Tag 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

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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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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Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes, Fruit, Jams & Preserves

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

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)

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.

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)

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

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 🙂

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.

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)

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 🙂


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)


2 x 400 millilitre cans of organic coconut milk

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).

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

slices of fresh lime, to decorate

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.

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.

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.


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

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.

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.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Cupcakes

Cocoa Raspberry Protein Cupcakes … once more with feeling

Hey CCM, didn’t you recently post a recipe for raspberry chocolate brownies?

Yes, I did.

So, what gives?

Well, some people just LOVE chocolate and raspberries but are following some rather strict dietary rules.  Maybe they eat according to specific dietary principles as a way of life, or because they have set themselves fat loss and/or lean muscle gain targets as part of their fitness goals.  I am in the latter group although, heck it’s a hard slog sometimes.  Temptation lurks around every corner.  I got a few requests for a treat that fits with the low-fat and reasonably low carb treat that also provides some decent protein but has that universally loved combo of raspberries and chocolate.

Also, it’s chocolate … and raspberries.   Can you really have too much?   The universe says NO.

So, I’m revisiting raspberries and chocolate again … once more with feeling 😀

I’m also conscious that a considerable number of my posts have chocolate leanings.  Affiliations.  Bias, you might say.  Well, duh.  I love my chocolate.  But here’s the thing.  The next few posts are probably going to be chocolate free.  Not for health reasons, but just because I have a list of things I’d like to bake now that it’s springtime.  Run for the hills, chocolate lovers … but I digress.

WARNING:  awesome healthy protein snack alert!

My goal here was to make something that provided some decent protein without being too heavy on the carbs but, importantly, were low in fat and a light snack that won’t weigh you down.  The inspiration is flourless chocolate cupcakes that rise and fall when they bake and cool and have a gooey, moist centre with a rich chocolately flavour and the sweet-tart explosion of raspberry goodness.  I think I’ve succeeded here.

A big thank you to one of my trainers, Anna from Wild Fitness, for being my taste tester in this experiment 🙂

These are great on their own but I love them topped with protein fluff.  Berry protein fluff would make the most sense and probably the best fit but I had them with mango fluff and WOW, they were good.  The best part is you have the little crater at the top of each cake in which the protein fluff sits rather snugly in a little mound.  Also great with some yoghurt or whatever takes your fancy … more raspberries?  Excellent.  More chocolate in the form of a choc-hazelnut spread?  DIVINE.  I store them in the refrigerator and they are brilliant straight from the fridge – the texture is really like a flourless chocolate cake.

Anna made a great suggestion, and I agree:  how magnificent would they be with the addition of some cacao nibs or chopped chocolate?  Unbearably good, I imagine.  Might do that next time  😉

A word of warning for the sugar junkies … they are not very sweet.  If, like me, you have cacao running through your veins, this is bliss because it makes the chocolate flavour much more intense (and I love the tartness of raspberries).  Definitely one for the dedicated chocolate diehards.   But, if you’re addicted to sugar, add some more maple syrup or a little brown sugar or whatever sweetener takes your fancy.  Taste the batter before you fold in the egg whites and adjust accordingly.

Don’t they look kinda cool too?  Like proper little cakes.  I’m convinced that you don’t have to sacrifice flavour and good natural ingredients to accommodate treats in a healthy diet.

Just because it’s healthy, doesn’t mean it can’t also be downright civilised.  Enjoy the unbearable lightness of being chocolate! 😀

Makes 12 / Serves 6

1 egg
120 grams non-fat quark (< 0.1% fat)
95 grams non-fat plain or Greek style yoghurt
25 grams unsweetened cacao (dutch process or organic raw)
35 grams pea protein (unflavoured, vanilla, or chocolate)
15 grams coconut flour
30 millilitres (2 tablespoons) pure vanilla bean paste
40 grams 100% pure maple syrup*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of sea salt
110 grams egg whites (about 3)
150 grams raspberries (fresh or frozen)

*I’ve used maple syrup as it is lower in carbohydrates than honey and most sugars.  It is also suitable for anyone for whom fructose might cause discomfort.  As mentioned above, if you like your snacks sweet, you might want to increase the amount or substitute your preferred sweetener.

Note also that I’ve used PEA PROTEIN again here.  I’ve had a few questions about pea protein and why I don’t use whey for baking.  I do use whey sometimes but always with pea protein.  This is because whey protein tends to dry baked goods out a good deal more and the resulting texture is usually not as good.  You can try substituting some of the pea protein with whey, but if you do, use a whey concentrate or a mix of whey and casein.  Do not use whey protein isolate as this will be even more drying and can add bitterness.  You really don’t want that.

Preheat the oven to 170℃.   Line a 12-muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

Combine the egg, quark, yoghurt in a large bowl and whisk together until light and creamy.  Add the remaining ingredients, except for the egg whites.  Beat until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, with clean beaters or whisk, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks.

Gently fold the raspberries into the cake batter, taking care not to break up the raspberries much.  You want to have whole pieces of fruit when you bite into the cakes.  Finally, gently fold through the beaten egg whites until no streaks remain.

Divide the batter among the prepared cupcake molds.

Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes.  I baked them for 20 minutes as I think this produces a better result with a slightly more gooey centre.  It will depend largely on your oven though.

Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Note, they will rise like the little troopers they are and then they will fall again in the centre when the cool.  Like little flourless chocolate cakes.  Gooey centre, check.  Moist, check.  Raspberry goodness explosions, check check check!

I store extras in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days.

Nutritional Profile

The following is based on the recipe above and shows that there is no great difference whether you use organic raw cacao or Dutch process.  For the record, I used Valrhona dutch process this time as I’m saving my raw cacao for smoothies.

I have not accounted for any added extras including extra sweeteners or chocolate chips, cacao nibs etc.


Filed under All Recipe Posts, Chocolate, Fruit, Protein, Protein Cakes, Special Diet