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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Sparkly heart cupcake toppers

Here is a quick and easy way to add a little sparkle to your cakes or cupcakes…and who doesn’t like sparkle?!

I made these white chocolate heart cake toppers to go on some white chocolate brownies (a.k.a. ‘blondies’) I need to make for another project (more on that later). The blondies were a disaster but the toppers were a success and the method could be used with milk and dark chocolate and with different shapes. Perhaps festive shapes for Christmas or letters if you wanted to make, say, a ‘Happy Birthday’.

You will need:

Cling film

500gm white chocolate buttons or pieces (500gm will make around 20 heart shapes)

100gm 2mm silver cashous or similar (I get mine from The Raspberry Butterfly)

Small heart biscuit cutter (or any shape you like)

Marble slab, large smooth chopping board or bench top

Pallet knife or rubber spatula (cake scraper)

Lay the cling film over your chosen surface as perfectly as you can. If you have wrinkles or folds, the melted chocolate will seep in and your shapes may get stuck.

Melt your chocolate.

I have the best results melting chocolate in the microwave and the trick is not to let any water get in so don’t cover the bowl with cling film or the condensation will fall back into the chocolate and it will split and go grainy. Put your chocolate pieces in a clean, dry microwave safe ceramic bowl and into the microwave for 1 minute. Remove with over mitt and stir until all the chocolate is melted, smooth and there are no lumps. When you take it out there will still be unmelted chocolate but I find the bowl heats up enough that the chocolate will continue to melt while I stir. If it needs more microwave time, pop it back in for 30 seconds at a time and keep stirring.

Using a spatula or palette knife, smooth the melted chocolate over your plastic covered surface about 3-4mm thick. Work quickly and try to get the chocolate as smooth and even as possible but don’t overwork it as it will start to cool immediately and you need to get the cashous on before it hardens up! Note that if you are using marble like I did, it will harden even more quickly as the marble will be cold (or is it just my cold house?).

Sprinkle the cashous over the entire chocolate surface and then straight away start cutting out your shapes, starting from the outside and working your way in to try to get as many shapes as possible. Then eat all the leftover edges – yum!

If you don’t have biscuit cutters you could cut the chocolate into small squares or diamonds.

I tried taking photos but I was working  too quickly and they were terrible so unfortunately there are no step-by-step pictures but I did include one of the chocolate covered with cashous.

I think they look pretty sweet on my DIY cupcake stand too!

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A punch in the heart

I am a bit obsessed.

I’ve been making a few cards lately, mostly with fabric birds and I really like making and giving them. I think they’re nice to receive too. My Dad has kept every card I’ve ever made him. I know it’s true because he tells me every time I give him a non handmade card. I used to make them a lot when I was a kid. Then I totally became too cool to make cards. Like, OMG, hello? Unfortunately for me that was a fleeting thing. It turns out I’m not cool after all and so I am free to craft some cutesy cards and able make Dad happy again. Honestly it did take him a few years to get over it and stop asking why the cards were no longer homemade.

Dave and I are celebrating our 1 year since-we-first-met anniversary on the 25th (yay for us) and so I wanted to make him a special card to celebrate. Especially seeing as I gave him some monstrosity for Christmas complete with a diamante and the phrase To the one I love. He searched for 3 days to find me a Christmas card with a laser cut deer that pops up when you open it. He knows I am also a bit obsessed with deers at the moment. The faux taxidermy deer head I put above the fireplace might have given it away.  So after his card which I absolutely loved and my monstrosity that probably made him question why he had spent almost a year with someone who has such appalling taste, I feel I owe him at least a homemade effort.

Back to my obsession. It is with my new heart-shaped hole punch. I can’t stop punching things and I am going to use the hearts to decorate cards. I punched some red paper, a vintage book and the back page of a very pretty calendar I got from Typo. I got a few calendars actually. I got some for Christmas presents and then just after Christmas I went back and they were $1! So I got 4 because I figured I could use the pretty pictures for something. And because when something is reduced by 75% or more it is almost impossible for me not to buy it. This is why I have a convection oven sitting in my cupboard that I’ve never used and a pair of one size-too-big knee-high boots that are waiting to break my ankle next winter.

I do think the calendars were a good investment though because the hearts came out very well. And I had a go at a sample card with some vintage book pages and red paper and I am dying to get stuck into more. Then Dave might forgive me.

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