Saturday, 28 May 2011

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes, Coconut & Banana Bundt Cake and Mini Coconut Cream's been a yummy week!

So hopefully this post will make up for the lack of baking I've been putting on the blog recently!
First up were my moms birthday cupcakes.  It was quite a funny story, I'd been planning these for quite a while.  Last year on her birthday I made her Toblerone cupcakes and for Mother's Day I made her Lime & Coconut cupcakes, two of her favourite flavour combos, so I was struggling to come up with something new that she would find amazing this time around when suddenly it struck me - Key Lime Pie! Mom is a huge fan of Key Lime Pie and i just knew they would turn out great in cupcake form too so I was pretty excited to make them.

Imagine my disappointment when she called early on in the week to tell me I wasn't allowed to bring any baked goods home this weekend because she was on a 'serious diet'.  So there went that plan, until in a later phone call I mentioned she was going to be missing out on some Key Lime Pie cupcakes and she promptly told me she could bend the rules for those!! 

So arriving with no baked goods turned into arriving with a whole box of Key Lime Pie cupcakes, a Coconut & Banana Bundt cake, a whole box of cheesecakes and some mini Coconut Cream Pies! the rules were definitely bent but all the treats were thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless! 

Usually I don't like to bake with 'fairy cake' cases and prefer to only use proper cupcake size cases, however my love of colour co-ordination won in this decision so I opted for 'lime' green cases to match the Key Lime cupcakes.

I filled these with a delicious home made Key Lime filling, and the colour co-ordination fun didn't stop there...check out my 'lime' piping bag too! 

They were then topped with some super glossy meringue frosting that had just a hint of Key Lime juice in to jazz it up...and then the fun began...

I have never used a blow torch before.  Personally I prefer grilling my meringue topped cupcakes so that the meringue is quite crunchy but I feel the blow torch effect makes them more aesthetically pleasing! So I decided to give it a go...

This picture is to show you not everything always goes to plan! I decided to test on my 'reject' cupcake that had not been frosted so well and I'm glad I did because as you can see I set fire to it! 

So next time around, I moved my blow torch a bit further back and managed not to set any more cupcake liners of fire, although the tip of the meringue just caught - it kind of looks like a candle!! but as you can see from my pic at the top of this post it all turned out okay in the end! and yes I bake in my 'I heart NY' pj's, don't you just love them! 

If you want to bake up these delicious cupcakes too then here is the recipe, I adapted it slightly from was the first time I had ever used icing sugar in the cupcake batter as opposed to the frosting but it helped to give it a lovely light and fluffy texture so I was a fan!

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes with Meringue Frosting
(Makes 18 fairy cake size cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon lime zest
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup plain flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup natural yoghurt (this was meant to be buttermilk but I substituted with yoghurt as the corner shop at the end of the road didn't sell buttermilk!)
2 tablespoon key lime juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners.

2. Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. Add the icing sugar and lime zest; beat until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
4. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the butter and beat until well-combined.
5. Mix in the yoghurt and key lime juice, then the remaining flour. Mix until just combined.
6. Spoon the batter into the lined cupcake tins until three-quarters of the way full. Tap the tins on the counter a few times, then bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and cool to room temperature.

 For the Key Lime filling:
1/2-cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated key lime zest (about 4-5 key limes)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice (8-10 key limes)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

1. In a medium saucepan combine sugar, eggs, lime zest and juice.
2. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Cook until mixture begins to thicken and hold the mark of a whisk ran through it; about 10-15 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat. Whisk in diced butter a few pieces at a time. Mix until well combined.
4. Strain mixture through a fine sieve.
5. Cover mixture tightly with plastic by laying plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. This prevents a film from forming. Chill for 3 hours or overnight to set the curd.

For the Meringue frosting:
4 large egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon key lime juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Fill a small pot 2-inches deep with water. Set it over medium-high heat to bring to a simmer.
2. Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer or a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the egg whites.
3. Remove the bowl from the pot of water and turn off the heat. Set the bowl in the base of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer. 
4. Beat the egg whites at high speed until shiny and hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes. 
5. Add the key lime juice and vanilla extract and whisk 2 minutes longer.
6. Fit a pastry bag with a small star tip and fill with meringue. Pipe the meringue onto the cooled cupcakes. 
7. Use a small kitchen torch to toast the meringue.

I'm sharing these for Cupcake Tuesday over at Hoosier Homemade.

It was my dad's birthday a few weeks ago, I was planning to post him some baked goods but thought it would be safer to bring them by hand, which led to a very late night baking session the day before we left which is why these pictures are not the greatest! Hopefully I have heavy sleeping neighbours who don't mind a KitchenAid whirring at 1am in the morning! 

Like me, my dad is a huge coconut fan and also a fan of banana bread so I combined the two using this recipe I found while in the Caribbean.  Apart from this time I had the added bonus of shredded coconut which I was super excited about.  I also added a coconut glaze which made it even more moist than usual, and making it in a bundt shaped tin was a fun change too.  It has been the highlight of the weekend so I can definitely recommend giving it a try! 

Coconut & Banana Bundt cake:

1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cup self raising flour
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup coconut milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1. Grease and line your tin, and preheat your oven to 170°C.
2. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
3. Mash your banana and combine with the rest of the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
4. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and mix until combined. (it will look a little lumpy due to the chunks of banana and the coconut)
5. Place batter in your prepared pan and cook for about one hour until your cake is lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the topping:
2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup icing sugar
1 cup shredded coconut

1. Whisk the coconut milk, vanilla extract and 1/2 cup icing sugar in a bowl until smooth.
2. Add more sugar as needed to thicken.
3. Sprinkle shredded coconut over the top.

The coconut theme continues...and I have a feeling it will do for a while now we've finally managed to source shredded coconut here in the UK - there is no stopping me!

I adapted my recipe from this one and after a little local hunt for graham crackers failed I ended up using shop bought pie crusts...they actually weren't too shabby! and the coconut filling tastes ah-mazing! I haven't managed to replicate the amazingness of the Coconut Cream Pie I had whilst in the Caribbean but it is certainly the best I've had in the UK! 

Coconut Cream Pie Mini's
(Makes 8)
Mini tart cases

1 cup whole milk

1 cup coconut milk, well-whisked
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
1 large (whole) egg
40g desiccated coconut

1. Combine the first four ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan, scraping out the vanilla seeds and tossing both seeds and pod in the pan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl.

3. In the now-cleaned mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and whole egg. Whisk in the sugar/cornstarch mixture.

When the milk/coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, add 3/4-cup of it, whisking, to the egg mixture to temper. 

4. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan, whisking, reduce the heat to low, and make constant figure-8s with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula for about 90 seconds, or until the mixture thickens. 
5. Pass through a strainer into a large bowl and fold in the desiccated coconut.
6. Add 80g of the coconut filling to each individual tart case.

For the topping:

 2 cups double cream
80g coconut milk
1/4 cup caster sugar

Shredded coconut

1. Place heavy cream and coconut milk in mixing bowl, and whip on medium speed until it begins to thicken.
2. Slowly add sugar, increase speed to high and whip until stiff.
3. Add 50g of cream topping to each individual pie.
4. Top with shavings of toasted shredded coconut

...and there you have it! 

Friday, 27 May 2011

Double Chocolate Cheesecake

So you can expect cheesecake to feature alot more on my blog these days! because I have got into it in a BIG way! I have been eating different flavour slices daily...getting to know our range and everything! and also designing new flavours on a weekly basis - it is all super exciting!

...and is if my job couldn't get any better, I also got to do a spot of photography this week too!
This cheesecake was baked by my sister, but it is going to be published in a recipe book.  I'm not sure of the exact details yet but when I know I will be sure to pass them on so you can all rush out and buy it! The professional photographer they usually use wasn't around and they needed to get the photo sent off a.s.a.p so I stepped in!

It's an exciting life I'm leading here, and sometimes I do admit that I don't feel like baking in the evenings when I've been doing it all day...who knew baking all day long could be so tiring! so I have neglected my own baking somewhat but I have made up for that this week by baking tons of goodies, it felt so good to be baking cupcakes again last night even if I had to stay up til after midnight to finish them off!

I will be posting all my goodies this weekend so be sure to come back and check them out.  Hope all my UK followers have a great bank holiday weekend and enjoy the extra day off to do something fun!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

My Top 10 Fantastic Frostings...Frost yourself!

In light of my recent foray into peanut butter frosting, I realised I'm not a very good 'tagger' of frosting on my blog, and sometimes I neglect to include recipes for it altogether! which is just not cool.  Recently, two of my colleagues became inspired by my love of cupcakes and my blog and ventured into cupcake baking themselves.  I realised I didn't have an obvious place on my blog where you could find delicious frosting recipes for beginners, or even for experienced cupcake makers so this is how this blog post came about! 

p.s Before I start let's get one thing clear...a sieve (UK) or a sifter (U.S) should be used every single time you whip up a batch of frosting! Even if it says on the box it has been sifted, I don't trust it and I do it myself.  If you want lump free frosting it's the way to go.

Plus...all butter should be unsalted and should always be at room temperature, if you forget to take yours out the fridge a few hours before you bake you can pop it in the microwave but watch it like a hawk because the second it starts to melt you've ruined your chances of making good frosting! 

For all my American followers out there:
Icing Sugar = Powdered Sugar
Plain Flour = All Purpose Flour

and for those who need a little help with their cups to grams conversions I usually use this website

Now let's get on with it, without a doubt my number one favourite frosting has got to be....

1. Vanilla Bean Frosting

I made this frosting initially to pair beautifully with some Root Beer cupcakes I had made, this frosting has been compared to tasting like melted ice cream so I felt it would be the perfect frosting to turn my cupcakes into 'Root Beer Floats'.  I also often make it to pair with my Brownie cupcakes but really it can go with any cupcake you like because it's just that delicious! 

It is also super easy to make:

2 cups icing sugar
1 cup unsalted butter 
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste 
1 tablespoon milk
(Makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes)

1. Mix together sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy.  
2. Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute. 
3. If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more icing sugar to make it stiffer.

2. Oreo Cream Cheese Frosting

As you all know by now I am a HUGE Oreo lover! and for me you just can't beat this frosting! I always pair mine with an Oreo cupcake but even if you paired it with a plain chocolate or vanilla cupcake it would be a good way to jazz it up! 

Just be sure not to whip the cream cheese for too long, otherwise your frosting will go runny:

8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup unsalted butter
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Oreos, crushed finely in a food processor (or a rolling pin always does the trick for me!) but if you want to pipe your frosting they will have to be crushed super fine otherwise they will clog up your nozzle!

1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
2. Mix in icing sugar, one cup at a time.  
3. Add vanilla extract.
4. Gently stir in crushed Oreos.
(Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes)

3. Brown Sugar Frosting

If you love cookie dough, then this frosting manages to taste just like it! Don't ask me even has flour in it, something I have never added to frosting before but just trust me on this - it works and is extremely delicious! I paired this frosting with my Cookie Dough cupcakes  but it would also go great with spiced apple cupcakes too! 

340 grams (3 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 cup plain flour 
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(Makes enough to frost 24 cupcakes)

1. Mix the brown sugar and butter until creamy.
2. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.
3. Finally add the flour and salt and beat briefly to combine.
4. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

4. Coconut Seven Minute Frosting

Coconut has just got to be one of my favourite flavours ever!! you should have just seen how excited I was this week at work when we finally tracked down some shredded coconut and got our shipment delivered!! That stuff is flipping impossible to buy in England! so no doubt there will be some coconut baking coming some that's for sure! 

This frosting is so versatile, it can be paired with raspberry cupcakes or lime or pineapple or even chocolate! If you can find coconut extract you can get safer results but that is also hard to track down in England, although again I got my hands on some thanks to work!, so in the past I have always just used small amounts of coconut milk to bring a more subtle flavour.

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract 

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan.  Clip candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees f.  
2. Whisk egg whites in a free standing mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  With mixer still running, add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, beating to combine.  
3. As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees f, remove from hat.  With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow steady stream.  Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes.  Use immediately.

Be sure to finish off with shredded coconut - it is THE best! 

5.  Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

This is my go to frosting recipe for layer cakes, but I have also used it on cupcakes.  It is moist, rich, delicious and is always a winner with everyone.  

175g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids - I use Lindt)
225g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk, at room temp
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
250g icing sugar

1. Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in a glass bowl in the microwave until smooth.  Leave to cool slightly.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer.  
3. Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy.  If it looks too runny to use when trying to frost the cupcakes simply keep beating to thicken.

6. Peanut Butter Frosting

This was my most recent frosting, and I'm still wondering why I waited so long to try it out because for any peanut butter fan out there it is a must!

2 cups Icing Sugar
1/4 cup semi-skimmed milk
1/4 cup unsalted organic unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth organic peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Blend everything together until smooth.  If you require a thicker consistency add more sugar, if you need it to be thinner add more milk.

7. Classic Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting should be in everyone's baking repertoire.  It goes with SO much! It is commonly paired with Red Velvet, which I have shockingly never baked but will be doing so very soon and is great with hummingbird, and is a favourite pairing of mine with gingerbread.   

300g icing sugar
50g unsalted butter
125g cream cheese

1. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer on low speed
2. Beat the cream cheese in on medium-high speed, turn up and beat until the frosting is fluffy (be sure not to overbeat, as cream cheese will go runny).

8. Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Many people in the baking world go crazy over Swiss Meringue buttercream.  They feel typical buttercream frosting is 'too sweet', too much sugar - hello! that's why it's so tasty! I am not one of those people who prefers the meringues - they come in the French, Italian or Swiss variety! but I do believe, or I have grown to in recent years, that you can't cast something off until you've tried it.  So I gave Swiss Meringue Buttercream a go, and I was less than impressed, it just tasted too buttery for me and not sweet enough!! In my Martha Stewart book she also recommends a chocolate variety so I decided to give that a go...and oh my it was delicious!! so the only Swiss Meringue buttercream variety I can recommend is the chocolate kind...for my tastebuds anyway! 

5 large egg whites
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
Pinch of salt
450 grams (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
130g plain baking chocolate

1. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in the heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water.  Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved.
2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Starting on low, gradually increase to medium-high and whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form.  Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) about 10 minutes.  
3. Add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla and melted chocolate.  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 with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.  

9. Peppermint Frosting

So you know how I said coconut was one of my very favourite flavours, well the other one has got to be mint! I won't proclaim to make the best mint frosting in the world, if anyone has that recipe please let me know! but for now I couldn't make a top 10 frosting list without including my minty addition.

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup double cream
85g softened cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
4 drops of green food coloring
3 1/2 cups icing sugar

1. In an electric mixer add butter, cream, cream cheese, peppermint and green food colouring with 1 cup of the sugar.  Start on slow speed and then when it starts to come together turn to medium until it is well blended.
2. Add another cup of sugar and beat on high speed, repeat with the rest of the sugar.

10. White Chocolate

I cannot believe I almost neglected to leave you with this little delight! As Gwen would say 'it's an oldie but a goodie'! 

It can probably be made with any white chocolate but I like to think it should be made with this, Tesco Finest White Chocolate, made with Swiss Milk and Madagascan Vanilla if you want it at it's best! 

250g icing sugar
80g unsalted butter
25ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract
55g White chocolate

1. Beat icing sugar and butter together in a mixer on medium-slow speed until it comes together
2. Combine milk and vanilla in separate bowl and add to the butter mix a couple of tablespoons at a time
3. Melt some white chocolate in the microwave, in short 15 second bursts.  Add it to the butter mix.
4. Turn mixer up to high speed and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mins.

and that completes my frosting round up! now go forth and bake up delicious cupcakes with all varieties of different flavour frostings and let me know how you get on! 

Friday, 13 May 2011

A week of cupcaking and the best new job ever!!

So I forgot to mention that this week I’ve moved to London and am living the dream working for The English Cheesecake Company.  All week I have been baking up a storm on their behalf….and getting paid for it! It’s pretty amazing!

Have you ever been in that really annoying situation of baking something or when you’re about to bake something and you run out of an ingredient? That just doesn’t happen in my job! You should see the amount of ingredients and supplies I have access too! How I love going to the ‘stores’ and scooping up caster sugar or pecans or chocolate chips to replenish my dwindling supplies, everything is at my disposal!!

Living in London also means lots more access to great cupcakes so I have taken full advantage.  On Monday night after the first of many of our Mexican Monday’s we stopped at Ottelenghi’s and grabbed a raspberry and lemon cupcake.
It was definitely one of the best we’ve had in a while!

A window full of yummy delights! 

On Wednesday we stopped by The Hummingbird Bakery on Portobello Road, just a stone’s throw from our work! We went specifically for their special of the day – the pineapple cupcake, as for the month of May and June they are making fruit specials for each day of the week.  I was worried at that time of day they would be all sold out, they were....every variety of cupcake had been sold out with the exception of a whole tray of Pineapple cupcakes.  Apparently for Hummingbird customers variety is not the spice of life and they prefer to stick to the regular cupcakes! Which worked in our favour this time around…but maybe they play it safe because they have been less than impressed with Hummingbird’s specials in the past.  I was excited and a little overwhelmed at the prospect of a ‘pineapple cupcake with pineapple jelly inside and a pineapple frosting with a pineapple to garnish’ it sounded a little too pineapple-y for me, but actually it ended up lacking in pineapple flavour altogether!! (but they do get points for having such cute little cupcake boxes!)

 I tried the cake by itself and could detect no hint of pineapple at all, there was a very subtle mild flavour of it in the frosting and again just a touch of flavour of it in the filling.  At the end of the cupcake I felt cheated! And I really hadn’t got my pineapple fill! We were keen to try Thursday’s offering of Passionfruit and Saturday’s offering of Mango but we’re just not sure whether it will be worth it next time around! 


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