Who needs a slice when you have a cupcake!

I’ve been baking for years and cupcakes were some of my first experimental bakes. They haven’t always turned out how I would have liked and many have ended up at the bottom of the bin but as I progressed so did my cupcakes and now I have a few original recipes that I love! My classic vanilla is super lovely but my chocolate left a little to be desired so I have stepped up the recipe for a more indulgent rich cupcake. Sadly this does no favours for the waste line and yes girls I have the muffin tops to prove it, I say a little of what you fancy just not the whole batch of cupcakes!

Before beginning my nurses training I baked a little to earn some extra money and I loved it… I haven’t given up on my dream of baking my own creations to share but the realities of life lead me down a new path so nursing became my direction for the past few years but now I’m ready to tie that apron on and get baking again. As I branch out into new baking realms I shall share what I create with you.

So a little about my week…

I’ve been preparing for a presentation the past few weeks that has brought much stress and head against the wall moments but yesterday I presented it along with a some of my friends (colleagues) and I can tell you the relief knowing one part of my work is over and presented, leaving just one presentation to go and a gazillion other assignments to complete! I’m being dramatic, we have five months left but I feel it could be the most intense yet. It is in those overwhelming moments that I find baking helps. For an hour or so I can just breathe and concentrate on creating something that is away from all the stresses of study and of course indulge in a treat or two!

I’ve had a wonderful meeting with Toby’s nursery this morning where they tell me he is doing well and much improved from the previous year where his speech was a little delayed and his listening skills poor, for my little man it did not come as easy. James and I spent many moments pulling our hair out but now I feel we have turned a corner. In those moments I found baking and cooking with Toby helped with his communication and listening skills, he adores helping ‘mumma’ and all to often helping himself to more than one goodie off the cooling wrack. This morning made all those feelings like I’m the worst parent ever simply disappear as I heard, ‘you have a lovely, caring, funny little Toby!!’ Proud Mumma moment!

To finish my week my lovely sisters and I are hosting one of our Twinkling Stars events, raising money for our project at our local hospital where we have raised funds for a Stillbirth Bereavement Suite. We started fundraising after my sister, Charlotte lost my nephew, Blake to stillbirth back in September 2014. There are no words to explain the devastation felt throughout our family but through the heart ache we founded The Twinkling Stars Project. The first event we held was a charity screening of the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ film back in 2015 and we are now concluding our journey with Twinkling Stars hosting the final film in the trilogy for a fun ladies night out. We have 213 ladies joining us for many surprises and fundraising most of whom have supported our cause over the three years and for that we are forever grateful! The bereavement suite is almost complete and the girls and I could not be prouder of one another and the support from our friends, family and local community. The biggest part of this journey has been the awareness that it has brought to stillbirth in our local community. I can only hope that in the darkest moments of a families life the comfort of the new suite will allow them the time to spend with their beautiful Twinkling Star!

I share this recipe with you in the hope that if you try it, you will find a needed moment!

My Chocolate Cupcake

Makes 24

24 Muffin cases

3 free range Eggs

1 Cup Caster Sugar

1/3 Cup of Soft Brown Sugar

1 ¾ Cups of Plain Flour

1 Tablespoon Baking Powder

1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee powder

1 Cup Cocoa (I use Green and Blacks)

Pinch of Salt

1 Cup Sour Cream

½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract

200g Melted butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. 160 degrees C for fan assisted.

Place muffin cases in muffin pans. Split egg yolks from egg whites. Place egg whites into electric mixer bowl with both caster and brown sugar. Set on high speed and whisk until forms stiff peaks. Put egg yolks into a measuring jug adding sour cream, milk and vanilla extract mix until all combined and set aside. Sift Flour, baking powder, coffee powder, cocoa and salt into a large bowl. Turn mixer onto lowest speed adding a third of the flour mixture then the wet ingredients, then more flour mixture and so on until gone then add cooled melted butter. Mix on low speed until all combined. You may need to fold mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula ensuring all is well combined. Now use a 1/3 cup measure to scoop mixture out into muffin cases until all filled. Place in oven for 25 minutes.

Once baked take out of oven and rest in muffin trays for 10 minutes. Using a pastry brush glaze the top of cupcakes using vanilla syrup making sure all cupcake top is covered, careful not to soak as you will have soggy cupcakes. Place cupcakes on cooling wracks. Once totally cooled you can frost the cupcakes. I use a piping bag and 2D piping nozzle this creates the rose effect on the top of the cupcake. This took me many attempts to perfect so trial it on a plate before piping cakes. You can always put the piped icing from the plate back into the bowl and reuse. If finding a little tricky you can use a small spatula or spoon to swirl the frosting onto top of cupcake. Depending on the flavour of the cupcake I choose a topping to show what the flavour is before someone eats it. I decided on a chocolate Lindt ball for this style and I always love some edible glitter for fun. Be creative and find your own style!

Vanilla Syrup for glazing cupcakes

½ Cup of Water

2 tablespoons of caster sugar

1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract

Place small saucepan on hob over a medium to high heat enough for mixture to simmer. Put water, sugar and vanilla extract in saucepan and reduce down by half until a thin syrup texture has formed. Set aside until cupcakes are ready.

Chocolate Frosting

250g Unsalted Butter at room temperature

500g Icing Sugar

1/3 Cup of double cream

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

100g of Good Quality 70% Cocoa Chocolate (I use Lindt or Green & Blacks) Melt and cool before adding to frosting. I melt in microwave using 30 second bursts mixing well after each 30 seconds. Total time 60 seconds.

Take a large heavy bowl. Place Butter and icing sugar in bowl and cream together until smooth and fluffy add cream and vanilla extract mixing well until combined. Now add melted chocolate again mixing until combined. Set aside until ready to ice cupcakes.

Enjoy!

Much Love

George xx

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