts, chocolate, liqueur, citrus curd, caramel, spices … whatever your heart desires.  The result should be rich but light and buttery in texture.

I love these raspberry and chocolate financiers and they are one of my favourites.  Raspberry and chocolate is such a classic combination and adding a little Framboise ganache on top makes them extra special.  They have been very popular and I hope you love them too.  I wish I could share with you what the eye can see that the camera has not allowed, the wonderful aroma of these little cakes, and their delicate flavour and texture … but technology has not yet come this far.   Perhaps I can persuade you to make them instead and let me know 🙂

I’ve used a variety of chocolates to make these, all with excellent results.  Some of the best include Valrhona’s Manjari, Michel Cluizel’s Maralumi, Willie’s Cacao Madagascan 71, and Felchin’s Maracaibo Intenso 66%.   But any really good quality chocolate would be fantastic.  Enjoy!

Makes 15 standard financiers

Financiers
Ingredients
150 grams unsalted butter, cut into pieces
125 grams almond flour
85 grams plain flour
200 grams icing sugar
200 grams egg whites (6 large)
100 grams raspberries, fresh or frozen
50 grams dark chocolate or couverture, chopped into small pieces

a little extra icing sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
I used silicon moulds so had no need to grease and line them.  If you are using standard financier, muffin, or cupcake tins, brush them with some extra melted or softened butter and dust with flour.  Tap out any excess flour, and set aside.

Place the butter into a stainless steel saucepan and melt over a low heat.  Cook until the butter starts to brown and gives off a lovely nutty aroma.  When browned, remove the butter from the heat and pour in to a dish to cool.

Sift together the almond flour, plain flour, and icing sugar.  Add the raspberries and chocolate to the flour and sugar mixture and toss to coat the berries.  Whisk the egg whites until foamy.   Do not whisk until soft of stiff peaks, as you do not want to create a meringue.  Fold the dry ingredients gently in to the whisked egg whites.  Drizzle the browned butter over the mixture and fold gently into the mixture until incorporated.

Divide the batter between the 15 moulds.  Bake the financiers for about 30 minutes at 170°C, until risen and slightly golden on top.  Remove from the oven and allow the financiers to cool, in their molds.
When cooled, gently remove from the moulds, and place on a serving platter. If not using silicon moulds, gently run a flat knife around the inside edge before easing out the financiers.
Dust liberally with icing sugar to serve or lightly dust with icing sugar and pipe rosettes of Framboise Ganache on top of each financier prior to serving.

The unadorned financiers will keep for several days, stored in an airtight container, at room temperature.  If using the ganache, it is best to frost the financiers before serving.

Framboise Ganache
Ingredients
85 grams dark chocolate or couverture
150 grams cream, 35% fat
20 millilitres Framboise or Crème de Cassis
20 grams butter, at room temperature

Directions

Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in a plastic bowl, suitable for the microwave.  Microwave for about 60 seconds.  The chocolate will not be fully melted.  This step is not mandatory.   If you skip this step, chop the chocolate finely so that it will melt more easily.

Place the cream in to a small saucepan and bring to simmering point.  Pour the cream over the chocolate, add the Framboise, and gently stir with a whisk until the chocolate is melted.  Add the butter and whisk gently until smooth and shiny.

Fit a piping bag with a decorative tip and push a little of the bag into the tip to form a seal.  Fill the bag with the ganache and flatten it on a bench.  I do this to help it cool more quickly and set to a piping consistency.  In warm weather, you may need to set the bag on a tray and place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so.

When the financiers are ready, dust the financiers lightly with some icing sugar.  Pipe some ganache on to each financier, and serve.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cakes, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Fruit, Tarts & Patisserie

Frosted Vanilla Orange Cupcakes (Dairy, Nut, and Egg Free)

As I sit here typing this post, I’m reminded full well just how debilitating food allergies and intolerances can be.  I’ve been suffering from a food intolerance attack since lunchtime and I’m not quite sure what triggered it, as I’m very careful with my diet, avoiding foods that will trigger my fructose/fructan intolerance symptoms.   I also have a number of true allergies but my food ones are mainly ruled by a type of red food colouring and a severe allergy to mould (blue cheeses are off-limits and hard cheeses are an issue).

Allergies and intolerances of all descriptions have become so common in modern society, it’s rather alarming, particularly when they lead to anaphylaxis, which is life threatening.  The rate of food related allergies in children is quite high in Australia and that’s a worry.  There are genetic factors involved for some (my whole family is riddled with allergies of all descriptions).  I have many friends and relatives who are either gluten intolerant or coeliac, allergic to nuts, or dairy, or eggs, or other foods.  One of my trainers has a similar issue, with her family also being predisposed to allergies.   Her little cousin is allergic to seafood, eggs, dairy, nuts and seeds, as well as kiwifruit, of all things!  Now, that’s all well and good, but when you get Italian family gatherings and celebrations with cakes and desserts featuring, it’s heartbreaking to have to deny a child a treat, when everyone else is indulging.  Even if it’s for his own good.  It’s just not fair, is it?  Well, I hope there’s one little boy who is just a bit happier for having had a cupcake today, after a delivery yesterday 🙂

I didn’t realise just how many recipes had flooded the internet for low allergy cakes and treats that accommodate people with multiple allergies.  It’s not hard to accommodate one but three or four?   Mothers across the globe have met this challenge with aplomb.  It seems the two biggest challenges, not surprisingly, are how to make cakes without eggs, dairy or nuts that will rise and have a good crumb and have great flavour.  So you don’t feel like you are eating a poor low-allergy cousin to what should have been cake.  I had started by looking through some of the recipes I had created years ago when I was having to spend long periods of time on elimination diets (no fun!) and needed to cheer myself up with something tasty as a reward for my forebearance.  This is where I ended up.   I thought about using funky ingredients I’d seen others use online, but eventually settled on the sort of thing I tried years ago and refined it.

Now, for anyone who cannot have wheat and/or gluten, you can make these wheat and gluten-free by substituting the wheat flour with a good quality gluten-free flour.  You could even use corn or potato flour to give a really light texture.  They are vegan by default.  Also, if you have an allergy to olives, you can easily substitute another light vegetable oil that you know is safe to use.  If not, I have found olive oil gives the best flavour and texture.  Just a personal preference.

These cupcakes are very similar to a butter cake in texture, with a light, moist, and tender crumb and a slightly sweet flavour.   I opted to make these with vanilla and orange as the vanilla is suitable to pretty much everybody’s taste and the orange adds a lovely fresh sweetness.  You can see the flecks of vanilla throughout the cake and icing.  I love that, but if you prefer your icing to be totally white, use a liquid extract instead.

You can also bake these as one large cake or double the recipe to make cake layers that you can frost for a birthday.  My mum actually suggested the caramel chocolate frosting would be great layered with the cake.  Just double the frosting recipe to sandwich and cover the cake.  Or, if you can find soy cream, make a ganache with soy cream and allergy free chocolate and how fab would that be?

The truly wonderful thing about these cupcakes is that you can easily adapt them to accommodate a range of flavours, within the bounds of any allergies for which you need to allow.  I’ve given a few suggestions below for variations but really, the sky’s the limit.

I tested these on my parents.  Why?  My mother is a no-holds-barred critic and won’t hold back if they’re rubbish!  My father is the perennial sweet tooth and likes proper sweets, not that other stuff.   Ha ha and rolls eyes.  Neither of them have food allergies and so it was a good test to see if these cupcakes could pass muster with those that don’t have to make do.

The verdict:  SUCCESS.  Both found the cupcakes delicious and the frosting and icing too.  So much so, they’ve had one for dessert for the last couple of nights 🙂   I gave the last one to my aunt who also loved it.  The irony?  I can’t eat these low allergy cupcakes myself because I am wheat intolerant  … how’s that for karma?  I did have a tiny taste test though for quality control purposes and was extremely pleased with the result.  Yes, I am willing to sacrifice my wellbeing for the sake of baking.  So much so, I actually added volume measures for the cupcake recipe.  Egads!  Don’t expect that too often, OK? 😀

I hope you enjoy them too!

Vanilla Orange Cupcakes (Dairy, Nut, and Egg Free)

Makes 12 standard cupcakes or 1 x 20cm round cake

Ingredients
315 grams (2 1/2 metric cups) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200 grams (1 metric cup) sugar
grated zest of 1 orange (optional)
250 millilitres (1 metric cup) cold water
125 millilitres (1/2 metric cup) olive oil (classic, not extra virgin)
15 millilitres (1 tablespoon) white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste (or 2 teaspoons extract)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into a large mixing bowl.  Add the sugar and orange zest and mix well.

In a smaller bowl or jug, mix together the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and beat on low to medium speed until well mixed.

Divide the batter between the cupcake molds, filling them about 2/3 full.  Bake for about 25 minutes until well risen and golden.  Do not over bake.  They are cooked when a light tap on the top of one results in it springing back.  Alternatively, you can use a skewer to test for doneness.  It should come out clean.  If baking as a cake, allow extra time for baking.  It will take about 45 minutes or so, but keep an eye on it.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before icing or frosting.  They will keep for several days if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.   Storage for frosted cupcakes will depend on the frosting or icing used.  For the simple icing, as per the recipe below, they can be stored at room temperature.  If using the caramel frosting, they should be stored in the refrigerator.  Let them come to room temperature before serving, in that case.

Variations
Chocolate:  substitute 60 grams of unsweetened cocoa for the equivalent amount of flour in the recipe.  For a richer flavour and texture, melt 100 grams of allergy-free dark chocolate (such as Sweet William).  Let it cool slightly and add to the batter at the end.  Beat until smooth and proceed with the recipe.

Fruit:  fold in some diced fruit of your choice to the batter at the end of mixing, or add some pureed fruit in place of some of the water.

Citrus:  You can use lemon juice in place of the vinegar for lemon cupcakes for extra flavour, and add an extra tablespoon or so of citrus juice (lemon, lime, tangelo, mandarin, yuzu, etc) and the grated zest of one or two citrus fruit to the batter.  Make an icing or frosting to match.  This also goes really well with a white chocolate version or a fruity version.

Honestly, so long as you work within the bounds of any allergies that exist, the possibilities are many 🙂

Here we are, fresh out of the oven.  Yes, we have lovely high domes!

Now to the icing and frosting …

Simple Vanilla Orange Icing (Dairy, Nut, and Egg Free)

Ingredients
180 grams pure icing sugar
30 millilitres fresh orange juice
grated zest of half an orange
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla bean paste or 1/2 teaspoon extract (if you don’t want to see the vanilla)
12 longer strips of orange zest for decoration

Directions
Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, making sure there are no lumps.  Add the orange juice, grated zest, and vanilla.  Whisk until creamy.

Spoon a little icing on to each cupcake and allow to run down.  Decorate each cupcake with a strip of orange zest.  You could even decorate them with candied or caramelised orange segments or whatever you like, or leave them plain for fussy eaters 🙂

Variations
Chocolate:  Add a level tablespoon of sifted unsweetened cacao to the icing sugar before adding the liquid ingredients.

Citrus:  Substitute tangelo, lemon, lime, mandarin, kumquat, or yuzu for the orange in the recipe and omit the vanilla as optional.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Frosting (Dairy, Nut, and Egg Free)
This salted caramel and chocolate frosting recipe was a bit of an experiment.  I wondered if I could use a soy-based cream cheese to make a delicious frosting that was similar to a cream cheese frosting in texture.  The challenge is to mask the soy flavour of course, which can be quite overpowering.   I found a brand that has a good flavour and is nut and dairy free, but had to adapt the recipe a little as I could not find the soy butter they also make.   You can use whatever frosting you like.  I thought caramel with a little chocolate was a good way to include a more grown up flavour combination that appeals to most people and it also totally masks the soy flavour!  Caramel and chocolate are magical.  I perfected it a bit after making it again and so have included the recipe that gives a smoother result here.

Ingredients
400 grams soy cream cheese (I used King Land)
80 grams pure icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 2 teaspoons extract
150 grams dairy and nut free chocolate (e.g. Sweet William)
120 grams sugar
pinch of sea salt
decorations (optional)

Directions
Beat the soy cream cheese in a mixing bowl until smooth and creamy.  Set aside 60 grams for the caramel.  Add the icing sugar and vanilla to the remaining cream cheese and whisk until smooth.

Melt the chocolate in a microwave or in a heatproof bowl over hot water.  Stir until melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool slightly as you make the caramel.

Place the sugar in a stainless steel saucepan over a low heat.  Heat gently and stir with a spatula, only moving the sugar gently to make sure it doesn’t stick or burn on the base.  It will melt and start to colour.  When it reaches an amber colour, add the reserved sixty grams of cream cheese and the salt.  Stir well until creamy and fully incorporated.  Set aside to cool slightly.

When the chocolate and caramel are just warm, add to the cream cheese and whisk gently until smooth and shiny.  Keep whisking until it thickens slightly.  Refrigerate to thicken and set to a piping consistency.  When ready to frost the cupcakes, fill a piping bag fitted with a plain or decorative tip and pipe on to each cupcake.  top with some strips of orange zest, some toffee, or allergy free chocolate chips.

Store the frosted cupcakes in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before serving or just eat them straight from the fridge!

Butter cake goodness without eggs, dairy or nuts 🙂

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cakes, Cupcakes, Special Diet

A lighter shade of paleo … Coconut Lime Paleo Cupcakes

This one is for all of you who’ve kept expressing your wish for me to

put de lime in de coconut, and mix ’em bot’ up

again 🙂

I’ve always been fascinated by the myriad of dietary philosophies out there.  Not weight loss diets.  I have no time for that nonsense.   What I’m talking about is lifestyle changes for reasons of health and fitness (which, if healthy, often lead to steady, permanent weight loss, if it’s an issue to begin with).  Having a food intolerance myself, I have spent the last few years coming to terms with that and making some major changes to my diet.  But I took it further, partly because I found myself feeling so much better (it took a while!) but also because I wanted to adopt a truly clean and healthy diet that would support my fitness goals as well.   Plus, I like to experiment.  You can take the girl out of science but …

So I find myself avidly reading about different dietary lifestyles, largely out of curiosity and to see if there is anything I can glean from the experience of those who have travelled the road before me, something that I can try to improve my diet.  I don’t subscribe to any particular diet myself as I have to accommodate my food intolerances and I’m all about balance … good common sense and listen to your body.

Importantly, don’t forget dessert.  Frankly, if your diet is pretty healthy 90% of the time, a little indulgence is good for the soul and probably does your body some good too.  All things in moderation.  Keeps us looking gorgeous.  It would be hypocritical of me to suggest otherwise, given the nature of this blog, wouldn’t it? 😀

So, for the record, I do not follow a paleo diet.  But, I have experimented a bit with paleo style baking, just for something to do.  I like it because it gives me a lot of scope to use coconut in all its myriad forms.  I was never a big fan of coconut but I’ve grown to like it over the past twelve months as some of the recipes on this site show.  One of the issues I have though, is the very high fat content of many of the dessert and baking recipes out there.  Not that I have a problem with fats.  On the contrary, we need fats of various kinds for our bodies to function properly, plus they keep us feeling full and they make food taste great.  Again, it’s all about moderation.

Still, it was nice to try to lighten the load a little on a paleo style cupcake.  You won’t find coconut butter in here, but you will find some coconut and almond flour supplying some good fats.  I’ve also used egg whites to add extra lightness to the cupcakes, a tack that has worked beautifully.

A little burst of fresh lime juice and zest adds some zing to cut through the coconut … these cupcakes are very moist, have some great texture with the addition of shredded coconut and are extremely light.  The frosting is entirely optional.  They are fabulous without it.  But, if you believe that more coconut and lime is better, then go for it.

Note that these are both dairy and gluten-free.   If you do follow a paleo diet, well hello there 🙂

I made these for my mum so she can have a treat that she can enjoy without worrying about it being unhealthy and the coconut sugar won’t play havoc with her blood sugar either.    Oh yeah, I also made them for me, so I can enjoy another healthy treat this Christmas.  I really hate being left out when it’s time for dessert 😀

I hope you enjoy them!

Makes 8 cupcakes (recipe can be scaled up proportionally)

Ingredients

2 x 400 millilitre cans of organic coconut milk

Cupcakes
215 grams egg whites*
75 grams coconut sugar
45 grams coconut flour
125 grams almond meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
125 millilitres coconut “water”
2 limes – zest and juice
40 grams unsweetened shredded coconut

*you can substitute whole eggs for the egg whites.  You will need about 4 x 59 gram eggs (52 grams shelled).

Frosting
300 grams (about) coconut “cream”
40 grams coconut sugar
1 lime – zest and juice

slices of fresh lime, to decorate

Instructions
Several hours (or the night) before you intend to make the cupcakes, place the two cans of coconut milk in the refrigerator.  The coconut milk will separate out into a solid “cream” and “water”.  You will need the cream for the frosting and some of the water for the cupcakes.   Don’t discard the extra coconut water (you will have an extra 375 ml or 1 1/2 cups).   It is great in smoothies,  for making protein pancakes, anything.  It’s really rehydrating and tastes good too.

Decided to make these on a whim?  Don’t panic. 

If you are pressed for time, you can substitute full-fat or lite coconut milk in the cupcakes and standard coconut cream for the frosting.

Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 175℃.  Line eight muffin tin molds with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites (or whole eggs) and coconut sugar until frothy and the sugar has dissolved.

Sift together the coconut flour, almond meal, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add half the mixture to the egg whites and beat until smooth.  Add the coconut “water”, lime zest and juice.  Beat on low-speed until incorporated.  Add the remaining flour mixture and the shredded coconut, and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the frosting.

Frosting
In a blender or food processor, blend or process the coconut “cream” until smooth, to make sure there are no hard coconut pieces left.

Place in a bowl with the coconut sugar, lime zest, and juice.  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly.  Refrigerate until ready to frost the cupcakes, if required.

Pipe a little frosting on each cupcake.  Top with a slice of fresh lime to decorate.

If you are interested in learning more about the paleo diet and lifestyle, a simple google search will unearth a number of sites.  I haven’t listed any here as my intention is not to promote any particular dietary lifestyle (je ne suis pas qualifié).  We all need to work out what works best for ourselves.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes, Fruit, Special Diet

Black Velvet … if you please …

You’re thinking I might be channelling my inner goth, aren’t you?  Don’t blame you one bit.  Because, you know, she’s in there.  The goth, that is.   Always has been.  Occasionally I let her out.  I do  😉

But when I looked at my stash of goth and blackest, darkest cupcake finery … hmmm, not this time.  My inner goth will have her moment.  But it is not this moment.  Not today.

Nor is it my attempt at a Halloween cupcake.  No fondant spiders, ghost and ghouls here.  No pumpkins were harmed in the making of these cupcakes.   I don’t do of the novelty cakes, you know that.

Today is Chocolate Chilli Mango’s first anniversary … birthday … whatever it’s called.   Blogiversary?  Really???  I’m clearly not down with all the hipster blog speak.  I had to look it up just now.  Literally 🙂

So, what the heck is up with these black cupcakes????  I’ll get to that …

Ahh … Do I detect a look of disapproval in your eye?  Tough beans buddy, ’cause that’s the way it’s gonna be.     (spoiler alert)

When I started this blog, I did not think it would survive long enough to see its first blogiversary.  Frankly, I gave it a few months before I’d give up, pack up, shut down, and move on.  I honestly thought no-one would ever take a look let alone follow the blog or a Facebook page or actually give the recipes a go.  But WOW …  I am so grateful to all of you fantastic followers and fellow bloggers.  In the past twelve months, I’ve met some unbelievably fabulous and generous bloggers and bakers, both professionals and amateur, like myself.  I’ve also been so lucky to have met and gained a following of fitness crazed wonderful guys and gals and I’m so proud to be one of you, albeit with my dirty sweet secrets.   Your collective feedback and encouragement has been awesome but the best part is hearing back from you when you’ve tried a recipe, maybe modified it, and loved it too … and sharing lots of ideas and recipes.  Whether you’re here for the sweets or the protein and healthy recipes or both.  ‘Cause THAT is what it’s all about.

Thank You Awesome Peeps xxx

Originally, this blog was going to be about complex pastries with, of course, a heavy reliance on chocolate.  I quickly realised, though, that simple things, done a little differently, or maybe just a great classic, are much more fun to blog about.  Plus, I’m no longer making special occasion cakes.  It’s a rare day in which I find the time to set aside a few hours and create something amazing.  If I do, I like to be in the moment and not thinking about the time of day, the lighting, and if I will get a great shot of it for the blog.  So it’s all evolved into something more organic, impromptu, and maybe that’s a good thing.  But there’s a good deal of chocolate in there.  Can’t give up on cacao.  EVER.  Somewhere along the line, my obsession with protein-packed and other healthy treats seems to have taken on a life of its own.  This is perhaps the most challenging part for me and so far it’s been a blast learning from those of you with the knowledge and experience, researching ingredients, and creating my own recipes that are healthy but taste awesome too.

I’ve got a backlog of things to make and post … haven’t forgotten the banana split inspired idea, more lime bars, more chocolate, and some I have thought about and designed but haven’t had time for yet … so for now, I’ll stick around, as long as there is still someone out there who gets a kick out of reading the posts, or making the recipes or just wanting to share in our collective love of baking, food, and chocolate.  What I don’t know about blogging would fill a galaxy but it’s fun to be on the learning curve on the outer spiral arm.  I’m also going to be overhauling the blog with a whole new layout that should be easier to navigate between Wicked and Healthy etc.  Watch this space (just gimme some time…LOL).

So … BLACK CUPCAKES.  What’s that about?  Well, seeing as it’s CCM’s blogiversary (god, is that really a word?), I thought I’d share a little something of myself with you.

From a very young age, I have admired and loved, possibly even worshipped, Audrey Hepburn.  Massive girl crush!  But don’t we all love her?  I have seen all her movies countless times, read and collected books on her life and work, and have this gorgeous poster sitting above my desk to look at every day.   I’ve even got a board on Pininterest devoted to Ms. Hepburn.

She’s my avatar on all my online personal stuff, and good friends call me Holly, because she’s just EVERYWHERE in my universe.  I don’t just admire her sense of style.  I admire her as a human being.  She was such a wonderful combination of ingenue, intelligence, style and substance.  Throughout her successful career and in life, she never gave herself airs and graces, was always grounded, and always put others before herself.  Through it all, she maintained her poise and grace and a fabulous sense of humour.   She was a wonderful humanitarian.  Plus her movies totally rocked. 😀

I wanted to make a cupcake that was elegant and evoked something of Audrey – her personality and style.  Yes, it’s also a bit inspired by her Breakfast at Tiffany’s character, Holly Golightly.   It had to have a simple flavour profile, something that evokes childhood innocence but also sophistication.  A subtle sweetness with a little intensity.  Maybe something that is also good for you.  A little nostalgic, a little elegant richness. 

It had to be black.

I mean, she raised that whole simple, pared down, black outfit deal into an art form.  That means no frothy gaudy frosting.  No clashing flavours.   I hope I have gone some way towards doing all this with The Audrey Cupcake.

The cupcake base is light and super soft, and the flavour of the cake is pure, untainted by added flavourings.  It’s not bland though.  By browning the butter first the cupcakes have a deep, rich nutty flavour.  Yeah, I like doing that.  It tastes amaaazing!  So it’s both simple but also buttery lightness.  Very Audrey.  For the frosting, I went with a version of my favourite cream cheese buttercream.  It’s not overly sweet but has a luscious creamy and velvety texture that never sets hard.  Velvety, elegant and rich.  Wait for it …

The flavouring?  Licorice.  There’s something sweet, innocent, and nostalgic about licorice.  But it can also be rather sophisticated, elegant, and intense.  Not licorice candy.  I used pure licorice extract instead of melting down candy.  The flavour is clean and subtly sweet.  I used three teaspoons in the frosting for a lovely counterpoint to the richness of the buttercream and the brown buttery goodness of the cake underneath.  Start with one teaspoon and add more, until you get the intensity of flavour you wish.   Even if you are not crazy about licorice, I guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.  My doubting taste test panel fell in love with them and I must admit, I love them too, despite not being much of a cupcake aficionado for the most part.

Some black food colouring for visual effect looks rather cool I think.  Audrey cool?  It’s optional.  The frosting will be a light coffee colour without it.  Still looks lovely.  Final touch is a little edible black glitter.  Understated bling for her understated elegance.  Are they elegant?  I think so … a bit Holly Golightly maybe?  I know they’d be better than a bagel for breakfast at Tiffany’s any day 🙂

There are certain shades of limelight that can wreck a girl’s complexion

I hope I am not guilty of doing that here.   Here’s to you, Ms. Hepburn, with love … my humble tribute to you, in a cupcake.   Simple but deliciously lovely.

A note on the cupcakes:  I have a few cupcake recipes on this blog.  THIS is the best.  The lightest, softest, most delicious perfect cupcake ever.  These cupcakes do not dry out and I’ve purposefully kept some for 5 days and they are still as lovely as when freshly made.

Enjoy 🙂

The Audrey Cupcake

Makes 24 small or 15 large cupcakes

Ingredients
Cupcakes
125 grams unsalted butter
125 grams sugar
2 x 60 gram eggs
125 grams plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
125 millilitres milk
1 teaspoon fresh lime or lemon juice

Licorice Buttercream
125 grams unsalted butter
250 grams cream cheese
125 grams icing sugar
2 – 3 teaspoons pure licorice extract*
black food colouring (optional)
edible black glitter (optional)

*available at some health food stores and naturopaths or from European professional baking suppliers.  I got mine from a naturopath.

Instructions
Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 180℃.  Place 24 small cupcake liners on a baking tray and set aside.

Cut the butter into pieces and place in a saucepan over a low heat.  Melt the butter and cook until it starts to brown and gives off a warm, nutty aroma.  Stir from time to time to make sure the butter browns evenly.  Take care not to let it burn.  Remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl.   Set aside to cool slightly and then refrigerate until it starts to set again but is not too firm.  It should be the consistency of softened butter.

Add the sugar to the butter and whisk until the mixture is light, fluffy and the sugar is dissolved.  Add the eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth and light.

Sift together the flour and baking powder.  Add the lemon or lime juice to the milk.  Add half the flour to the batter and beat until smooth.  Add the milk and finally the remaining flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth and light.  Divide the batter between the cupcake liners.

Bake for about 20 minutes until risen and golden.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  You can store these, at room temperature, in an airtight container, if making ahead before frosting with the buttercream.

Licorice Buttercream
Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.   Whisk the cooled butter until slightly thickened.  Add the butter to the cream cheese mixture and whisk until smooth.  Add a little licorice extract to taste.  Finally, add a little black food colouring, if desired, to give the buttercream a deep licorice tint.

Cover and refrigerate the buttercream for 20 – 30 minutes before frosting the cupcakes.  This buttercream pipes beautifully and holds its shape without setting or becoming hard on standing or refrigerated.

Pipe the buttercream on to each cupcake.  If desired, add a little edible black glitter for a touch of bling.

Unfrosted, the cakes keep well up to a week if stored in an airtight container.  Frosted, store in the refrigerator.  They will keep for up to 5 days at least and be as delicious as freshly made.

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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes