Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.


Maple and Pecan Cupcakes

This recipe from Susannah Blake’s “Cupcake” cookbook is less over-indulgent then some cupcake recipes – the cake isn’t a mountain rising from a muffin case, and the icing isn’t an inch and a half thick. I used normal bun cases to make these, but you can use muffin cases and just have a flatter top to the cake. Maple Syrup and Pecan are a classic pairing, and the combination of flavours works really well here in the light sponge, the creamy icing, and the caramelized pecan on top.

Preheat the oven to 180degC, then line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Beat 115g soft butter together with 50g soft brown sugar in a bowl until creamy, then beat in 160ml maple syrup. Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, then sift 115g self-raising flour into the mixture and fold in. Fold in 60g roughly chopped pecan nuts, then spoon the mixture into paper cases and bake for about 17 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make the caramelized pecans, put 60g caster sugar in a saucepan and add 2 tblsp of water. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar melts and dissolves. Increase the heat and boil for about 6 minutes until it turns a pale gold colour. Spread 12 pecan nuts out on a sheet of greaseproof paper and spoon over a little of the caramel to cover each nut individually. Leave to cool.

Beat 50g soft butter, 3 tblsp of maple syrup and 145g sifted icing sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Spread the mixture over the cakes and top each one with a caramelized pecan.



Carrot and Cardamom Cupcakes

If you need a treat to cheer yourself up on a wet and windy Sunday evening, these cupcakes from Susannah Blake’s “Cupcake” book have a creamy luxuriousness, and with the addition of carrot you can almost convince yourself that they’re good for you… almost.

Preheat the oven to 180degC, then line a muffin tin with paper cases.

Put 100g soft brown sugar in a bowl and break up using the back of a fork, then beat in 160ml sunflower oil and 2 eggs. Stir in the grated zest of an orange, the crushed seeds from 5 cardamom pods and half a tsp of ground ginger, then sift in 200g self-raising flour into the mixture and fold in, followed by 2 grated carrots and 60g roughly chopped walnuts or pecan nuts.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, beat 150g mascarpone, the finely grated rind of 1 orange, 1 and a half tsp of lemon juice and 50g sifted icing sugar together in a bowl, then spread over the cakes.

Malteser-decorated Cupcakes

In what was presumably one of the happiest moments of her life, competition winner Nashid Kalam was today presented with her prize – six extra-special celebratory Moveable Feast cupcakes. To rapturous applause from her work-mates who had gathered around at the presentation ceremony, Nashid (seen here proudly holding one of the cupcakes) made a humble and touching acceptance speech. Her real legacy will live on in the section of this blog which she christened “Beyond the Bottle”, thus earning her both the adulation of her peers, and half a dozen of the cupcakes described below.

These cupcakes are a traditional cupcake recipe (i.e. a simple vanilla sponge with a mountain of soft creamy icing) from Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy.

Preheat the oven to 160degC. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

Put 200g softened unsalted butter in a large bowl with 200g caster sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add 1 tsp vanilla extract, and the 4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, making sure to stir fully so it doesn’t curdle. Once the eggs have all been beaten in, add 200g plain flour, a pinch of salt and 2 tsp baking powder. If the mixture is a bit stiff, add a teaspoon or two of milk to loosen it a little.

Plop the mixture into the paper cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean, and the sponge bounces back to the touch.

While the cakes are baking, make a vanilla syrup. Put 200ml of water and 100g granulated sugar in a pan with 1 vanilla pod, and heat over a low heat, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and boil for 1 minute, then take the pan off the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush them liberally with the vanilla syrup to make them really nice and moist (I had loads left over!). Leave the cakes to cool.

Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Put 300g softened unsalted butter, 750g icing sugar and the seeds of a vanilla pod in a bowl and beat well until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. I then split the icing into two bowls, and added a few drops of red food colouring to one, and a few drops of yellow to the other, stirring well to get a consistent colour.

Once the cupcakes are completely cool, you can ice them. I dropped a generous spoon of icing onto each cake, and spread it out with a palette knife (depending on how liberally you pile up the icing, you may end up with about 20% leftover – I transferred the extra to the fridge to coat another cake later!). Once smooth, I decorated with some sugar sprinkles.

To finish them, I used a decorating technique that involves pushing lengths of cake decorating wire into a malteser, and wrapping 5 of them together with floral decorating tape (both these things are pretty easy to get, I picked them up in Cakes and Co in Blackrock).

The easiest way to see this technique is on this clip by Exquisitely Abby. Voila – Malteser-decorated cupcakes!


Big Elf Toys – Opening Day Treats

The fantastic Big Elf Toys opened their doors today at 7 South Main Street in Naas. Moveable Feast were on hand to provide an assortment of treats for the lucky children who dropped by today.

Clockwise from top left: mini fairy cakes, Mars Bar Rice Krispie Squares, Gingerbread Rockets, Gingerbread Robots, chocolate covered shortbread stars, Lemon Squares, Top Hats.

Lemon Cupcakes

There is something inherently satisfying about finding a recipe for something you want to make, and then realising you have every ingredient already in the fridge or cupboards – result! No trip to the shops required! These cupcakes come from the Hummingbord Cookbook.

Preheat the oven to 170degC. Put 120g flour, 150g caster sugar, 1 and a half teaspoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest and 40g room temp unsalted butter in a bowl and beat on slow speed with a handheld electric whisk until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in120ml whole milk and beat until just incorporated.

Add 1 egg to the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then continue mixing until the mixture is smooth. Spoon the mixture into paper cases until two-thirds full and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the sponge bounces back when touched. A skewer inserted into the centre should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

For the lemon icing, beat 250g sifted icing sugar, 80g room temp unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest and a couple of drops of yellow food colouring with an electric hand-mix on a medium-slow speed until well mixed. Turn down to slow speed and slowly add 25ml whole milk. When it is all incorporated turn the mixer up to high speed and continue beating until the icing is light and fluffy.

When the cucpakes are cold, spoon the lemon frosting on top and decorate with a little lemon zest.

Last Rolo Cupcakes

This awesome recipe was contributed by Marjorie’s Kitchen to No Room for Mushrooms, a mushroom-free cookbook with all proceeds going to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.

Preheat the oven to 180degC. Cream 112g butter with 112g sugar, until light and fluffy. Lightly beat 2 eggs together, and gradually add them to the butter and sugar. Gently fold in 85g sifted self-raising flour and 30g sifted cocoa.

Place 12 cupcake cases in a bun tray and place a spoonful of the mixture in each case. Place a Rolo in the centre of each and top with a little more cake mixture, ensuring the Rolo is covered. Bake in the oven for about 15 mins until they spring back when touched in the centre.

When the cakes have cooled completely, beat 280g icing sugar, 125g butter and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until light and creamy. Spoon or pipe over the cupcakes, and dust with some sifted cocoa powder.

Choca-mocha Cupcakes

Pay a visit to Quack and Dirk in Fairview today for a free tasting of some of these rich, dark, chocolatey cakes! Yum yum!

Preheat the oven to 180degC and line a muffin tin with paper cases. Melt 100g of dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water. Set aside to cool.

Beat 150g butter (at room temp) and 150g caster sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat 2 eggs together and then gradually beat into the butter and sugar. Stir in the melted chocolate and and 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder. Sift 100g self-raising flour into the mixture, then stir in dissolved coffee (2 teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water). The original recipe from Susannah Blakes “Cupcakes” book includes 40g chocolate-covered coffee beans stirred in at this point, but I have left them out of my mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and bake for about 20 minutes until risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, beat 100g butter (at room temp), 200g icing sugar (sifted) and dissolved coffee (as per the above quantities) together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Spread the mixture evenly over the cakes and sprinkle with grated chocolate.