Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Birthday Present Round up....and a GIVEAWAY!

So this is my 100th post! and what better way to celebrate then with a round up of all my fantastic cupcake and otherwise related presents that I got for my birthday last week! 
As you all know, my birthday was celebrated by having this dessert bar, going on a trip to a new cupcakery, and opening all these amazing presents:

You can imagine my excitement as I arrived at my parents house to find this table filled with cupcake and polka dot wrapped prezzies - my two great loves! I opened a sneaky one on friday eve...and got this absolutely amazing book from my sister Mara, it's called The United Cakes of America and it features a cake that relates to every state in America! The recipes all look delish and I can't wait to get trying some, and to top it all off some American themed shoes....America is my other big love!

On Saturday I unwrapped all my other prezzies and here is a little taste or all the cupcake goodies I got! 

This amazing cupcake headband! and I also got some lil cupcake earrings too.

A worktop saver (featuring polka dots AND cupcakes...how awesome can you get) from my friends and these cute patterened doilies from my sister, along with these awesome ice cream bowls with dangling cupcakes and all!

This lovely cupcake stand from my mom, along with the cute heart shaped bowls.  The polka dot and cupcake mugs were from my friend Caz and the apron was from Jo, Amy and Nats along with worktop saver you saw in the pic above and a notebook.  

This cupcake cushion and the cupcake paper chains were from my boss, and the cupcake cake stand from my sister Mel.  I now have a total of 11 different cake stands! (You should have seen Byron's face when I opened up the 3 I got this time round...he doesn't understand why you need more than one!)

I told my sister Mel I wanted bowls for Ice cream Sundae's since a new tradition in our house is 'Sundae-Sunday' where every Sunday we make Ice cream Sundae's! I wanted some bowls so we had all the proper gear! Mel bought me two of these lovely cupcake bowls which will do the job nicely! I also mentioned it to a couple of my friends but asked for Sundae glasses so they could also be used for making milkshakes...another fave thing of mine! and my friends Jade and Laur gave me these amazing glasses which I am in love with and to top it all off this super cute Sundae's book! So here we are using the new glasses last Sundae-Sunday! We made some malteser, oreo and choc fudge sauce Sundae's...they were delish! and having the snazzy glasses and long spoons just made it so much more fun! (next time I'll remember to take the tags off the bottom of the glasses before I photograph our creations!)

and here's a little display of my cards...featuring, you guessed it, more cupcakes!

We have another nightly tradition in our household...Mexican Monday! I love Mexican food and so naturally it was my meal of choice for my birthday night out which just happened to fall on a Monday...how's that for timing! So we went to Chiquito's...a fave Mexican place of mine and well worth the trip since there aren't any Mexican restaurants near us which is a shame! Here are a few pics:

I had Chimichangas, and By had sizzling hot fajita's! 

We also enjoyed some non alcoholic pina's and the puddings were amazing! I had fruit enchiladas with mango and strawberry wrapped in a cinammon tortilla accompanied by ice cream and fudge sauce! and By had this giant chocolate chip waffle with ice cream and sauce! 

As you can see I was well and truly spoilt on my birthday and it was a big event! I made rocky road cupcakes to take into work.

They were my fave brownie cupcakes with chocolate frosting adorned with white and milk maltesers, chocolate buttons and micro mini marshmallows!

I then topped them with a drizzle of white chocolate

and they were ready to be devoured! 

Now let's get down to the GIVEAWAY!

I can't believe this is my 100th post! Exciting stuff! Thanks to all who follow my blog...new and old...I appreciate all the blog love you give me so I want one of you to be the owner of this yummy looking cupcake book which isn't even out yet! 

It comes out on Thursday and is by Jennie Milsom.  The slogan is 'Hundreds of divine recipes to take you to baking paradise' - well who wouldn't want to go there! So even if you own every cupcake book out there...who not add this to your collection or even better if it's your first cupcake book you will own enter now for the chance to win! The best part is this is open to ALL my blog readers...why miss out just cause you live in America or Australia or wherever! I hate it when I find amazing giveaways but can't enter cause I'm in the U.K so it's open to all! There's just two things you have to do to be in with a chance of winning:

1. Show me you're a reader.  Look at the top right hand side of my blog and if you aren't a follower already then click follow to join along!

2. Leave me a comment to be in with a chance of winning

I'll pick the winner using a random number generator and announce it next week on the 6th July.  Spread the word, and good luck! 

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A more successful cupcake hunt!

I thought I'd catch up on a cupcake hunt I went on a few weeks ago but never got around to blogging!
You may recall our New Year's Day cupcake hunt was less than successful, due to half the cupcakeries we visited being shut! 
We decided we'd give The Cupcake Company (in Kensington) another go this time around, and we're very glad we did!

Excuse the poor quality photos...blogger's worst nightmare - my camera battery died! Here are the cupcakes we sampled, a white chocolate and raspberry one and a banana cupcake with toffee frosting and a rolo on top! 

These were some seriously good cupcakes! Super moist and fresh and just generally delicious.  I would pick cupcakes from somewhere like this any day over Hummingbird's cupcakes that's for sure.  Here is their lovely window display.

After that we headed to Chiswick to pay Outsider Tart a visit.  I was pretty excited about their cupcakes after looking on their website and seeing their amazing flavour selection! However when we arrived, they only had two different cupcakes on offer and neither looked anything special and I think it was just chocolate or vanilla so that was slightly disappointing.  I didn't feel tempted at all to try one, but I was definitely tempted by their other delicious looking treats so all was not lost!

They had 3 different types of brownie/blondie on offer:

So we took one of the triple chocolate brownies, one whoopie pie (chocolate with nutella filling) and a lemon bar to sample.

The brownie was very rich and I would have enjoyed it a little more if it had been accompanied by some ice cream I think! but the whoopie pie was yummy and the lemon bar was amazing! I think this was our fave treat we picked up, it had a crunchy top and delicious homemade lemon curd inside and left you wanting more! 

So whilst I wasn't blown away by their cupcakes, I would certainly recommend paying them a visit for the other delicacies on offer.....and for their amazing selection of imported products from America! This was an added bonus, I had no idea they sold root beer, lucky charms etc... so you can imagine my excitement when I found this giant bottle of root beer! 

I took one for the team and carried it around all day long! it was pretty heavy, but definitely worth it! 
Later on in the day we went to Portobello Market and found this amazing bookshop! If you're into cooking/baking you defo need to check it out...I could have stayed there for hours browsing all the amazing recipe books!

We also made sure we checked out Snog, a new frozen yoghurt place in Covent Garden.  It was quite cool (no pun intended!) inside and our raspberry and brownie frozen yoghurt as the perfect way to end our weekend full of treats!

Queenie's Cupcakery, IronBridge- Shropshire

So I went home last weekend for a big family celebration for mine and my sister's birthday and what did we do to celebrate?...well we went to a new Cupcakery of course!

Queenie's has been opened since the end of 2009.  My mom alerted me to it's opening and she checked it out quite early on and gave me a very good report all about it so ever since I've wanted to try and visit it but usually when I go home to visit family we are so busy packing things in we have never had the time.  Ironbridge is about a 40 minute drive from where my parents live so we set out on a nice sunny Saturday for some cupcake fun.  Even without Queenie's, Ironbridge is a lovely quaint little village - famous for it's 'Iron Bridge'!

It is in a great location just opposite the river, and if you're lucky enough you can grab the only table outside and enjoy your cupcake.

Everything about Queenie's is quite classic and a throw back to the old style even down to these wooden cabinets the cupcakes are housed in.

I like the way all the cupcakes are named after Royalty.  The flavours are classic too, you won't find any Oreo's here!

I went for a lemon cupcake, which I wouldn't usually order but as I said they didn't have my usual fave flavour of Oreo, and so it made a refreshing change!  It was a lovely moist zesty cupcake with cream cheese frosting and some sugar on top for a bit of added crunch.  I liked the vintage crockery it was served on.

The cupcakes were good, here we are all enjoying ours! My sister had the coconut one, I felt it was a bit plain by itself - I always like to pair coconut with another flavour.  My other sister went for the red velvet and actually her cupcake was pretty dry but the chocolate cupcake got good reviews all round.

I feel that the decor more than made up for the one slightly dry cupcake we encountered though! The ambience was great and the staff were so friendly and had a little chat with us, and I just felt you could never get that kind of cupcake experience in the London cupcakeries so for that alone I think Queenie's deserves a rating of 10!

I certainly couldn't have thought of a better way to enjoy my birthday! and if you ever happen to find yourself in Shropshire you know where to go for your cupcake fix!

In a couple more posts I'll be at my 100th post! so watch out this week for my special giveaway!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Birthday Dessert Bar!

I have been planning this for a long time now! I have developed 
an obsession with stalking dessert bar blogs and ogling at how 
amazingly talented the people are who create them! So I
decided I wanted to have a go at one myself.  I decided my colour theme would be brown and green and so to go along with that everything was chocolate or mint or both! I spent the whole of 
last week baking in preparation, so I baked one new thing each evening and then froze everything up until the big day!  My sister Mara baked the whoopies since she has been busy developing a whoopie pie range for her company so I figured I'd leave it to the pro! and I left the bunting to my scrapbooking pro sister Mel.  My Mom provided the yummy Root Beer, which our whole family is 
crazy about (and of course it fitted with the brown colour theme!) and everything else on the table was baked by me.
I'll give you a little break down of what we had.....

The Cupcake centre piece, these were my favourite mint oreo cupcakes with an oreo baked into the base of the cupcake.  You can also see one of my brand new cupcake stands that I got for my birthday here (I got a whole lot of cupcake goodies as presents that I will blog about in the next few days!)

These were little sweetie jars filled with coconut M&M's, green apple and juicy pear Jelly Belly's and maltesers.

Next we have the fabulous whoopies, they were chocolate flavoured with a cheesecake filling (tinted green).

After that, we have some brownie pops.  They weren't quite the shape I was hoping for, but it was my first time making them so I guess perfection comes with practice! These brownies were covered in melted mint aero and rolled in green sanding sugar.

These are some mini cupcakes that were made using the same mixture as the Oreo cupcakes you saw earlier, but instead of Oreo frosting I went with a basic vanilla buttercream (tinted green) and topped with a little wedge of peppermint crisp (a chocolate bar only available in South Africa...so thanks to my grandparents-in-law for bringing me some over!!)

Then we have the cake pops.  These were mint chocolate cupcakes that are then crumbled to pieces.   I mixed in some swiss meringue buttercream to the crumbled cake mess, rolled them into balls, after freezing they were dipped in green candy melts and finished off with a mini brown smartie.

And last, but definitely not least (I think these were the fave of the whole dessert bar), are the Oreo balls. These are crushed up Oreos mixed in with some cream cheese, and then after being frozen they are dipped in mint chocolate and finished off with a sprinkling of peppermint crisp.

And here we are, the two birthday girls, about to enjoy the feast before us!

I was pretty pleased with how it all turned out! The family were certainly impressed! I know it doesn't look as perfect or as polished as the ones you see on the dessert bar blogs but for my first time I felt it couldn't have gone better!  It did take a LOT of work though, so I think I'm going to try and enjoy a week free of baking...I feel I've earned it, starting tomorrow though because this evening I have been baking birthday cupcakes to take into work! 

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Raspberry & Coconut and Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

So last weekend I had an order for some cupcakes for a 50th birthday celebration.  They wanted enough cupcakes to be able to make them into a 5 and a 0.  It was a bit daunting because they gave me free reign over which colours/flavours to make! I always prefer having a specification to work to as you never know peoples likes/dislikes! 

I had been dreaming up a coconut and raspberry concoction for quite a while, to me it seems like a good pairing but after much googling I found it's pretty non-existent in the cupcake world! I decided to use the coconut recipe from Primrose Bakery and then I just made a raspberry coulis I swirled through the batter. Raspberries are my new favourite fruit and I loved how vibrant the colour was after I blitzed them up in the blender!  

I just wanted to drink this straight from the jug but I refrained! These are my fun heart measuring cups!

I frosted these with coconut buttercream, nice and high, but unfortunately when I put the raspberry on top the frosting squashed down a little so here they are pre raspberry:

And here is the finished product with shredded coconut and raspberries to top it off

My Chocolate Mint creations didn't quite go to plan! I decided to try out a recipe I'd found online and I really wasn't pleased with the results! They just weren't as chocolate-y as I'd hoped they would be.  So I had to bake a whole new batch and this time I used a good old Martha recipe which didn't let me down (I don't know why I didn't do this to begin with!) I then frosted them with swiss meringue buttercream (which was supposed to be tinted green but my gel colourings just weren't bonding with the frosting at all!) so I gave up on the tinting and just added a sprinkling of green sanding sugar and an after eight to top it off.

Coconut & Raspberry Cupcakes:
Makes 12 cupcakes

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs, free range
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g self raising flour
120g plain flour
125ml coconut milk
25g desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl which should take about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time until incorporated.  Add the vanilla.

Combine the two flours in a separate bowl.  Add 1/3 of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well.  Pour in 1/3 of the coconut milk and beat again.  Repeat these steps until all the flours and coconut milk have been added.

Fold in the desiccated coconut using a spoon

Raspberry Coulis:
Recipe from here

200g fresh raspberries
75g icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Put the raspberries in a blender.  
Add the sieved sugar and lemon juice.
Whizz it all up and have a taste, if it's too sour add a little more sugar, if it's too sweet add a little more lemon juice.
The final but very important step is push the coulis through a sieve, this removes the seeds and makes it nice and smooth.  

Once the coulis was made I poured it into the cupcake batter and swirled it through in a marble pattern with a knife.  

Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 25 minutes.  Insert a toothpick into the cakes and if it comes out clean and crumb free they are ready.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whip up some...

Coconut Frosting:

1 stick/113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup coconut milk

Beat butter until smooth and creamy.
Add sugar and milk and beat until a spreadable consistency.  Add additional sugar, up to one cup if you require stiffer frosting for piping.

Top each cupcake with shredded coconut and a fresh raspberry.

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes:
Makes 18 Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together all the dry ingredients.  Add eggs, buttermilk, oil, extract and the water.  Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, remembering to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Fill your cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Frost with...

Mint Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 sticks/452g unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons (room temperature)
1 1/2 tsp pure peppermint extract

Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in the heatproof bowl of a stand mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.

Attach the bowl to the mixer with the whisk attachment.  Start on slow, and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy and completely cool...about 10 minutes.

With mixer on medium low speed, add the butter a few tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Once all butter has been added, whisk in peppermint extract.  Switch to the paddle attachment and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down sides of bowl and continue beating until frosting is completely smooth.

Top each cupcake with a single After Eight mint and a sprinkling of green sanding sugar.


Related Posts with Thumbnails