Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

Ever decided to bake from your own blog? I sure have. Result? Frustration! Why, oh why, did I not list the amount of each ingredient in the step-by-step instructions, as well as in the list at the beginning. WHY?! Because I wanted people to spend all their time scrolling up and down???? *ahem* Apologies all round. I am going to fix all previous posts as soon as this one is published! Klepto’s honour 😀

Rant done. Onto the matter at hand: OMG DE-FREAKING-LICIOUS CUPCAKES

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What was that a photo of? Oh, only THE BEST caramel frosting I have had in my life, lovingly settled in a swirly fashion atop those indescribably delightful chocolate cupcakes I wrote about in my VERY FIRST BLOG POST.

As such, I won’t be reposting the chocolate cupcake process. Refer back to my previous chocolate cupcake recipe, but cut the cook time to 16 minutes if you are making mini cupcakes like I decided to do. I also put a secret treat in the centre of these mini ones. So, once you’ve mixed up your batter, jump back here before you start spooning them into your muffin tray!

MMmmm. I’m having flavour flashbacks. They were just so light and so fluffy and definitely delectable enough to lure Hansel and Gretel right into my oven.

Caramel Frosting Ingredients:
114 g salted butter
220 g dark brown sugar
80 ml milk
360 g confectioner’s sugar
an extra few tablespoons of milk

With one batch of frosting, I had enough to decorate 80 mini cupcakes!

Melt the butter (114 g) in a small saucepan over low heat. Add brown sugar (220 g) and milk (80 ml). Stir continuously over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved then allow to bubble for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

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Pour your caramel into a large bowl and allow to cool. Using an electrical mixer, beat in the confectioners sugar (360 g total) in three equal parts. Before turning the hand mixer on, I stirred in the icing sugar a bit, then covered both the bowl and the mixer with a towel for beating. This, combined with turning on my extractor fan, helped me avoid the light coating of icing sugar that so often covers my kitchen and my lungs.

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Once your confectioner’s sugar is all beat in, tightly cover the frosting with cling film until you are ready to decorate, as contact with air quickly dries it out.

Just before you are ready to use it, beat in some milk, one tablespoon at a time, until it is soft enough to pipe but still firm enough to hold its shape. (I used 3 tbsp, but this will vary.)

Now back to CUPCAKES!

You’ve just finished mixing up your cupcake batter and are ready to spoon it into adorable mini muffin trays. But first, these little scrumpties (I tried to make scrumptious into a noun… Def: scrumptious and adorable baked goods) were filled with a tiny secret: Cadbury Nibbles hidden in the centre!

One batch of batter makes 40 mini cupcakes, so cut 40 Nibbles in half.

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The first method I tried just led to sunken Nibbles at the bottom of my cupcakes, but as I found out in my second batch (I was making 80 cupcakes and one batch is only 40, hence the second. Sadly, by then, I wasn’t being as vigilant with my photo-documentation) the best thing to do is to put two teaspoons of batter into each cup, then press the two half Nibbles together, side by side, and push them gently into the top of the batter. You want to be able to see the tops of the Nibbles.

The following picture doesn’t showcase the peeking out Nibbles, but it does show how much room the cupcakes need to expand. These little babies rise, so give them a good 1/3 of growing room!

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Pop them in the oven (160 C fan) for 16 minutes and the Nibbles-ified cupcakes will look like:

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Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and leave them until they are completely cool.

Now, as mentioned before, make your icing soft enough to pipe, transfer it to a piping bag, select your preferred nib, and get piping!

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Dr. Who(oops) Tardis Chocolate Cake

The key to this recipe is to make sure you get off on the right foot. I’m here to help you with that: start by taking ÂŁ16 and tossing it into the wind. Afterward, spend hours on an exercise in futility known as the Find-Some-Blue-Fondant dance. Now that you’ve wasted enough time and money to be thrilled whatever the outcome, you can start on a cake that, despite its lack of blue colouring, is enough to bring a smile to any Whovian. (Clearly there is some back story here that I plan on keeping to myself 😛 you don’t reeeeally have to throw away any money!)

*disclaimer: I am not a Dr. Who fan, but the cake recipient is*

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Yes, the cake is white. There were some issues with getting blue gel to colour my fondant, and indeed, time issues that meant I did not even make my own fondant *gasp* I bought ready-rolled icing from the shop instead! Apologies all round.

Fun fact: in the audio version of Dr. Who, the Tardis is hit by a cannon and loses its colour. It remains white for three episodes… so my cake wasn’t too inaccurate.

The cake recipe is one my grandmother used. It’s called Verna’s Chocolate Cake and, while I don’t know who that Verna lady was, I know she made a damned fine cake! This is a double recipe, so you can safely cut it in half if you ever want to make a normal chocolate cake. For the Tardis I had to make this double recipe twice to get two 12 inch by 12 inch cakes.

Pre-heat the oven to 150 C fan (170 C non-fan)

Ingredients:
160 g unsalted butter (the original recipe says butter the size of 4 eggs… adorable)
460 g granulated sugar
4 egg yolks (save the whites — you’ll need 8 for the icing!)
2 tsp salt
4 tsp vanilla
200 g unsweetened cocoa powder
Boiling water
Milk
500 g plain flour (sifted)
2 tsp baking soda

Start by greasing and flouring your pan. I am >abso-FREAKING-lutely< in love with my cake pan. It stores flat AND has these lovely dividers for making four perfectly uniform 6×6 cakes.

001 Pan GreaseFlour A

Cream together your butter (160 g) and sugar (460 g). (Borrowed a stand mixer from a friend! I was in heaven.)

003 Creaming Sugar

While beating on a medium setting, add your egg yolks (4). Continue mixing until combined, then add your salt (2 tsp) and vanilla (4 tsp).

004 and 005 Adding Egg to Creamed ButterSugar A

Set the mixture to the side. If you have a cup that can measure 1000 ml, you can just do this in one big go, but I will describe it here the way I did it: doing it twice to get the full amount.

In a measuring up, put 100 g cocoa. Pour 240 ml boiling water over it and whisk together. Top up to the 480 ml line with milk and stir well. Add to your butter/sugar/egg mixture and repeat the cocoa/water/milk mixing for a second time. (You will have used 200 g cocoa, 480 ml water, and I don’t know exactly how much milk :P)

006 Cocoa and Water

While beating on low, gradually add your sifted flour (500 g) and baking soda (2 tsp) into the butter/sugar/egg/chocolate mixture. I generally mix my baking soda into the flour ahead of time to prevent against bitter tasting clumps in the finished batter. Blend until there are no clumps of flour.

008 Cocoa into EggButterSugar 3 Steps

Divide the batter evenly into your pan.

011 Batter in Pan B

Cook for 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the centre will come out clean when they are done.

012 Cooked Cake C

Repeat the whole cake process again until you have eight wee cakes.

017 8 Cakes A

Set your cakes out on a wire rack until they are completely cool before you start icing them.

While my cakes were cooking I made my icing. I used a meringue buttercream for the outside, and a chocolate icing for between the layers. There was plenty of buttercream though, and it was delicious, so I would suggest skipping the chocolate icing part. I also wouldn’t suggest trying to make buttercream with a handheld mixer — they general break under the pressure.

Meringue Buttercream Ingredients:
8 egg whites
225 g granulated sugar
Pinch salt
680 g unsalted butter (room temperature)
375 g confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp vanilla extract

In a bowl set over a pot of boiling water, slowly heat your whites (8), granulated sugar (225 g), and salt (pinch). Whisk constantly until all your sugar is dissolved.

Icing 001 ButterCream Egg whites Sugar

Transfer the egg white mixture into your stand mixer and whip on high until a peak forms and the mixture is cool. This takes about 4-5 minutes.

Icing 002 Buttercream Whipping Whites A

While mixing on medium, gradually add your softened butter (680 g). Sift the confectioner’s sugar (375 g) and add it along with the vanilla (2 tbsp).

Icing 003 Buttercream 1 Whipping Whites B

I stored my buttercream in the fridge covered in cling film as it softens quite quickly when on the counter! (This photo is after it was covered with the cling film, so it doesn’t look as lovely and fluffy.)

Icing 004 Buttercream 2 Finished

Now onto the chocolate icing recipe that I used for between the layers. It is quite an easy recipe, but in my opinion not one of the best, as you can really taste the raw icing sugar. Use only when your desire for ease and speed is greater than the desire for high quality icing.

Chocolate Icing Ingredients:
50 g melted unsalted butter
45 g unsweetened cocoa
75 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
450 g icing sugar

Whisk together your melted butter (50 g) and cocoa powder (45 g). Stir in your milk (75 ml) and vanilla extract (1 tsp).

Icing 015 Chocolate Icing

Add your sifted icing sugar (450 g) and beat on a medium setting.

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Right before using the icing, if you want it a bit softer for spreading, you can carefully add milk, but no more than tablespoon at a time.

*****DECORATION TIME*****

Decoration “ingredients”:
Two pieces of cardboard cut to 6×6
Tinfoil
Straws
Large kitchen knife
Stanley knife
Paper
Ruler
Edible icing writer pen
Fondant (aka: Ready-rolled icing)
Icing smoother

Cover your two pieces of cardboard with tinfoil. Set one on the board or tray you plan to use for displaying the finished cake. Examine your cakes and set aside the most high/evenly peaked cake to be used as your top piece.

Using a serrated knife, level one of the cakes. Place the first levelled cake on the tinfoil covered cardboard you’ve prepared on your display board. (I used a bit of buttercream icing below and above to keep the tinfoiled cardboard in place and to keep the cake from slipping off of it.)
Level the second cake, then ice your first layer and place the second cake on top (making sure it is even!) Level your third cake, ice the second layer, place the newly levelled piece on top. Repeat until you have four layers of cake.
Measure a straw against the side of the four layers and cut it so it is flush with the top layer. Cut four more straws to the same height. Afterward, ice the top of your fourth layer, then insert the five straws as seen below. This is to prevent your cake from collapsing into itself.

Take your second piece of cardboard and start the exact same process of levelling cakes and icing between layers. Stop when you reach your last cake, the one you set aside specially for the top. Take five straws and measure them so they are 1 centimetre taller than the top of the third layer and insert them into the cake. Cut the top piece on diagonals so it has a roof shape as showin in the photo below. Carefully place the top piece on, being particularly precise since the straws won’t allow for you to shift it around afterward.

020 Cake both 4 Layers Straw Cut

Cover both your mini towers in buttercream icing. I used excessive amounts, then spread it with a straight metal implement. Use a flat spatula to pic up the top layer and place it on top of the bottom half. Add extra icing to hide the seam.

023 Both Iced

At this point, my buttercream was quite soft, so I put the (now 8 layered!!) cake in the fridge to cool before smoothing out the lumps and sharpening up the corners.

026 Both Cakes Stacked Iced C

While doing the rest of the decorating, I took the cake out of the fridge again to make sure the buttercream was soft enough to allow the fondant to adhere well.

I designed a stencil for my Tardis walls. Measure the height of your cake (minus the peak) and the width to come up with the stencil dimensions. I then used a ruler to figure out how I wanted the windows spaced. (In the picture below, the bottom of the picture is actually the top of the stencil.) Each Tardis wall consists two rectangles, one with the windows cut into it, and one solid (windowless) rectangle.
Lightly cover your surface with icing sugar before rolling out your fondant. To save time while cutting windows, I put a liberal amount of icing sugar on one cut rectangle (to avoid unwanted stickage), then placed another rectangle on top of it. Thus, I was able to cut out two windowed panels simultaneously with my Stanley knife, as shown below.

028 Stencil with Fondant B

When moving your panels, roll them over your rolling pin to avoid losing the shape. In order to fix your back (windowless) and front (windowed) panel together, use your finger to evenly brush water on the windowed front panel. Since it is more delicate, leave that panel there, and pick up your solid back panel by rolling it over your rolling pin and carefully lower it onto the windowed panel. I used my icing smoother to securely press the two panels together. Afterward, roll the newly adhered wall onto your rolling pin, line it up with the cake, and use the icing smoother to firmly press it onto the cake.
Continue these steps until you have built all four walls.

029 First Panel Combine A with B copy

Cut two pieces of fondant for the wee Tardis signs. I used an edible icing pen to do the writing. Let it dry for a bit. Yet again, to fix them to the cake, use your finger to wet the back of the signs and also to dampen the spot you’re sticking them to. Carefully use your smoother to adhere the sign, being sure not to smudge the writing!

031 Writings

To make the corners more aesthetically pleasing, I cut long strips of fondant and, using water as described before, placed the strip evenly over the corners as shown in the final pictures. For the roof, I just rolled out some fondant into pieces slightly bigger than 1/4 of the roof. Place it on the roof and use a knife to cut it into a properly fitting triangle. Repeat until the four panels are done. I couldn’t fine a wee keychain with alight to stick in the top of the cake, so I cut a straw and stuck that in — a last ditch effort at detail that wasn’t quiiiiite up to quality 😛

Finally, I had edible blue glitter that I combined with water to paint into the windows… not actually sure I’m happy with that decision, but c’est la vie. The birthday boy didn’t seem to mind 😀

034 Tardis Left Angle White and Blue 034 Tardis Straight On Blue and White No 034 Tardis Right Angle White and Blue

Final step: invite over a lot of guests and eat eat EAT!!!

Seriously. A lot of guests. It is huge. Also, consider making a trifle with the leftover cake tops.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

We all have someone in our lives — or many someones — who can never eat too much chocolate. And we all seem to know one (seriously deranged) person who, dare I say it, prefers…unchocolate-y things. Enter the chocolate/lemon flavour combo. These turned out LIGHT, FLUFFY, and CHOCOLATEY. A perfect classic chocolate cupcake recipe.

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As per, I’ve swiped both recipes from somewhere in the ether and changed them up to please me. Feel free to do the same. No need to reveal your source 😉

Pre-heat the oven to 160 C fan (180 C non-fan)

Ingredients:
100 g butter, salted (at room temperature)
280 g caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
60 g cocoa powder (for baking)
1 tbsp instant coffee (heaping)
120 ml boiling water
120 ml water
225 g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

In a bowl, briefly cream your butter (100g), then add half of the sugar and beat for a minute. Add the rest of the sugar (280 g total) and beat for another minute until light and fluffy.

Creaming butter and sugar

Add one of the eggs and beat for a minute.

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Add the second egg and the vanilla (2 tsp) and beat for a final minute until nice and smooth.

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In a separate bowl (or measuring cup!) whisk together cocoa powder (60 g) and instant coffee (1 heaping tbsp) into the boiling water (120 ml) until lump free.

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Add the cold water (120 ml) and mix well.

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In a third bowl, sift together your flour (225 g), baking soda (1 tsp), and baking powder (1/2 tsp).

Take your creamed butter and add half of your flour mixture and half of your chocolate mixture.

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Beat together on low. Add the rest of the flour and chocolate mixtures and beat until just blended. Too much blending makes for tough cupcakes.

(If you are lucky enough to have a lovely stand mixer or good quality hand mixer, beat on low. If, like me, you have a cheap one with no proper low setting, I suggest just using a whisk. To eliminate risk….of over beating… I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist the rhyme.)

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If you are making the chocolate caramel mini cupcakes, jump back to that post now.

I divided the batter evenly in a 12 hole muffin pan that I lined with cupcake liners, but it could easily be spread between more, as I had to saw off the tops to get a nicer surface for icing (I’m thinking they’ll be used in a Chocolate Bailey’s Trifle…wouldn’t want to waste all those cupcake tops!)

Cook for 25 minutes (possibly less if you are dividing the batter between more muffin holes) and let them cool completely on a wire rack before you ice them.

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Now… for the LEMON BUTTERCREAM!

For this recipe, I had to borrow a friend’s standmixer — my wee handheld mixer just can’t handle buttercream. I actually made the icing three months ago for a flatmate’s birthday cake, so there are no photos of the process. But, I can tell you that it freezes like an absolute dream! Make it now, wrap it tightly in cling film and seal it in a plastic container, and you’ll have icing that is good for months.

Ingredients:
230 g butter (room temperature)
500 g icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tbsp milk (or cream)

Cream your butter (230 g), just like you did for the cakes. Then slowly add you icing sugar (500 g total). I did it one cup at a time. Add in the lemon zest and juice and blend thoroughly. I wanted my buttercream to be a bit more spreadable, so I added 2 tbsp of milk and blended — but you can play around with that as you like. Remember, with icing sugar, a little liquid goes a long way!

Raspberries go well with both lemon and chocolate, so it just makes sense that the three together are delicious. Thus, on a whim, some raspberries made it into my decorating stage.

Et voilĂ !

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