Raspberry & White Chocolate Cupcakes

img_0286Delicate and delectable, these cupcakes have an exquisite balance of sweet vanilla, fragrant raspberries, and a white chocolate surprise that will melt in the mouth. These cupcakes are easy to make… but even easier to finish eating… 

 

Ingredients:

For the batter…

200g caster sugar

200g self-raising flour

200g butter

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 box of frozen raspberries

100g white chocolate chips

To decorate…

500g icing sugar

250g butter

1tsp vanilla essence

2 drops raspberry extract (optional)

1 handful freeze-dried raspberries

Method:fullsizeoutput_301c

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • Cream the butter and caster sugar together
  • Mix the eggs and vanilla essence together before adding to the sugar and butter
  • Sift the flour into the batter and combine well
  • Add a couple of raspberries to the bottom of each cupcake case
  • Spoon in the cupcake batter until the cupcake cases are 2/3 full
  • Add a generous sprinkle of white chocolate chips on top of the batter before putting in the oven for 20 minutes (take out when they’re a light golden brown colour)
  • To prepare the frosting, cream the icing sugar and butter together with vanilla essence (you can also add a couple of drops of raspberry essence but this is optional)
  • When the cupcakes have cooled, pipe the frosting in a swirl and finish with a sprinkle of freeze-dried raspberries (and edible glitter!)

Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes

I made these delicious cupcakes to celebrate my birthday, and they went down a treat! The Nesquik powder and Party Rings make me feel so nostalgic and it’s so exciting to be able to combine them in a fun dessert. The best part is that they actually taste of a strawberry milkshake! Make sure to use colourful cupcake cases and a generous serving of frosting! Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients

IMG_9219

On another occasion, I used the left-over strawberry milkshake frosting to decorate vanilla cupcakes and dyed the frosting blue to match the cupcake cases.

For the batter:

430g plain flour

3 tsp baking powder

265g granulated sugar

375ml milk

125ml vegetable oil

125g butter

2 tbsp strawberry yoghurt

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 eggs

200g strawberry Nesquik powder

For the frosting:

200g butter

400g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

120g strawberry Nesquik powder

Extras:

1 pack of ‘Party Rings’ to decorate

Strawberry jam as a filling

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl
  • Cream the butter and sugar together, then add to the dry ingredients
  • Combine all the other wet ingredients in a separate mixing bowl, then add to the other mixture
  • Spoon the batter into cupcake cases
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes
  • When the cupcakes have cooled, use a sharp knife to cut the core out of each cupcake and fill the hole with a spoonful of strawberry jam
  • To make the frosting, cream the butter, icing sugar, vanilla essence, food colouring and Nesquik
  • Pipe onto each cupcake and half-submerge a Party Ring biscuit inside the frosting before it has set

 

Gluten-Free Honey Cupcakes

IMG_8014On Rosh Hashanah, the
Jewish new year, it is customary to dip apple in honey and wish friends and family a ‘sweet’ new year. Honey cake is also
very popular at this time of year as it incorporates this symbolic ingredient. I decided to use a simple honey cake recipe for cupcakes to give as gifts to loved ones for the new year. I can safely say that they are absolutely delicious and will make sweet treats for Rosh Hashanah (the warm spices also give them an autumnal feel so will be perfect for the coming months).

Ingredients (makes 18)

For the cake batter:

2 eggs

150g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 cup boiling water

200g golden syrup

1/2 cup sunflower oil

300g Dove’s Farm gluten-free self raising flour

2 heaped tsp cinnamon

3 heaped tsp ginger

1 tsp mixed spice

For the frosting/decoration:

250g margarine

500g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

1 tbsp mixed spices

2 tbsp water

1 Crunchie bar or any other chocolate-covered honeycomb

gold decorative sprinkles


How to make the cake batter:

  • IMG_0001Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Beat the caster sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl
  • Add the sunflower oil and vanilla essence
  • Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices and bicarb) into a separate bowl
  • Add the boiling water to the syrup in a separate container and stir them until they have dissolved together (if you don’t have enough golden syrup, feel free to compensate with honey or a butterscotch syrup)
  • Add the flour mixture and syrup mixture alternately to the bowl with the other wet ingredients
  • Use an ice cream scoop to put the cake batter into cupcake cases as is a very sloppy mixture (2 scoops for regular cupcake cases or 3 scoops for larger cases – like the brown paper ones in my photos)
  • Put the cupcakes in the oven for 20 minutes and then check to see whether they need to stay in for a few extra minutes (they should be a golden brown colour, spongy and moist – do not over-bake!)


How to make the frosting and decorate the cupcakes:

  • IMG_8008Soften the margarine and cream until smooth
  • Add the icing sugar and mix together until smooth
  • Add the vanilla essence and spices (you can change the quantity of spices depending on personal preference – I’d suggest tasting as you go along until you’re happy)
  • If the frosting is too stiff, add tablespoons of water and mix again until you have your desired consistency
  • Put the Crunchie (or honeycomb) into a ziplock bag and crush it with the end of a rolling pin – you want a range of different sized chunks and lots of crumbs, too
  • Pipe a swirl of frosting onto the cupcakes and sprinkle the honeycomb crumbs/chunks on top before the frosting sets
  • Alternatively, use gold coloured decorative sprinkles to complement the earthy toned honey cake and spiced frosting

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I have enjoyed baking these honey cupcakes! I shall definitely be serving them again next Rosh Hashanah 🙂 Shana Tova to all my Jewish blog followers!

Lemon Cupcakes

unnamed-5

There’s something delightful about mixing sweet and sour flavours to challenge the senses. My lemon cupcakes are light, fluffy and bittersweet – perfect for afternoon tea in the sunshine. Complete with streaky frosting swirls and a cute blueberry and fondant flower, they are sure to brighten up your day.

 

Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)

For the cupcake batter…

150g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 pinch bicarbonate of soda

1 pinch salt

115g caster sugar

100g butter

2 eggs

1 1/3 tsp lemon zest

1 1/3 tsp lemon juice

70ml milk

For the cupcake frosting…

80g butter

265g icing sugar

2/3 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 tsp lemon zest

2/3 tsp lemon juice

3 tbsp milk

1 drop of blue and yellow food colouring

To decorate…

1/2 pack of fondant

10 blueberries

edible glitter

5 cocktail sticks (not to eat, don’t worry!)

unnamed-6

How to make the cupcakes…

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. 
  • Sift the flour into a bowl and add the other dry ingredients (baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt).
  • Put the butter in a second bowl (this bowl needs to be large as it will be the main mixing bowl) and melt in the microwave so that it’s softer and ready for mixing.
  • Add the sugar to the butter and mix them together until creamy.
  • Crack the eggs into a third bowl and whisk gently to get a smooth consistency.
  • Add the remaining wet ingredients to the bowl with the eggs (milk, vanilla extract, lemon juice). Also grate lemon zest into this bowl. Stir everything.
  • Add half of the contents of the first bowl to the second bowl (with the butter and sugar). Fold in the dry ingredients carefully so that the batter will be light and fluffy.
  • Add half of the contents of the third bowl to the second bowl and continue to fold.
  • Repeat the previous two steps so that all the ingredients are now in the large mixing bowl and folded in.
  • Line a baking tray with cupcake cases (the mixture is a little bit greasy so foil cases will work better than paper ones).
  • Spoon the batter into the cases so that they are 2/3 full.
  • Put the tray in the over for 20-25 minutes. Test the cupcakes after 20 minutes with a cocktail stick (if it comes out clean, it’s ready).
  • Place the tray on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes before decorating. Whilst you’re waiting, do some washing up, clear your surface and make the frosting/decorations!

How to make the frosting…

  • Put the butter in a mixing bowl and melt in the microwave to soften it.
  • Sift in the icing sugar in small amounts, mixing it in well before adding the next bit.
  • Add the vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon extract.
  • The milk is simply to make the frosting softer and easier to pipe. If the frosting is already smooth, the milk is not needed, but if it’s still sticky and powdery, keep adding the milk in tablespoons until the consistency is as you desire.

How to decorate the cupcakes…

  • Split the frosting mixture in half and put each half in a separate bowl. 
  • Get two piping bags ready with a star-shaped nozzle in each.
  • Pour a drop of yellow food colouring down the inside of the piping bag so that it makes a streak all the way down. Repeat this so that there are a few streaks running down all the way round the inside. This may be messy so hold the piping bag inside a tall glass to catch stray drops of food colouring if needed. Do the same with blue food colouring in the other piping bag. I chose yellow to represent the lemon flavour, and blue to complement the blueberry decoration.
  • Pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes, starting in the middle and spiralling outwards. 
  • Roll out your fondant on a suface lightly spinkled with spare icing sugar. 
  • Use flower shaped cutters to make fondant flowers, and gently press them onto the centre of the freshly frosted cupcakes.
  • Snap 5 cocktail sticks in half and push each half through the centre of each cupcake.
  • Attach a blueberry to the top of the cocktail stick, which will hold it in place.
  • Sprinkle edible glitter over the cupcakes to make them sparkle!

Top Ten Summer Reads 2015

The weather may be dire at the moment, but it’s still summer! For some reason I associate books with seasons, depending on where/when they’re set and how they make me feel. Sometimes I save books for the winter simply because they have either a darker, more ominous cover or a pale blue, icy looking cover – reflecting the darkness and coldness of harsh winters. Likewise, books with covers that are brighter and have a floral design I tend to save for the summer, and books that I know are ‘ChickLit’ I take on holiday with me (because lying in the sun with a heavy 400-page psychological thriller makes me feel uneasy at the thought of it)! I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but who actually follows that rule?!

Here are (in no particular order) my top 10 light reads for the summer time – perfect for reading whilst lounging about in the sun, in the park, or shut away in your bedroom (if it rains nearly as much in your area as it does here).

1 – Ink by Amanda Sun ink-by-amanda-sun

Katie has recently moved to Shizuoka, Japan, to live with her aunt. She is clumsy, socially awkward and is still adjusting to the new culture. She encounters a seemingly dangerous boy, Yuu Tomohiro, and as the spring flowers blossom, so does their relationship. Katie is desperate to find out Tomo’s secret, and finds herself somehow linked to a magical power originally from ancient Japanese mythology. When Katie has the opportunity to move in with her grandparents in Canada, will she leave behind her new friends, Tomo, and the living ink sketches, in order to escape the gang eager to stamp out Tomo’s destiny?

I absolutely loved this book – how the fantastical elements are so smoothly incorporated into Katie’s story. Despite it being a fictional story, it really opened my eyes to Japanese culture and daily life, and there is even a glossary at the back so that you can pick up some of the conversational Japanese used by the characters. I also enjoyed the outdoor descriptions and learning about the tradition of having a picnic under the blossom trees. Finally, the illustrations throughout the book are a lovely accompaniment to the story and really bring the sketches to life for the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in fantasy, world culture, and art.

DownloadedFile

2 – Meet Me At The Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan

A typically British summer, a typically awful boyfriend and a typically awkward woman trying to recover from losing her typically boring day job. When her amazing cupcakes save the day, everything turns around and life begins to pick up again. Read this if you enjoy romance and cake (who wouldn’t?)

PaperTowns2009_6A-198x3003 & 4 – Paper Towns by John Green and Life Of Pi by Yan Martel Life-of-Pi

These books are bursting with colour and adventure. The Paper Towns characters are on a mission to find Margo, who has mysteriously disappeared, leaving clues everywhere. Q’s friends are lively and hilarious, each with their own quirks. They are now high school graduates and decide to go on a big journey to retrieve their friend. In Life Of Pi, Pi finds himself alone on a lifeboat with a tiger and a zebra, bound for the great unknown. This is a wild and imaginative journey where Pi learns to tame Richard Parker (the tiger) and provide for himself whilst hopelessly traveling in the ocean. I love both Pi’s insightful commentary on his life story and Q’s witty narration. I would recommend these books to readers who have an inner explorer and love escaping to other worlds not too dissimilar from their own. Click here to read my post about Paper Towns.

FangirlWIP5 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell is perhaps my favourite author to date. I am so excited to read Attachments (which I have been saving until after my exams) and Landline (when it’s out in paperback). Fangirl is quite relevant to me at the moment because, as well as being a huge fangirl, I am also starting university in September like Cath and Wren. This is such a wonderful novel, and I would highly recommend it (along with Rowell’s other books). Click here to read my brief review.

Book-delirium6 – Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Yet another dystopian novel that I love, where each 16 year old has surgery to remove ‘love’ and is forbidden to have particular feelings. Lena realises that she does not want to participate in the government’s scheme, and finds a way to escape and live as a nomad beyond the borders. This is a coming-of-age story about first love and brave acts of rebellion.

161433477 – We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This book is all about family politics and one girl’s experiences of the past few summer holidays spent on a private island. It’s poetic and exciting, and there is a huge plot twist at the end (so make sure you avoid spoilers)! Click here to read my brief review.

9554790

8 – The Other Life by Suzanne Winnacker

In the suburbs of Los Angeles, Sherry’s family are in hiding until the Military tells them it’s safe to come out of their shelter. They have been waiting for 5 years, and their food has now run out, so Sherry and her dad decide to venture out to find food, even though they risk their lives. When Sherry’s dad is captured by mutilated creatures, she has no choice but to run away with Joshua, a hunter who is lurking nearby. How will she find her family again before they die of starvation, and how will she rescue her dad? I have just read this post-apocalyptic novel and although there aren’t many aspects that differ from other current books of this genre, it was a really good read. The action is gripping and exciting, and the characters are all interesting in their own way. I liked that there is a focus on developing the character of each family member so that the reader gets to learn about their personality and what makes them tick. I would recommend it to any fan of dystopian fiction (the cover says that it’s appropriate for fans of The Hunger Games, which I can partially agree with).

9 – The Selection by Kiera Cass 10507293

Potential princesses and pretty dresses – need I say more?

10 – Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur5982448

This book is aimed at younger teenagers, but I enjoyed it all the same because of the heart warming and uplifting story of the young protagonist. The story centres on Aubrey, who is recently orphaned and decides to try and survive by herself during the summer. If you like stories about families and young children finding their way in the world, this book is for you.

Bonus:

Ask The Passengers by A.S. King, Anna And The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, and Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson are three books that I would love to add to this list… but I haven’t read them yet! They’re just sitting on my shelf, begging to be read this summer.

17453983 13069935 18189606

Oreo & Gluten-free Creme Egg Cupcakes

Today I made Oreo cupcakes and gluten-free Creme Egg cupcakes 🙂 If you’re unfamiliar with coeliac disease, it can sometimes be off-putting to see ‘gluten-free’ on the menu. But let me assure you that altering recipes to make them gluten-free does not require a huge amount of effort – in this one, just substitute your normal flour for gluten-free flour (available in supermarkets) – and you won’t even be able to taste the difference. Unfortunately, Oreos are not gluten-free, but you could make your own gluten-free chocolate cookies to use instead, so that those cupcakes are 100% gluten-free like the Creme Egg ones.

***

Recipe

Makes exactly 12 cupcakes. Takes about an hour from start to finish.

Ingredients

For the cake mixture:

100g margarine

100g caster sugar

100g gluten-free self-raising flour (I used Dove’s Farm)

2 eggs

2 or 3 tbsp cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla essence

3 mini Creme Eggs

For the frosting:

100g margarine

200g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 Oreos

3 mini Creme Eggs

2 tbsp milk

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

To decorate:

3 mini Creme Eggs

3 Oreos

1 tsp cocoa powder

***

IMG_5567

To make the cupcake batter:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  2. Soften the margarine in a mixing bowl in the microwave (for 30 seconds if you’ve taken in straight out of the fridge)
  3. Mix in the caster sugar until smooth and creamy
  4. In a separate bowl, gently whisk the eggs and mix in the vanilla essence
  5. In thirds, add the egg mixture to the margarine mixture in the mixing bowl
  6. Sift in the flour and mix until smooth
  7. Sift in 2 heap tbsp cocoa powder (or 3 if you’re a chocoholic)
  8. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, until they are 2/3 full (about 1 1/2 tbsp in each)
  9. Cut 3 mini Creme Eggs in half and slightly submerge the halves into 6 of the cupcakes (with the insides facing upwards)
  10. Put the cupcakes in the oven for 15 – 18 minutes
  11. When they’re ready, leave them to cool for about 20 minutes – in the mean time, clear the surface and make the frosting!

To make the frosting:

  1. Soften the margarine in a mixing bowl in the microwave (for 30 seconds if you’ve taken in straight out of the fridge)
  2. Mix in the icing sugar until smooth 
  3. If the mixture is not creamy, add a couple tbsp milk
  4. Add the vanilla essence
  5. Put half of the mixture into a different bowl to make the Oreo and Creme Egg frostings separately
  6. For the Oreo frosting, crush 2 Oreos into small crumbs and mix into the plain mixture
  7. For the Creme Egg frosting, crush 3 mini Creme Eggs into small pieces and mix into the plain mixture with the cocoa powder

To decorate:

  1. Pipe/spread the Oreo frosting onto the plain cupcakes, and the Creme Egg frosting onto the cupcakes with the mini Creme Eggs inside
  2. Cut the Creme Eggs in half and place one half onto each Creme Egg cupcake
  3. Snap the Oreos in half and place one half onto each Oreo cupcake
  4. Sprinkle a pinch of cocoa powder over each cupcake as a finishing touch

***

And voilá… now you have 12 delicious cupcakes made with your favourite sweet treats!