Friday Food: Choctella Cupcakes

A choctella cupcakeThis week I had medical appointments every day except today, when I had a social appointment. There was a lot of sleeping in the afternoons. I started making the frozen caramel slice from the cover of the March Delicious, but I slightly lost the will to continue. Instead, I baked the incredibly quick and impressive Choctella Cupcakes from the March Taste Magazine.

I changed one thing: I only used 85g of butter and I substituted vegetable oil for the remaining 15g. The oil helps to keep the cake moist and gives a nice texture, while the butter adds flavour.

I know there are some people who do not like to use Nutella, as it contains palm oil. There are recipes to make your own Nutella: eg here and here. I don't eat chocolate so I don't eat Nutella, but I am conflicted. I bought another brand, Nutino, which rated a B on the Shop Ethical site.

Baking crisis averted. I can highly recommend this recipe. When I moved the cupcakes to the cooling rack I accidentally tore a little piece from the top of one and I ate it!! It was delicious and I thought a fingernail size piece wasn't going to hurt me!!!

 

Choctella Cupcakes       makes 12

  • 140g (2/3 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
  • 100g butter, room temperature, cubed ( I used 85g  butter/15g oil)
  • 75g dark choc (I used 70%) chopped
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g (1 cup) self raising flour
  • 50g (1/3 cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) cocoa, (I use Dutch processed)

To decorate

  • 240g (3/4 cup) choc-hazelnut spread
  • 300ml cream, whipped
  • 12 Ferrero Rocher chocolates ( hazelnut chocolate confections)
  • chocolate sprinkles or grated chocolate

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

Everything but the dry

Put the sugar, butter (butter and oil), chocolate and water into a pan over a low-medium heat and stir for 2-3 minutes until smooth. I microwaved mine for 2 minutes on medium, stirring half way through. Cool slightly then add the eggs and whisk.

And the dry

Sift over the flours and cocoa and fold gently through.

Fill and bake

I used a 1/4-ish cup ice-cream scoop to fill the paper cases. The recipe filled the 12 cases perfectly. They should be about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. The cupcakes are cooked when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Put them on a cooling rack straight away. When they are cool, swirl on some choc-hazelnut spread, dollop on some whipped cream, add a Ferrero Rocher and chocolate flakes. The cupcakes look, and taste, fabulous!!!

Choctella cupcake


Friday Food: Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice

Pineapple coconut cakeHow lucky we are, it was only 24*C today, so it was nice weather for baking. I chose to bake the March 2017 Better Homes & Garden Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice, which can also be **muffins. I shouldn't have used the blender part of my food processor. I really should have used the bowl, but after some poking and prodding (with the machine off I hasten to add) everything went swimmingly.

All the ingredients are added in turn and blended and then spread into the tin and baked. It is nice and easy. There is not much pineapple, just a 225g can, nevertheless it is very tasty. The cake really is a slice, quite thin, but you have a pleasing icing-to-cake ratio. The icing uses the juice drained from the tin of pineapple. I drizzled passionfruit over the top and its sharp tanginess contrasted well with the sweeter cake. Icing sugar mixture contains cornflour or something similar. It helps the icing to set more quickly, but it isn't gluten free. Pure icing sugar is, but it needs far more sifting.

The recipe says it takes an hour to cool after it is baked, but it took far less than that. The cake/slice serves 18, and I think this is an accurate estimation. I don't think this is a cake for keeping, it is a cake for eating right now, or in the immediate future. I have decided to think of it as the scone of cakes: it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and mine took 20 minutes to bake.

BH&G suggests several different toppings for the cake/slice: blueberries, toasted coconut chips, diced pineapple, passionfruit, mint leaves and edible flowers. The cake has a very delicate pineapple flavour, and I really enjoyed it. I did actually eat a piece from the stack in the photo because, (Sad!) the icing on top was spoiled by being stacked!!

**To turn the cake batter into muffins, use a 12-hole muffin tray and fill the paper cases 2/3 full and bake for 20 minutes.

 

Pineapple Coconut Cake Slice       serves 18

  • 225g can of pineapple pieces/slices in juice,
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut, I used shredded coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture for the icing

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C and grease a 20 x 30cm tin and line it with baking paper. Drain the juice from the can of pineapple and set it aside, you will need 1/4 of a cup later on.

Pineapple butter eggs

Put the pineapple in the bowl of a food processor and puree, add the butter and eggs.

Sugar

Blend again and then add the sugar.

Coconut and flour

Almost done: add the coconut and pulse a few times and then finally the flour. Pulse gently. If the cake batter is worked too much it will become tough. If in any doubt, scrape the batter into a bowl and gently fold in the flour.

And bake

Spread the cake batter into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake is cooked when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, the cake comes away from the side of the tin, and the top is golden brown.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then place on a rack until it is completely cold.

Icing

Add 1/4 cup of the drained pineapple juice to the icing sugar mixture and whisk until there are no lumps. I thought the icing was far too runny and added at least another 1/2 a cup of icing sugar. Here is where you can add further toppings, it's where I spooned on the passionfruit. Set aside for maybe 15 minutes for the icing to set.

And then ice

Cut into 18 pieces and eat with gusto.

Some pineapple coconut cake


Friday Food: Salmon and Pea Potato Patties

Salmon pea potato pattiesAnd so the end is here. Teachers officially go back to school on Monday and this is the last of the Lunch-box  recipes.  Once again, this is a really easy recipe, the most onerous part is peeling the potatoes. The potatoes should be floury and for mashing, not waxy. There are so many types of potatoes, but perhaps there is a helpful information label at your shop?? I swapped out tuna for salmon. I much prefer salmon and even if these aren't for me, I still prefer the smell of salmon. I left out the dill and added extra chives and parsley. This recipe allows you to change the ingredients to suit your taste: you could use sweet potato and maybe zucchini instead of peas.

Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese style breadcrumb. We can buy Australian ones in our supermarkets, there are usually some in the Asian section too, but ordinary breadcrumbs are fine. You can make the patties right up to the panko breadcrumb stage and then freeze them for cooking later on, but they will also freeze once they are cooked. I like this, because you can take one out and defrost it in the microwave and heat it up. I like salmon patty on toast!! I used an ice-cream scoop to portion out the patties and I made 15 instead of 16. I suspect if I had been a little more careful I would have easily made 16.

There is a 30 minute wait while you refrigerate the patties. This is an important step, because the patties are less likely to fall apart when you fry them if they are very cold. I sometimes cheat and do 15 minutes in the freezer. They are delicious with a good squeeze of lemon juice, with or without tartare sauce.

 

Salmon and Pea Potato Patties     makes 15-16

 

  • 700-800g floury potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 425g can salmon in springwater, drained
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbspn chopped fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • extra virgin olive oil for shallow frying

NB: An Australian tablespoon is rather sensibly 40ml, or 4 teaspoons.

Potatoes

Peel and chop the potatoes into chunks. Put them in the saucepan and cover with cold water, and bring to the boil. Put the lid on, turn the heat down and cook for about 10 minutes, or until tender.

Boil and mash

Drain and return them to the hot pan, to dry the out as much as possible. Mash well and set aside until cold.

Combine it all

Meanwhile put the drained salmon, herbs, garlic and lemon zest in a large bowl. Mix together. Add the cold potato, egg and four and combine. Strangely, I have no photo of this, but I remember I used gloved hands to mix it all together and I suspect I just forgot.

Patties and breadcrumb

Form patties using a 1/3 cup measure or an ice-cream scoop. Shape and then toss in the panko breadcrumbs. There is no flour and egg wash and the crumbs stick well.

Refrigerate and fry

Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Heat the olive oil in a large fry pan over a medium heat and cook the patties in 3 or 4 batches for 4 minutes a side. They should be golden and heated right the way through. Drain on paper towel. Serve hot, warm or cold.

And so ends the Lunch-box recipe series:  Banana Apple and Muffin Yoghurt Slice, Broccoli Bacon and Zucchini Slice and Banana Coconut Nutella/Chocolate Bread. Happy Back To School!!!

Salmon pea and potato patties


Friday Food: Banana Coconut Nutella/Chocolate Bread

Banana coconut choc loafI am so tired. I have done too many things today, so thank goodness this Lunch-box loaf recipe, from the January Super Food Ideas, is so easy.  If you are going to freeze the loaf, don't swirl Nutella on top, instead sprinkle with dark choc chips. I decided I would swirl Nutella through the centre and sprinkle choc chips. It makes a huge loaf, which serves 10.

 

 

 

 

Banana Coconut Nutella/Chocolate Loaf     serves 10

  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 2 tspn ground cinnamon
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 over ripe bananas, mashed
  • 165ml canned coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup Nutella and/or 1/3 cup dark chop chips

 

Preheat oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced. Grease a 7 x 9 x 25cm loaf tin and then line with two layers of baking paper.

Dry ingredients

Mix together the dry ingredients: flours, cinnamon, bicarb soda and sugar.

Wet ingredients

Whisk together the wet ingredients is a separate bowl or jug: mashed bananas, eggs, coconut milk, golden syrup and olive oil.

Combine wet and dry

Combine the wet and dry together, mixing well. I added half of the choc chips here.

Swirl nutella

Spoon half the batter into the tin, and I tap it on the bench to even it out. Dollop on the Nutella and swirl through.

And bake

Spoon the remaining batter over the top, smooth and level out. If you will not be freezing the loaf, swirl Nutella on top, if it will be frozen sprinkle on the rest of the choc chips and bake for 60-70 minutes. I tested at 60 minutes and it definitely needed the extra 10 minutes. It is cooked when a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean. Rest in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack to cool completely. I love the way the loaf looks with the Nutella swirled through the centre. I think this would be lovely warm from the oven, but great cold as well.

Banana coconut chocolate loaf


Friday Food: Broccoli, Bacon & Zucchini Slice

Broccoli and bacon sliceThis is the second in my Lunch-box series from the January 2017 Super Food Ideas magazine. This is so easy to make, and very tasty. I would pack a salad of tomatoes, cukes and maybe some carrot sticks to go with the slice. Once again, I baked in my very nice green 20 x 30cm slice tin. It is about 5cm high and the slice does rise a little.  I bought the vegetables specified in the recipe, but I prefer broccolini and maybe baby spinach or peas. You could omit the bacon and use ham, chicken or a tin of salmon.

We never really thought about refrigerating our lunches when I was at school, but when I was teaching I would have kept this in the fridge all morning. This can be served warm or cool, and it makes 15 generous pieces which will keep in the freezer ready for a lunch-box emergency!!

Nothing else to say really, it does need a little cooling time in the preparation and also after baking. Oh and I think I would add extra parsley sprinkled on top, because it makes it look more appetising. I like parsley with everything: I made Nigella's pasta snails with garlic butter yesterday and had lots of parsley in that!!

 

Broccoli, Bacon & Zucchini Slices   makes 15 serves

  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil, separated into 40ml and 85ml
  • 1 onion, finely chopped, I used a red onion
  • 4 rashers of bacon, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 head of broccoli, divided into little florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn - or parsley!!
  • 3 zucchini, grated
  • 200-250g tasty cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 8 eggs
  • 125ml milk
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 180C/160 fan-forced. Grease and line a 20 x 30 x 5cm high baking dish.

Saute

Heat the 40ml of olive oil over a medium-high heat and fry the onion and bacon for 5 minutes, until the onion softens. Add the broccoli and cook for another minute and the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Eggs milk oil

Whisk together the eggs, milk and remaining 85ml of olive oil. I added salt and pepper here.

Dry ingredients

I really need a large bowl, I ended up using my large square pan as a mixing bowl. Transfer the bacon mixture to a large bowl, along with the self-raising flour, grated zucchini, basil leaves and 1 1/2 cups of the grated tasty cheese. Mix well, I used my hands.

Combine wet and dry

Pour over the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly until well combined.

Top and bake

Pour into the baking dish, smooth the top and then sprinkle over the rest of the tasty cheese and the crumbled feta. Bake for 40 minutes, I left mine for 50 minutes by accident, so it is more than a little golden on the edges. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then it is ready to serve immediately, or cool and portion for freezing.

Broccoli bacon zucchini slice


Friday Food: Banana Yoghurt & Apple Muffin Slice

Banana apple sliceI am very lucky to be able to have whatever I want for my lunch. At noon I think about what I would like to eat and set about making it. Not so when I was teaching: you had to prepare lunch the night before. Not all schools have a canteen, so tasty and efficient-to-eat food is a must. Over the next four weeks I am baking lunch box treats: savoury and sweet. This recipe is from the January issue of Super Food Ideas magazine.

It is the simplest of recipes, just combine wet and dry with spoon, and very generous too. If you are doing the whole no sugar thing, it uses maple syrup. Of course maple syrup is a sugar and you could substitute brown sugar in the recipe. I "may" have gone slightly overboard with my maple syrup drizzling over the oats!!!

I accidentally bought coconut yoghurt, so I added two teaspoons of vanilla extract. I didn't peel the apple, I like the skin, and I diced it finely instead of grating.  I only used one banana, because it was huge. The slice will freeze well and otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator if your weather is warm.

This is a delicious and moreish slice. It is not overly sweet and I like the maple syrup flavour. I shall definitely make this again.

 

Banana Yoghurt & Apple Muffin Slice    makes 20 pieces

 

  • 2 1/2 cups wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 3 tspn cinnamon
  • 1 tspn ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 over ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, grated or finely diced
  • 1/2 cup traditional rolled oats
  • 40ml maple syrup extra

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/160*C fan-forced and grease and line a 20 x 30cm tin. Mine was about 5cm high and the slice didn't rise higher than that.

Dry ingredients

Whisk the the flours and spices together.

Wet ingredients

In another bowl mix the maple syrup, eggs, oil, yoghurt, milk,

Add the fruit

apple and banana.

Combine wet and dry

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and fold together until just combined.

Bake and cool

Pour the batter into the tray, smooth the top and sprinkle over the oats and drizzle with maple syrup. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then cover the cooling rack with baking paper and turn the slice out onto it, right side down. Allow to cool completely and then cut into slices. Eat right now, or put it in your lunch box!!

Banana yoghurt apple muffin slice


Friday Food: White Choc Boozy Gin Fudge

Boozy gin choc fudgeWe are still a tad poorly at our house, so it was with great pleasure I remembered this recipe from The Decorated Cookie. In fact, there is a series of boozy fudges and I have made some with vodka and dark chocolate too. This white chocolate and gin fudge with lime is pretty fabulous. MrsDrWho sent me home with some Bailey's Irish Cream, Kirsch and Butterscotch Schnapps, so I am looking forward to some more boozy fudges. I am thinking about dark chocolate and kirsch with perhaps some dried cherries mixed through??

This is such an easy recipe: three or four ingredients and a few minutes of sifting, mixing and microwaving and maybe some zesting, and the fudge is done. This is definitely for adults only, as the alcohol is not cooked in any way and so it remains alcoholic. I used pure icing sugar which I sifted and ordinary eating chocolate, though I did find some posh chocolate with vanilla. The recipe calls for choc chips or buttons, but I checked, and they are just chocolate with nothing added and our choc chips have things added.  I sprinkled some lime zest over the top, but you could used lemon or even orange zest. They would all be good. I have converted the recipe to grams and I made 1/8 of the recipe quite easily, which yielded 9 2.5cm (1 inch) squares. As it is warm, I did pop it in the fridge to firm up.

The Decorated Cookie says it will keep for about a week in the fridge, and as it is not Winter at Christmastime here, that's where I will keep mine. I do think it will last for longer than a week, as there is nothing that will really deteriorate. I shall be making many, and varied, versions of this for Christmas gifts!!! This is a great recipe, and I can highly recommend it.

 

NB: I shall put the measurements for my 1/8 batch in brackets for each ingredient. I think it would be perfectly fine to round things up or down a little too!!!

 

Boozy White Chocolate and Gin Fudge        makes 60-72 pieces

  • 908g pure icing sugar, sifted     (112g)
  • 236ml gin   (30ml)
  • 340g good white eating chocolate     (42g)
  • zest of two limes    (zest of 1/4 lime)

 

Icing sugar and gin

Before you begin, line a 20x 30cm tin with baking paper. For 1/8 I used a small plastic container measuring about 7 x 11cm.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the gin. Mix to combine.

Melt chocolate

Gently melt the white chocolate in the microwave. Break chocolate into smaller pieces and microwave it in 20 second bursts on Medium or High depending on the microwave's strength. Stir thoroughly after each burst as the chocolate burns very easily. This batch took 60 seconds in all.

Combine

Mix the icing sugar and gin with the melted chocolate expeditiously, as it will set quite quickly.

Set add lime

Spoon the fudge into the container and distribute evenly, smoothing the top. Sprinkle over the lime zest and gently push it into the fudge. Let it sit for 30 minutes and if it is still soft, put it in the fridge for an hour or so before you cut into small squares. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container, especially in Summer!! And then enjoy your boozy fudge: remember, don't eat boozy fudge and drive.

Boozy gin and lime chocolate fudge


Friday Food: Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburger

Adam liaw easy cheeseburgerI have finally surfaced from the fog of being poorly, though we do still sleep most of the day. And I know this is hard to believe, but I am not very hungry. Today I remembered seeing Adam Liaw's easy cheeseburger and it was just what I fancied as some proper-ish food. I can't really justify the Heston method of making burgers: too complicated and too expensive to buy my own meat grinder, so this was an easy cheat.

The ingredients are readily available, and the cheeseburgers really are quick to prepare and cook. Do buy the cheapest beef mince: he explains that instead of trying to buy more expensive meat with a high fat content and then mincing it yourself, cheap mince has enough fat for the burger to stay moist. I think that just gently moulding the mince to form the burger, and not squashing or kneading it, also helps. There is nothing to bind the mince. When I was little we called dill pickles, gherkins. Now they have lots of names, but I still think of them as gherkins. Maybe they are something completely different?? I am not dill pickle/gherkin aware.

We don't have a BBQ or a griddle plate, and as I was only making one, I used a little cast iron frypan. It didn't really do a great job heating/toasting the buns, but they tasted perfectly fine. Though the burgers require at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator before they are cooked, they can be ready in about 20 minutes: maybe quicker than going to The Scottish Restaurant!!

The burgers were moist, flavourful and I could almost have eaten another one, well, in my mind. These are really great cheeseburgers: thanks Adam Liaw.

 

Adam Liaw's Easy Cheeseburgers        makes 4

  • 500g cheap beef mince
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) vegetable oil or dripping
  • 4 soft hamburger buns
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, shaved into rings
  • 4 slices tasty cheddar cheese
  • gherkins or dill pickles
  • tomato sauce
  • American style mustard

 

Divide the mince into four equal parts and gently form into a burgers. I made mine and then put it between two pieces of Gladwrap and poked and prodded it until it was the same size as my hamburger bun. It was quite thin. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Mince and burger

Heat a grill or large frypan, I went to 5 on a scale of 6. Brush the pan or plate with oil. Cut the buns in half and place, cut side down, in the pan. Check to see they don't burn, season with salt and pepper and then set to the side if there is a cool spot.

Heat and toast buns

Take the burgers from the fridge and put into the pan. Press some of the shaved onion rings into the top. After just 1 minute, flip the burger and top with a cheese slice and the top of the bun. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, the cheese should be melting. Because the burger is so thin, maybe less than 1/2 cm, it will be cooked through in a short time.

Burger and onion

Squeeze the mustard and tomato sauce onto the base of the bun. Flip the top of the bun with the burger and cheese onto the base and there you are. Your burger is ready to serve with a gherkin on the side.

Cheese, bun and condiments

It is totally delicious, and I interspersed my bites of burger with bites of gherkin: Yum.

Easy cheeseburger

 


Friday Food: Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato tart with goat's cheeseThere are so many Christmas magazine issues, I feel overwhelmed: in a good way. I mainly focus on the sweet, but this savoury tart in the December 2016 Donna Hay Magazine caught my eye. It looks so scrumptious, I love the array of tomato slices, and it is so simple to make. It is indeed very delicious, because I have eaten it for early dinner and some more for supper!!! I really only needed to buy a couple of out-of-the-ordinary ingredients, and they were not too tricky to find.

I used goat cheese rather then the goat curd the recipe asks for, basically because I could put my hand right on it in the deli. I bought a small roll, 100g, and it was plenty. I could not find any white balsamic vinegar, instead I used a Moscato Glaze, which has a sharpish taste, on the same level as lemon juice. It works really well. I also used flat leaf parsley and spring onions, as I always have those in the fridge. Instead of olive oil, I used avocado oil. It was a gift, along with a few other special oils, and it worked perfectly with the tomatoes and the Moscato Glaze.

So, I adapted the recipe to what I had at home, mostly, and it worked perfectly well. I can see this as a delicious lunch, I ate mine with some broccolini, as a posh entrée or an upmarket side with chicken, fish or steak. This tastes just as good piping hot, warm or cool. I am not sure it will refrigerate well at all, but I don't mind. I will eat it slightly less crispy, and cold, tomorrow!!

 

 

Oven-roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart       serves 4

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted. I used butter puff.
  • 140g (1/2 cup) goat curd/cheese
  • 400g fresh tomatoes, sliced 1cm thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dill sprigs
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves
  • 20ml (1 tbspn) white balsamic vinegar

 

Preheat the oven to 240*C.  I would also heat the tray. I usually do this, didn't this time, and wish I had. It just makes the base of the pastry crispier.

Puff pastry

Lay one sheet of the thawed puff pastry directly on top of the other and press firmly together. I also scored a 1cm border around the edge of the top sheet, as this gives more of a puffed crust.

Cheesy goodness

I left the goat cheese out of the fridge to soften, and then spread it out evenly over the pastry with the back of a spoon, which I dipped into some very hot water.

You say tomatoes

My 3 medium tomatoes were almost 500g, but that meant I could cut off the bottom and have nice uniform slices.

Top and bake

Array the slices of tomato atop the goat cheese and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. I had some nice sea salt flakes and some chilli cracked pepper. Drizzle over half the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and the pastry is cooked through.

Top with your herbs of choice and drizzle with the remaining oil and the white balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!!

Tomato and goat cheese tart


Friday Food: Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Peanut butter cupcakeSometimes, in a state of ennui, I can't think of anything to bake. I sent this link, The Scran Line, to my Sewing friends and they chose two cupcakes: Peanut Brittle and Carrot Cake. Since Wednesday I have made two and a half batches of Carrot Cake cupcakes and half a batch of Peanut butter cupcakes!! I did cheat and actually made toffee peanuts (which can be can be made into a praline) instead of a proper brittle. They have a hidden surprise of chocolate sauce in the centre and vanilla buttercream on top.  You can just make the peanut cupcakes and ice them with some chocolate ganache or an easy peanut butter icing, and not go the whole hog with chocolate sauce, buttercream and peanut toffee.

Suprise inside

The recipe says it makes 20 cupcakes, and I halved it and it still made 12. I filled each cupcake paper with 60ml of batter. We are lucky to have quite a few brands of peanut butter which are just Australian peanuts: nothing else added.  This makes me very happy. The chocolate sauce is just melted in the microwave, it took about 2 minutes, and looks pretty luxurious.

I watched a video from The Australian River Cottage before I made my toffee. I often have bad luck with toffee, it either crystallises before it is melted or it burns. This time I just used 150g of caster sugar and swirled the pan as it melted and it worked really well. I used Australian peanuts and Tasmanian hazelnuts. MrsDrWho doesn't like peanuts so I made her some toffee hazelnuts so she wouldn't feel left out.

After I made half the buttercream recipe, (and I forgot to add the peanut butter but honestly it was fine) I bought an actual Wilton 6B tip and used it to pipe the buttercream after the cupcakes were safely at Sewing. I forgot to take a photo I was so excited at the lovely piping pattern. I am not in love with wondrous architectural buttercream toppings. I prefer a lower frosting to cupcake ratio, so I just piped a ring shape and then filled it with the roughly crushed peanut toffee.

I'll give amounts for the full cupcake recipe, along with the chocolate sauce and vanilla buttercream.

 

NB An Australian tablespoon is, very sensibly, 20ml.

 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes      makes 20-24

For the cupcakes:

  • 430g plain flour
  • 265g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 375ml milk
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) Greek yoghurt (I used the top of my passionfruit yoghurt!!)
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 4 tbspn (80ml) smooth peanut butter

 

For the chocolate sauce:

  • 400g dark chocolate, I used 70% cocoa
  • 50g butter
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 250ml cream

 

For the toffee peanuts:

  • 100g peanuts
  • 150g caster sugar

 

For the vanilla buttercream:

  • 500g butter, softened
  • 1kg icing sugar mixture, sifted. You may need a little more.
  • 2 tbspn (40ml) milk
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

 

Preheat the oven to 180*C or 160*C fan-forced and line your muffin tray with paper cases.

Dry, butter and wet

To make the cupcakes, I follow The Scran Line's unusual method. It seems to work very well. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for a few minutes on a low speed until it is well combined. Then add the softened butter, I always judge it to be softened if I poke it with my finger and it "gives" a little.  Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. I also whisk the eggs into the oil while I am waiting.

Add wet to dry and butter

Next, slowly pour the oil and eggs into the mixer as it is running on a low speed and continue until it comes together. Scrape the bowl once to make sure nothing is stuck to the bottom and mix for another 30 seconds.

Add peanut butter

Fold in the peanut butter and the batter is ready. I put 1/4 cup, or 60ml, of the batter into each paper case and then bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, turning the tray halfway through.

Bake and cool

Check they are cooked by inserting a skewer into the centre and it should come out clean.  They will also be slightly golden brown on top and will come away from the edge. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate sauce

The chocolate sauce is so easy to make. Just put everything into a microwave proof container and heat in 20 second bursts on High. Stir well after each 20 seconds, especially at the start when it doesn't look like it needs it. Just heat until it is smooth and glossy. This will keep, refrigerated, for at least a week, and you can make it saucy again simply by reheating gently in the microwave.

Toffee

Before I made the toffee, I roasted the nuts for 5 minutes at 180*C and then put them on some baking paper. I did try to rub off the skins, but I was tired and I gave up. I made my successful toffee by pouring 150g of caster sugar into a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. I then stood there and peered intently, swirling the sugar every few minutes until it really started to melt.

Toffee and nuts

Once it was a nice dark amber colour and all the sugar was dissolved I poured it over the peanuts and hazelnuts. The toffee is BOILING hot, even hotter than that, and for once I managed not to burn myself. I did that on the oven shelf instead. It sets in a few minutes and you can crush it roughly by putting the toffee in a ziplock bag and banging it with a rolling pin. Or you can make praline using a blender.

Vanilla buttercream

The vanilla buttercream takes a little while to make, but it is not difficult. Put the softened butter into the stand mixer and beat on a medium speed for 5 minutes. The butter will change from pale yellow to white and it will be fluffier. The add half the icing sugar mixture and beat till it is combined. Finally add the remaining icing sugar, the milk and vanilla extract and beat for a final 5 minutes. You can add the peanut butter here, I forgot, and beat it in well. I found  the buttercream was quite soft and so I filled my piping bag and refrigerated it until it was time to leave. By the time I was ready to pipe onto the cupcakes, the icing was the right consistency.

Buttercream, filled cupcakes

To assemble the cupcakes, first you core them. I used the large end of the piping tip and pressed down half way into the cupcake and then used a teaspoon to ease out some of the cake. I left at least half the depth of the cake so that the chocolate sauce wouldn't leak out the bottom. Fill the centre with chocolate sauce, then pipe on your desired amount of buttercream, and top with the toffee peanuts. The carrot cupcakes are lurking at the back of the plate.

Cupcakes galore