Category Archives: Cupcakes and Muffins

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

… Well, where to start?

I think it would be best to start with a warning.  Those of you here for inspiration look away now!  The only thing you will find in this post is a cautionary tale of woe. 

I tried to make Raspberry Cheesecake Bars last night.  I enjoyed the last Cheesecake Bars so much I thought that things could only get better.  I had decided that a nice digestive biscuit crust as a base layer would be a fabulolus idea.  It wasn’t.  When I came to unmould them the crumbs stuck to the mould as the silicone had given a bit and the bottoms were bigger than the openings at the top.  I also hadn’t cooked them for long enough and the ones in the very centre of the tray were uncooked.  This was the sad result.

I have to say that some of them made it out of the mould alive and they taste fine, although, on reflection I don’t actually like the digestive bit of cheesecake all that much, but they too look pretty bad!

Another issue was that I had only decided to do the digestive bit as I started and I had made the full quantity of cheesecake mixture.  Since a lot of the space was taken up with digestive I had a lot of leftover mixture.  So I decided to have a go at Cheesecake Cupcakes.  But I ran out of raspberries so they became Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes.  They looked really good as they finished cooking so I turned off the oven and left them for several hours.  When I came back they had shrunk drastically!

The ones that came out best were the ones with the most mixture in them so I think that if I gave this a go in the future I would fill the cases right up to the top to compensate for the shrinkage issues. 

All in all this experiment was a bit of a disaster but that’s what happens sometimes.  And it still all tastes good.  Sometimes the only thing left to do is to scrape it into a bowl and kiss aesthetics goodbye!

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Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes

I fancied something quick and simple today.  I have a stash of recipes I can whip up in no time when in need of a sweet treat but I fancied trying something a little bit different today.  I’d seen recipes for brownie bites or cupcakes in several places and thought I’d give it a go.  I didn’t have a specific source in mind so the first recipe I found in my books would win.  Turned out to be the one from 1001 Cupcakes, Cookies & other tempting treats that I reached first and so I went ahead with that.  I made a few changes, different sugar and chocolate chips instead of walnuts, I have to say it made a lovely light brownie in a convenient cupcake sized portion.  Not quite as goopy as my usual brownie recipe but that’s a good thing as I was after ease of eating and convenience. 

Edit: These get a lot more solid once left overnight.  I suggest eating them straight away (such a hardship!) or giving them a quick nuke in the microwave.  They’re not bad or anything but your jaw does have to work a lot harder if you eat them the next day.   If I make these again I’ll probably only give them 25 mins in the oven as I think they were a little too dry.

Makes 12

225g plain chocolate
85g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
200g light muscovado sugar (looks like wet sand)*
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g plain flour
75g white chocolate chips

– First melt the butter and chocolate together in a small bowl or pan.  I place a pyrex bowl over a small pan of boiling water and do it that way.  When it’s smooth take off the heat and leave to cool a little. 
– Then heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– In a larger bowl beat together the eggs and sugar with a whisk.  The more you beat the eggs the better that crispy brownie  topping will be. 
– Add the vanilla extract to the sugar and eggs, continue to beat. 
– Add the flour and mix this in until combined. 
– Then pour in the chocolate and mix thoroughly. 
– Add the chocolate chips and stir through.
– Divide the mixture evenly between the cases, they should be about 2/3 full. 
– Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.  The tops will be cracked. 
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or, if like me you couldn’t resist the delicious smell wafting from the oven, eat while still warm and lovely! 

*The recipe said soft dark brown sugar… I think they might have been aiming for dark muscovado but I couldn’t find the tin of that so went with the light. 

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Primrose Bakery Cupcakes

I’m sorry for having such a long break between posts but this last week has been rather hectic, I’ve had appointments, blood tests, dinner with a friend and a trip to the cinema not to mention work!  (Please god, don’t mention work!)  One of the other things occupying me was this mammoth cupcake session.  Last week after the disappointment that was The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook I decided to risk buying The Primrose Bakery Cookbook when I came across it by chance.  I am so glad I did!

I tried it out last Sunday night and not only was the recipe I tried easy to do but it also created a delicious cupcake.  I was intregued by the fact that the recipe is very different to most I’ve seen, the traditional sponge ratios go out of the window!  I just tried the vanilla cupcake recipe to begin with but I often think it’s a very good judge of a cookbook to see how they deal with something simple.  If they mess that up then what hope for the more complicated stuff?  I also invested in some decent vanilla extract instead of the cheap stuff I normally buy.  I do think this made a huge difference.  I’ve read a bunch of articles about vanilla flavourings and I’m glad I’ve spent the extra here.  The vanilla really came out as a strong flavour, perhaps a little too strong for some tastes but I’ll know for next time that I don’t need to use as much as I would ordinarily. 

I wasn’t very happy with the decoration on these.  I’ve only managed to find one pink food colouring that doesn’t come out this delightful salmon shade and that’s Asda’s natural pink food colouring.  This one was a posh paste one and I have to say I am far from impressed.  Yes, you only need a tiny bit to colour your mixture but that means I now have a whole pot of the stuff to use in some way and may never finish it!  I did like the stars though, both kinds are from Morrisons, the white ones are white chocolate the coloured ones are sugar.  The white chocolate gave a delightful edge to the flavour of the cupcake, I’m thinking that a white chocolate buttercream may be in my future! 

 

Makes 12 (I doubled it with no problems)

110g unsalted butter, softened
225g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150g self raising flour
125g plain flour
120ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until well smooth. 
– Add the eggs one at a time, mixing into the mixture between additions. 
– Sift the flours into a separate, smaller, bowl. 
– Measure out the milk in a jug and then add the vanilla to this.
– Add 1/3 of the flour to the large bowl.  Beat well until combined. 
– Add 1/3 of the milk and beat again. 
– Add another 1/3 of the flour, then another 1/3 of the milk, then the last of the flour and then the last of the milk, beating well between additions. 
– Spoon the mixture into the paper cases.  Fill about 2/3 full. 
– Bake for about 25 mins until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean.
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool inthe tin for 5-10 minutes. 
– Then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack. 
– Decorate as you choose.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Mum bought the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook for us last week.  It’s got some great looking recipes in it.  I decided to give Red Velvet Cupcakes a go as I’d been seeing them everywhere and the idea appealed immensely.  I have to say that I liked the end result but I have a lot of reservations about the book.  True, I did produce a brilliant tasting cake and frosting (the frosting is so a keeper) but it was so bloody finniky!  The recipe wasn’t brilliantly written to actually cook from.  I ended up with things behaving oddly and more lumps that you could shake a stick at.  As a result I think I over beat the mixture and so when the cakes were cooling they shrank.  

Also all of the recipes are written to be made with a stand mixer… not everyone has one of those!  I do but it’s a pain in the arse to use, I prefer to do things by hand.  I had to resort to using the electric hand whisk to beat the mixture in an attempt to break up the lumps  as I was starting to get blisters from a wooden spoon/whisk approach.  I honestly can’t see that using a stand mixer would make that much of a difference to the behavious of the mix anyway, if it’s going to clump, it’s going to clump! 

So I’m not generally impressed by the recipe or, consequently, the book.  It did produce a good cake but lacks the predictability and uniformity one aims for in baking.  I doubled the recipe as I needed to provide for 2 offices and that should have given me 2 dozen.  I got a scant 18 and due to the shrinkage issue some of those were a ridiculous size. So all in all I’m not that impressed but I loved Red Velvet Cupcakes as an idea.  Using this recipe as a jumping off point I think I’m going to be having a lot of fun in the future trying to get the perfect one!

Makes 12 (according to the book)

60g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
10g cocoa powder
20ml red food colouring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120ml milk with 1 tbsp lemon juice added (or 120ml buttermilk)
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

– Heat the oven to gas mark 3 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– In a large bowl mix the butter and sugar together until well combined and the consistency of wet sand. 
– Gradually add the egg, mixing well between additions. 
– In a  separate small bowl mix together the cocoa, food colouring and vanilla extract to form a thick paste. 
– Add the paste to the other mixture.  (This is where it started to go wrong for me.)  Mix until evenly combined (Good Luck!)
– Gradually add half of the buttermilk while mixing.  Beat untill well mixed. 
– Add half the flour and beat until combined. 
– Add the rest of the buttermilk and beat until combined. 
– Add the rest of the flour and beat until combined. 
– Beat until everything is well combined and the mixture is smooth.  (Again, good luck, clumped again for me!)
– Add the salt, bicarbonateof soda and vinegar and quickly (it will fizz!)  mix it in for a few minutes until smooth.  
– Spoon into the cases so they are about 2/3 full. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes (the sponge will bounce back when touched and a skewer will come out clean). 
– Leave to cool slightly in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 
– When cold cover with Cream Cheese Frosting

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Cheese and Bacon Muffins

I’ve been making muffins for breakfasts since I started work.  I’ve been sticking to sweet, fruity ones for the most part (Chocolate and morello cherry being a high point! I must make more and post the recipe).  I was starting to tire of those though so I thought I’d attempt a savoury muffin.  Bacon was the obvious breakfast food to go for and what goes better with bacon than cheese?  They are lovely and get full marks from the whole family. 

Makes 6

100g bacon (5 rashers), chopped into small pieces and cooked. 
100g mature cheddar, grated plus a little extra for topping
140g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
125ml milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 egg

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and line 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper in a medium sized bowl. 
– In a jug mix together the milk and lemon juice. 
– If you haven’t already done so now is a good time to grate your cheese and cook your bacon. 
– Add the egg and oil to the jug and beat together. 
– Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and add the cheese and bacon. 
– Mix until just combined.  Do not overmix. 
– Divide the mixture between the paper cases. 
– Grate a little more cheese on top of the muffin mix.  (Make sure any stray bits of cheese are tidied up, nothing worse than baked on cheese!)
– Bake for 20 minutes. 
– Remove from the oven and leave to rest in the tin for about 5 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

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Earl Grey Tea Muffins

I thought I’d have a play about with a different muffin recipe today as opposed to just endless variations on my usual one.  I was feeling both cold and civilised so the idea of warm Earl Grey Muffins caught my eye while browsing through my folder of recipes I’ve saved.  I’m afraid I can’t say where I got this one as it predates any organisation and was simply pasted into Word. 

I’m a little confused about these.  On the one hand “fairly innocuous” was the best description we could come up with.  There’s nothing wrong with them at all, they just don’t really impress.  On the other hand we each ate about three of the things without even noticing.  So they’re at once moreish and unimpressive.  The texture is about the most interesting thing about them, they are so springy and spongy you can treat them fairly roughly and they just spring back.  Which makes me think that this would be a great recipe to base some breakfast muffins on as they’ll be able to handle a commute. 

I didn’t think that the tea flavour was at all noticable but I was drinking tea at the same time that’s to be expected.  I would also think about putting more sugar in next time as I like things quite sweet.  All in all I’ll definitely be experimenting with this recipe again.  If you’re after a subtly flavoured, light bite in the afternoon these really hit the spot. 

Makes 10 muffins (although I’m beginning to think my muffin tin is just really big, you may get 12)

230g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp light muscovado sugar (the one that looks like wet sand)
1 heaped tsp earl grey tea leaves, finely ground
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
3 tbsp sunflower oil
300ml milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice (or buttermilk if you have it)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and grease or line a 12 hole muffin tin. 
– In a medium sized bowl mix together the dry ingredients. 
– In a jug beat together the wet ingredients. 
– Pour the wet into the dry and mix.  You don’t want to mix it too thoroughly, some lumps make for fluffier muffins. 
– Pour the batter into the muffin holes. 
– Bake for 25-30 minutes. 
– Test with a skewer for doneness.  If the skewer is clean they’re done, if it isn’t then give them another few minutes. 
– Cool on a wire rack if eating cold, enjoy straight away if eating warm.  If serving warm though don’t leave them on a plate for too long as the bottoms will go soggy. 

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Black Forest Cupcakes

Guilty secret time.  I have been known to buy one of those 99p frozen supermarket Black Forest Gateaux and eat the entire thing in about 20 minutes.  I LOVE Black Forest Gateaux!  In times of stress I reach for one of those and a fork.  Today has been very stressful.  Suffice to say it involved calling 6 different helpline numbers who all told me I had to speak to a different number before eventually putting me through to the first number.  Joy.  I needed cake in a serious way. 

I’ve been thinking about making these for a while now.  Traditionally a Black Forest Gateaux would need to be made with whipped cream but we didn’t have space in the fridge to store them so I opted for buttercream instead.  If you were making these for a party though I would suggest topping them with whipped cream as the flavours all go together so well.  Also if making these for kids you don’t have to put the Kirsch in.  For those of you trying to be good in the run up to Christmas the I have it on good authority from my mother that they taste great topped with creme fraiche as a low-fat alternative and they look pretty good too!*

Makes 12

For the cakes:
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp Kirsch
200g self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder

For the toppings:
1 ~425g tin cherries
2 tbsp Kirsch
5 tbsp sugar
1 tsp arrowroot powder
80g unsalted butter, softened
180g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1-2 tbsp milk
chocolate sprinkles
12 natural coloured glace cherries

– Heat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases. 
– Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 
– Gradually add the eggs, beating well between additions.  Aim to do this in about 6 stages for best results. 
– Stir in the Kirsch. 
– Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and fold in. 
– Divide equally between the 12 cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes, testing with a skewer or tooth pick to see if they’re done. 
– Place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

– Meanwhile separate the cherries from the juice they came in and place the juice and 5 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Pour 1 tbsp of Kirsch over the cherries. 
– Gently heat the juice until the sugar has dissolved then boil rapidly for at least 5 minutes. 
– Remove from the heat.  In a small dish mix together the arrowroot powder and last tbsp of Kirsch.  Add this to the pan. 
– Return the pan to the heat, stirring constantly until the white colour has gone and bring to boiling point. 
– Remove the pan from the heat and keep stirring until the sauce has thickened.
– Add the cherries to the sauce and allow to cool a little. 

– Trim any domes from the cupcakes, leaving a flat surface. 
– In the centre of each cupcake use a paring knife to cut a circle and remove a core from the cake leaving a hole. 
– Add a spoonful of cherries and sauce to fill each hole.  My tin had enough for exactly 3 cherries per cake.  Allow to stand for a minute or two then add more of the sauce. 

– In a small bowl mix together the butter and 80g of icing sugar until smooth. 
– Add the rest of the icing sugar, the vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. 
– Mix together until totally smooth adding more milk if necessary. 

– Pipe the buttercream on top of the cupcake, sprinkle with chocolate and add a glace cherry. 

*Here is the low-fat(ish) version:

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Spooky Halloween Cupcakes

I am planning a big Halloween feast tomorrow night but to keep us going during the day I made these spooky halloween cupcakes.  The cupcakes were made to my usual cupcake recipe.  I made half chocolate and half vanilla by making up the whole batch plain, spooning out the 6 plain into their cases then stiring in a large spoonful of cocoa powder and mixing it well, then spooning the remaining mixture into the remaining 6 cases.  I made sure to well fill four of the cases that were to be the owls so they would form peaks. 

Spooky halloween cupcakes

You will need:
Giant Cadbury’s Buttons
Mini Cadbury’s Buttons
Malteasers
Chocolate Eyes (available nearly everywhere aroung Halloween)
Orange and Lemon Jelly Slices
Thick Glace Icing (Icing sugar and lemon juice mixed to a paste)
Buttercream Icing

– First trim the peaks off the cupcakes and retain 4 of the chocolate peaks. 
– Then ice the cupcakes with buttercream using a large nozzle or spread carefully using a flat bladed knife. 
– Melt a handful of the Giant Buttons in a small ziplock freezer bag (1 minute in the microwave) then snip a small corner off. 
– Put your glace icing in another freezer bag or a cone of baking paper with the corner snipped off. 

For the Owls:
– Take the 4 retained peaks and slice them in half. 
– Place the two halves in a V on the cupcake. 
– Place a malteaser on either side for the eyes.
– Squeeze a good blob of glace icing on to each malteaser and place a mini button on top. 
– Place an orange or lemon slice at the tip of the V for the beak. 

For the Eyes:
– Place an eye at the centre of the cupcake. 
– Take the bag of chocolate and ice eyelashes on the cupcake. 

For the Sipders:
– Place a Giant Button at the centre of the cupcake. 
– Ice legs on with the chocolate. 
– Ice on the eyes with two blobs of glace icing and a dot of chocolate for the pupil.
– For smiley spiders finish by icing on a smile with chocolate.

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Chocolate Surprise Muffins

My mum used to make these for me to take to uni and they were very, very popular!  One of my friends once stole my phone so he could phone my mum and tell her how good they were!  The surprise is the lovely gooey Nutella inside each one.  I once, ill-advisedly, bought a 1.5 litre jar of nutella.  I love Nutella but even I have been struggling to see how I’m ever going to finish this jar!  It has got to the point now where it’s only good for cooking as it tastes a little off if you just spread it on bread.  Happily these muffins are a great way to cook with Nutella. 

Chocolate Surprise Muffins

Makes 6

50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
40g butter, melted and cooled (or 2 tbsp sunflower oil)
150g self raising flour
15g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
180g chocolate chips (I use Dairy Milk Chunks)
6 heaped teaspoons of Nutella

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and vanilla essence then add the butter, or oil, and beat again. 
– Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the chocolate chips and stir in. 
– Half fill the paper cases with mixture then place a heaped teaspoon of Nutella in the centre.  Spoon the rest of the mixture on top. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely or serve warm.

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Christmas Muffins

It may seem a little early to be starting on Christmas baking but there is a very good reason for this.  My nextdoor neighbour and I were talking and she mentionned that she needed a baking project for her class to do for the Christmas fair to raise funds but that there were a number of criteria that needed to be met, no boring fairy cakes, for example!  I thought I’d seen a recipe somewhere about that would work but it proved to be a figment of my imagination.  So I decided to invent something that would, hopefully, work.  These are the delightful result!

They have all the tastes of Christmas but not in an overwhelming way.  I have to confess I don’t usually like Christmassy flavoured things, I eat Christmas pudding after Christmas dinner because it’s traditional not because I like it.  However, I really liked these muffins.  They had all of the flavours but lacked the heavy, stodgy feeling I usually associate with Christmas foods.  All in all a great experiment and come Christmas I shall certainly be making these again. 

Christmas Muffins

Makes 6

150g mixed dried fruits
zest and juice of 1 orange
50g dark muscoavdo sugar
125ml milk
1 egg
2 tbsp sunflower oil
150g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
Holly berry and leaf decorations (I made leaves out of white icing and green colouring and berries out of glace cherry bits)

– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and prepare 6 holes of a muffin tin. 
– Combine the fruit and orange zest and juice in a microwavable dish and microwave for 2 minutes.  Alternately leave them to soak for an hour. 
– Beat together the sugar, milk, egg and oil.   
– Sift the flour, baking podwer, nutmeg, mixed spice and salt into the mixture.
– Fold in gently. 
– Add the mixed fruits and stir in. 
– Divide the mixture evenly between the six cases. 
– Bake for 20-25 minutes. (Mine took 25)
– Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little in the tin then place on a wire rack to cool completely. 
– Mix together the icing sugar and the lemon juice until smooth. 
– Once the muffins have cooled spoon a little of the icing over each muffin. 
– Add the holly decorations and leave to set.

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