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

Easter Egg Nest Chocolate Cupcakes

This week has been a great one for whiskitforabiscuit. With Easter arriving, I have had a lot of new visitors to the blog, which is so nice to see. I have also had a number of people telling me that they have tried my recipes, such as the Chai and White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns, and how they have succeeded and tasted awesome! So, thanks so much guys, I appreciate it more than you could know and I absolutely love hearing everyones stories and feedback 🙂 It’s also really nice to know that people are actually reading this and it’s not just me writing to my sad and lonely self, lol. Now, to the cupcakes.

IG

I had seen a few different takes on these egg nest cupcakes, on various sites such as Pinterest, and they just all looked so fantastic and fun! I had to give them a go, and use one of my all-time favourite childhood treats, the chocolate spider. No words can ever describe how much I adore the chocolate spider, seriously, they are just that delish. I really could go on forever and ever about these morsels of goodness, and it’s so great that they only have 3 ingredients! Life = complete.

000_0010

I have used this amazing chocolate cupcake recipe countless times, including in My First Order, and it’s never let me down! You can find the recipe here.
Makingcakes
Buttercream:
  • 350g butter, chopped and softened
  • 2 1/3 – 3 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • Wilton’s colourng gel, green
Beat butter until pale and creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Gradually add in the icing sugar mixture until well combined. Beat in vanilla and green colouring until desired colour is achieved. Spoon buttercream into a piping bag with a large round nozzle. Pipe rounds on the cupcakes.
000_0014
Chocolate Spider Egg Nests:
  • 1 packet Chang’s noodles (available at most Australian supermarkets. I am sure there would be an equivalent in the US and UK, however I do not know what the brand is)
  • 2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
  • 200g chocolate, milk or dark
  • 1 packet M&M Crunchy speckled eggs, or Cadbury Mini Eggs

Makingspiders

Place chocolate and peanut butter in a microwavable bowl, and microwave for 60 seconds on high. Stir with a metal spoon, even if it does not look melted. If it needs more time, microwave in 10 second increments until completely melted. Don’t do what I did and keep microwaving because you can still see lumps,and then realise it’s just the nuts from the crunchy peanut butter. Idiot. Pour contents of noodles packet into the chocolate and peanut butter mixture until well coated. With two teaspoons, make small ‘nests’, on oven trays with baking paper. Place three speckled eggs on each nests straight away, as you do not want the chocolate to set, otherwise the eggs will not stay on the nests. Place in fridge. You can make these a few days in advance, just pop them in an airtight container when they have set.
Place egg nest onto the green buttercream on the cupcake. Done!
 000_0005
I hope everybody has a fantastic Easter with their loved ones! I am so lucky I have a little sister who gets so excited about the Easter bunny and the annual hunt we have on Easter Sunday morning, it makes it so much more fun with little kids around!
000_0003
Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram – GemmaAsh! Until next time…X

Chai & White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns with Cranberry Butter

Wow. It’s so hard to believe that Easter is upon us already! Even though I have been eating the occasional hot cross bun in secret since January 1st when they are available at the supermarket, I guess the week before Easter is finally the socially acceptable time to eat one, two or twenty hot cross buns. So, here we are. And they’re not too bad even if I say so myself. I made a couple of batches of original and choc-chip buns a few years back and I promised myself I would try to make them each year for Easter as they were just so damn good! Although, last year, I substituted the real things for something almost as good, Hot Cross Macs. This year, I wanted to try making the buns again, with a bit of a different flavour 🙂
IG
I found some really good chai tea from T2 in the cupboard, bursting with cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and broken star anise. I knew then, I had to make my buns with this awesome chai. Mmm, and what to go with it? I didn’t want them to be too traditional, and since I was little, I have always been a loyal fan of the choc-chip variety (what kid hasn’t?!). White chocolate it was. I thought it would give the chai a bit of sweetness and provide the same great chunkiness as the choc-chip bun, and the white chocolate wouldn’t overpower the flavour of the chai like milk or dark chocolate would (I’m trying so hard not to sound like a wanker when I describe the flavour, lol).
000_0003
Chai and White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (adapted from Sasko flour):
For the chai tea:
  • 2 x teabags, or T2 sachets or teaspoons of chai (if you are using sachets or teaspoons, you will need to strain before adding the honey, milk and vanilla)
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 30ml honey
  • 125ml milk
Place the tea in a saucepan, with the water. Simmer on a low heat until the water colours, and the flavours are prominent (about 8 mins). If you need to, strain the tea, and place back in the saucepan once strained. Stir in vanilla, honey and milk, and set aside to cool slightly.
MakingDough
For the dough:
  • 540g plain flour
  • 30g butter, at room temperature
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 7g yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups white chocolate chips
  • 100g plain flour
  • Water
Sift flour into a bowl, rub in the butter with your fingers, and stir in the cinnamon, salt and sugar. Measure out 280ml of the chai tea mixture, and lightly mix in the yeast. When it begins to foam (you only need a few bubbles, don’t freak out if it doesn’t look like a bubble bath – I have made this mistake before), add to the flour mixture, along with the lightly beaten egg. Mix with hands until a dough if formed. If the dough is too crumbly, add a tiny bit of water. Oil a large bowl, and place dough inside. Put a tea towel over the top of the bowl, and put in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. I put my dough in a sunroom and it was perfect. You could also put it beside a window which is getting some sunshine.
MakingDough1
Preheat the oven to 200c. Once the dough has doubled, remove from the bowl and knead with hands on a clean surface until soft and springy. Add white chocolate in 2 batches and knead well. Shape the dough into 12 even balls, and place in an oiled or greased tray. Leave in a warm place to double in size once again, for about 30-45 minutes. Use the 100g of flour and some water to make a paste. Keep adding small amounts of water until desired consistency is reached. Remember you can put more water in, but you can’t take it out! You want the paste to be rough but not stodgy. Place flour paste in a piping bag fitted with a medium sized round nozzle (the ones you get with the Multix ones are perfect). Pipe crosses on the buns, and place in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in tray.
Bunsintheoven
To make the glaze, use 100ml of chai tea mixture and 1/2 cup caster sugar, and place in a saucepan. Simmer on a medium heat until it comes to the boil. Remove from heat, and brush buns with a pastry brush. I needed 2 coats on mine for them to be glossy enough.
000_0006
Cranberry Butter:
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries (craisins), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until combined. Spread on warm hot cross buns.
000_0008
Hot cross buns are heaps of fun to make. They are not difficult, but you definitely need to read the recipe beforehand. The only other thing is, you do need a bit of time, but I promise they are worth it! Don’t feel confined to making buns with the original flavours if you don’t wish to, mix it up with different fruits such as berries and citrus, and sweets such as different types of chocolates, caramel, nutella or jam.
000_0002
Enjoy! X

Homemade Gnocchi with Burnt Butter and Sage

I have always been a huge gnocchi lover. Well, a huge pasta lover in general, really. I have made this recipe for gnocchi a few times, but not for ages, and this recipe is always really great, light and fluffy just how gnocchi should be 🙂 I decided to pair it with the classic combination of burnt butter and sage – I love the nuttiness of the burnt butter and the crispy sage leaves. This dish marked the beginning of my family’s Easter Sunday feast, and safe to say it was quickly gobbled up by all involved. And I was so excited about it all that I forgot to take photos of the plates until I had eaten about half – sorry!

The recipe is once again from trusty Taste.com – where would I be without Taste?! I know a lot of people are put off my making their own gnocchi because they think it is difficult. If you follow this recipe, and stick to this exact amount of flour, I can almost guarantee your gnocchi will taste like fluffy pillows of heaven 😛 C’mon guys, it’s only potato and flour!!

Potato Gnocchi: (I only cooked about 2/3 of the quantity to serve 5 as an entree, so if you cooked the whole lot it would probably comfortably serve 7-8 as an entree, and 4 as a main)

  • 1 kg red (desiree) potatoes
  • 3/4 plain (all-purpose) flour
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra flour for dusting

Line three baking trays with baking paper. Peel skin off potatoes and cut in half. Place in a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold, lightly salted water, and cook over a medium heat for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are soft enough to mash. Drain potatoes well and transfer to a large bowl. Mash potatoes until completely smooth (NO lumps here!), season with salt and pepper, and leave them to cool (I just put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes, and it was cool enough to handle).

Gradually add the flour, and knead until well combined. The dough should be a little bit sticky, but firm. If it is too sticky to work with, add a little more flour – not too much though, you do not want the gnocchi to be gluggy when cooked. Flour a large, flat surface, and roll the dough, in batches with your hands, into long, thin logs. Ensure dough is always dusted with flour and does not stick to the surface. Using a floured butter knife, begin cutting small squares of dough from the logs (about 2 cm wide). Gently press each gnocchi lightly with a fork (these grooves will ensure the sauce sticks to the gnocchi), and transfer to the lined baking trays.

Fill a large saucepan with cold, salted water (or boiling water from the kettle if you’re in a hurry!). Bring to the boil and add the gnocchi. Gnocchi will only take 2-3 minutes to cook, and it will be ready when it floats to the surface. Drain well.

Burnt Butter and Sage Sauce: (these quantities are for the amount I made – 2/3 of the dough, and will serve 5 as an entree)

  •  4 generous tablespoons butter (I used Western Star spreadable)
  • 25 fresh sage leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon juice, to sprinkle
  • Parmesan, to sprinkle

Just before you put the gnocchi in the boiling water to cook, place butter and sage leaves in a large non-stick pan over a medium heat. Cook butter until it turns a nut brown (about 5 mins) and tastes slightly burnt, and the sage leaves are crispy. Add gnocchi, and stir until well combined. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Once gnocchi is plated, add a little lemon juice and parmesan. Yum!

I hope everyone had a great chocolate holiday, religious occasion or just a super long weekend! X