Thursday, 28 February 2008

Go Spectacularly Bananas with banoffee cupcakes!

ok, so i'm sure you have all heard of 'banoffee pie' and if you haven't, well, then my friends you have not tasted one of life's most simply divine desserts and i emphasise on 'simply' because it is probably the simplest dessert you could ever have the joy of making.

here's a description according to Wikipedia...

Banoffee pie is an English dessert made from bananas, cream and boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche), either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. Its name is a portmanteau constructed from the words "banana" and "toffee".

so there you have it...banana, toffee and don't forget some cream on top too! what a perfect combination and i think a wonderful cupcake creation to enter into the Cupcakes Spectacular 2008 event hosted by HomeMadeS

i have made banoffee pie before many times, but now i wanted to capture the essence of it all in a cupcake, so i settled on a banana cupcake recipe, a toffee filling and a whipped cream topping with chocolate flakes sprinkled on top. i set to work and baked the banana cupcakes first...they turned out lovely with a nice strong banana taste. i let them cool and then using the cone method, cut out the centre of each cupcake and filled them with the toffee. finally topped them off with whipped double cream and sprinkled with a broken up cadbury's chocolate flake. the result...OH MY GOSH! if you don't make these, you are missing out on one of the finest creations i have ever had the joy to make. REALLY! these cupcakes rock. when you take a bite there is this gorgeus combination of spongy banana, smooth toffee, light cream and crumbly chocolate...if that doesn't make you fall to your knees then i don't know what will. recipe below as this is my very own creation. i also lucked out to find a jar of heavenly butterscotch spread that i used for the filling, but never mind if you can't find one, you can do-it-yourself too with condensed milk!

Cupcakes :
1 ½ c. plain flour
¾ c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¼ t. salt
½ c. melted butter
1 ½ c. mashed banana
2 large eggs
½ t. vanilla extract
¼ c. milk

1 can of condensed milk

Icing :
1 carton of whipping cream
1 chocolate Cadbury’s flake

For Cupcakes :
preheat oven to whatever you normally bake at. line your cupcake pan with cases.
sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
Mix together eggs, vanilla, melted butter and milk and pour into dry ingredients.
add in mashed banana. spoon batter into cupcake cases.
bake for 25 mins or until that toothpick comes out clean. let cool completely.

For Toffee :
place unopened tins of condensed milk in a heavy pot and cover the tins with water. boil for 3-4 hours. make sure the tins are covered at ALL times or you just might be licking the toffee off your ceiling! remove from water and let cool.

For Assembly :
using the cone method, cut the tops off the cupcakes and scoop out some extra cake. fill with the toffee. even off the tops and replace.
ice with whipped cream and decorate with crumbled chocolate flake.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

apple crumble cupcakes

these cupcakes were featured on All Things Cupcake in their weekly cupcake collection

i have decided to get involved in the Master Baker challenge for this month, which specifies that you must bake something with cinnamon. well, i don't know about you...but i love apple crumble...always have, always will. there's just something so comforting and warm about apples and cinnamons. so after searching for a my shock and horror, there were none! how can the wonders of apple crumble not yet been captured in the shape of a cupcake? oh, well, never one to be phased by these things, i set about doing it myself. so what does apple crumble need? something apple-y, something crumbly and something vanilla to top it all off! and by that we have our ingredients already! so i went with an apple cupcake, a crumble topping and some vanilla buttercream icing. what a perfect combination, if i do say so myself! i'm gonna post the recipe for this one (as i am yet to find one already out there) and as you have probably noticed for most of my other cupcakes i don't. well basically that is because i am already using recipes that are out there and don't see the purpose of re-publishing them on my blog so people think they are my own. if they are, i'll publish them, ok? so here is what i came up with....

Cupcakes :
1 1/2 c. plain flour
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 c. butter
3 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1 c. grated apple

Crumble :
2 t. cold butter
2 T. brown sugar
2 T. plain flour
1/2 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

Icing :
4 oz. butter
3 1/2 c. icing sugar
1 t. vanilla essence

For Cupcakes :
preheat oven to whatever works best for you usually. line cupcake pan with cases.
in your electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
sift together dry ingredients - flour, spices, salt, baking powder in a small bowl.
add dry ingredients alternating with milk. beat until smooth.
add in grated apple.
scoop batter into cupcake pan and top with crumble then bake for 20-25 mins.

For Crumble :
combine butter, flour, sugar and oatmeal in a bowl. toss gently until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. add walnuts and sprinkle on cupcakes.

For Icing :
beat butter in electric mixer until fluffy. add vanilla essence. then slowly add icing sugar one cup at a time or until reach desired consistency. pipe it on! devour!
ok, so final result...i really liked it. the crumbly topping tasted so good with the oatmeal in it and had a slight crispy-ness to it (but perhaps could have been more crispy), the cupcake was fine, it didn't rise as much as i expected (could this have been the crumble topping?) and the vanilla buttercream...well, that speaks for itself! it definitely captured the essence of 'apple crumble' so in that respect...mission a-cupcake-d!

Saturday, 23 February 2008

a cupcake-tastic special mention!

what a sweet cupcake-tastic start to the weekend i'm having! i received a message from CB over at All Things Cupcake to tell me that i'd been included in the weekly cupcake collection and when i followed the link, it brought me to the post where, sure enough, there was a piccie of my vegan chai cupcakes. what an honour to be mentioned on that site, which in case you haven't checked it out, is the absolute homage to all things cupcake! i love it! it's a cupcake addicts dream come true!

Friday, 22 February 2008

tag! you're it!

ok, so i got tagged by nikki at Nik Snacks and had NO idea what that meant until i popped by her blog to check it out and check out her blog too! it's a way to bring favourite blogs to other people's attention as well as share a little about yourself in the process. i must admit that although i've been cupcake blogging since last year, i've only really started putting my blog out there in the past few weeks, so this is all new to me...tagging (apart from the tagging i did in the playground!)
so there are a few rules to follow(not that i'm very good at rules, but i'll try):

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 5 facts about yourself.
3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names, linking to them.
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

five things about lil' ol' ME! yikes! well, here goes...

1. i'm a TCK...that's a Third Culture Kid for all those not in the know, and it means
a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents' culture. make that 16 years of my childhood in my case!

2. i'm a serious book-worm, when i go into bookshops i feel so overwhelmed sometimes when i think of all the books there are out there in the world and how little time there is to read them all!

3. i don't like capital letters...hence why my blog is in lower case letter. LONG LIVE lower case letters - i think i might start a campaign!

4. i love the ocean...i should have been a fish...but then, no, wait a minute, i'd never have been able to bake cupcakes! Hmmmm...

5. I love to story-tell - in public, private, to children, adults, truthful ones, fantastical ones...

ok, that's that! now 5 blogs that i like to visit(of course they are all cupcake blogs :)

not quite nigella

couture cupcakes


52 cupcakes

cupcake project

ok that's it, over and out x

Thursday, 21 February 2008

white chocolate, cranberry & macadamia muffins...what a mouthful!

i have loved macadamia nuts ever since i first tried white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies from Subway. a sinfully long and often waist-expanding relationship ensued! i love the taste of them...this probably sounds weird (and don't let it put you off them), but the texture reminds me of candle wax and interestingly enough, my hubby recently cooked chicken kapitan and the recipe called for 'candle nuts' and i remember thinking that they reminded me of macadamias.
macadamia nut
1. small Australian tree with racemes of pink flowers; widely cultivated (especially in Hawaii) for its sweet edible nuts
2. nutlike seed with sweet and crisp white meat
so i thought i'd like to try them in some muffins. then began my search to buy the delightful nuts. i searched health shops high and low, supermarkets near and far to no avail. why, oh why, do they NOT sell macadamia nuts in Dublin! are we nutty enough? then i discovered a wee modicum of hope...a bag of macadamia nut and cranberry mix. when one can no longer be picky, one must snap up what they can! never one to reject the humble cranberry, i decided that they could go in to the muffin...after all, who am i to say that the cranberry is not deserving of a presence? once i had prepared the batter, i was surprised because it was very thick. i know that muffin batters are usually more dense than cupcake batters, but this stuff wouldn't even drop off the spoon (was i heading for rock cakes???) anyway, i finally got the batter into the cases and baked the muffins. result...very very scrumptious. it has certainly satisfied my craving for the macadamias, the cranberries added a nice tangy element to the muffin and the white chocolate just continued to ensure i do my utmost in the waist-expanding department!

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

vegan chai cupcakes

these cupcakes were featured on All Things Cupcake in their weekly cupcake collection

i've been wanting to give these a try for ages - vegan cupcakes from the VCTOTW book, so today was the day. they were really simple to make - i didn't even need to take out the mixer for these. the smell of the batter was very very aromatic (there was cardamom in the recipe...again...i'm a glutton for punishment!) however, i was disappointed that the recipe only yielded 12 cupcakes. generally i can get anything from 16-24 cupcakes from most batters so it was weird to be stretching it to try and fit 12 because they weren't even filled up to the usual height. i like my cupcakes 'up-size' because generally i only want one and so i like to get the most-ess out of it! if i'd have up-sized this batter i might have gotten 6! anyway, popped them in the oven and the smell was just lovely...really smelled like chai that i remember drinking from Coffee Bean in Singapore.

once they were out, i let them cool and got to work on the icing. ok, so i know that they are supposed to be vegan, but no-one in my family is actually vegan so i could get away with it and my brother has a penchant for buttercream icing! i made chocolate this time and piped it on. the taste of the icing was delicious - very chocolate-y, very good! iced the cupcakes and then came the taste-test. my brother tucked in straight away and was happy. as for me, well, first of all, i was a bit disappointed by how much they stuck to the cupcake much so, that the whole bottom was left behind on the paper and it seemed like half the cupcake had gone MIA. not very attractive. i wondered if it was because i had substituted the canola oil for sunflower oil in the recipe? wonder if anyone else has ever experienced this? i normally never have a problem with cupcakes sticking, and i have used both oil and butter in recipes and usually everything is fine. hmmmm, shall have to ponder this a little more. but back to the taste, it was very good, the spices tasted so warm and comforting and blended really well with the chocolate.

i really liked these and perhaps might use the recipe base again to make a non-vegan variety because i definitely noticed a difference in the texture of the cake - more dense and heavy than non-vegan varieties. you miss that airy fairy feel that you get when you cream butter and sugar and of course, add the eggs. but i think it's good to try these things out. educate yourself a bit. photos were taken in the garden (because Spring weather is still happily hanging around - but i am expecting it to go at any moment!) and i couldn't help but use some of the foliage.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

a sweet salute to Spring - pistachio cardamom cupcakes

oh my, oh my, it seems like Spring might actually be here. the past few days have been really beautiful sunny days...still cold, but otherwise crisp and fresh and just really nice to be outdoors in. so in honorary celebration of the coming of Spring, i wanted to make some cupcakes. something exotic and spicy to put all and sundry in the mood. i found this recipe for pistachio cardamom cupcakes on vanilla garlic's blog (links on the menu to the right) and really wanted to try them. so, first let's talk about cardamom....cardamom, oh, cardamom, what do i think of thee? i'm very undecided on my feelings towards the mysterious cardamom....
car·da·mom /ˈkɑrdəməm/ [kahr-duh-muhm]
1.the aromatic seed capsules of a tropical Asian plant, Elettaria cardamomum, of the ginger family, used as a spice or condiment and in medicine.
2.the plant itself.
3.a related plant, Amomum compactum, or its seeds, used as a substitute for true cardamom.

so this is what the online dictionary tells us about it but, me...personally, well, i think when i was younger and living somewhere or other i had a very bad experience with the cardamom in that i ate a whole pod and decided it wasn't for me....the taste seemed too strong and pungent and left a very lasting impression (and not one of the good 'uns either!) however, never one to let past experiences rule the kitchen cake mixer, i decided to bite the bullet (not the cardamom!) and make some cupcakes using them. ok, ok, so i have to admit when i opened the spice jar and took a whiff i had a moment of post traumatic smell syndrome as memories came flooding back. but i baked on and followed the recipe and made the cupcakes (not exactly as listed though...recipe said 2 teaspoons of cardamom and i'm afraid i punked out...and put only 1...i know, i'm a lightweight...but once cardamom'd, twice shy!) smell when they were in the oven was very good...warm, aromatic and exotic. i was pleasantly surprised...could i finally be overcoming years of cardamom-phobia? once cooled, i iced them with a vanilla buttercream. i am currently in love with vanilla buttercream and how good it looks when squeezed out the piping bag and after the valentine cupcake incident, i wanted these ones to look....cupcake-tastic.

best of all, with the cometh of Spring, i had beautiful natural sunlight to bathe my cupcakes in...and i took so many photos...i just went wild...i couldn't help myself! it's the joy of seeing sunshine again! and cupcakes and sunshine, well, it doesn't get much better than that! so after all the hard work was done, it was time for the taste-test...i took a bite...and...i could really taste the cardamom (phew! to only putting in one teaspoon) but it seemed to blend really well with the pistachio and the overall flavour was very reminiscent of india. to my surprise though, everyone else just gobbled them up - even my brother who i always thought was pretty fussy on foods and who i suspected would be the first one to complain...didn't. so, in conclusion, i think it's just me. i'm guessing i must be super-sensitive to cardamom. but at least i can say today that i came, i saw, i cardamom'd!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

have a Happy Valentine's with coconut milk cupcakes!

well, here's wishing everyone a happy V-day! for the occasion i tried a recipe that i have been wanting to taste for awhile - coconut milk cupcakes. the cupcake had both coconut milk and dessicated coconut in it. the final result was nice. the taste was subtle and light...very summery and tropical! the icing was a cream cheese coconut icing and i must admit that i was a little disappointed with it. first of all, it was impossible to ice nice designs with because it was a bit on the gooey side and also with the pieces of dessicated coconut in it, made it difficult to squeeze out evenly from the icing bag. also it looked lumpy and like the ingredients were not mixed in properly when really it was the bits of coconut...hmph! so i ended up just smearing it on the cupcakes and decorating with a foil-wrapped heart. not bad, but i would have preferred something a tad more spohisticated. also the pictures don't really do it justice - the icing was more pink but in the photos came out as looking salmon - hmph, again! overall not a bad result, but next time if i were to make these, i would make a buttercream icing, colour it so that it would be more delicately pink and use the icing bag to swirl it on with more finesse - leaving out the dessicated coconut from the actual icing and maybe sprinkling it on after. also a different flavour for the icing might have provided a better contrast to the end result...let's see what flavours might go nice with coconut - lime? chocolate? or just plain vanilla?

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Gong Xi Fa Cai! - chinese new year cupcakes

so, very excited today because it is our first meet-up with the Singaporeans in Ireland group! we're going for a Chinese New Year party and of course, no guesses as to what i am bringing! yes, yes, chinese new year cupcakes of course and don't they look cute as a button? i completely lucked out after a long hunt for golden coins to actually find chinese gold coins in the oriental emporium here. they are just too perfect and without them...well they just wouldn't have looked so festive. i used a previous recipe for caramel cupcakes for these as i didn't want to experiment with anything new and the caramel cupcakes are pretty neutral in that most people like caramel (on other occasions when i have baked cupcakes with particular flavours people have not liked them i.e. gingerbread, black forest) so i wanted to have a flavour that most people like (have you ever heard anyone say they don't like caramel?) so hoping that these go down a treat today and for those celebrating, wishing you all Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

devilishly undecided on these devil's food cupcakes

so my mum asked me to have a look and see if i could find any cupcake recipes that used brandy as she had a bottle of brandy that someone had given her as a present and thought it would be good to use some of it up....hmmmm, ok! so i found a recipe for a devil's food cupcake. now, i have made devil's food before, and it was really good, so i thought that the addition of brandy might work well. followed the recipe as stated and the batter was seriously RUNNY! i had to pour it into the cases (as opposed to scoop, spoon, etc.) when it came out of the oven, it looked decidedly interesting...very dark and heavy looking in the cases...gulp!...was this a sign of an impending cupcake-tastrophe! anyway i let them cool and iced them with vanilla buttercream icing - hubby even got in on the act and requested to try and ice a few...funny! then hubby grabbed one to try and i tasted some of the cake. the taste seemed fine but there was a strong presence of the brandy (hell, it IS strong stuff, right!) and this did seem to make the cupcakes heavy, in that, you didn't feel like you could just gobble another 4 or 5 of them down. for me, that's what i like so much about cupcakes, that they are usually so light and airy(fairy) but these cupcakes were not. i would recommend this one as a serious adult dessert only and alcohol-lovers at that! on the upside though, i got really creative with my icing designs and had the opportunity to try out ideas for the chinese new year cupcakes i'll be making on saturday for the Singapore expat group get-together.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The Foodie Blogroll
Come one, come all, ye budding bakers, cooks and closet chefs! If you think you have an inclination for interesting ingredients or marvellous magical mixtures that you want to share then join The Foodie BlogRoll! Share your creations, experiments and explorations with foodies around the world and broaden your taste bud horizons! See ya there!

Monday, 4 February 2008

sunday morning treat - french toast cupcakes

mmmmm, french toast...i just love french toast - especially in the morning and on's absolutely perfect weekend comfort food. so what about french toast re-created in a cupcake. now that sounds even more perfect! so this morning i got up and got baking. i used a basic cupcake recipe with the addition of cinnamon (oooo, the smell of it baking in the oven was yummy-licious!) while the cupcakes were baking, i hunted for some maple syrup and found some secreted away at the back of one of my parents' many crammed cupboards - this was for drizzling down through the baked cupcakes. then i set to work on the icing. i had some cream cheese icing in the freezer that i took out to defrost and once ready, added some cinnamon powder to that too, which turned it a lovely...well...cinnamon colour! once the cupcakes were baked, i poked some fork holes into the cupcakes (which i think i did too soon because they hadn't cooled enough and later kinda broke up on eating) and drizzled maple syrup down through the cupcake (oh ya, remember to cut back on sugar in the cupcake recipe!) then topped with the cinnamon cream cheese icing and some little chocolate chews. wow! it has never felt so good waking up on a sunday morning. the taste was superb...just like french toast and little brother had eaten 3 before i even had time to finish icing the rest!!! i love lazy sunday and french toast cupcakes...sublime!

Sunday, 3 February 2008


so in an attempt to link up with other cooks and get more involved in the world of food blogs i have joined the GREAT COOKS Blogroll and imagine my joy to hear i'm the first cupcake blog to join too! it's wonderful to see the array of blogs out there and the many different food types people experiement with and explore with a mixture of love and passion! i love it! Click below to explore further....

Friday, 1 February 2008

guinness cupcakes - embrace 'the black stuff'!

so what is a girl to do when in a country where 'the black stuff' is almost considered to be part of the staple diet!?! embrace it, of course and get creative with it! so guinness cupcakes became the mood of the moment. the recipe started off with melting the butter in the guinness (hot guinness....yeuch!) and then the rest of the ingredients were added to it. by the time the batter was ready to scoop into the cupcake cases, i was ready to just sit down somewhere quietly and lick the bowl of batter need to bake! it was that good and the smell....divine! but i figured there were a family of eager testers and tasters waiting to see what guinness cupcakes would taste like so who was i to disappoint! i topped with a mascarpone vanilla icing and OH MY GOSH! these little guys tasted FANTABULOUS (that's a mixture of fantastic and fabulous for those not in the know....cos one word is just not enough!) the guinness added this smoothness and richness to the chocolate and the cupcake just seemed to melt in your mouth. these are such wonderful adult cupcakes that it really puts to rest all those critics who say that cupcakes are just for kids....these certainly are for the adult population...proof....18 made yesterday....3 left today on last check....need i say more?

Guinness Cupcakes

1 cup Guinness
1 stick + 1 Tb unsalted butter
¾ cup cocoa
2 cups dark brown sugar
¾ cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 Tb vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 ½ tsp baking soda

8 oz cream cheese
1 ¼ cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tray.

Combine the Guinness and the butter (chopped into 1 inch chunks) in a double boiler and heat to melt the butter. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

In a bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla, then add to stout mixture.

Sift together flour and baking soda and fold into batter.

Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 25 mins or until toothpick comes out clean. Let stand 10 mins and then remove from tray and cool on a wire rack.

In a mixer, whisk together ingredients for icing and spread over cooled cupcakes.