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Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

October 2, 2009 1 comment

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake

I’m not sure if this says more about my shopping than my cooking habits, but I seem to be forever coming up with ways to use up leftover mascarpone. Of course, depending on how you look at it, this isn’t a bad thing since these new inventions are usually sweet treats.

Overwhelmed with new cupcake recipes and techniques this month, from my recent book purchase, and a feature in this month’s Sainsbury’s Magazine, I drew inspiration from these and elsewhere, but ended up going my own way. In this case, these are plain vanilla cupcakes with a light and creamy strawberry-cheesecake-esque topping. Sometimes, I do think that vanilla cupcakes are the way to go, if you’re adding a good frosting, since, if nice and moist, they offer a comfortingly bland yet satisfying backdrop to a delicious topping. Although, having said that, on any given day I’m equally likely to make flavoured cupcakes that complement their frosting – one of the best things about these pretty little treats is they’re so adaptable, to what you have in the house, to a special event, and not least to your current mood.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes

This is a fairly standard cupcake mixture, which made enough for 9 muffin cases, my preference for cupcakes, but would equally, with the cooking time adjusted, make 12 smaller but perfectly formed cakes in standard cases. The frosting is, of course, adaptable – cupcakes seem to be the thing right now, and I reckon more recipes I see seem to call for a cream cheese frosting, so mascarpone wasn’t much of a stretch, since I had it anyway, and although I think this adds more of a cheesecake-yness, if you will, you could use Philadelphia-type soft cream cheese, full fat please, if you so wish.

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake 2

Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (makes 9)

  • 100g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 100g self raising flour

For the Strawberry Cheesecake Frosting

  • 125g mascarpone (at room temperature)
  • 50g butter (at room temperature)
  • 225g icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • a little pink food colouring (optional)
  • 2 digestive biscuits (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line 9 holes of a muffin tray with muffin cases (or 12 holes with smaller fairy cake cases).

Put the butter and sugar into a bowl, and cream together until pale and fluffy, with an electric handwhisk or mixer.

Continuing to beat, add an egg, until incorporated, then a spoonful of the flour, incorporate, then the final egg, and incorporate that too. (Adding the eggs one at a time, with a spoonful of flour between, reduces the chance of the batter curdling.) Finally, add the vanilla and milk and beat some more.

Add the flour, and mix in well, but briefly, either with your mixer on a low speed or by hand, since overworking the batter once the flour is added may affect the rising of your cakes.

Divide the mixture between the waiting cases, ensuring they are not more than two thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking at 20, until the sponge is lightly golden, springs back if you gently touch it, and/or an inserted skewer or similar emerges clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes are cooling, or even while they’re baking, make your frosting. Put the mascarpone, butter and icing sugar into a bowl, and beat together, slowly at first, and even if completing the job power-assisted, I would start of with a spoon to avoid the dust-cloud of icing sugar you may otherwise get. Once combined, turn up the mixer and continue beating until quite light and fluffy.

Force the jam through a sieve with the back of a spoon, and then scrape the now bit-free jam from the reverse of the sieve. Add this to the frosting, beat it through, and then taste, and add a little more jam if you think you need it. If you wish to add a little pink food colouring, do so now, and again beat, until you have an even colour. If your frosting seems too runny, add a little extra icing sugar, and then chill in the fridge until your cupcakes are completely cold and ready to be iced – this will also help the frosting firm up a little after all of the beating.

When you’re ready, top the cupcakes with the frosting. Bash, whizz or otherwise pulverise the digestive biscuits into crumbs, and scatter over to decorate. These will keep in a sealed container, in the fridge if its warm, for a couple of days, although do please bring them back to room temperature to eat. 

Lime Cupcakes

September 25, 2009 1 comment

Lime Cupcake

I recently treated myself to the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, sold mostly on the pictures of the amazing cakes within. When I googled it, I was intrigued by the mixed reviews of this book all over the internet, some people rave about it, others complain they cannot get the recipes to work.

Admittedly, the cupcake recipes are unusual for the seasoned baker – no creaming of butter and sugar, and ingredients in different amounts (as opposed to the usual equal parts flour, sugar, eggs and butter). However, the book promises, if you follow the instructions, you’ll end up with the desired result.

With baking, it’s best to follow instructions anyway, as it’s a little more science-y than other cooking, and I usually follow instructions at least the first time, before I start playing with flavours and the like. Here, the only change I made was to substitute lemon for lime, as I had some limes that needed using, and I do love the flavour of lime.

The recipe said I would get 12 cupcakes from the mixture, although I only got nine, and even then was worried these wouldn’t fill their cases on baking since the mixture looked a little scant – the cases should be two-thirds full. However, I did get flat-topped cupcakes, something I wouldn’t have achieved if I’d tried, so they would have been good for runny, glace icing. And the shortfall was lucky really, as I suspect the frosting recipe wouldn’t have stretched to 12 either.

Lime Cupcakes Uniced

It’s also worth pointing out, for us in the UK, you need the larger paper cases for these, the ones sold as ‘muffin cases’. Well, who could complain about bigger cupcakes anyway? The end result was good – nice moist sponge, sharp yet sweet lime frosting (which I would definitely adapt and use elsewhere!) – so overall, I’m pleased and can’t wait to make more from the book.

Recipe based on The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’s Lemon Cupcakes

Lime Cupcakes (makes 9)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg

For the lime frosting:

  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lime zest
  • a couple of drops of food colouring (optional – I used a touch of yellow)
  • 25ml whole milk

Preheat the oven to 170°C, and, as ever, ensure your baking ingredients are at room temperature. Especially the butter. Place 9 muffin cases into a cupcake/muffin tray.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, lime zest and butter in a mixing bowl, and beat, on a fairly slow speed, with a handheld electric whisk (or, if you’re lucky enough to have one, a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle or beater attachment) until everything is combined, and you have a kind of sandy consistency.

Still beating, gradually add the milk. When incorporated, add the egg. Continue to mix for a minute or two more, until everything is smooth, but don’t overwork it. While you’re mixing, you may need to push in any unmixed ingredients from the side of the bowl with a silicone spatula.

Spoon the batter into the cases until they’re two thirds full at most. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touch. A cake tester or skewer poked in the middle should come out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tin for five minutes before placing onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar, butter, lime zest, and colouring if using, again using either an electric whisk or a handheld mixer, on a slow to medium speed, until well mixed and coming together. With the mixer on a slow speed, add the milk slowly, and when everything is incorporated, turn the mixer up to a high speed. Carry on beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, for at least five minutes, but, apparantly, the longer you go, the lighter and fluffier the frosting gets.

When the cupcakes are completely cold, spoon the frosting on top. Allow the frosting to set a little before serving.

Ginger Fudge Cupcakes with Fudge Icing

August 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Fudgy Cupcakes

I love cupcakes! Well, actually I love all cakes, but cupcakes are so easy, and it’s really simple to make them look fantastic by decorating them in different ways. The combination of brown sugar and vanilla in these little beauties evoke the flavour of fudge, with a kick of ginger in the background, while the icing really does taste like the cakes have been spread with fudge. I piped on the icing (photo to follow) using a star nozzle to make these look pretty, although you could just spread it on with a knife and swirl it around a bit for a different look. But don’t be afraid of piping – it isn’t something I’ve done a lot, but if I can manage it with my lack of both patience and dexterity, it shouldn’t be a problem for you.

As with all baking, ensure the ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.

Ginger Fudge Cupcakes with Fudge Icing (Makes 12)

  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 30g golden syrup (or about a tablespoon)
  • 100g self raising flour, sifted
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the icing:

  • 50g butter
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 60ml double cream (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • Small pieces of fudge to decorate (optional) (or perhaps even small pieces of crystalllised stem ginger)

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a 12 hole bun tin with paper cases.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. The easiest way to do this is with an electric whisk, although you can use a wooden spoon and elbow grease.

Beat in the ginger, golden syrup and vanilla until  combined, then add the beaten eggs and a spoonful of flour, and beat again until well mixed.

Gently fold in the flour, lightly mixing until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the paper cases. Don’t worry, the mixture will go far enough! To ensure even cakes, I added two teaspoons (and in this one instance I mean a spoon you stir your coffee with, rather than a precise measuring instrument!) to each case, and then started again adding a third. Gently shake the tray to level the mix, and then if any cases look a little emptier than others, top up with any remaining mix. 

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes (you may need an extra minute or two, my oven seems quite ferocious) until well risen and brown – remember these contain brown sugar, so will naturally look quite ‘well done’ compared to normal vanilla cupcakes. Cool on a wire rack.

You need to make the icing when the cakes are cooled, and right before you’re ready to ice the cakes – once it is made, it will set fairly quickly, and if you make it in advance you’ll end up with a solid lump of frosting stuck in your pan! (Please don’t be put off – it’s really worth it!)

Melt the butter and brown sugar in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, add the cream and milk, and simmer for five minutes. Keep watching the pan, and gently stirring, so the sugar doesn’t get too hot and burn – you really want a gently simmer, barely bubbling. It will look quite dark at this stage, but don’t worry, the icing sugar will lighten and give it a more fudge-like colour. Stir in the vanilla extract

Remove from the heat, and beat in the icing sugar. You’ll need to beat it quite well, until it’s smooth, to get out any lumps. You’ll have a much easier time if you sifted the icing sugar first. You want quite a stiff mixture, but if it gets too stiff, add a tablespoon of boiling water and beat it some more.

Spread (or pipe!) the icing over the cakes, pushing in the fudge chunks (if using) as you go, and allow to set a little before tucking in. These’ll keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days, particularly if your icing completely seals in the sponge.

Fudge Cupcake