These cupcakes combine three of my favourite flavours… coffee, chocolate and hazelnuts! They look very impressive, but with the right kit and a bit of know how really are quite simple. That’s the beauty of baking 🙂 These hit the spot on a rainy Saturday and were great with a cup of nice coffee on the side.
This post shows one of my favourite ways to pipe buttercream. It looks difficult, but, truth be told, it is all in using a particular piping nozzle (a wilton 2d – there are pictures further down). The two tone effect is created using two contrasting colours of icing – one colour goes in your piping bag first so the outside edge of your bag is covered, and then you add the second colour into the middle of the piping bag. As I said, much more simple than it looks! On these cupcakes I created the effect using a dairy free chocolate spread and coffee buttercream.
Christmas for me normally kicks in around the 1st of November, but this year I’m still waiting for the feeling to hit – and we’re only two and a half weeks away!
So to try and tempt the Christmas spirit, I created dairy free Christmas Chelsea Buns. Lovely soft dough flavoured with clementines, filled with mincemeat and nuts – what’s not to like! These were not as hard as they look, especially if you have made bread before. Don’t be put off by the amount of time stated for the recipe. A lot of that time is proving and baking when you can be doing other things.
I took the inspiration from Paul Hollywood’s book ‘How To Bake’. Rather than using just dried fruits as in the book, I have used ready made mincemeat for added flavour and Christmassy-ness.
These make a great afternoon treat, dessert or even breakfast if you have a particularly sweet tooth!
I call this ‘easy’ dairy free chocolate mousse, but I am well aware that ‘easy’ for most people is popping to the shop and buying some. Even so, whether you eat dairy or not, I don’t think any shop bought chocolate mousse can ever really compare with the delightfully rich homemade variety.
This is definitely a grown up version – rich, chocolatey and gently flavoured with coffee for extra depth and flavour. So although this is not as easy as buying ready made I would encourage you all to try this, as we all deserve something as scrumptious as this for a treat.
I used to LOVE profiteroles and they were something I had accepted I would never be able to eat again. A big part of this was a lack of confidence making any sort of pastry dairy free, plus being stuck about what to fill them with. However, after watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off and getting a lesson in how to make custard from my mum, I felt I should be brave and at least try.
And I’m so pleased I did – because they were a lot easier than I thought they would be and were SO tasty. These were a complete first attempt as I had never made choux pastry, or crème pâtissière and I’m pleased to say that I succeeded!
Choux pastry is a great thing to know how to make, and really not as hard as you think. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you can go on to make eclairs, or cream puffs (with a different filling of course) or even savoury gougères. From the vast amount of research I did on profiteroles, I found that two things are key.
- Get a lot of air in the dough by whisking more than you think you’d need to as you incorporate the eggs. This helps them rise and become very hollow in the centre.
- Add steam – the simplest way to do this is to ensure you do not evaporate off too much water when you create the dough and to shake water over your profiteroles before you bake them. It sounds mad – but steam is the raising agent in choux pastry.
The crème pâtissière was the perfect filling for the profiteroles and the hazelnut flavour from the milk was deliciously complimentary with the chocolate sauce. No one was missing the cream 🙂 Although the milk carton (I used Alpro) does state ‘not for cooking’ I did not find any issues with the flavour or texture of the milk once heated. I can see myself perfecting my creme pat as it is such a versatile filling for desserts… so expect to see this again!
I was concentrating hard on these as I cooked (we had my boyfriend’s parents round for lunch and there was no back up dessert – so the pressure was on!), so forgot to take good step by step photos as I went. Next time I make these I will write a ‘how to’ post with better step by step instructions so you can all enjoy some perfect homemade profiteroles.
Filed under dessert, Pastry
Orange Blossom and Cranberry Cupcakes
These cupcakes were a bit of an experiment and one I will certainly be making again. Orange blossom water was also a new ingredient for me, and it provided a very grown up and delicate orange flavour to the buttercream icing.
Another success with these cupcakes was a new recipe for dairy free buttercream. After a lot of research on the internet, I read about a vegetable oil based ‘butter’ called Trex. What a great discovery this was! Trex has a similar consistency and look to lard – very hard, slightly crumbly and very white in colour. My usual buttercream recipe uses just dairy free butter, such as pure, but this can be very soft given that Pure has a similar consistency to margarine.
For this buttercream I reduced the amount of dairy free butter and replaced it with Trex – and voila – a smooth, creamy and stiff buttercream! It was a dream to pipe and kept its shape beautifully.
Beautifully piped improved dairy free buttercream recipe
The cranberries in the cake are a hidden surprise. For these I sprinkled the cranberries in the bottom of each case and the spread the batter on top. Next time though I would definitely incorporate the cranberries into batter.
I topped each with a piece of Pecan Brittle (recipe can be found in my Chocolate Caramel cake) for decoration… plus made some extra for me to eat, but that’s just between you and I!
And incase you’re wondering… yes, that is Pudsey Bear on my cupcake cases. Lakeland are currently selling them and donating part of the cost back to Children In Need.
Welcome to my first post!
Coffee & Walnut Cupcakes
This cake is from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible – a book that’s been instrumental in my baking journey so far. The original recipe is for a large tray bake, and this version is simply scaled down for cupcakes. I have to say I would definitely do them as cupcakes again, it really helped keep the sponge more moist which really worked for these flavours. I like a healthy amount of walnuts in these cakes, so am always more generous than the recipe states.