Its Valentines Day! Admittedly not one of my favourite holidays but any day that encourages more love is pretty good in my books. Sweets are traditional for Valentines day and who doesn’t want to spread the love with delicious treats? For Valentines I wanted a sweet cupcake with some traditional pink colouring so I went with a white chocolate cupcake with strawberry buttercream. This cupcake is moist and buttery with a smooth clean chocolate flavour and the strawberry buttercream is sweet and fluffy (plus a pretty pink without any artificial colourings!)
White chocolate and Strawberry
White Chocolate Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 4 ounces white chocolate, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 325’F. Line a cupcake pan, I recommend using liners on the small side because these cupcakes do shrink as the cool and may pull away from the liners. I used Valentines ones with hearts!
- Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light & fluffy, usually takes a couple of minutes!
- Beat in eggs one at a time and then stir in the chocolate and vanilla, mixing well.
- Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk. Mix well after each addition. Divide batter evenly into prepared cupcake pan (fill slightly more than usual).
- Bake 20-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 6-8 strawberries pureed till smooth
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 lb icing sugar (as needed)
- Cream butter until very soft, add strawberries and vanilla and beat in.
- Slowly add icing sugar about a cup at a time until the consistency and taste seem right.
- Turn up the mixer and beat for a couple of minutes until fluffy.
Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream
Coconut is so summery and tropical. I find even when its the dark of winter one of these cupcakes can cheer almost anyone. I made these for a friend’s birthday as coconut is her favourite and I can rarely make them without her requiring one for herself! I love this combination of coconut and white chocolate – almost like a bounty bar! If the buttercream was changed to a milk or dark chocolate then I would certainly call these Bounty Cupcakes. The cupcake would also be well-suited by a fruit or a coconut frosting.
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup butter, soft
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coconut milk (or reduced coconut milk)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Whisk flour, salt, baking powder into a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Add vanilla to coconut milk and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluff. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour mixture and coconut milk mixture in 3 additions, beating after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl so batter is evenly mixed. Fold in shredded coconut.
- Fill muffin cups evenly, about 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes until cakes gently spring back when touched, about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Let cupcakes rest in pan for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely before frosting.
White Chocolate Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- Pinch of salt
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
- a couple tbsp milk or cream
- 6 oz. good quality white chocolate, melted and cooled
- Cream the butter and salt together, adding sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beating until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and a tbsp of milk or cream at time mixing until fully incorporated.
- Stir in the melted white chocolate gently.
- Beat frosting for an additional 3 minutes until fluffy. Add more sugar or milk if needed.
- Ice cupcakes and sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired.
I love raspberries. I love all berries truthfully and summer is certainly the season for berries. Unfortunately because of all the rain and cold here, Britain hasn’t has a very good berry season. The brave little berries struggled through and made it to my grocery’s shelves where there were snapped up by me! I must admit I may have gone a bit overboard because I ended up with a fridge full of punnets! I found that of the three punnets of raspberries I could only eat so many straight from the fridge. I needed a new plan! I was making cupcakes for a farewell party at work so the raspberries had to go into them. I didn’t want to bake the raspberries and lose the freshness, so into the buttercream they went!
Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
- In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the lemon zest, flour, baking powder, and salt.
- With the mixer on low-speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Evenly fill the muffin cups with the batter and bake for about 17 – 20 minutes or just until set and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Once the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with icing. If you want flat-topped cupcakes then slice off the dome of each cupcake before frosting.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 (16-oz.) package powdered sugar
- Beat first 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low-speed until blended and smooth after each addition.
- Be sure to wash and thoroughly dry raspberries before adding to frosting.
I love baklava – I have since my first bite which was long before my trip to either Greece or Turkey this year. Fortunately for me baklava in both Greece and Turkey is the best in the world and I managed to eat a lot of it! Greek and Turkish baklava is quite different and I must admit I do prefer the Turkish variety – I find it more moist! Unfortunately I rarely get enough baklava and although expensive (due to the nuts) and a bit time consuming, its relatively simple to make at home. And then you can share it with your colleagues, or eat it all yourself. I won’t judge!
- 18 sheets ready-made filo pastry (unwrap and keep under a damp tea-towel until you are ready to use)
- 225g/8oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
- 225g/8oz mixed pistachios and walnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
For the syrup
- 350g/12oz granulated sugar
- 300ml/10 fl oz water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp orange blossom water
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 17cm x 28cm (11in x 7in) baking tray with butter.
- Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat.
- Lay 10 sheets of filo pastry, one at a time, into the tray, brushing each sheet with butter before adding the next.
- In a clean bowl, mix together the nuts, sugar, juice and cardamom and spread the mixture over the pastry in the tray.
- Layer the remaining sheets on top of the nut mixture, brushing each sheet with butter, as before.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a criss-cross pattern into the top layers of the pastry.
- Place baklava in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes, then decrease the oven temperature to 300F and cook for an additional half hour to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is slightly puffed and golden on top. Do not allow the top to burn.
- For the syrup, heat the sugar, water, lemon juice and orange blossom water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the sugar has melted and a syrup is formed. (This will take about 20 minutes or so.)
- Pour the syrup over hot baklava and place back in the oven (turn the oven off) for 3-5 minutes to help absorb. Remove from over and leave to cool. Cut into small diamond-shaped pieces and serve.
I love banana bread. Always have. Doesn’t hurt that its my brother’s favourite baked good, as well as one of my ex-boyfriend’s favourites. While I have my traditional banana bread staple recipe I use for everything (with minor adaption), sometimes a change is nice. Which is why when I saw on a food blog (Brown Eyed Baker) a recipe for Bananas Foster Banana Bread I knew I needed to try it. Banana bread plus a crunchy nutty topping plus rum sauce? The minor alcoholic in me couldn’t resist! However, I wanted to take this baking to work (to avoid eating it all myself) and so I wanted a more transportable, sharable form. Thus muffins. This is my version of the Bananas Foster Banana Bread Recipe.
Bananas Foster Muffins
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1½ cups chopped pecans
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons milk
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) butter
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ cup rum
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin liners.
- For the topping: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add the butter and toss with a fork to coat with the flour mixture. Mix on medium-low speed until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with the butter pieces no larger than small peas. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and mix in pecans; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder; Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the sugar and vegetable oil on medium speed to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until combined. Add the mashed bananas and vanilla extract; beat to combine. Alternatively add the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat just until the flour is incorporated and finish mixing with a spatula.
- Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the muffins. Bake until muffin tops are golden and firm, 22 to 24 minutes, rotating halfway.
- While the muffins are baking, make the rum glaze. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring the butter, water, and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the rum. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
- Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes. Then, using a toothpick poke holes all over the top of the muffins. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the rum glaze over each muffin. Let the muffins sit for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Spoon the remaining glaze over each muffin.
Source: Brown Eyed Baker
Ginger is one of my favourite flavours. I love it in both sweet and savoury items and I must admit my favourite cookies are ginger cookies. One day I may share my grandmother’s recipes for the best ginger cookies ever. I love how warming ginger is and how it soothes the soul (and the throat during cold season). Ginger baked goods signify winter and although winter is officially over it has been rainy and cold here for the last week. That means its the perfect time for comforting baking.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup molasses
- 3/4 cup hot water
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon fresh, grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the molasses and hot water. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture. Beat just until combined.
- Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool.
Serve with whipped cream, warm or cool as you like.
St David's dinner
Happy St David’s Day! St David is the patron saint of Wales – he was a bishop during the 6th century and was Welsh by birth. Today is it traditional to celebrate all things Welsh and I feel especially compelled to do so due to my recent trip to Wales (which I promise to write about soon!) Unfortunately, the traditional Welsh dish of Laver (seaweed bread) didn’t sound very appetizing, so instead I settled on dinner with leeks (one of the Welsh national flowers) as well as steak, roast potatoes and braised cabbage. For dessert I made Welsh cakes – a current studded cross between a cookie and a pancake. I have fond memories of these little treats. They were something my grandmother and parents used to make, especially during the summer when turning on the oven on hot days was definitely not on. I love these little cakes because they aren’t too sweet. They’re lovely on their own or with jam. Here’s an easy recipe modified from one on BBC food.
• 2 scant cups flour, sieved
• 3 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ cup salted butter
• 1 egg
• handful of currant or sultanas
• milk, if needed
• ½ cup sugar
• extra butter, for greasing
1. Cut the butter into the sieved flour to make breadcrumbs. Add the sugar, dried fruit and then the egg. Mix to combine, then form a ball of dough, using a splash of milk if needed.
2. Roll out the pastry until it is a 5mm/¼in thick and cut into rounds with a 2in round cutter.
3. Heat a heavy griddle or frying pan. Rub it with butter and wipe the excess away. Put it on to a direct heat and wait until it heats up, place the Welsh cakes on the griddle, turning once. They need about 2-3 minutes each side. Each side needs to be caramel brown before turning.
4. Remove from the pan. Some people leave out the dried fruit, and split them when cool and sandwich them together with jam.
Filed under Food, Holidays