Life is uncertain. Eat Dessert first.

Susannah Blake

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.


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.


Happy St Patrick’s Day – Green Tea Cupcakes

To celebrate St Patrick’s Day, I’ve made some green cupcakes, combining a traditional cupcake recipe from Susannah Blake’s “Cupcakes” book, with the green tea icing from The Hummingbird Cookbook. Green tea, the traditional Japanese drink, works really well in cakes when combined with chocolate or vanilla. It is important to use green tea powder called “Matcha” for the icing, which is available in specialist tea shops.

Preheat the oven to 180degC, then line a muffin tin with paper cases. Beat 115g butter (at room temp) and 115g caster sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat two eggs together, then gradually beat into the sugar and butter mixture.

Sift 115g self-raising flour into the the bowl, and the fold in by hand. Stir in 2 tablespoons of milk with 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence and a few drops of green food colouring, to make a creamy, spoonable mixture.

Spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture into each paper case, then bake for about 17 minutes until risen and slightly golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

For the green tea icing, beat together 250g sifted icing sugar, 80g unsalted butter (at room temp) and 20g Matcha green tea powder until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. It is easiest to do this with an electric mixer. Slowly pour in 25ml of whole milk, then beat again until the icing is light and fluffy. Spoon the icing on top of the cakes, and if desired decorate with a light sprinkle of Matcha powder.


Christmas Party Cupcake

Inspired by The Sweet Vintage Baking Co.’s “Maria” Cupcake, I set about making my own version to bring to a Christmas Dinner in a friend’s house. I used the choca-mocha recipe from Susannah Blake’s “Cupcakes” book for the base, and then made my own version of nutella icing (I creamed 100g icing sugar with 100g butter, added 100g nutella, a half teaspoon of vanilla extract and about 75ml of double cream, and then added more icing sugar and nutella until I got the consistency right). I topped it off with a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, and to give it a snow-capped look, a sprinkle of sieved icing sugar.