18 June 2011

Some time away...

Sorry for the lack in postings as of late - I've vastly improved I think! =)

However, work is gearing up for me with several projects that I have to implement and I'm also going away on holiday the first week of July. My sister is coming from North Carolina and her daughter (my niece!) and we're renting a cottage down in Dorset. This is a picture of the harbour that we'll be overlooking when there!
So I'm making many preparations and trying to keep the home fires burning. Why is it women juggle several things and seem to be the only ones who feel guilty when they don't get it all done? I am so sure men do not have this complex!

We've also had a run in with our sad Polish vehicle - the FSO Caro - in that the darn thing started a fire in one of the back wheels! I know - if you knew me you would know that my luck is like CRAP! Anyway, we have been looking for a new car. So the silence isn't to be mean but out of necessity. The last thing I want to do when staring at a computer all day is come home and do the same.

As for the reduces aisle lately this too has been sparse. I have found a few bits and pieces but nothing good as I have in past. But we've also been living off of the freezer to get it lower so I could defrost it (yes, oh joy!).

OK - I'm off to do a few things down the High Street. I'll be back in mid-July with more adventures and pictures. I wish there was more time in the day but alas we all only have 24 hours - such a little amount of time! Make it worth it and try to do something different! Enjoy!

5 June 2011

A Chocolate Cupcake Craving....

Well I very rarely crave chocolate – most un-female like I will be the first to admit. I like chocolate and if I do have it a small piece of dark chocolate will usually satisfy me. I’m not a milk chocolate eater in the slightest. I’ll have a bit of white chocolate but again sparingly (unless it’s my white/dark chocolate cake – then it’s a different matte!).

But anyway, I’ve been fancying cupcakes all week. Each time I wanted something ‘yummy’ as I would call it – there was absolutely nothing in the house to eat that fit the bill. So I woke up this morning and thought ‘Right, I’ll fix that today and bake!’ I really enjoy baking and there is just something about it that makes you feel so good to know you creamed the butter, the sugar, and prepared it all yourself. I was watching a program earlier in the morning and they said something about their food had the ‘love’ in it. I really believe if you put your heart and soul into it there is nothing that is bad. It might not be the prettiest thing, or the most appetising but the care and devotion you put into making it will shine through to everyone who gets to partake of that item – be it a meal or a simply cupcake.

So I have a recipe I used that makes exactly 12 cupcakes. Most cake recipes I have found you can make into cupcakes but often they will vary widely in how many they make. For two people twelve cakes is a bit much so I do give some away but this also gives us about a week’s worth of desserts. We’re not big on dessert but every once in a while you just have to have them. So off I went to make my cakes. It is a good one that doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients – most I always have on hand and they are quite good even unfrosted if you so desire.

Chocolate Cupcakes – makes a dozen
3 ounces plain chocolate
7 ounces boiling water
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Chop chocolate and place in bowl. Add boiling water and stir until melted. Add cocoa powder and mix thoroughly. Cool to room temperature.

6 ounces butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg one at a time – beating well after each addition. Add in chocolate mixture and beat until well incorporated.

1 cup all-purpose flour (or cake flour if you have it - I don't so I use a low-protein flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix all together in a bowl and fold into chocolate mixture until well mixed and scoop into cupcake liners.

Bake in the over at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or around 180 Celsius) or about 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Leave to stand about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
So now for the frosting of these lovely chocolate cupcakes – what’s a girl to do? I have two recipes that I’ve wanted to try. One is a marshmallow-type frosting, and the other is a ‘flour’ frosting. I opted for the marshmallow one because I’ve had that the longest and as yet haven’t tried it. I’ll do the ‘flour’ one I got from my friend TOV next time.

Marshmallow frosting
2 large egg whites
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all of the ingredients and place on a double-boiler. Whip/stir for 6-7 minutes until it begins to thicken and has a fluffy top (the underneath bit will be syrup like – this is normal). Remove from the heat and continue to whip with a mixer on high speed until it is cool.
Frost your cupcakes just before you intend to eat them – this frosting isn’t for the kind you frost and leave. I altered the recipe to omit the water it asked for – it would have made it more watery I suspect. Also the frosting split the next day – I was able to re-whip it but I’ll have to frost the remainder with something else. Add sprinkles if you are feeling especially festive.
I must admit the frosting was OK but it is probably better as a filling inside a cake than a frosting for on top. It reminded me a lot of marshmallow fluff or the stuff inside a Twinkie. In either case it is sweet enough for the cupcake which isn’t too sweet. I rather like it that way. Enjoy!

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