Sunday, 13 April 2014

Double Caramel and Banana Cupcakes

Living in Kwazulu Natal, bananas are always available in abundance. Their presence in the pantry is automatically assumed. And on the rare occasion that the children (ours) and the monkeys (not ours) have managed to deplete the stores, we could go and simply forage for more down in the valley. Except we don't, because that would entail navigating locked gates, barbed wire, electric fences, and snakes…
Ah, life in Africa!

These cupcakes were made after one of my husband's patients gifted us with a couple of hands of bananas from their tree (and yes, they still have to pay their medical bill with real money!).

I took a recipe that I posted a while back, changed it slightly and added the caramel: caramel chunks and caramel sauce crammed into the centre of the cupcake. I'm on a bit of a caramel kick at the moment...



Double Caramel and Banana Cupcakes
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 180'C
Line 2 muffin trays with cupcake cases (makes 20-24)

320g cake flour
200g light brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 medium bananas, mashed
3 large eggs
125 ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
125 g caramel chunks - I used roughly chopped caramel creme's
60g pecans, finely chopped

Beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the oil, vanilla and bananas and mix to incorporate.

Sift in the dry ingredients, mix briefly; then fold in the caramel chunks and pecan pieces.

Spoon into the prepared cupcake cases and bake at 180'C for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Remove from the muffin pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.


Caramel sauce.

1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup fresh cream


Place the sugar and water in a medium sized heavy bottomed saucepan.
Stir over medium heat until all the sugar has dissolved.
Brush the side of the saucepan with a damp brush often to remove any sugar crystals clinging there.

Bring the mixture to the boil. Leave to boil on medium-high heat until it is a rich amber colour. Don't stir - just swirl the saucepan occasionally.

Once the sugar has turned amber, add the butter and stir until it has melted completely.
(The mixture will froth up dramatically!)
Remove from the heat, wait a few seconds then add the cream. The mixture will froth up again.
Mix until smooth.
Allow to cool.


Use a long, narrow plain round tip to pipe the caramel sauce into the centre of the cooled cupcakes.



Cream Cheese Icing

250g tub cream cheese - the denser kind, like Lancewood or Woolworths low fat cream cheese, or Philadelphia
100g butter, at room temp.
3/4 cup sifted icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract

Beat the icing sugar and butter together until soft and creamy, then add the vanilla and cream cheese. Beat until just combined. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. 

(Note - this quantity of icing was enough to cover the 2 dozen cupcakes with the swirls pictured above, but for larger icing swirls you may need a double batch of icing.) 



Happy baking! 

xxM 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Jem Cutters Lace Butterflies


Sho-eee! I'm getting to the end of what's been a very busy two months; and I've been aware over the past week of how little attention I've paid to the TC&C Facebook page. But it got me thinking - how good a reflection of our lives is Facebook, really? I mean, here I am in the midst of a crazy-busy period and my presence (or lack thereof) on FB suggests hibernation. Now, I do think that selective posting is a good idea (the world doesn't need to know about everything in your life, surely?) but often people only post things that are either very good or very bad, and sometimes I think that gives us a very skewed idea of reality. And sometimes, I just look at posts and think Really? Is that for real life or your Facebook life? (No - not you, never you!!)

Any-hoo... That's got nothing to do with this post; except that these cupcakes were made for a friend who saw pictures of some of my bright and colourful rainbow cupcakes on FB, asked for something similar, and this is what she got.
Huh?! Ok, it's a long story which I'll share when the official photos are out.


I was going to do a photo tutorial on how to make the butterflies (using Jem's lace butterfly cutters)…


Which I find quite fiddly to use, but some of the real professionals have already done a great job of doing a YouTube video tutorial.

Here's the link:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kiBZwFUn80o

Happy decorating!

xxM

Friday, 4 April 2014

Then and Now: Couture Cupcakes

Have I ever told you how awful the first birthday cake I made was? It was for my son's second birthday  and I had no idea how to ice cakes, but figured that it couldn't be too difficult. We--ell!
I've suppressed the memory, but I shed a lot of tears of frustration that night. A lot.
I can't even find a photo of it - it was so bad that my husband couldn't bring himself to take a picture. Cake wreck. Really.
Now, I still don't see myself as a hot-shot cake decorator, but I'm generally content with the outcome, and take a few photo's to boot!

So, just as a Friday-night-funny, I thought I'd show you a then-and-now of "couture" cupcakes that I've done. The black and white set is from the past week, and the others are from 2 years ago.
(I actually thought that they were quite good at the time!)


 Then:



Now: 



Yes, there's still room for improvement - but at least I can look at the photos and not cringe! 

: ) 

xxM 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Nougat Cheesecake

There's a hint of Autumn in the air, and I confess - I'm glad!
 My oven has been doing double duty these past few months, shifting between baking and acting as a "drying cupboard". Last week I was juggling between baking with it, using it to store fondant decorations, dry iced cookies, and keep cake lace away from the humidity. And then I threw this cheesecake into the mix - needing a longish baking time, and cooling time in the oven - on a particularly humid day…and oh, boy! The stress! Ok, not really. No lives were lost. Just a batch of cake lace. No biggie. 

So, the cheesecake: 




Nougat Chunk Cheesecake
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Grease and line an 18cm square cake pan or a 29cm round springform pan.

Base
300g finely crushed biscuits - digestives, Marie biscuits, etc.
120g melted butter
100g chopped macadamia nuts or flaked almonds

Mix all the ingredients together and press into the base of the prepared tin.
Cover with cling wrap and place in the freezer for 30min.


Filling
Preheat the oven to 160'C

2x 250g tubs cream cheese at room temp.
160g caster sugar
250ml fresh cream (35-40% fat content)
4 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
200g nougat, cut into small chunks.


 Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth.
Add the eggs one at a time. Beat well in between additions.
Beat in the cream and vanilla extract.

Pour into the chilled base. Drop the chunks of nougat into the batter.

Bake in a water bath at 160'C for 60-70 minutes, or until just the centre of the cheesecake jiggles when gently shaken.
 Leave to cool in the oven with the door slightly ajar.

Once cooled, refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight before serving.


Happy autumn!

xxM 

Monday, 24 March 2014

Rainbow Icing



So, I may have mentioned it before: I can become a little fixated on a theme.
Fondant rainbow, rainbow decorations, rainbow cookies, rainbow jelly, rainbow candy, rainbow party favors and of course rainbow cupcakes - which is what I'll share with you now.
The one thing I didn't do was rainbow layers for the cake. I just can't bring myself to put that many "e-numbers" into children's tummies. So, I went with chocolate mud-cake instead. Much healthier!!

; )




Any-hoo... This is the way I do multi-tone / rainbow icing swirls:


Smooth a dollop of icing onto a strip of cling wrap.


Roll the icing up into a sausage.

Just pretend that this icing is blue and the same as the one above and that I didn't forget to take a picture of that step with the blue icing….ok?!

Repeat with the other colours.



Place the "sausages" together and feed the twisted ends of the cling-wrap through the icing nozzle.
It can be tricky to do this with a closed star piping tip if it is already in a piping bag, so pull all the twists through the nozzle,



then put the nozzle and sausages into an piping bag.


Snip the twists off, then withdraw the sausages slightly so that the cling wrap is no longer in the tip of the nozzle.
Squeeze the bag until all three colours come out together, then ice the cupcakes.

So, it takes a little prep, but it's a really simple and neat way to do it. And anything that is neat and clean always a big selling point in the chaos of my kitchen!


Happy decorating!

xxM

Friday, 21 March 2014

Rainbow jelly

We've just wrapped up Sabrina's birthday party. All those days and hours of planning and preparation and it's all over in a couple of hours. But that's parties, I guess.

One of the things that took a few days to make were these rainbow jellies:


If you think you have an idea of how to make them, but wonder if there may be a short cut - no, there's no shortcut!
Make the first layer, allow to set in the fridge for 4-6hours, then pour the next colour on top. Repeat.
Very easy - you just need budget enough time for it!

I could stare at those colours for hours - quite mesmerising. Or maybe that's just the post-party fatigue hitting?
I'd better go and  have a nap  clean the kitchen…

xxM

Monday, 17 March 2014

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream


Put a ripe red fruit on top of a swirl of creamy frosting, and what you get is so quintessentially a cupcakes, isn't it? 
I've made quite a number of summer-fruit-inspired cakes these past few months, but haven't shared many (any??), and now it's almost the end of the season. 
So, make this while you can : ) 





White Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Recipe by Tea, Cake and Create

Preheat the oven to 160'C
Line 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases (makes 24)

300g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
150g caster sugar
300g white chocolate
200g butter
250ml milk
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter and chocolate in the milk. Stir until smooth.
Set aside to cool slightly. Then whisk in the caster sugar and vanilla; then the eggs.

Sift the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Then beat on medium speed for 1 minute until smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake cases.
Bake at 160'C for 20minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 egg whites
200g caster sugar
250-300g butter, cut into cubes, at room temp.*
1 tsp vanilla extract
120g fresh raspberries - puréed, plus extra for garnishing


Put the egg whites and sugar into a mixing bowl, and place that over a suitable saucepan of simmering water. The bottom of the mixing bowl must not be in contact with the water, and the water should not be boiling.

Whisk constantly, until the sugar granules have dissolved and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Move off the stove, and to the mixer.
Using the whisk attachment, whip until it forms a thick and glossy meringue.

When the mixing bowl feels neutral to touch (ie, no longer hot), change over to the paddle attachment, and add the butter one cube at a time. (* I stop adding butter when it reaches a consistency stiff enough to pipe.)
It may curdle, but just keep whipping until it reaches a satiny smooth
Then add the vanilla extract and raspberry purée and beat briefly until mixed in.

Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.
Top with a fresh raspberry...


xxM