Category Archives: Cupcakes

Halloween

I guess you can call this post long over-due, but I have had my boyfriend over from Norway this week so I didn’t really want to spend my time blogging. But here goes the story of my first Halloween in USA.

My first Halloween in the US is over, and what a day it was! I was looking forward to this day for a long time and I was really enjoying planning out my costume and what treats to make. All the food blogs I follow have been filled with Halloween-inspired recipes, mostly involving pumpkin and candy corn. It was really hard to decide on what to make, but I think what I settled on turned out pretty good. Despite the rain in New York on Halloween night, we had a really fun celebration. We had good food, good drinks and good friends…everything you need for a memorable night. It was so much fun just walking around our neighbourhood, seeing all the little kids dressed up to go trick or treating.

Here we are all dressed up and ready to go out. We each represent one drink you would often find in a liquor cabinet. From top left: Myself as Jameson Irish Whisky, Grey Goose Vodka, Johnnie Walker, Southern Comfort, Sake, and Jose Cuervo. I don’t really like whisky, but it was fun to dress up like a leprechaun and walk around with a pot of gold!

Halloween was a good excuse for me to really go all out in the kitchen, as I knew I would have a lot of friends to share everything with. I settled on making caramel apples, sugar cookies and of course a batch of cupcakes. For the cupcakes I used this recipe with the chocolate frosting and half a batch of the vanilla frosting from this post. Since I have tried that recipe before I knew the cupcakes would turn out great, but I wanted to do something more fun so I decided to try and make a two-tone frosting. I filled one side of the pastry bag with chocolate and the other side with vanilla. This being my first try I was pretty happy with the result, but I know it will look better after a few more tries.

I have never made caramel apples before so I decided to “cheat” a little. Instead of spending money on a candy thermometer and going to the trouble of making my own caramel, I bought a couple of bags of Werther’s Original Chewy Caramel and melted them in a pan with a little heavy cream. This really worked wonderfully and the apples were so good! I really like how shiny and nice they turned out, this is definitely something I will make again.

Caramel Apple Recipe

6 apples of your choice (I used McIntosh)

3 150 g (5.5 oz) bags of chewy caramels

3 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Remove the stem from the apples and press a craft stick or chop stick into the top, about half way into the apples.
  2. Find a tray that will fit all the apples and line it with wax paper or parchment paper sprayed with oil.
  3. Heat the caramels slowly in a pan over low heat. As the caramels start to melt, add the cream.
  4. Continue to stir until the caramels are melted and allow to cool briefly.
  5. Roll each apple in the caramel and place on the tray. Put in the fridge immediately so the caramel sets.

Source: Cooking Dunkin style

The sugar cookies were my biggest project for this Halloween. I have never tried sugar cookies, let alone made them. Many blogs, including some of my favourites have featured these types of cookies, all decorated beautifully. Since this was my first attempt I didn’t expect them to be perfect, but I was really surprised by how well they turned out. I’m actually pretty pleased with the result. I think I will try to make these cookies again before Christmas, using different shapes and colours. For Halloween, I settled on ghosts, pumpkins, and spider web cookies. Decorating with royal icing was so much fun, but it does require a lot of time and patience.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 cup (2 sticks/ 230 g) butter, softened at room temperature

1 cup (225 g) sugar

1 egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract (or 3 tsp vanilla sugar)

3 cups (375 g) all purpose flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg and the vanilla extract, and beat to incorporate.
  3. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt (and vanilla sugar, if using).
  4. Slowly add the flour to the butter mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Divide the dough into 2-4 portions (depending on the size of your baking sheet), and roll to just under 1 cm (3/8 inch) thickness.
  6. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours. Before you remove the dough from the fridge, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  7. Remove dough from fridge and cut your desired shapes. Remove the scraps and place sheet back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. Repeat steps 5 through 7 with the scraps.
  8. Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookies (mine were a little thin, so 8 minutes was enough).
  9. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

Source: Adapted from The Hungry Housewife

Royal Icing Recipe

4 cups (500 g) powdered sugar

2 tbsp meringue powder

5 tbsp water

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes).
  2. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. Portion out the icing in different containers and add the colourings you are using.
  3. Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
  4. Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smoothes in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.
  5. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.
  6. Allow the cookies to dry and set overnight before putting them in containers.

Source: Annie’s Eats

For the ghosts I edged the cookies with white icing and used the thick black icing to pipe the eyes and the mouth. I then flooded the ghosts with thin white icing. For the pumpkins I used the thick black icing to make the “stems”, and edged the pumpkin with the thick white and then flooded with the thin white. I then immediately sprinkled on a thick layer of orange sprinkles. For the spider web cookies, I did the edges in thick black, and then flooded with thin black. I then used the thin white and piped three concentric circles over the black. Using a tooth pick, I made a line going from the centre of the cookie and out to the edge. Be sure to wipe off the tooth pick between each line you make.

Before you make sugar cookies I would recommend checking out these posts by Annie, Leslie, and Bridget

Good luck with these cookies, and thanks for stopping by!

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Banana Chocolate Cupcakes

I am finally here in the Big Apple! My first week here has been fun, exciting, exhausting and wonderful. I have settled nicely into my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen and I am now getting ready to start studying again. I have filled up my pantry with most of the basic utensils and ingredients that I need for cooking and baking so I am now ready to get back into the kitchen. The first thing I made here in NYC was these amazing cupcakes from the always delicious Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. This is the third recipe I tried from this book and it hasn’t failed yet! When I made the Vanilla Cupcakes and the Marshmallow Cupcakes, the two recipes were almost identical. This recipe was different from them and incorporated more ingredients. And oh, so yummy they were! Definitely my favourite cupcakes to date. I was so lucky to be invited to a roof-top BBQ this weekend and we were all asked to bring some food. My sister and a good friend of hers were visiting me this week so I let them decide what we should bring. As they both love cupcakes they decided on Carrot Cupcakes and these Banana Chocolate Cupcakes. Stay tuned for a post about the Carrot Cupcakes. They were such a hit at the party! One girl even gave me a hug and told me she would be my first customer! I was really happy everyone loved them because I need someone here to cook for. As you probably now, I am studying to become a Dietician so I cannot really advice people to eat an entire batch of these cupcakes (although it would be really easy to do so), so invite some friends over for cupcakes or bring them into work with you!

Oh no, I got some frosting on my finger carrying the cupcakes to the party… too bad 😉

My first week here in NYC I have tried a lot of different food. There are two things I have noticed about food in New York; Portion sizes are HUGE, and there is always a healthy option. I think I have yet to finish and entire meal here and I think this offers some explanation as to why there are so many overweight and obese people here in the US. I am always surprised when I visit NYC that I don’t see more fat people. However, this week I went to Coney Island with my sister and her friend, and I discovered where all of them are. I mean, Come on People! Don’t feed your one-year old Pepsi and fried chicken. I thought that was common sense! But anyway, I have had so many other experiences with food this week that it would take too long to cover all of them. I have found an amazing deli right by the NYU campus with a really good salad bar and different soups, I have a feeling I will be going there a lot. I have had a really cheap but very good slice of pizza from a corner outside my building at 3 AM coming home from a club. I have tried frozen yogurt from Pinkberry in SoHo for the first time. That was so good, and a healthier option to ice cream.

I made a couple amendments to this recipe, one of which is reflected below. Firstly, I did not use the ground ginger as I didn’t have any on hand but I’m sure it would be really good so you should try it. Secondly I decided to add some chocolate chips, I think that really took these cupcakes over the top! The original recipe also calls for whole milk, but I find that if I get whole milk for baking I can never finish the bottle, so I just use whatever milk I have on hand (usually 1 or 2% fat).

Stay tuned for more posts about my experiences with food and cooking here in NYC, in the meantime enjoy these little portions of deliciousness!

Recipe (makes 12 cupcakes)

120 g plain flour

140 g caster sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

a pinch of salt

80 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 ml semi-skimmed milk

2 eggs

120 g peeled banana, mashed

50 g roughly chopped 70% chocolate (I used Green & Black’s)

1 quantity chocolate frosting (recipe follows)

Some dark chocolate shavings

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Line a 12-hole cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and butter until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Use a handheld electric mixer or a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment.
  3. Slowly add the milk to the mixture, mixing until all the ingredients are well mixed.
  4. Add the eggs and mix well, making sure to scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a spatula.
  5. Stir in the mashed banana by hand until evenly dispersed.
  6. Fill the paper cases until two-thirds full and bake for about 20 minutes. The cupcakes should be light golden and the sponge should bounce back when touched. Cool slightly in the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the Chocolate Frosting on top and finish with the chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Frosting recipe

300 g icing / powdered sugar, sifted

100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

40 g cocoa powder, sifted

40 ml semi-skimmed milk

  1. Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together on a medium-slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well-mixed.
  2. Turn the mixer down to slow and add the milk a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  3. Once all the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer up to high speed.
  4. Continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. The longer you beat the frosting, the lighter and fluffier it becomes.

Source: Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook.

Marshmallow Cupcakes

Marshmallow cupcake

These cupcakes were the second recipe I tried from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. My sister just had her final presentation for this semester and as a reward she got to choose what she wanted for dinner and dessert. She chose a very healthy dinner of tuna steak with black beans, so she thought she could go a bit over the top with the dessert. I had very high hopes for this recipe because they looked so good in the picture.  The basic recipe for the sponge and the frosting is the same as for the Vanilla Cucpakes which made them really easy to make.

Marshmallow cupcakes I thought these cupcakes looked amazing, very girlie. I also really liked the taste, but I would have preferred less marshmallows in them. I suggest using only 100 gr minimarshmallows in the frosting instead of 200 gr. Other than that, it was a little messy to work with melted marshmallows but it was worth it in the end. I forgot to decorate the cupcakes with edible glitter, even though I had some really cute pink glitter lying around. Well, maybe next time!

Recipe (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 quantity Vanilla Cupcakes

1 quantity Vanilla frosting

12 medium pink marshmallows

200 gr (or less) mini marshmallows

edible glitter, to decorate

Directions:

1) Make the cupcakes and the frosting as according to the recipe for the Vanilla Cupcakes.

2) After the cupcakes have chilled melt the pink marshmallows in a heat proof bowl over simmering water, until smooth.

3) Hollow out a small section in the centre of each cupcake and fill with a dollop of melted marshmallow. Leave to  cool.

4) Stir the mini marshmallows into the Vanilla Frosting until evenly dispersed.

5) Spoon the frosting on top of the cupcakes and decorate with edible glitter.

Source: the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla cupcakes

I first stumbled upon the Hummingbird bakery by chance. I was out walking one evening with a friend in London’s Portobello Road when we saw the most amazing-looking cupcakes in a shop window. We immediately walked in and bought a cupcake each. They were even better than they looked! And what’s more, it turns out we showed up right before closing time so be both got to take home as many cupcakes as we wanted…totally FREE!

Un-frosted cupcakesI have not been back to the Hummingbird bakery since, but I have dreamt of going back. For my 24th birthday a few weeks ago I got a really surprising gift; the Hummingbird bakery cookbook. It has the most incredible cakes and of course cupcakes, I knew what I had to try first. This recipe is for the classic Hummingbird vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting. I have never been a big fan of buttercream, but this recipe was really good. My boyfriend, who doesn’t really like cakes, even licked the bowl clean! I shared this batch with some friends and my sister, we all thought they were absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait to try more recipes from the book!

Recipe (makes 12 cupcakes)

For the sponge

120 g plain flour

140 g caster sugar

1.5 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

40 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

120 ml whole milk

1 egg

0.25 tsp vanilla extract

For the vanilla frosting

250 g icing sugar, sifted

80 g unsalted butter, at room temperature

25 ml whole milk

a couple of drops of vanilla extract

a couple of drops of food colouring (optional)

edible sprinkles

Directions

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter with a mixer on low speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.
  2. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.
  3. Whisk the egg, vanilla extract and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and mix until the mixture is smooth, careful not to overmix.
  4. Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two-thirds full and bake on 170 C for 20-25 minutes, or until light golden and the sponge bounces back when touched. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. When the cakes are cooling, make the frosting. Beat the icing sugar and butter together in medium-low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.
  6. Combine the milk and vanilla extract (and food colouring if using) in a separate bowl, then add to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  7. Once all the milk has been incorporated , turn the mixer up to high speed and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 mintues.
  8. Frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles.

Source: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook