Chocolate and peanut butter ganache cupcakes

 

I’ve been baking up a storm this past week. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday over the weekend (which meant party cake and treats as well as cupcakes for school and home) and today Cupcakes and Couscous turns 7! Last year we celebrated with this caramel choc chip ice cream and this year I decided that some decadent chocolate ganache cupcakes were the perfect treat to celebrate this milestone.

 

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Dark chocolate cupcakes with whipped whiskey ganache

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate and whiskey ganache.

This week’s recipe comes from a feature I put together for Cheers Magazine last month in which whiskey and sherry were the heroes. I have to be honest and say that sipping spirits has never been my thing, I am more of a wine gal myself! But I do keep a small stash of tipple tucked away for culinary purposes. A splash of brandy here, a dash of sherry there… they certainly add a deep richness to the dishes they are added to. These easy dark chocolate cupcakes are proof that whiskey is not only good for sipping but also has its place in the kitchen (and that cupcakes aren’t just for the kiddies!).

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Lemon and pistachio cupcakes

Fresh lemon cupcakes with pistachios.
Spring seems to have settled in properly now, in fact it feels more like summer this week. Sunny skies, short sleeves and (ah-choo!) hay fever – happy days! Except for that last point, hay fever – feel free to be on your way any time now. That biting morning chill that we became accustomed to in the winter months has all but gone and the promise of a glorious summer is quite literally in the air.

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Chocolate Easter nest cupcakes (with video)

Chocolate Easter nest cupcakes.
I suppose I should be used to it by now, but I could not believe my eyes when just one week after Christmas the supermarket shelves were already filling up with Easter eggs! Of course now that it is March you cannot maneuver your shopping trolley without bumping into a chocolate bunny but it is a bit more acceptable now that Easter is just a few days away, yay! A few weeks ago a friend sent me a photo of a beautiful Easter bird nest cake. It reminded me of some Easter cupcakes I made years ago, and I decided they would be perfect to make again and share with you this week. They will make a colourful and delicious addition to your Easter table!

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And we’re off! Salted caramel cupcakes

Let’s kick things off with something special, and in keeping with the name of this blog I thought a batch of cupcakes would be a delicious way to get started! These golden treats with their fudge-like topping are sure to delight even the most sophisticated crowd.

Cook’s notes:

  • To add a snazzy finishing touch you can drizzle the cupcakes with some leftover tinned caramel or top with spun sugar or small caramel shapes.

SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES

For the cupcakes:

  • 12 cupcake cases
  • 375ml (1½ cups) cake flour
  • 10ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 1.25ml (¼ tsp) salt
  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 150g tinned caramel
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 60ml (¼ cup) milk

For the salted caramel frosting:

  • 125ml (½ cup) castor sugar
  • 90ml double cream
  • pinch of sea salt flakes
  • 25g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250ml (1 cup) icing sugar
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) milk

1.) Preheat the oven to 170ºC and place 12 cupcake cases in a muffin tray. I like to spray the cases with a little bit of cooking spray to prevent the cupcakes from sticking to the papers.

2.) Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside.

3.) Place the butter and sugar in a separate bowl and beat until fluffy. Whisk in the caramel. Add the eggs one at a time whisking well between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract and then whisk again until everything is combined.

4.) Add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat slowly. Add the milk and continue to beat on the slowest speed until the ingredients are just combined.

5.) Divide the mixture between the 12 cupcake cases and pop the tray in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. (Remember to keep an eye on the cupcakes during the last few minutes of baking as ovens do vary.) Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tray for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

6.) To make the frosting combine the castor sugar with two tablespoons of water in a saucepan. Stir over a low heat to dissolve the sugar. Use a pastry brush dipped in warm water to brush away any sugar crystals that collect on the sides of the pan.

7.) Stop stirring the sugar syrup as soon as it begins to boil. After a few minutes you’ll notice the colour starting to change – at this stage you can start to swirl the saucepan very gently to allow for even heating. Be sure to keep an eye on the sugar syrup as it burns very easily. Continue to boil the mixture until it becomes a deep golden colour, then remove from the heat.

8.) Carefully pour in the cream, taking care as the mixture will bubble up ferociously. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add a pinch of sea salt flakes, whisk again then set aside to cool.

9.) Whisk the butter in a separate bowl until fluffy. Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat until the mixture starts to come together (it’ll be quite dry and crumbly). Add a spoon of the cooled caramel sauce and beat until smooth. Add the remaining caramel and continue to mix until everything is combined. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and add the milk. Beat for several minutes until the icing is fluffy. Spread or pipe the icing onto the cooled cupcakes.