Tag Archives: cupcakes

Rat-themed cupcakes

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It’s a rainy grey day in my corner of the world today – and as you know, this weather always draws me into the kitchen to make sweet treats (boy it’s a good thing I don’t live in the UK or I’d become a real roly poly!). I baked ratty cupcakes today, and tried out a new marshmallow frosting technique for fun.

Rat-themed cupcakes

Rat-themed cupcakes

The cupcake recipe is the same one I used for my husband’s ninja-themed party. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried a rat or mouse theme with baking, but it’s the first time I’ve used cute mini Marie biscuits for ears 🙂 The eyes are noses are just silver and red dragees. I would have loved to have added whiskers too; maybe next time…

The marshmallow icing was sticky messy fun 😀 It’s a quick alternative to normal icing with confectioner’s sugar – if you happen to have marshmallows on hand, of course.

Making marshmallow frosting

Making marshmallow frosting

It’s as simple as taking the cupcakes out of the oven about two minutes before they’re done baking. Place a marshmallow on top of each warm cupcake and pop them all back in the oven.

Marshmallow frosted cupcakes

Marshmallow frosted cupcakes

Hardly a minute later, as you see the marshmallows sliding and melting, take them out again and smooth the sticky sweets over the surface of the cupcakes. Then pop them back in one last time for a minute longer so they melt completely. Take them out again, decorate and cool as usual.

Cute rat cupcakes

Cute rat cupcakes

The marshmallow icing is very sticky to work with but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not too sweet if you only use one ‘mallow per cupcake.

So, did I share my ratty cupcakes with my ratties?

What do you think? 😉

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Resisting temptation

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Temptation

Six days left of the 21-day sugar detox, and I’m quite proud of my progress. I’ve managed to avoid sweet and carby temptations for over two weeks now – though it’s not so easy when they get handed to me on a platter!

The cute vanilla and white-chocolate cupcake pictured above is from a work colleague’s birthday tea. My friend and I who are doing the 21DSD each took a cupcake… not to eat but to freeze at home, in readiness for this coming Sunday when the detox ends.

Shew. I haven’t been so close to sugar in weeks. I held it close and inhaled the sweet creamy scent…

But since I’m so close to the end I didn’t want to spoil my good streak. So I snapped a pic and hastily stashed away the cupcake in the freezer.

A marvel of self-control.

:mrgreen:

Seriously though, this detox hasn’t been as hardcore as I expected it to be. In fact, once it’s over I think there are quite a few lessons I can take away and principles I want to adopt on a more permanent basis.

For example, I’ve discovered that I really don’t need sweetener in my tea. With the possible exception of some rather earthy herbal infusions, most of my teas are palatable enough without honey.

I’ve also realised that although carbs do have a place in my normal diet, I can happily reduce the amounts I eat and still feel full. So I can enjoy a warm bowl of oats on a winter’s morning – but it doesn’t have to be a big bowl, or every morning, or sweetened overly much.

I’ve learnt that there are many other fine flavours to be enjoyed other than just ‘level-10 sickly sweet’! So I’ve started looking at sweet treats with new eyes now. I feel drawn to flavourful, healthier, freshly baked, homemade treats rather than store-bought ones packed full of unnecessary extras.

I’ve been surprised at my resistance to my old cravings. I think the beauty of the 21-day sugar detox is that by telling your brain that ‘it’s just a detox, not a diet’, somehow your body relaxes and doesn’t feel so deprived anymore 🙂

On the downside, though, I would be happy not to see meat for the next month. Cutting out carbs has made me increase my protein portions, which isn’t so appealing to someone who was never much of a carnivore in the first place. Hmmm… methinks that once this detox is done, I should give that month of vegetarianism another shot…

Light chocolate cake

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Despite my sweet tooth, I’m not actually a big fan of chocolate. Or of cake.

That is, except for my mom’s decadent chocolate cake with coffee icing.

Our wedding cake, baked by my mom

As you can see, she baked these for our wedding. (I’ll have to explain about the wheat ears another time…!)

I always start to crave this cake when the weather turns cold as it has this past week, and baking 5 cakes is Goal #22 on my list. So I decided to start off my first cake with our family’s favourite recipe.

I would have followed my mom’s recipe exactly if I’d had all the ingredients, but as it turned out my ‘lite’ version was delicious in its own right.

 

So here’s her recipe first:

Ingredients for chocolate cake

¼ C cocoa

1 C boiling water

4 large eggs, separated

1½ C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup

½ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

Method for chocolate cake

  1. Grease and line two cake tins.
  2. Mix cocoa and water. Leave to cool.
  3. In processor, beat egg yolks until light. Gradually add sugar.
  4. Add cocoa, oil and vanilla essence.
  5. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt and gradually add to mix.
  6. Beat egg whites until fluffy. Blend in with a metal spoon.
  7. Bake at 180 °C for ±35 min or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
  8. Cool completely before icing with coffee icing.

 

Ingredients for coffee icing

75 g butter, softened

250 g icing sugar, sifted

1 egg, separated

1 T cocoa

2 T strong coffee

½ t vanilla essence

Method for coffee icing

  1. Blend butter and icing sugar.
  2. Dissolve cocoa in coffee. Add vanilla.
  3. Add egg yolk to butter and icing sugar.
  4. Add cocoa mix.
  5. Stiffly beat egg white and fold into mix.
  6. Ice cooled cake and decorate as desired.

 

This makes for a rich and dreamy cake that’s perfectly complemented by the unforgettable flavour of the coffee icing.

Even so, I’m glad I risked making my version with the limited ingredients I had, because it made for a light and fluffy, not-too-sweet cake that I’d happily make again. Here’s my revised list of ingredients:

Ingredients for light chocolate cake

1/8 C cocoa (I halved the cocoa because I’m not such a chocoholic)

1 C boiling water

3 large eggs, separated (I only had 3 eggs)

1 C brown sugar, firmly pressed into cup (I only had 1 C brown sugar)

½ C oil

1 t vanilla essence

250 g flour

1 T baking powder

2 ml salt

 

For the icing recipe I had to exclude the cocoa, coffee and egg. Anyway, I made one small square cake and a few cupcakes with the mix. Next time I think I’ll skip the cupcakes and make a bigger cake.

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

Freshly baked cake filling the kitchen with a choc aroma

I was itching to use my new cake-icing set…

Cake-icing set

Cake-icing set

…but since it was late and I was tired, I ended up turning my first cake into something of a cakewreck! (Plus the pictures are all blurry hand-held night shots, sorry guys.)

First cake(wreck)!

First cake(wreck)!

How not to decorate a cake: write ‘Yum’ on top in suspicious brown goo…! 😀 Haha, it really cracks me up! 😛

At least the cupcakes looked a bit more presentable:

Butter icing

Butter icing

The icing was fun to work with, even though butter icing always seems a bit rich to me. I usually pick/smear/scoop off the butter icing on other people’s cakes as it is (am I the only one?). So I didn’t overdo it this time around.

Anyway, the flavour of the cake was spot on. Even Ninja enjoyed it, since it wasn’t sickly sweet or so chocolatey that it resulted in headaches.

‘Yum’ indeed

And the whole experiment reminded me not to take myself so seriously in the kitchen, because baking is supposed to be fun.

Of course we all want our goodies to look lovely, but sometimes it’s much better to play around, doodle icing all over and lick the batter from the bowl 😉

Minnie Mouse party and cake decorations

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One of my friends enlisted my help for her daughters’ Minnie Mouse-themed birthday party this weekend. She made the cake and cupcakes, and I made the decor. It was only my second time working with fondant icing since the ninja cupcakes, and the first time I’d tried to decorate a whole cake with fondant. All in all, I’m pleased to say the results weren’t a total cake wreck! Plus, since my friend made all the goodies herself, I didn’t even have to break my March goal of no baking 😉

Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

The main theme colours were pink and red, but I used a variety of colours and designs (as usual, since production-line kinda creativity isn’t really my style).

More Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

More Minnie Mouse cupcake toppers

We had one large cake for the eldest birthday girl, a large cupcake for the little sister, and a number of normal cupcakes for the guests. My favourite part of the decor was definitely making the Minnie Mouse face for the large cake.

Minnie Mouse cake decoration

Minnie Mouse cake decoration

My methods may be those of a serious novice, but they worked. I got the template for the face here, printed it out on normal paper and ‘traced’ around it with a knife on the rolled-out white fondant. Then I cut out each section of the paper template and traced it onto the black, pink and red fondant. I added the finishing touches with edible ink.

When it came to covering the cake in icing, we decided on white and red with a pink strip, and black around the sides:

Cake under construction

The youngest daughter’s cupcake looked like this in the end:

Minnie Mouse mini cake

OK, I know it’s pretty plain, but to be fair… she’s only just turned one. I don’t think she would have appreciated anything more artistic: all she wanted was something to squelch in her hand and shove in her mouth 😉

As for the other cupcakes, we frosted them with pink butter icing and stuck a bow on each one.

Cupcakes: bright, beautiful, sweet AND fluffy!

Here are some pics from the final results on the day of the party…

Cake pops

Cake pops

I think these cake pops should count towards my Goal #42 – Eat 5 things I’ve never tried before. They were chocolatey and chewy and yummy. I also think we should have had a lighter hand when sprinkling on those dragees… they crunched so loudly when people bit into them that it sounded like horses munching on dry corncobs! Ow.

Minnie Mouse party

Minnie Mouse party

It was a scorching hot day, so unfortunately the poor fondant bows started to sag and melt…

Bye bye bows…

But the big cake made it to the end:

Minnie Mouse cake

Don’t you just love baking for birthday parties? 😀

Mini ninja vanilla cupcakes

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At long last, here are some more of the recipes from the ninja-themed party – starting off with the vanilla cupcakes decorated with fondant ninjas:

Vanilla cupcakes (some with caramel)

Here’s the recipe, which I got off the internet ages ago and haven’t been able to trace the original source…

1 1/2 C flour

3/4 C sugar

2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 C milk

1/2 C oil

2 eggs

1 t vanilla essence

 

 

1. Sift together the dry ingredients.

2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones. Beat well until smooth and creamy.

3. Place paper cupcake/muffin cups in a muffin tray.

4. Fill each cup no more than 3/4 full, as they overflow easily.

5. Bake at 180 °C for 15 minutes, or until just, just golden.

 

So much for the cupcakes. Making the fondant ninjas was the most fun, as it was my first time working with fondant. I started by making body shapes with black fondant, supporting and joining the pieces with a stick of uncooked spaghetti. Then I added a small white ‘face’ and drew the sneaky-looking ninja eyes with edible pen.

Fondant ninja

I love variety in everything I do, so I made a few 3-D ninjas and a few 2-D ones, which dried faster and didn’t need spaghetti spines 😉

2-D ninjas

I also painstakingly (and enjoyably) created two ‘sensei’, but everyone at the party ended up wondering what Moses and Aaron were doing among the ninjas!

Sensei

I left these little guys to dry properly. On the day of the party I stuck them into the cupcakes, sometimes in a topping of caramel.

Yum!

They got rave reviews at the party and were gobbled up quickly 🙂

Custard cake with no eggs, no butter, no milk

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Yesterday I found (and adapted) another great recipe from the internet, because I was searching for something to bake that didn’t require eggs. When I came across this recipe for too-good-to-be-true cupcakes, I had to give it a go. I’d never baked with custard powder before, but the results were delicious (no pics, I’m afraid … the cake didn’t last long enough!). The original recipe is for cupcakes, but I first tried it out as a full cake.

 

1 1/2 C self-raising flour

1/3 C custard powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 C castor sugar

1 C water

1/3 C oil

1 T lemon juice

1 1/2 t vanilla essence

 

1. Sift dry ingredients.

2. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

3. Combine all and beat (preferably with an electric beater) until smooth.

4. Pour into muffin tins or cake tin.

5. Bake at 180 °C for 25 minutes (cupcakes) or 40–50 min (full cake), until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

 

Notes

1. Grease the cake tin, line it with wax paper, and grease it again to make sure your cake doesn’t come apart when you remove the wax paper.

2. I sprinkled large-granuled white sugar on top of the cake just before baking. This turned into a crispy, sweet crust, and removed the need for 1 full cup of sugar in the recipe and for icing afterward.

3. This cake mix doesn’t brown in the oven, so you’ll need to test it with a skewer to determine when it’s baked through.

4. This was my first foray into egg-free, dairy-free baking – but it definitely won’t be the last!