Wednesday, 8 October 2008

charming chocolate mulberry cupcakes!

'here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush..' except today we're going round the mulberry cupcake - the chocolate mulberry cupcake! i was given some mulberries to play around with and felt the tartness of the berries would work well in the smooth, richness of chocolate.

mulberries are considered a kind of 'super food' because they are full of anthocyanins which are edible pigments which hold potential use as dietary antioxidants providing potential health benefits against a variety of diseases. i found a list of 10 health benefits of mulberries according to traditional medicine and although not scientifically verified, it makes for an interesting read...

Cancer Prevention
Mulberries are a good source of resveratrol, a potent phytonutrient also found in grapes that researchers believe can prevent cancer and aid in the fight of existing cancers.

Life Extension
Because of their resveratrol content, mulberries may be a tool in one's life extension arsenal, as resveratrol has shown in several studies to extend the life of mice.

Blood Tonic
In Chinese medicine, mulberries are considered a blood tonic, meaning that they cleanse the blood and increase its production, strengthening the entire system.

Kidney Strengthener
In Chinese medicine, mulberries are believed to strengthen the kidneys.

Liver Cleanser
In Chinese medicine, mulberries are believed to be effective in cleansing the liver.

Better Hearing and Vision
In China, tea made with mulberry paste is believed to strengthen one's hearing and vision.

Constipation Cure
In Turkey, a treatment for constipation is to eat white mulberries on an empty stomach with a glass of water.

Anemia Treatment
Because they are quite high in iron, mulberries are a great food to use in the treatment of anemia.

Cold and Flu Treatment
In Turkey, mulberry molasses is used as a treatment for colds and flu. Their effectiveness in this way may be due to their high vitamin C content.

Premature Gray Hair Remedy
In several countries, mulberries are considered an effective remedy for prematurely gray hair.

so what did i do...i used a previous for black forest cupcakes and just swapped the mulberries for the black cherries. then i topped them off with some melted chocolate and a pecan! they were delicious. the mulberries provided these little bursts of tartness amidst the sweetness of the chocolate. and with all those anti-oxidants in there...what a perfect excuse to eat more!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

coconut spelt and wholewheat loaf cake

ok, this was a serious venture into the unknown. an experiment into true healthiness. i have had next to no experience with spelt flour and pretty limited experience with wholewheat flour so this really was a journey into virgin territory. my friend who's kitchen i have been commandeering requested a healthy alternative to my loaf cake and who am i to refuse, i mean after all i am using their oven, mixer, sieve and spatula!

so i stuck to the usual loaf cake recipe with some alterations - instead of self-raising and plain flour, i worked with spelt and wholewheat. added some baking powder. then replaced sugar with agave syrup and added freshly grated coconut and vanilla powder (i never even knew there was such a thing!) and the end result...a lovely looking loaf cake! taste-wise this was very interesting. the texture was slightly crumbly and i think next time i would add more agave syrup because it could also have been a little sweeter. it was still moist and had a slight chewy consistency with the presence of the coconut. the spelt flour adds a very particular taste but it all comes together and when you know that it is a healthier alternative, you enjoy it even more. it certainly encourages me to experiment more with healthier flours and sugar alternatives and make some of those ever-so-fattening cupcakes a tad more gentle on the waistline!

the recipe...

250 g soft unsalted butter
5 Tbsp agave syrup
3 large eggs
200 g wholewheat flour
100g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla powder
150g fresh grated coconut
4 tablespoons milk
loaf tin

cream the butter, adding the syrup when it’s really soft, and creaming both together till pale and smooth and light.
sift together the flours and baking powder.
beat in the eggs one at a time, folding in a spoonful of the flour after each addition, then add the vanilla.
fold in the rest of the flour and finally add the coconut.
thin the batter with the milk - you’re after a soft, dropping consistency - and pour into the waiting greased tin.
pop it in the oven, and cook for 45 mins, or until a cake-tester comes out clean.
leave to cool on a wire rack in its tin, unmould and devour shamelessly - this time you can because it is more healthy!

i'm entering this for the culinarty original recipe round-up so check out the event if you have a favourite original recipe!

Monday, 6 October 2008

at long last...back in the kitchen with lemon chamomile cupcakes!

lucky me, lucky me...i was invited to a close friend's place over a long weekend we had here and guess what? he has an oven. it was like christmas, easter, birthday and all the other yearly celebrations coming in one great thigh-slapping whammo of an extravaganza. i was ecstatic! and so i was given free-reign in the kitchen to create, bake, explore and just enjoy the feel of the soft flour, cold butter and grainy sugar between my fingers again! ahhh, i have missed it so much. i contemplated just chaining myself to the oven and never leaving but alas, the call of duty forced my return back to my ovenless abode.

so my first creation...lemon camomile cupcakes. i adore the relaxing effect camomile has and i have often squeezed a bit of lemon into a cup of the tea to enhance the flavour. so i figured that a combo of lemon and camomile has got to go well together! and these were...light and fluffy with the tangy lemon icing...these are similar to the previous camomile cupcakes i made the only difference was the icing which was simply icing sugar and lemon juice mixed together until the desired consistency was reached. simply spoon it on...enough so that you get that mouth-watering drip effect as the icing hardens on it's way south. perfection in every bite!