Monday, 5 January 2015

A Tale of Two Cupcakes

A friend is soon off to have her first baby, so we decided to adopt that American tradition of showering the mum-to-be in gifts, cards and imitation-sparkling-wine-from-champagne-flutes-so-it-felt-classy at a baby shower .  Claire hosted at her place, and all the girls contributed a little something to our afternoon tea themed celebration. 
Cupcakes were my responsibility (after all, nothing says "you're having your first baby, get used to a reliance on sugar to get you through the day" better than cake) so I turned to my trusty Primrose Bakery cookbook for inspiration.  I knew I wanted cupcakes that were season appropriate, and cranberry, orange, chocolate and peppermint sounded like the perfect combinations (not all in one cupcake I hasten to add!)  After a quick check that the mum-to-be could eat all of the ingredients that go into these rather decadent treats without causing any harm to the baby, I cranked out a couple of batches the morning of the party.

I went for Chocolate with Peppermint Icing and Orange and Cranberry with Orange Blossom Icing
I admit that 24 cupcakes may have been a little excessive for a party comprising of 5 people, but I was counting on my office colleagues to finish of any leftovers and they did not disappoint.  The various men in our lives also managed to help make sure that none went to waste when they came to pick the ladies up post party.
As this suggests, these cupcakes will keep for a couple of days in an air tight container (do not refrigerate), but don't keep for any longer than that!  These are pretty rich cupcakes as well - one per person is normally more than enough!
Chocolate Cupcakes

115g 70% dark chocolate
85 unsalted butter (room temperature)
175g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
185g plain flour, sifted
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
250ml semi skimmed milk (room temperature)
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases

Melt the chocolate and leave to cool slightly

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth.  In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks for several minutes.  Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well.  Add the melted chocolate and beat again.

Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a seperate bowl.  Mix the milk and vanilla extract together.  add 1/3 of the flour mix to the chocolate mix and beat well.  Add 1/3 of the milk mix to the batter and beat well.  Repeat twice more with the flour and milk mixes.

Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks start to form.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter using a metal spoon.  Do not beat.  The batter will be quite liquid/

Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling to about 2/3rds full.  Bake for 20-25 mins until a skewer comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack and allowing to cool completely before icing.
Peppermint Buttercream Icing.

110g unsalted butter (room temperature)
60ml semi-skimmed milk
1/2 tsp good quality peppermint extract
500g icing sugar
Couple of drops of peppermint green food colouring
Couple of candy canes, lightly smashed up or small peppermint sweets

Beat the butter, milk, peppermint extract and half the icing sugar until smooth.  Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar until smooth and creamy.  Taste and add more peppermint extract if required.

Add a drop of food colouring and beat well.  Continue to add in single drops and beat until the buttercream is the required colour.

Ice using an icing bag if available and decorate with smashed up candy canes or peppermint sweets
Cranberry and Orange Cupcakes

2 large eggs
200g caster sugar
100g corn oil
135ml sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1orange
230g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
140g fresh, finely chopped cranberries

Preheat the oven to 140C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases

Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy and then slowly add the oil a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Repeat the process with the sour cream and vanilla extract and finally the orange zest.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and then add to the batter and beat well.  Fold in the chopped cranberries gently.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling to about 2/3rds full.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until slightly raised, golden brown and a skewer comes out clean from the centre.

Allow to cool in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out to a cooling rack.  Once they are cool completely, go icing mad.
Orange Blossom Buttercream

115g unsalted butter (room temperature)
Juice of 1 freshly squeezed orange (a big one)
500g icing sugar
2 teaspoons orange blossom water

Beat the butter, juice and half the icing sugar together until smooth.  Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat until smooth and creamy.  Add the orange blossom water and beat again.  Taste and add more orange blossom if required

Ice using an icing bag if available and decorate with whole cranberries
I've now made a few different cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery book and they have never disappointed!  I love their flavour combinations as well.

Any particular ones that you would recommend?

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