Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Raspberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes...and some Chocolate and Banana ones too!

Have you ever had a craving to just spend the day in the kitchen and cook all day long, or is that just me? Last week I ordered three new cookery books through no fault of my own...I had these three books in my Amazon basket, pondering which one - yes, just one - to buy, when someone (who shall remain nameless!) clicked on 'place order' when I wasn't looking. Unbeknownst to him, my card details were saved on Amazon, and the order was placed without asking me for payment or shipping details. So, now I have three shiny new books with zero guilt - because I didn't order them!! I can't be too grumpy really can I?! Anyway, They arrived last Monday, and all week I've been poring over them all week, desperately waiting for a free day to try out some of the recipes. I imagine you're interested in which books I actually bought, and if you aren't you should be...they're all beautiful books, brimming with delicious recipes.

The first was Rachel Allen's Home Cooking, an absolute gem of a book, just a delight to sit and read, whether or not you get around to cooking anything from it! Now, because I am the height of cool, I got my Post-Its out and started noting which recipes I really really really wanted to make (because I really really want to try them all, but short term this is clearly not feasible!!) and before I knew it, the book had little pink feathers peeking out from pretty much every other page, if not more!! The book is just jam packed with delicious ideas for breakfast, Sunday Lunch, Suppers, Puddings, Treats, Snacks...even Baby Purees!! You could just have this one cook book in your life and I doubt you'd ever get bored of the recipes - if only because of the sheer volume of them! Before I get completely carried away, I'll stop myself from waxing lyrical anymore, and just tell you that I ended up making one of her Stuffing recipes (because it was Sunday when I spent the day in the kitchen, and Sundays demand roast chicken), which was utterly delicious - I just wish I'd had the foresight to double the recipe - as well as her Butternut Squash Gratin. I'm actually salivating as I think about that gratin. It was so delicious, and so simple! Just bring some cream with a finely chopped clove of garlic in it to the boil, then pour over thinly sliced squash, sprinkle with parmesan, and bake for 45 minutes or so. The cream and the cheese, of course, made it a winner, but I definitely prefer it to potato gratin for the velvety texture of the squash. The orange flesh just melts in the mouth, and the sweetness from it works beautifully with the fairly subtle flavoured cream sauce and bubbly cheese topping. Five stars for that recipe!

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're wondering 'Why is she banging on about stuffing and gratin when all I can see are pictures of cupcakes?!'. Well, that is because the second book in my basket was Cupcakes from the Primrose Hill Bakery. I have about a thousand cupcake books now...I'm going to need a whole room dedicated to cupcake books one day, but they're so pretty! This is another example of a well put together book, the pictures are mouth-wateringly beautiful, and make you want to drop everything and spend hours in the kitchen whipping up batch after batch of cupcakes! (This, incidentally is what I did on Sunday...I ended up with 36 cupcakes...and only 4 people in the house). I couldn't decide on one type to make, so I settled on Raspberry and White Chocolate, and Banana and Chocolate. One word: Yum. I thought I'd found the Holy Grail of cupcakes with the Hummingbird Bakery book, I made some utterly delicious cupcakes from that book, including the Black Bottom recipe, and I'm not saying they've been beaten - but they've definitely got a run for their money!

The first batch I made were these delights - Raspberry and White Chocolate cupcakes. The batter is pretty basic - cream the butter and sugar until pale, combine the egg, milk and vanilla essence in a separate jug, and sieve flours into a separate bowl, then add the flour and liquid alternately a third at a time until everything is incorporated. This is then marbled with raspberry jam. When the cakes are cooked and cooled, you then hollow out a little well in the centre of them, and fill with even more jam!! Then cover with the ivory white chocolate buttercream icing...generously!!

Raspberry Jam Cupcakes
110g unsalted butter
180 caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
120g plain flour
125ml semi-skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tblsp raspberry jam

White Chocolate Buttercream
Make up a batch of Vanilla Buttercream by combining the following ingredients, then add 100g of melted white chocolate to four tablespoons of the mix.

110g unsalted butter
60ml semi-skimmed milk
500g icing sugar

These were certainly popular, I'd say they outdid the Banana and Chocolate batch, but this was really a question of 'which delicious cake is more delicious than the other?!!' The other delicious cake was just are irresistible - underneath a thick blanket of chocolate buttercream hid a deliciously soft sponge, laden with slightly bitter dark chocolate chunks and soft, sweet swirls of banana.

Banana and Chocolate Cupcakes
125g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
4 ripe bananas, mashed
175g dark chocolate, chopped

As usual, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract, before adding the siefted flour and baking powder. When the batter comes together, gently fold in the bananas and chocolate. These, and the Raspberry cupcakes took about 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees, test with a skewer, if it comes out clean they're ready to take out of the oven.

Chocolate Buttercream
175g dark chocolate
225g unsalted butter
1 tblsp semi-skimmed milk
250g icing sugar

Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, then set a side to cool slightly. Beat the remaining ingredients together, and when smooth, add the melted chocolate to create a delightfully decadent and sinful bowl full of glossy goodness!! When cooled and iced, sprinkle a few chopped walnuts on top if you like (for the healthy element you see...)

I've well and truly got the cupcake bug again...I'm just warning you, it could result in an inordinate amount of posts on these little beauties, not that you'd complain I'm sure!! There's something so dainty and civilised, yet greedy and naughty about cupcakes, that they are completely irresitible. I can't think of anything I'd rather have as a treat, or what I'd rather give as a home made gift, or offer to guests...they fit every occasion, and everyone gets so excited by them!! There's nothing better than making someone smile with something you've made, and cupcakes seem to win every time. They're perfection in a paper case!


  1. Oh they do look good. I got Rachel Allen's Bake which is also an excellent book. I wondered about Home Cooking, I thought it might be a bit too family oriented, but seems not from what you are saying.

  2. I'd like to confirm that these cupcaked were flipping amazing. Made my monday :)

  3. Wow you have been busy - surely a party was in order - these cupcakes look fantastic. I've got the Primrose book, but haven't actually done anything but drool over it so far.

  4. I spend everyday wishing I could be in the kitchen rather than stuck behind my computer screen. I totally approve of your choice of books. I have all three in my collection too and love them all. What's not to love with recipes like these!

  5. Thanks you guys!! If only every day could be spent like this eh? :-)

  6. How fun to have a yummy filling inside a cupcake! Love the flavor combinations!


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