Dark Chocolate & Morello Cherry Loaf Cake

Dark Chocolate & Morello Cherry Loaf Cake

  This is a decadent one… After a request from friends for something darker, I decided to adapt one of the lovely Nigella’s recipes, the original of which you can see here. This was meant to be cupcakes originally, but … Continue reading

Winter spice/ginger cupcakes with mulled wine buttercream

Oooooh, sparkly!

Oooooh, sparkly!

My love of baking originally started with cakes, and cupcakes in particular (oh, you little lumps of sugar/heaven, get in my face). At Christmas parties for the last few years, it’s been my unofficial job to supply the cakes. Last year was chocolate cakes with chocolate orange buttercream, and vanilla sponge with white chocolate buttercream adorned with little snowmen, and I thought they went pretty quickly. This years contribution broke all records though, with all of the cakes disappearing in about five minutes flat! After making the mulled wine jam, I decided to create something that would work with those flavours, and so the winter spice/ginger cupcakes with mulled wine frosting/buttercream came about.

Normally I use Hummingbird Bakery’s recipes for my cakes, but I decided to make my own. I still used their method (an  example of which can be found here:) starting with their standard vanilla cupcake recipe as a basis but then went from there. For this I used the mulled wine, plum and blackberry jam that you can see the recipe for here, but if you don’t have time for that you can omit it or replace with a different jam, or maybe even marmalade!

My first attempt at these saw me add wayyyyy too much ginger/nutmeg/cinnamon, to the extent it made me cough when I ate it. Oops! Don’t be afraid to experiment though, you can always make more! My main oven is also broken (disaster!) and my cupcake tray wouldn’t fit in my emergency mini oven, so I resorted to silicone cupcake cases on a baking tray, which worked surprisingly well.

You will need:

For the cakes:
120g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
40g butter
100ml orange juice (with bits)
20ml whole milk
One large egg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
One jar mulled wine/plum/blackberry jam (or any other jam you like)

For the frosting:
250g icing sugar
80g butter (room temperature)
20ml mulled wine
Teaspoon mulled wine jam/replacement jam.

1) Pre-heat oven to 170c/325f.

spices

2)Sieve the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder and sugar into a mixing bowl, with the butter.  Mix on a slow speed until everything is combined and is a sandy consistency.

3)Gradually pour in half of the orange juice/milk , and beat until it is just combined.

mix

4)Whisk the egg and remaining orange juice and milk briefly. Pour it into the flour mixture and contunue beating until just incorporated, being sure to scrape in any unmixed ingredients! Keep mixing until smooth.

mix

5) Divide the mixture between the cases, this normally makes 12 cupcakes, fill them two thirds of the way.

cases

6) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until they spring back when touched and have turned a light golden. These smell amazing due to the spices!

Golden! Sadly you can't smell the screen.

Golden! Sadly you can’t smell the screen.

7)Allow to cool, then using a sharp knife remove a small section of the cake. Keep in a bowl to one side. Spoon in a small amount of the jam, then replace the bit you cut out.

cakes

8) Make the frosting/buttercream! In a large bowl, sieve the icing sugar into the butter. I usually cover the bowl with a tea towel for this bit else the sugar goes *everywhere*. Mix on a slow speed until sandy. Slowly add the mulled wine a couple of tablespoons at a time. Once all the mulled wine has been incorporated, add the jam. Mix on high speed until light and fluffy. If the mixture is too runny, add a little extra icing sugar.

Icing

9) Ice the cakes! Don’t worry if you don’t have a piping bag, I used to spoon the icing on then swirl it around with a teaspoon. I then added red and green edible Magic Sparkles for a festive touch but feel free to decorate as you see fit! The cases had little snowmen on too.

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Let me know what you think!

Chambord ganache filled white chocolates.

chambordchocs

After the success of the Baileys chocolates (I’ve made several batches since!) I decided to try different options, and the other popular combination has been white chocolate with strawberry patterning, and a chambord and white chocolate ganache filling. I’ll be trying these with dark chocolate as well after a special request.

For the detailed instructions, please see the “Baileys ganache filled chocolates” guide, however this is a little different!  Instead of milk chocolate, use white, and use Chambord liqueur instead of Baileys.

For the pretty pink pattern I used Silver Spoon strawberry flavoured chocolate drops, however you can also use any pink candy melts from other companies. I melted them in the microwave for 10 second intervals as it wasn’t important for them to maintain a shine, it’s quicker than tempering, then using a spoon flicked the melted strawberry chocolate across the mould. It doesn’t have to be organised, in fact the more slapdash the better! (Maybe one for the kids to do?)

strawberry

For the ganache heat the butter and cream until just boiling, remove from the heat, add the white chocolate and Chambord. Stir until the chocolate melts and the Chambord has combined.

ganache

After you have filled the chocolates, added the final layer of chocolate and allowed it to set, it should end up like this!

chambordchocs2

centre

Winter cider crumble

After seeing my nearest and dearest practically inhaling the mulled wine, blackberry, plum and apple crumble from earlier in the week, I decided to experiment further and see what else I could come up with. After wracking my brains (and raiding my cupboard) for other boozy Christmas combinations, inspiration struck after a trip to Brighton where I sampled a hot spicy cider, which I decided would be perfect for an apple version. (Don’t worry, I can make things other than crumble…more to come next week!)

Rekorderlig Winter Cider

Rekorderlig Winter Cider (and my beloved pink saucepans)

A limited edition cider by Rekorderlig, described as spiced apple with vanilla and cinnamon, this was just crying out to be teamed with apples in another version of the crumble. Somewhat the shy little sister of the mulled wine beauty, this ended up being surprisingly subtle, with the vanilla notes and cinnamon slowing coming through, offsetting the sharpness of the cooking apples. Is it Christmas yet?

Ingredients
4 cooking apples, peeled and cut into quarters or smaller.
350ml Rekorderlig winter cider (although feel free to try other ciders!)
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the crumble
175g/6oz Flour
75g/3oz Butter (room temperature)
75g/3oz Sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Pre-heat the oven to 170c/350f/Gas Mark 3 (adjust for fan oven).

2) Peel, core and chop the apples, at least into quarters. Place into a mixing bowl and cover with water and a squeeze of lemon if you have it to prevent the apples from turning brown.

3)Melt the teaspoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

4)Drain the lemon/water, add the apples, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat with the melted butter. Cook for a minute or two.

5)Pour in the winter cider and add the caster sugar.

Gently simmer the apples in the winter cider/sugar mixture.

6)Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the apples have softened (but not mushy).

7) Pour the apples into your crumble dish/bakeware, sprinkle cinnamon on top if desired. (I use a Le Creuset rectangular 26cm dish, in pink of course!).

Pour the apples into the dish, add more cinnamon if desired.

8)Sift the flour, sugar, and cinnamon into the softened butter in a mixing bowl, and rub together using (clean!) fingers until combined in small lumps. Alternatively, combine in a food processor if you have one.

9)Spread the crumble mixture over the top.

11) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden on top. Serve with custard or cream if you so wish!

Insert into face!

Mulled wine, apple, plum & blackberry crumble; It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

First things first; I love Christmas. Not just for the presents and my obligatory black and pink Christmas tree, but mostly for the abundance of food and flavours.

I tend to start thinking about Christmas as soon as Halloween and Bonfire night are done, and with the arrival of festive items ever earlier in the shops each year, it’s easy to get a head start. First up as a mulled wine, apple, plum and blackberry crumble. This worked so well, I later attempted it with a special winter edition cider, which I will upload later this week.

Mulled Wine

Kindly checkout lady: “ooh…are you having a party?”
Me: “erm…no.”
*awkward silence*

For this recipe I use Mulled Wine from Marks & Spencer as it’s wonderful, but you can make your own with red wine and cinnamon, orange peel and other suitably wintry spices, or you can purchase the mulled wine sachets.

I’m not a purist when it comes to baking, my little pink kitchen makes me happy and so does baking, and above all it should be enjoyable so if you prefer to buy pre-made crumble mix then go for it, or you can make it all from scratch. I’m sure the recipients won’t complain either way!


Ingredients

2 cooking apples, peeled and cut into quarters or smaller.
3 plums, stones removed
1 punnet of blackberries (150g in my case)
350ml mulled wine
2tbsp caster sugar
1tsp butter


For the crumble

175g/6oz Flour
75g/3oz Butter (room temperature)
75g/3oz Sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Pre-heat the oven to 170c/350f/Gas Mark 3 (adjust for fan oven).

2) Peel, core and chop the apples, at least into quarters. Place into a mixing bowl and cover with water and a squeeze of lemon if you have it to prevent the apples from turning brown. Either cut the plums in half to remove the stone, or slice around it, whichever is easier. Rinse the blackberries, put half of them to one side.

3)Melt the teaspoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

4)Drain the lemon/water, add the prepared fruit (sparing half of the blackberries for later), stirring with a wooden spoon to coat with the melted butter. Cook for a minute or two.

5)Pour in 300ml of the mulled wine, reserving 50ml for later and add one tablespoon of caster sugar.

Mulled Wine Crumble

Simmering the fruit in the wine

6)Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the apples have softened (but not mushy), the fruit should have taken on the colour of the wine by now.

7) Strain the fruit, saving the red wine mixture in a jug/bowl. Pour the fruit into your crumble dish/bakeware. (I use a Le Crueset rectangular 26cm dish, in pink of course!).Add the remaining blackberries, adding these now will retain their shape. Use a plate to cover.

Fruit after draining the red wine liquid.

8) Return the mulled wine to the pan on a medium heat, add the remaining 50ml and table spoon of caster sugar. Bring to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the liquid has thickened and reduced. While this is cooking make the crumble.

9)Sift the flour, sugar, and cinnamon into the softened butter in a mixing bowl, and rub together using (clean!) fingers until combined in small lumps. Alternatively, combine in a food processor if you have one.

With the red wine reduction/syrup added

10)Pour the red wine reduction (which should now be more syrup like in consistency) over the fruit in the dish, stir in gently. Spread the crumble mixture over the top.

11) Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden on top. Serve with custard or cream if you so wish!

Ta-dah!