Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Vanilla Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Ganache

You know about the "kitchen triangle", don't you?
I first learnt about it in Home Economics in std 6 (grade 8). I didn't take H.E as a subject beyond the required 2 years. Instead I chose the subjects that were more relevant to my life plan at the time - biology, science, maths, etc.
I'm not to sure why we had to do H.E for two years, actually. Perhaps in the "old SA" those that called the shots in education felt that no female should matriculate without knowing how to make kedgeree. I don't know. But I did learn to make kedgeree.

I digress... Home Economics introduced me to the work triangle - the idea that the ideal kitchen layout should have cooking range, fridge and sink triangulated.

I think of that often these days while my kitchen has been reduced to this...

and I'm walking between my fridge in the lounge, my temporary 2 plate stove (that has only 1 plate working) in the dining room, and the granny flat outside to wash dishes.

It's a WIDE triangle!

Something else that might have been taught in an H.E lesson (that I missed while learning about the periodic table and co-valent bonds, etc) was pantry essentials. You know - the kind of items you really should have on hand at all times just in case you have to throw a spontaneous dinner party ; )

While I'm not able to russell up much more than beans on toast these days, I do still have a reliable stock of vanilla cupcakes and ganache in my freezer. Let them eat cake!

These are vanilla cupcakes (the basic ones we use in all our cupcake classes - nice and light and easy to hide a secret centre in!)  with white chocolate ganache centres, and whipped ganache-cream cheese icing.

Vanilla Cupcakes
recipe from Nikki Palmer - "Once Upon a Cupcake"

Pre-heat oven to 170'C
Line 2x muffin trays with cupcake cases.


4 eggs
2 cups Castor sugar

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder

1 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use 8-10 drops of Vanilla Girl vanilla extract)


Mix the milk and oil together in a jug, and heat in microwave for 2 min on high. Set aside for 15 minutes, then add the vanilla.

Place the sugar and eggs in a mixer, and beat on high for 6 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

Sieve the flour and baking powder into two separate bowls.

Add 1/3 of the flour to the egg mix, then half the milk mix; gently blend. Add another 1/3 of flour, then the rest of the milk mix; gently blend. Finally add the rest of the flour and then the baking powder.
Mix until just combined.

Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to fill your cupcake cases.
Bake for 15-18 minutes.

These cupcakes need to be covered with icing quite soon after they've cooled, or frozen if not used immediately. Left unfrosted, their surfaces become tacky in a short space of time.
(Freeze a dozen, now - were only making enough ganache for half the batch.)

White Chocolate Ganache with Cream Cheese

( this will be enough for 12 - 15 cupcakes, depending on how big you go with your icing swirls).

300g white chocolate
100ml cream.

1 tub (250g) cream cheese at room temp.

Place the white chocolate and cream in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. (Do not let the bowl come in direct contact with the water).
Stir occasionally until all the chocolate is melted.

Let the ganache cool, but before it has set, spoon a cupful into a piping bag fitted with a long nozzle   (see here for a picture, and another secret centre cupcake recipe).

Plunge the nozzle into the centre of the cupcake, and squeeze!

Allow the rest of the ganache to set (refrigerate if necessary to speed it up, but stir occasionally to evenly distribute the cooling areas).

Place 1 1/2 - 2 cups of ganache into a mixing bowl, and beat - slowly at first, then on medium speed until light.
Add 1 tub (250g) cream cheese at room temperature, beat together until incorporated.

Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Any left over ganache can be frozen; or kept in fridge, where it's handier to get at with a teaspoon...or a shovel...
; )



  1. But if the kitchen looks like that, it means exciting changes are ahead. I'm quite jealous!

  2. You're right: exciting changes. A lighter, brighter space. Can't wait : )

  3. Hi Marina! Do you know if the ganache would stay good at room temperature?

    1. How long would you keep it at room temp, Andrea? A day out on the counter, at room temperature would be fine, in moderate weather. But overnight it would be better to refrigerate.