Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

The final piece of the wedding cupcake jigsaw. I had to have a chocolate option, however I struggled to come up with a "classic" cake to base it on. Chocolate tends to be iconic in it's own right, rather than part of another concept (it's all very high brow). Notably, there are no "british" chocolate cakes, it does seem America own chocolate cake recipes.

So, after some deliberation, I decided to try a "brownie" cupcake instead. Everyone knows what to expect with a brownie...basically a gooey mess! This may ned some more trial, as I do need it to be slightly cake-like, and as it's being iced, it will be very rich. The main change to a normal brownie is the use of a raising agent (self-raising flour).

The core recipe is a simple brownie mix...nothing overly rich, as (again) it will be iced.At the same time, I wanted it to be un-ashamedly benefit of offering a selection of cakes it that I don't have to compromise on any particular one to accomodate people. The icing is again loaded with chocolate, and I've finished it off by drizzling a little white chocolate over the top.

Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes - Recipe

  • Pre-heat oven to 160'C

Cake Ingredients

  • 120g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 120g butter
  • 150g soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 80g self-raising flour
1) Place the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan

2) melt over a low heat while stirring, until smooth and combined

3) Add the sugar and whisk in until smooth and combined

4) Add in the eggs, and whisk until fully combined (mixture should be glossy)

5) Remove from the heat, and fold in the flour with a spatula

6) Transfer to a large heatproof jug (this makes filling the cake cases easier)

7) Pour 45-50g of mixture into each of 12 muffin cases, in a 12-hole muffin tin

8) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (this may need some trial to get the right gooey mixture inside)
Note - initial testing indicates that 15 minutes it a bit too long, and it's more "cake" than "brownie". Next time I'll try 10 minutes, and go from there...

9) Remove from the oven, but leave in the tin for 10 minutes

10) Remove to a wire rack to cool completely

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • 150g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 150g room-temperature butter
  • 150g icing sugar
1) Place the chocolate in a small bowl

2) Melt the chocolate in a microwave (10 second bursts and stir)

3) Leave to cool slightly (but remain don't want it melting butter)

4) Put the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

5) Beat the sugar and butter thoroughly until very light and smooth

6) using a spatula, fold in the cooled white chocolate

7) Trasfer to a piping bag with a semi-closed star nozzle

8) Pipe a generous swirl onto each cooled cake

9) (optional) drizzle a little melted white chocolate on top, or grate some white chocolate on top.

Strawberry Shortbread Cupcakes

In a wedding cake double-header, I bashed out the final 2 receipes last night. Provisionally, that's all the recipes sorted. This was the one I was least worried about, as I've done most of it before. It's the simplest sponge, and the decoration is also simple (if effective). The icing is new, however I've done varieties of it before.

For the final run, the biscuits will be prepared ahead of time (a day or two, and stored in an airtight container), and then I'll probably do the decoration on the day, to keep the biscuits as crisp as possible.

Strawberry Shortbread Cupcakes - Recipe

Shortbread Ingredients

  • 100g plain flour
  • 66g fridge-cold butter
  • 33g caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • White chocolate
1) Place the flour, sugar and salt into a medium-sized bowl

2) Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, until you have a mixture resombling breadcrumbs. You can also do this in a food processor with a blade attachment.

3) Press the mixture into a dough (work it as little as possible), and roll to 5mm thickness on a lightly floured surface.

4) Using a circular cutter approximately 8-10cm in diameter, cut out 2 circles

5) Chop these into 8 pizza wedges each, and prick with a fork

(you can re-roll and cut the rest as "cooks snacks"!)

6) Place on a baking tray, and place in the fridge for 20 mintues.

7) Preheat the oven to 150-160'C

8) bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden

9) Remove to a wire rack to cool

10) Melt the white chocolate in a  small bowl in the microwave (I do it in 10 second bursts, stirring after each burst)

11) Dip the point of each biscuit in the chocolate, then place on greaseproof paper, and allow to set completely

Note - the biscuits are chocolate-dipped to keep them from any moisture from the cake, so they stay crisp.

Sponge Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 175g room-temperature butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
1) Pre-heat oven to 150'C

2) Place all the ingredients in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment

3) Mix until mixture is just smooth (I often do everything but the flour first, then add the flour once the other ingredients are mixed. As a rule of thumb you want to work flour as little as possible, unless you're making bread!)

4) Place 45g of mixture into 12 muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tin (you will have some left-over may want to trial with adding a little more, however I find 45g of mixture is about right for filling the cases I use)

5) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes

6) Remove to a wire rack to cool

White Chocolate Frosting Ingredients

  • 150g room-temperature butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 150g white chocolate
1) Place the white chocolate in a small bowl

2) Melt the chocolate in a microwave (again, 10 second bursts and stir)

3) Leave to cool slightly (but remain don't want it melting butter)

4) Put the butter and sugar in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment

5) Beat the sugar and butter thoroughly until very light and smooth

6) using a spatula, fold in the cooled white chocolate

7) Trasfer to a piping bag with a semi-closed star nozzle


  • Strawberry Jam (homemade or shop bought)
  • 6 medium-sized strawberries, chopped into quarters
1) Using a cupcake corer,  take about 2cm out of the middle of each cake

2) Place a teaspoon of jam into each cake. replace the plug of sponge

3) Pipe a generous swirl of icing onto each cake

4) Decorate with 2 pieces of strawberry, and a biscuit wedge poking out

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Vanilla Chocolate Fudge Cake

It's getting sort of traditional now for me to make an overly complex cake for my birthday. This year I doubled up and made for me and the other for Gill. They were both the same recipe, so it was mainly the logistics of dealing with double doses.

There are a lot of ingredients, however its basically an amalgamation of other recipes. There is a fast version of ganache, made with equal parts chocolate and cream in the microwave. There is joconde sponge, with an accompanying crème au beurre icing to use up the yolks, and there is fudge to decorate.

As such, I'll just run through the steps and ingredients, without too much detail in the full recipe.

Vanilla Chocolate Fudge Cake - Recipe

Fudge Ingredients

  • 300g sugar
  • 170g evaporated milk (small tin)
  • 50g butter
  • 30g golden syrup
  • 50g condensed milk
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Full Recipe here...make this ahead of time, and keep it in an airtight container until needed

Joconde Sponge Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g dark muscavado sugar
  • 30g dark muscavado sugar
  • 30g plain flour
  • 30g butter (melted/cooled)

Full Recipe here...only thing I would add is that the muscavado sugar makes for a moister cake, so an extra 1-2 minutes baking may be required.

Crème au Beurre Ingredients

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 225g butter (room temperature)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Full recipe here. You could use normal buttercream, however the joconde leaves 3 egg yolks, and this conveniently uses them!

Chocolate Ganache Ingredients

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g double cream

Full recipe here, though I use a microwave in 10 second bursts these days, as it's much faster. Just make sure you stir it plenty after each burst.


1) Take the sponge and cut in half, and then in half again lengthwise, to leave 4 thin square'ish slices

2) Layer the slices up with the buttercream, and also add ganache to alternate layers. Smooth the top of the cake and cover with ganache. You can also decorate with melted white chocolate if you wish

3) Chop the fudge into small squares, and decorate the top of the cake

4) Chill in the fridge, then trim using a hot knife (dipped in hot water) to form clean edges

Mini Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

I'm still finalising the list of cupcakes I'm going to be doing for the wedding. I know there is going to be a chocolate-based one, and I'd like it to be themed around a classic type of cake. I was thinking Black Forest Gateau, however the traditional topping for that is fresh cream, and without it I don't think it would be right. I don't really want fresh cream, as I doubt it would survive the day.

There are not actually that many "classic" chocolate cakes, and even less than would translate well to a cupcake. This was a go at taking something quite simple, and turning it into a cupcake. For a change I used a mini-bun tin (if for no other reason that it turns out I have over 200 idea why!) A chocolate brownie, topped with a chocolate "fudge" icing (not really fudge). As an initial attempt not bad...possibly a bit too much like cake, and not enough like brownie, though brownie tends to mature well, so give them a day or two and it might be OK.

Using small tins had the following impact;
1) Cakes are roughly 1/4 of the volume. I did a half volume of what I think I'd need for 12 cakes, and it made 24 mini-cakes (and they were over-filled)

2) Baking time was reduced from an estimated 14-15 minutes down to 8, which was plenty

3) Icing was 1/3rd of the volume

For future bakes, and for full size baking, I think the following changes;
1) I used 50% dark chocolate, perhaps try 70%

2) I used self-raising flour, perhaps plain, or a mixture to make the cake a little denser (less cakey, more brownie). I think this needs a bit of a compromise, as I don't want it full brownie, it needs to have cake-life features.

Mini-Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes - Recipe (makes 24)

  • Pre-heat oven to 160'C
  • Prepare 2 x 12-hole mini cupcake tins with paper liners


  • 60g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 60g butter
  • 75g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 40g self-raising flour

1) Place the chocolate and butter in a medium sized saucepan over a low heat

2) Stir until everything is melted

3) add the sugar and whisk until fully combined

4) Add the egg and whisk until fully combined

5) Remove from the heat and fold in the flour

6) Fill the 24 cases with the mixture. This can be a bit tricky as it's a runny batter. I put it in a piping bag, and filled each case to 3/4 height as carefully as possible

7) Bake for 7-8 minutes

8) remove to a wire rack to cool. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove to cool completely

Chocolate Buttercream Ingredients

  • 50g dark (50%) chocolate
  • 50g butter (room temperature)
  • 50g icing sugar
  • Milk (optional)
  • White chocolate (to decorate)

1) Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl

2) Heat in the microwave for 10 seconds, then stir. Repeat until fully melted, then leave to cool (but remain molten)

3) Place the butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl

4) Beat together until smooth and creamy. You may want to add a splash of milk to help smooth it, but be very careful, as you don't want it too soft

5) Beat in the cooled molten chocolate

6) Transfer to a piping bag with a small star nozzle

7) Pipe a rosette of icing into the middle of each cake

8) Using a fine grater, grate a little white chocolate over each cake

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Sticky Toffee Cupcakes - Attempt 1

Another one for the wedding...hopefully. I did a sticky toffee pudding for Christmas, and decided that it would be a great flavour to add to the wedding pile. I've tweaked and adapted the recipe to better suit a room temperature cake, as opposed to a warm pudding served in a bowl. I served the pudding at Christmas with salted caramel ice-cream, so decided that I'd use at as the icing. It was finalised with a couple of chunks of fudge.

Generally, pretty happy with this. A few tweaks need to be done;
1) The toffee sauce needs to go in when the cake is cool (or perhaps even cold?), but the sauce is still warm. This will stop it seeping through to the paper. I want to try chilling the cake, then filling it fridge-cold.

2) I didn't replace the plugs of cake, and I think I should...this will alter the icing:cake ratio slightly in the favour of cake, which I think is needed

3) A bit more cake in the case. I did my default of 50g of mixture, and this recipe made 15 (possibly 16, but it's a wet mixture, so getting it into the cases was "fun"). It doesn't rise as much as normal cake, so probably 60g each is better. Again, this will improve the icing:cake ratio.

These changes will be in the recipe below, so when I make these again I won't forget the changes!

A lot of this recipe can be done ahead of time...the fudge pieces, the toffee sauce and the caramel sauce can (and probably should) be done a day or two in advance, then stored until needed.

Sticky Toffee Cupcakes - Recipe (makes 12)


You don't need too much of this. Make a batch of vanilla fudge, and then cut out 24 cubes of it (bout 7-8mm a side) to decorate the top. This can be done a day or so in advance, and stored somewhere cool and dry.

Caramel Sauce Ingredients

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 60g double cream
  • 30g butter

Note - this can be done in advance (it fact it's preferable to, as you need this at room temperature). Store it in the fridge, and leave it out to get to room temperature a few hours before you make the cakes.

1) Place the sugar in a medium sized pan. Ensure the pan is very clean (always do this when you at working with sugar)

2) Put the pan over a medium heat, and leave until the sugar starts to melt

3) Using a clean spatula, gently mix the sugar until it has all melted and achieved a deep golden colour

4) Add the butter and stir vigorously (it will bubble a lot) until everything is thoroughly combined and smooth

5) Remove from the heat and stir in the cream until fully mixed and smooth

6) Transfer to a clean bowl and leave to cool completely. Store in the fridge, and allow to return to room temperature before using. If you need this cool quickly, pour it onto a plate, spread it out and pop it in the fridge.

Toffee Sauce Ingredients

  • 200g dark muscavado sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 15ml black treacle
  • 130g double cream

Note - once again this can be done in advance, stored, and then re-heated when needed. I found this was easier to use from a jug, so I'd recommend putting it in a jug and re-heating it in a microwave (do 10 second bursts and stir it until it is fluid enough to pour and soak into the cake)

1) Place the butter, sugar and black treacle into a small saucepan

2) Place over a low heat and stir until the butter is melted

3) Increase to a medium heat and continue to stir until the sugar mas melted, and everything is combined.

4) Stir in the cream

5) Continue to stir until the mixture boils. As soon as it starts,
remove from the heat. If storing, place in a heatproof bowl and leave to cool completely.

Sponge Ingredients

  • 200g soft pitted dates (bagged ones are fine, you just want soft-dried one)
  • 200g kettle-hot water
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g butter
  • 30ml (2 x 15tbsp) black treacle
  • 50g dark muscavado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 170g self-raising flour

1) Pre-heat the oven to 160'C

2) Chop the dates (I chopped each date into 8 bits) and place in a large bowl

3) Pour the water over the dates, and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Leave to soak for at least 10 minutes

4) Place the butter, sugar and treacle in a stand mixer with a creaming paddle attachment

5) Mix thoroughly until very soft and combined. You will need to scrape down the sides a few times

6) Beat in the 2 eggs one at a time, mixing each in as thoroughly as possible.

7) Gently fold in the flour until combined and smooth

8) Pour in the soaked dates (including the water) and mix in. You should end up with a thick, runny batter

9) Spoon ~60g of the batter into 12 cupcake/muffin cases in a 12-tin tray.

10) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes

11) Remove to a wire rack to cool. 

12) Using a cupcake corer, remove a cavity of about 1cm in depth from the middle of each cake.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

  • 150g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 1 batch of caramel sauce (see above)
  • 0.5 - 1tsp salt (to taste)
1) Place the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer with the creaming paddle attachment

2) Beat thoroughly until smooth

3) Add the caramel sauce and salt, and mix until very smooth

4) Transfer to a piping bag with a semi-open star nozzle


1) Pour approximately 2tsp of the toffee sauce into each cake via the cavity

2) Replace the plugs into each cavity

3) Pipe a generous swirl of the buttercream on top of each cake

4) Place a couple of chunks of the fudge onto each cake to decorate

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Cycling Flapjack - 2018 Version (Cherry, Chocolate and Almonds)

Still my most requested recipe, I still tweak this occasionally. I was thrown a curveball recently when I had a request for a no-banana version, due to an allergy.

You can break the various ingredients in the flapjack down by purpose, and the banana was used as a binding agent (rather than butter, which obviously adds loads of fat in, which isn't ideal). I did some reading around, and saw a suggestion that baked sweet potato could be used as an alternative. Sounds a tad weird adding baked potato into flapjack, but it was the best I could come up with, so I gave it a go. It actually worked really well, with a good consistency and taste.

I can't seem to find it online, but I use a swiss roll tin from John Lewis that is exactly 30cm x 20cm, and (rare for cake tins) has sharp corners. It is literally my favourite traybake tin, as you get a good clean edge, and it's easy to measure and cut neatly. I chop this up into 20 slices (10cm x 3cm) and wrap each one in foil-backed paking parchment. I've put the nutrition breakdown below, however if you do 20 slices each bar is just shy of 200 calories each.

I'd like to do some other flavours for this. I watched a short video on how SIS make their energy bars (I don't like them, the texture is far too chewy, and can be incredibly hard in cool weather). I'd also like to knock the fat down a little more, and add some more protein in, so thats a project for the coming year!

Cherry, Chocolate and Almond Flapjack - Recipe

  • Grease and line a 30cm x 20cm swiss roll tin with baking parchment


  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 150g fructose sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 200g condensed milk
  • 2 sweet potatoes / 150g baked sweet potato (see recipe)
  • 1 large egg
  • 400g rolled oats
  • 100g flaked almonds
  • 50g dark (50%) chocolate drops
  • 50g dried cherries
  • ½tsp salt
  • ½tsp almond essence  
1) Take the 2 sweet potatoes, and prick all over with a fork

2) Place on a foil-covered baking sheet, and place in the oven

3) Turn the oven to 200'C, and bake the sweet potato for an hour (just to confirm, the hour includes the time the oven takes to warm up)

4) Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, and turn it down to 160'C

5) Cut the baked sweet potatoes in half, and scoop the soft flesh out into a bowl

6) In a large saucepan, place the caster sugar, fructose sugar, golden syrup, butter, and 150g of the sweet potato. Also add the salt and almond essence.

7) Place over a low heat and stir until everything is melted together and smooth (you don't want it to boil)

8) Remove from the heat, and stir in the condensed milk.

9) Beat the egg slightly, and also add into the bowl.

10) Stir in the oats and flaked almonds, stirring thoroughly to ensure everything is coated.

11) Leave the mixture to cool a bit. While this is happening, chop the dried cherries into smaller pieces (I normally do in half or in third, using scissors...this means that it is more evenly spread throughout the mixture)

12) Stir in the chopped dried cherries and chocolate drops (now the mixture has cooled a bit they shouldn't melt too much)

13) Scrape into the prepared swiss roll tin, and using a spatula push into the corners, and flatten the surface. Ensure the depth is the same all over the tin.

14) Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. It should just be browning at the edges

15) Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Once cool place in the fridge to chill, ideally overnight (this makes it much easier to slice neatly).

16) Chop into 20 bars (10cm x 3cm), and wrap each one in foil-backed greaseproof paper. It's worth doing neatly, as it makes it easier to eat on the go.

17) Store in the fridge for upto 2 weeks (like it ever lasts that long).