My baking has declined massively over the past few years. The almost weekly bakes of my early twenties have reduced to making cake for my colleagues on my birthday, plus a handful of ad hoc cakes. This year I wasn’t feeling massively inspired. After looking through my ‘recipes’ Pinterest boards and rejecting most of the items, I settled on the Ultimate Vanilla cupcakes from the Cupcake Project, which I was super into about five years ago. I absolutely love their Ultimate Chocolate cupcakes.
Because the batter is very liquid, the sugar dissolved too quickly and did not produce the little neon flecks I had hoped for amongst the black-speckled vanilla cake. I also used coconut oil instead of vegetable, which was fine apart from the fact that I didn’t melt it fully. I knew the batter was too lumpy, but I couldn’t be bothered to get out my hand blender and blitz it. Mistake.
Overall, I probably would give these cupcakes a second chance. While I liked the Ultimate Vanilla Frosting (basically buttercream) from the same site, I don’t think it paired especially well with the UV cupcake. It’s just sweet on sweet. I think you need a bit of a contrasting flavour in there for balance.
My friend Anna gave me some very exciting National Trust spreads for my birthday, and I can see these being incorporated into bakes soon. If only to stop me from eating both jars by the spoonful.
There’s nothing that makes you feel warm towards your colleagues like going on holiday for an extended period! Since I’m about to go away, I decided to bake for the last team meeting of the year, and I’ve had these chocolate and cream cheese cupcakes pinned for a while. I believe the non-PC term for these is black bottom cakes, but I decided against mentioning that in the office.
The recipe is available here. I did enjoy these cupcakes, but I found the eggless chocolate sponge a little dry and uninspiring. I DID like how easy it was to have two contrasting flavours and textures- much easier than faffing around with frosting. The little pops from the chocolate chips were lovely too. If I made these again, I would probably swap out another recipe (maybe the ultimate chocolate cupcake?) for the bottom part. However, if you’re after a quick recipe using mostly things that will always be in the store cupboard, this is a good’un.
I had enough batter for 24 mini cupcakes and four or five full-sized ones.
We who run according to the academic calendar are limping towards the end of the year with relief and exhaustion in equal measure. This means a few celebrations are in order, and I decided to bake for my team. I wanted a fairly simple recipe and decided on muffins. I had a chocolate and cream cheese recipe that I’ve had pinned for a while in mind, but then my uncle requested blueberry and I decided to go with that.
I’ve never made blueberry muffins before so I just googled a recipe and this one was very well reviewed. I made no changes except being very generous with the fruit. I used £5 of blueberries in 14 muffins. That’s the equivalent of nearly $1! I think it would also be wonderful with fresh blackberries.
I found the sponge a little dry. Although it was hard to notice because of the juicy fruit, I might try a recipe with buttermilk next time.
I should have filled the liners up more (I got three extra cupcakes from the mix) but I was scared they would overflow. I needn’t have worried.
I choose to believe it was the delicate scent of freshly baked muffins that enticed an exotic visitor to join our party.
I’ve had my eye on the recipe for these delicious pecan and cinnamon cupcakes for a while. Unfortunately I didn’t read the recipe through before embarking as it is more time-consuming than most cupcake recipes, but the result is a very light and fluffy cupcake that is delicately spiced with an occasional pleasing crunch of pecan. Right up my alley. I made them with buttercream frosting but I think they would be even nicer with cream cheese frosting- a little tang rather than just additional sweetness. I thought I would spend a little bit of time on the decoration for once.
With the quantities given below, I got 24 mini cupcakes and six full sized ones. So I reckon 18 full sized cupcakes.
- 50g (1/2 cup) pecans
- 190g (3/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
- 215g (1 1/4 cups) caster sugar
- 3 large eggs- these will be separated
- 175g (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4tsp salt (1/2 tsp if you use unsalted butter)
- 1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4tsp ground cinnamon
- 120ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
- 1tsp vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 60g (1/4 cup) butter, at room temperature
- 400g (2 1/2 cups) icing sugar
- 1/2tsp vanilla extract
- 120ml (1/2 cup) double cream
- 4tbsp maple syrup
- Yellow food colouring
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Line an 18 hole muffin pan with paper cases
2. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 6mins, until they are just beginning to brown at the edges. Allow to cool, then crush in a pestle and mortar.
3. In a large bowl or electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (7-10mins).
4. Add the yolks one at a time, mixing until incorporated.
5. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a mixing bowl, or the bowl of your scale. In a separate jug, combine milk and vanilla.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed sugar and butter in three parts, alternating with the milk mixture. With each addition, scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure an even batter. Remember to begin and end with the dry ingredients.
7. Stir in the crushed pecans.
8. In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff.
9. Gently fold the egg white into the batter, in three parts.
10. Divide the batter between the paper cases, filling them three quarters.
11. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15mins, until just browning and passing the toothpick test.
12. Allow to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the frosting.
1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter until soft.
2. Add sugar, vanilla, cream and maple syrup. Beat until smooth and creamy.
3. Put about a quarter of the frosting into a small separate bowl. Add food colouring until you get a really vivid yolk colour.
4. Once the cupcakes are totally cold, spread evenly with the white frosting using a palette knife or offset spatula. Drop about a teaspoon of the yellow frosting on top, a little to one side, for the yolk.
These pumpkin cupcakes turned out to be a great way to use up the pumpkin I had left over from my previous Halloween baking exploits. The pumpkin makes the cupcakes nice and moist with a hint of spice, and the cream cheese frosting adds a great tang (as well as a second hit of sugar). Again, I think they would be much improved by a few nuts.
I don’t have any great pictures of these. Because the frosting was a bit loose, I decorated them at work, where there is no natural light.
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1tsp baking powder
- 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4tsp ground ginger
- 2/3cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup light olive oil or butter
- 2 large egs
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts such as pecans (optional)
For the frosting
- 8oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups icing sugar (I used muscavado icing sugar)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
This will leave you with some leftover frosting. I made my frosting with about 3/4 of the ingredients stated but it came out a bit loose and I’m not sure why.
1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
2. In a large bowl, cream both types of sugar and your butter or oil, until well combined.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between
4. Add pumpkin and vanilla
5. Slowly sift in the dry ingredients (including spices), continuing to mix between additions.
9. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, make your frosting. Cream together the butter and cream cheese until smooth. I used an electric hand mixer.
10. Mix in the vanilla and then the icing sugar until thick and smooth. If the frosting is a bit slack, chill in the fridge while your cupcakes cool.
11. Once the cupcakes are cool, pipe or spoon on your frosting. Combine them any way you like, I don’t judge.
These cupcakes were for one of my oldest friends whose dearest wish on her 27th birthday was a cake mountain. I’m pleased with my contribution. These were like the foothills. I know she loves white chocolate, hence the frosting. The crazy sweetness of the frosting is tempered by the rich darkness of the cakes. And glitter. Shiny shiny green glitter to remind us of the time we visited the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin.
Pots of delicious gold.
I used my go-to chocolate cupcake recipe, which I halved because I knew there was a strong likelihood that there would be way too much cake at the party. I’ll give the full recipe, which makes 20 cupcakes. I also halved the frosting recipe, and ended up with enough frosting for 8 cupcakes. Again, I’ll give the full recipe. There aren’t many process pictures today because I was baking at night. Check out this earlier post for more pics. Frosting recipe adapted from here.
For the cupcakes
1/4 cup (2 oz) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7 oz) sugar 2oz (60g) of your favourite chocolate
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fl oz) oil. I used walnut.
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (3oz) full-fat sour cream*
1 cup (5 oz) plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (2 oz) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) room temperature coffee, water or a mixture
*I substituted Greek yoghurt as I didn’t have sour cream. It was okay, but I think the sour cream gives a more moist result, probably due to its higher fat content
For the frosting
6oz (170g) white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 cup (230g) butter, at room temperature
2 cups (240g) icing sugar
¼ cup (60ml) double cream. I substituted milk, but cream gives a better frosting.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt (to taste, be careful if you use salted butter)
- Line a muffin tin with paper liners and preheat your oven to 180C (170 fan)
- Melt the chocolate. A minute in the microwave should do.
- Mix the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
- Once the chocolate is cool enough to touch, add to the butter and sugar and mix until combined.
- Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, beating between each addition.
- Add the oil, vanilla and sour cream and mix until combined.
- Sift the dry ingredients together into a separate bowl. Add to the wet ingredients in three batches, mixing between each addition.
- Add the water or coffee and mix until smooth.
- Divide the batter among your paper liners, filling each 2/3 of the way up. 1/3 cup of batter is about right.
- Bake for 14-20 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test
- Remove from pan immediately to cool on a wire rack. Leave to cool completely before frosting.
Make the frosting
- Melt the white chocolate and leave to cool.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter for 1 minute until smooth. I made this frosting by hand with a wooden spoon and it came out really well. However, a hand or stand mixer may have given a slightly smoother result.
- Add the icing sugar about 1/2 a cup at a time and mix until smooth after each addition.
- Stir in the cooled white chocolate and then beat until creamy.
- Add the vanilla extract and salt, to taste.
- Add in the cream. If using milk, add slowly and stop when the frosting reaches the consistency you want.
- Beat until smooth.
- Spoon or pipe onto your cooled cupcakes. My trusty Wilton 1M tip has got a bit bent so the piping wasn’t as gorgeous as normal. Treat your piping tips with gentle loving care, peeps!
Ah, February. Month of shit weather, broken promises and a third thing, because a list should always contain three things. Why don’t you distract yourself from the ongoing misery of existence with these cupcakes?
The amaretto cupcakes smell amazing throughout the cooking process too.
- 75g amaretto biscuits
- 100g salted butter
- 75g muscovado sugar
- 2 eggs
- 75g self-raising flour
- 1/2tsp baking powder
Makes 10-12 cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 180C (160C fan). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with paper cases.
- Crush your biscuits. I used the end of a rolling pin.
- Cream the crushed biscuits together with the butter and sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
- Mix in the flour and baking powder.
Divide among your paper cases and bake for 15-20 mins, until cake passes the toothpick test.
Remove to cool completely on a wire rack.
Mix together the cream cheese and icing sugar.
Spread about a tablespoon on top of each cake and the decorate artfully with raspberries.