Scouting for Cupcakes

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she has to make cupcakes. Proper, spongy, swirly-frosted cupcakes. For me, that time was last weekend for a dinner with a kidlet in attendance. See I’ve made cupcakes before but only as mini versions of other cakes, like little carrot cakes with a lousy smear of cream cheese frosting or individual lumberjack cakes which are delicious but not proper. I’ve even (gasp) made cupcakes from a packet mix 30 minutes before I am meant to be at a party bearing cupcakes. But nothing compares to the satisfaction of making your own and then licking the spoon. And the bowl. And the piping bag. Huh? What? I didn’t do that, swear!

After a little internet research I couldn’t go past this recipe for Scout’s Cupcakes. They were so famous over at Taste you’d think they’d have their own Twitter account. These cupcakes are delicious, really easy and best of all, there is no creaming of butter and sugar as the fat content comes from thickened cream. So, a big shout out to Scout!

Scout’s Cupcakes

Into a 1 cup metric measuring cup place 2 eggs and fill to the top with thickened cream
Place in a bowl and beat for 1 minute using electric beater
Add 1 splash vanilla essence, 3/4 cup caster sugar and beat for 3 minutes
Sift in 1 cup self raising flour and fold into mixture
Place in 12 patty pans
Bake in a moderate oven (I didn’t use the fan) until light golden and cakes spring back when lightly touched in the centre (about 12-15 minutes)

I also used this dark chocolate frosting recipe from Beantown Baker (fabulous!) and topped them with sparkly heart cupcake toppers (recipe here)

A little tip: when making butter frosting always get your milk (or liquid) down to room temperature before adding it to the butter. If not the butter will seize up when it comes into contact with the cold milk and the consistency wont be as smooth.

 

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Date and pecan muesli… are you cereal?

Making your own home-made muesli is ridiculously easy and what’s great about it is you can customise it to include all your favourite fruit and nuts, lots of healthy stuff and leave out all of the bits you don’t like.

There are a few basic types of muesli – toasted, untoasted and bircher and I am a firm fan of the toasted variety. I know people look at it in terms of calories in the added sweeteners and oil but when you make it yourself you can control all of that and it’s still better for you than pre-packaged sugary cereals. Plus, rolled oats are really, really economical. For about $1.50 you can get 750 gm of oats – that’s a lot of muesli!

I was making this muesli as part of a birthday present so, rather than adding lots of healthy seeds like I normally would I decided to keep it sweet and decadent as a bit of a treat. I originally wanted to make maple-pecan muesli but my local supermarket didn’t have maple syrup! Still, this honey version is delicious.

Ingredients

7 cups of rolled oats

3/4 cup honey

4 tbsp sunflower (or other vegetable) oil

2 cups of whole pecans

2 cups whole dates

1 1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried currants

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160ºC

On a large tray lined with baking paper, toast the pecans for 5 minutes but don’t let them brown

While the nuts are toasting, put the oats in a large bowl and set aside. Measure the honey and oil into a microwave safe glass jug and heat for 30 seconds until the honey is runny. (or in a saucepan on the stove). Whisk lightly and pour over oats and stir until the oats are evenly coated

Take the pecans off the tray and set aside to cool. Spread the oats on the tray as evenly as possible and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden and the edges of the tray are starting to brown. Stir the oats every 5 minutes during the cooking time. Once done, leave to cool

While the oats are cooking chop the pecans (roughly in quarters is a good size). Do the same with the dates. Your cooled oats may be stuck together so use a spoon or your hands to break them up. Put them back in a large bowl and add the pecans, dates, currants and coconut and mix well.

And that’s it – it’s so super easy to have delicious muesli every day for a lot less than some of the fancy-schmancy muesli on offer at the supermarket or food halls of department stores and it makes a great gift that you can personalise to the taste of the lucky recipient.

You could try lots of different combinations like dried apple & cinnamon, macadamia & cranberry, apricot & almond, tropical fruit & coconut and walnut & raisin – yummo!

A melting moment in time

I have so many crafty things on the go this week that I haven’t been having much of a relaxing holiday as planned. But, that’s just how I like it! One thing that has been keeping me busy is my new Empire Red Artisan Kitchenaid courtesy of my (former) work peeps (thank you peeps!). They gave me the Kitchenaid as a leaving present and I have dubbed him ‘Sir Mix-a-Lot’ and baby, has he got back! And front! He is gorgeous and makes things so easy. So, here’s a recipe I wanted to try for a long time but thought it would be too fidley until Sir Mix-a-Lot came along.

Lemony Melting Moments (recipe adapted from Best Recipes)

Ingredients

250 g unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tbsp cornflour, sifted

2 tbsp custard powder, sifted

4 tbsp icing sugar (confectioners sugar), sifted

1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted

Icing

1 1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioners sugar), sifted

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbsp (28.5 g) butter at room temperature

Method

Pre-heat oven to 160c

In a high sided bowl cream the butter and icing sugar and gradually beat in the flour, custard powder and corn flour and mix until a dough is formed

Roll into even sized balls, just smaller than a walnut and place in rows on a tray lined with baking paper. The biscuits will not spread a lot so space them 2-3cm apart. If the dough is too sticky, pop it in the fridge for a few minutes or roll with cold, damp hands.

Use a flat surface, like the bottom of a glass, to gently press down the ball a little. You can also use the back of a fork to make fork marks if you like.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through – you don’t want them to brown though.

For the icing, just beat everything together and when the biscuits are cool sandwich two biscuits together with icing. The biscuits will be very delicate – if they break when you ice them, put them in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up.

If you prefer a vanilla icing on the biscuit, replace the lemon juice with vanilla essence and leave out the zest.

These delicious biscuits should melt in your mouth and won’t last long around boyfriends. Or me.

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