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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow Cupcakes

Happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day to you all, and top of the morning to ya! 😉 I have seen these super cute cupcakes many times on Pinterest, so I thought it was time to give them a go. They’re so adorable 🙂

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I used my trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for these, and once again, they worked a treat as always. To get the rainbow effect throughout your cake, you just need to divide your batter into separate bowls, colour them, and spoon them separately into the cupcake cases before baking.

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I also loved the sour strap rainbow. As cute as it looked, it also gave the cupcake a nice sour tang and cut through the buttercream. Deeeeeeelicious.

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These little gems are really easy to make, too, and would be fun for kids to have a go at. You obviously don’t have to colour the batter, either. And you don’t have to pipe grass on the cupcakes, which I discovered is quite time consuming to get right!

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Happy Baking, Guinness drinking and potato eating! Hope you all have a great weekend 🙂

Lamington Cake with Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Happy Australia Day to all you Aussies! I hope everyone is having a relaxing long weekend 🙂 As a country, Australia does not really have a defined cuisine of its own. I guess it has something to do with being derived from Britain, and not really having a whole lot of history of our own. However, there is one sweet that we do claim do be our own (aside from the humble Pav, of course!). It is the delicious Lamington. If you do not know what a Lamington is, you are missing out, big time! They are slices of sponge-y cake, filled with jam, and covered in chocolate icing and coconut. Yum! I had actually never made a Lamington before, so I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I decided on a cake version for my Mum’s birthday, and I must say, it was delicious, and a big hit.

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I was going to use the recipe from the ‘BAKE’ book, from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly (AWW are the go-to’s for great recipes for many Aussies), for normal Lamington’s. However, I just had to look on my favourite site, Taste, of course, to see if they may have had a recipe for a cake. Luckily, I found the perfect one with great reviews, so I went with that, with a few of my own additions. I guess I could be more sure of the measurements this way, instead of having to adapt a slice into a cake. Anyhoo, the recipe was great – easy to follow and not ridiculously time consuming, either. Winner 🙂

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Lamington Cake: (recipe from Taste.com)

  • Cooking oil spray, to grease
  • 1/2 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/4 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 2 cups coconut
  • 250ml thickened cream
  • 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract

Preheat your oven to 180c/356f. Grease two 20cm round springform baking tins with cooking oil spray, and line with non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

Sift all three flours into one bowl. In a separate bowl, beat all of the eggs, and the sugar, for approximately ten minutes, or until the mixture is thick, pale and creamy. Then, sift half of the flour mixture into egg mixture, and  gently fold it in with a metal spoon until well combined. Repeat with the remaining flour. Make sure the flour is all combined as it can be difficult to see in a large bowl – the flour will just sink to the bottom. And remember to be gentle as you don’t want to knock too much air out of the sponge.

Divide the mixture evenly into the 2 prepared tins. Smooth the surfaces with a metal spoon to ensure the mixture is even. Bake for 12-15 minutes (mine took 14, but ensure you check at 12). Insert a skewer to ensure cake is cooked – the skewer will come out clean. Leave in tins to cool, then place on a wire rack.

Chocolate Icing:

  • 2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup water

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl together, and add the water. Mix well until combined and smooth. Pour the icing into a large, shallow dish. Pour the coconut out onto a large baking tray.

Place one side of the sponge cake into the icing, cover the sides, then dip the other side of the sponge in the icing. Cover in coconut and place on a large cake stand. Repeat with remaining sponge cake, except place this one on a plate or another baking tray. I found this process super messy and it took me a while, but I got there in the end!

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Balsamic Strawberry Jam:

  • 1 medium punnet of strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 1 cup caster (white) sugar
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Splash of water

Place strawberries and water (I literally used a splash, just to moisten the strawberries) in a medium sized saucepan. Cook on a medium heat until the berries begin to soften (about 2 minutes). Add the vanilla and sugar, and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until strawberries have broken down. Add balsamic vinegar, and continue cooking on low until mixture becomes a sticky, jam like consistency. Pour into a bowl, and leave to cool. If you are not using the jam on the day of making it, cover with cling wrap and place it in the fridge. I made my jam two days beforehand.

Lamington Cake

Assembly:

Whip up 250ml thickened cream, with 1/3 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste/natural extract. With one sponge cake already on the cake stand, cover with whipped cream, ensuring you spread the cream right to the edges of the cake (if you want to decorate it like my cake, leave a little bit of cream behind to pipe on top). Then, spread over the strawberry jam – although this time don’t spread it right to the edges, leave about 1cm. Place the other sponge on top of the cream and jam. Decorate as desired 🙂 EAT!

Messy goodness

HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY! (check out my past Australia Day posts here.)

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