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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Melted Snowmen Shortbread

Wow. What a crazy busy few weeks it has been! I cannot believe I haven’t baked anything Christmassy until now, I had so much planned to do in the last couple of weeks, but I always seem to be way too ambitious when Christmas baking is concerned. So, here we are – shortbread on the 13th of December! They are certianly no culinary masterpieces, but it is great shortbread though, even if I say so myself. And they are quite cute. And this is exactly what would happen if we could make snowmen at Christmas in Australia.

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Homemade shortbread has always been one of my favourites around Christmas time, and this is actually the first time I have properly made it myself (you can probably tell – they are far from consistent!). I used a Taste.com recipe, surprise, surprise, and it was awesome – really buttery and melted in your mouth. One of the things I love about shortbread is that it is sooo easy to make. It has 5 ingredients that would usually be in your pantry anyway. The dough is pretty tasty, too. Tasty enough that we probably lost a snowman or two due to my severe lack of self-control when it comes to dough.

Yummy

Shortbread: (recipe adapted from Taste.com) Makes 18 large snowmen.

  • 250g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 cup cornflour

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 3 oven trays with baking paper. Beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add the flours and stir to combine. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth. If you find the dough too sticky, just add a bit more flour when kneading. Wrap the dough tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Cut dough in half, and roll out with a rolling pin between two sheets of baking paper, until the dough is about 1-1/2cm thick. With a ring mould, or a round cookie cutter, cut circles out from the dough and place them on the baking trays. Cook for 20-25 minutes. The shortbread should not be too ‘blonde’ as they would say on Masterchef! I tried to take mine out just as they were beginning to go a tiny bit golden. Let cool on trays for 15-20 minutes.

Shortbread!

Turning the shortbread into Melted Snowmen:

  • 18 white marshmallows
  • Silver cachous
  • Orange sprinkles
  • Icing sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Water
  • Vanilla bean paste
  • Edible black pen (these are fantastic, I bought mine from Baking Pleasures)

To be honest, I didn’t measure out the ingredients in the icing. I used a small-medium bowl, and started off with approx. 1/2 cup icing sugar, and probably 2 tsp of water. Mix the sugar and water together, then add the vanilla and lemon juice. It needs to be fairly thick, but still spreadable enough to move around on the shortbread. It should be this consistency. and should be well balanced with vanilla and lemon 🙂 This icing dries really quickly, so keep giving a stir every now and then.

Like this...

Draw faces on the marshmallows, I made them sad and confused, as they had just endured a serious heatwave!

 

Place a wire rack on top of some paper towel. Pour a teaspoon of icing onto the shortbread, and spread out to make it look as though the icing is dripping off the sides. Place a marshmallow on the shortbread, and 2 or 3 silver cachous in front if the marshmallow. Push an orange sprinkle into the marshmallow for the nose. Yum!

Heatwave...

These cute, sad little snowmen are great for the kids to make. They are really easy and fun to decorate 🙂 Plus, the shortbread tastes really good, too. Enjoy, and stay tuned for some more Christmas baking goodness 🙂 X