Coming Up Carrot Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Soil

How is Easter almost here already?! It scares me how fast time flies these days, but hey, any excuse to bake, really. I found the idea for these awesome coming up carrot cupcakes on the ever-inspiring Pinterest. Unfortunately, I only saw them once and couldn’t find them again, so I don’t know whose idea they originally were, but they are pretty awesome.

 010

I first thought of crushing up dark chocolate biscuits for the soil, but I found this recipe to make your own by making a sugar syrup and adding dark chocolate. I was a little sceptical, but it worked really well, tasted great and added a nice crunchy texture to the cake. This was the first time I had ever make carrot cake, and I can’t really say I am a huge fan, but the cream cheese icing makes it all worthwhile!

 005

Carrot Cupcakes: (from Taste.com)

Makes approximately 20 cupcakes

  •  160g butter, softened, not melted
  • 2/3 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 cup grated carrot (I used 2 medium sized carrots)
  • 75g crushed pecans (original recipe calls for walnuts, but I am allergic, and I like pecans better anyway)

Preheat oven to 180c, and line cupcake tins. Beat the butter, sugar and nutmeg until pale and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time until well combined. Stir in self-raising flour until well combined, and then stir in the buttermilk until well combined, and then the plain flour until well combined. Stir in the carrot and the nuts. Spoon batter into cupcake cases, and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Leave in tins to cool for 5 minutes, and then turn out onto wire rack.

Chocolate Soil:

I really love this recipe. It’s so clever – I never even thought of this combination actually working. The recipe is from The Lone Baker, and I would really recommend you try it, especially if you are familiar with making sugar syrups. Chocolate soil is so versatile, and could be used for a variety of novelty cakes and desserts.

  • 100g caster (white) sugar
  • 75g 70% dark chocolate, chopped (ensure you use dark chocolate, because you need that little bit of bitterness when combined with all that sugar!)
  • – 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Line an oven tray with non-stick baking paper. Place sugar with 2 tbs cold water in a small-medium saucepan, and heat on low-medium until the sugar dissolves, and starts to go slightly yellow around the edges – this can take a while, it took me about  8 minutes to get to this point. Once the sugar begins to go yellow, take it straight off the heat and quickly whisk in the chocolate and cinnamon with a balloon whisk. The consistency of soil will appear very quickly, and some of the mixture will stick to the sides of the pan. You can just scrape this off with a butter knife. Pour soil out onto prepared oven tray.

Soil

Cream Cheese Icing: (see Parisian Red Velvet Cupcakes)

  • 225g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 340g cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/paste
  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • Orange colouring gel/liquid

Beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla together until pale and creamy, approximately 3 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar. I use 2 cups, as I think that is sweet enough, but you can add more or less if you want to. Place 5 tablespoons of icing in a separate bowl, and colour with orange colouring gel/liquid.

004

Assembly:

With a small sharp knife, carefully carve out a small circle in the top of the cupcakes, leaving a hole to pipe in the carrots. Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a wide round nozzle, and pipe circles around the hole made in the cupcake. Dip iced cake in the chocolate soil. You can add more soil to the cupcake with your hands if dipping it doesn’t cover the icing enough. Once all the cupcakes have soil on them, place the orange icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle. Pipe ‘carrots’ into the holes in the cupcakes, piping up so that the icing is approximately 1-2cm above the top of the cupcake. For the tops of the carrots, I used the green part of a sour strap, cutting them with scissors, with an incision of the middle of the strap. Place it in the carrot, far enough that it will not fall over.

007

You can find my previous Easter posts here. Happy Baking!

 

Advertisements

Maple Bacon Macarons

My love of combining sweet and salty flavours is certainly well documented throughout this blog! Maple bacon is something I have wanted to try making for a while, but struggled about what I would do with it. So, I stuck to what I am best at, macarons.

I decided to use a cream cheese icing for the filling – it is definitely my favourite kind of icing, made even yummier with the addition of real maple syrup. The bacon, seriously, I could have happily eaten the whole tray (I know I say this with a lot of things!), but it was delicious – like a lolly with an awesome salt kick! Yum 🙂

I know there haven’t been as many posts as I would have liked in the past couple of months, but with Christmas coming up, there will probably be one nearly every day! I have just finished my Christmas baking list, and it’s safe to say I don’t think I will be leaving the kitchen for the month of December!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray baround the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment. Just lightly beat them into the meringue. Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Cream Cheese and Maple Syrup Icing: (adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 112g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 250g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)
  • 1 cup icing sugar mixture
  • 80ml real maple syrup (I used Queen brand)

Beat the butter and cream cheese on high until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and maple syrup. Refrigerate until firm enough to pipe.

Maple Candied Bacon: (adapted from Food Networks Claire Robinson):

  • 250g middle bacon, chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp wholegrain mustard (I know the recipe says to use dijon, but we didn’t have any and I love wholegrain mustard)

Line a baking tray with two layers of foil, and preheat the oven to 200c (395F). Spread the chopped bacon out on the tray, ensuring no pieces are overlapping. With a pastry brush, brush the bacon with the maple syrup and mustard mixture, ensuring each piece of bacon is evenly coated. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is achieved. You may have to turn some lighter pieces over at the 8 minutes mark. If so, brush with some more syrup. Let bacon cool for 5-10 minutes on the tray. Remove from tray and place in bowl. TIP – you do not want to let the candied bacon cool too much before you remove it from the foil, otherwise the foil will stick to the bacon and it will be really hard to get off. Leave about 25 squares of bacon, and finely chop up the rest so it will be small enough to put around the outside of the macaorn.Try not to eat it all at once 🙂 Trust me, it will be difficult!

Assembly:

Match up likely pairs of macaron shells. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle, with the maple cream cheese icing. Pipe small rounds of icing on the macaron shells, place a non-chopped piece of bacon on top, and pipe a tiny bit more icing on top of the bacon. Sandwich with the other macaron shell, and place a few finely chopped pieces of bacon around the outside of the macaron. Place macarons in an airtight container. As aforementioned, macarons are best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Anyone thinking of giving this delicious combination a try – do! It’s a perfect Christmas flavour as well, think Christmas hams basted in maple syrup!

Let the Christmas cooking begin!!

Parisian Red Velvet Cupcakes

Before I say anything else, I believe red velvet cupcakes are the world’s greatest invention. Ever. I. Love. Them. So. Much. I’m not sure exactly what it is, maybe the cream cheese frosting or the fact that the cake itself isn’t too sweet, or the combination of the two. Whatever it is, I love it!

It was my best friend’s birthday, and she loves all things Paris-y, so when I saw this kit with the cases and the little toothpicks, I knew exactly what I was going to use them for! I have tried a few red velvet recipes in my time, including the one for the giant cupcake, but I think this is the best one I have come across. It was delish-i-ohso.

Red Velvet Cupcakes: (by Martha Stewart):

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (if you don’t know what cake flour is, read this)
  • 2 tbs good-quality cocoa
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (yes, you read that right!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp Wilton’s red colouring gel
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat the oven to 175c (350F). Line two cupcake trays with cases. Place the flour, cocoa and salt together and mix, then set aside. With an electric whisk or a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and the oil until combined. Add eggs one at a time, beating until each is fully mixed in. Beat in vanilla and red food colouring gel.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches, and the buttermilk in 2 (3 dry, 2 wet additions – begin and end with dry). Whisk well after each addition. In a separate small bowl, combine the baking soda and vinegar – it will foam. Add mixture to the batter, and whisk all together for about 10 minutes. Fill each cupcake case about 3/4 of the way. Place in oven for 10 mins, then turn tray around and bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in tins for 5 mins, then transfer to wire rack. Makes approx. 22 large cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Icing:(also from Martha Stewart):

  • 225g unsalted butter, chopped and softened
  • 340g cream cheese (I used Philadelphia), softened slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar mixture (confectioner’s sugar)

Beat the butter and cream cheese together until pale and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the icing sugar to taste, I used just over 2 cups, but you might want more if you like it sweeter – it’s really upto you 🙂 Beat in the vanilla.

Fill  piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and pipe a swirl on each cupcake. Decorate however you like!

I was originally a little worried about the amount of oil in this recipe, because you could really taste it in the batter before it was cooked. However, these cakes were so fluffy and moist – seriously one of the best I’ve ever tried. If you’re a fan of red velvet, definitely give these a go…you will not be disappointed 🙂

Have a great weekend and happy baking! X