A Kiwi Christmas Special!

Now, this post doesn't actually have any recipes and I didn't actually make anything for once! But I really wanted to try out my new camera, (Nikon Coolpix, I'm so excited to finally have a proper camera! It even has a food setting!) so I thought I would share our Christmas table with you all. I was very sick just before Christmas unfortunately, and still a bit off on the day (not enough to stop me from eating all the wonderful food!) so I wasn't allowed to help with food preparation, understandably... I thought it could be interesting for those not in New Zealand what food we eat for a summer Christmas! So it was still amazing and I hope your Christmas was as wonderful as mine!

One of the green salads - from my uncle
A bean salad from mum

Dad carving the Christmas ham!
Some sausages from the Blackforest Butcher in Tauranga
Scalloped potatoes made by mum
Pavlova bought but decorated by my aunty
Trifle made by mum - the best ever!
Christmas mince pies and jam tarts made by my aunty
Lolly ice cream!! We make it every year, vanilla ice cream and you mix it in a bowl with
crushed oreos and cut up lollies and marshmallows and chocolate and then refreeze it.
I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Preparation for Christmas - Pt 2

So, this was the second thing that Jess helped quite a bit with actually. Made for the Christmas morning tea thing at Compass. I actually really wanted to make a gingerbread house for Christmas, but unfortunately I just didn't have enough time to do that this year! I thought the next best thing would be to make some gingerbread men. They were a little bit soft because I left them sitting on the bench all night by accident... Don't do that... But they still tasted amazing and had a bit of colour which was cool! I didn't bother making a royal icing because I didn't think they needed it, but you could if you wanted more control over the decoration and if you wanted to more than just a face and buttons. I have a recipe here. This recipe was from Exclusively Food.

Gingerbread Men (Makes about 16-18)

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1t baking soda
2t mixed spice
3t ground ginger
140g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg yolk

Hot water
Icing sugar

Sift flour, baking soda, mixed spice and ginger together in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer or electric hand-held beaters, beat butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Stop the machine occasionally and use a spatula to scrape down the side and base of the bowl. Beat until the butter and sugar are well combined and the mixture is creamy. Add golden syrup/treacle and egg yolk to the butter mixture. Beat for about 30 seconds, until the ingredients are well combined. Using a spoon or the electric mixer/beaters on very low speed, incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Using your hands, bring the dough together into a ball. Divide the dough in half. Place one piece of dough between two large sheets of baking paper and roll out until 4-5mm thick. Leave dough between sheets of baking paper and place on a large flat tray or chopping board and put in the freezer for at least 15 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough will be very hard to work with if it is not thoroughly chilled. Repeat the rolling and chilling process with the second piece of dough. (It's not absolutely necessary to do this step, you can just start working the dough like I did, but it is very difficult because it's very soft. Still works though!) Once dough is cold and firm, remove from refrigerator or freezer, transfer to kitchen bench or leave on chopping board, and remove top sheet of baking paper. Working quickly, use a gingerbread man cutter to cut shapes from the dough. Transfer dough shapes to the lined baking tray, placing them about 2cm apart. As soon as the tray is filled, place it in the preheated oven. We recommend baking the biscuits one tray at a time. If you wish to bake more than one tray at a time, you will probably need to extend the baking time and may need to swap the positions of the trays halfway through for more even baking. Bake biscuits for about 10 minutes. The longer the baking time, the crisper/harder the gingerbread will be. The biscuits will firm up as they cool. While biscuits are baking, form the dough offcuts into a disc and repeat the rolling and chilling process. Cool cooked biscuits on tray for five minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. When completely cool, frost as desired. You can add M&M's or Smarties as buttons like we did as well!

Decorative Frosting:
All you have to do is mix as much icing sugar and hot (boiling) water together until you A) have enough to decorate all the cookies and B) the frosting is thick enough that it won't just slide off the cookies. Also you don't want it too thick so that it's not smooth. Just have a play!

This is Drew's gingerbread man. You can see that I have very mature flatmates!

Preparation for Christmas - Pt 1

At Compass we had a secret santa Christmas morning tea thing, so we were all given a name to buy a present for and also asked to bring something to share for the morning tea. So Jess and I decided we should make two things to bring. Well, I should make them and she should help! So the first thing that we made were cupcakes which I altered quite a lot from the recipe and they turned out very well! They're lovely and summery and they were a hit! All gone in about 20 minutes, although the colour of the actual cupcakes was a bit dull, maybe some red food colouring wouldn't go amiss! The original recipe was from Love and Olive Oil, but I think especially my icing recipe worked a lot better because it didn't separate at all. :)

PS: Yay I finally make them again (in miniature) so I have photos! But strawberries are now out of season and I couldn't find any frozen ones, so I substituted raspberries. It was a good choice!

PPS: This photo was published on FoodGawker and Taste Spotting! :D

Strawberry/Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes (Makes 12)

1 1/4 cups plain flour
1t baking powder
1/4t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 cup milk (any kind)
2t vanilla essence
1t lemon zest
1t lemon juice
Red food colouring (optional)

5-8 strawberries, depending on size

200g butter
2 cups icing sugar
2T lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1t vanilla essence

Chop the strawberries into small pieces into a large metal bowl and then mash them until they are pulpy. I actually did this because I didn't have a food processor at the flat and just thought I would try it out and it worked really well! So when they are pulpy, put them in a sieve and push out all of the juice possible. Then tip the pulpy bits into another bowl.

Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together the strawberry juice, oil, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Add red food colouring here if desired, to make the cupcakes pinker. Mix until relatively smooth. Full the cupcake liners until about 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden (or pink)  and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. When cool, use a piping bag to frost as desired.

Strawberry Lemonade Frosting:
Either leave the butter in a warm place to soften to room temperature, or soften in the microwave. Then beat with a stand mixer until whipped and airy. Add the icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice, vanilla and stawberries and mix until well combined. Then taste and be amazed!


Oscar's Faux Birthday and Friends From Austria

Quite a lot has been happening this week really! Part of the reason why I baked 3 things in two days was because Oscar had his "faux 21st" on Saturday. He was one of the selection co-ordinators for AFS but he's going overseas for a year and doing two university exchanges! Very exciting for him, but seeing as he was going to be away for his real 21st, he had an early one that was also a leaving party. And because he loves my baking so much, I thought I'd bake his a few last treats before he left. :) Also, the reason why I wanted to make lolly cake was because two of my friends, Julia and Stephan, are here from Austria for 2 weeks! It's so exciting, I haven't seen them in nearly 2 years and it's been weird and awesome having them in New Zealand. We've been speaking lots of German, which has been cool, but I've also been showing them New Zealand things, like lolly cake! Next week we're going on a little tour around the North Island and seeing different cities and also different beaches! Yay! So this recipe was really easy, and you can either use digestive (wheat) biscuits or malt biscuits, it works with both.

Lolly Cake

120g butter
250g malt or wheat biscuits
200g sweetened condensed milk
1 pkt (190g) eskimo lollies or fuit puffs (you can use marshmallows if you're desperate)

Line a 20cm square pan (or something close to that) with baking paper. Melt butter and condensed milk together in the microwave. Cut up the eskimo/marshmallow lollies into bite-sized chunks. Put the biscuits in the food processor and process until crumbs. Add the butter and condensed milk mixture and process until it all comes together. Tip into a bowl and mix through the marshmallow lollies. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and press down and into the corners. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until set. Easy!

A Long-Awaited Cake

I have wanted to make this cake for quite a long time but could just never find the time or an occasion. To be honest, it probably wasn't even a fancy enough occasion for this cake, I should have just had it as a flat-warming cake! But everyone still enjoyed it and I did finally get to make it! I altered the recipe quite a lot though, because the cake is supposed to be quite small but tall, so I used bigger cake tins with only 2 layers. You couldn't really taste the caramel that much, so if I made it again, I would probably double the cake recipe and keep the frosting recipes as they are. So this recipe as it stands would make a double layer 20cm cake or a 15cm triple layer cake, but with a tonne of chocolate frosting left over from a 20cm cake. So I would either halve the chocolate frosting or double the cake recipe, and the amount of salted caramel buttercream would be enough. It still tasted great and I would definitely make it again sometime. We did have a ridiculous amount of frosting left over however, and the tops of the cakes I cut off, so I broke them up and called it cake pieces and dip for our party that night! :) The recipe comes from Sweetapolita.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Fudge Cake


1 1/2 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2t baking soda
1t baking powder
1t salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup hot brewed coffee
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
2t vanilla essence

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
Generous pinch of sea salt
340g butter, softened
4 large egg whites
1t vanilla essence

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water
341g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
Pinch of salt
454 g good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 180°C. Prepare three 15cm round cake tins or two 20cm round cake tins with butter, parchment paper rounds and cocoa powder. Tap out excess. In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients and add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer, or just put your arm around the top) and pour into prepared pans. If possible, use a digital kitchen scale and weigh divided batter in pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy. Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes clean–approximately 30 minutes. Try not to over bake. Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes, then loosen edges with a small palette knife and gently invert onto racks until completely cool. Trim any doming from the tops of your cake layers with a sharp, serrated knife and place first layer, face up, on your cake board, pedestal, or plate. Using a small offset palette knife, spread approximately 3/4 cup of the caramel buttercream evenly on the top. Repeat this 1-2 until you come to the final layer, which you will place face down on the top of the cake. Place cake on a turntable (if possible), and using a small offset palette knife for the top of the cake, and medium straight palette knife for the sides, cover the cake in a thin layer of chocolate frosting to crumb coat (seal in crumbs). Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more). Repeat step 4, and, for best results, use bench scraper held at 90° against the side of the cake, slowly turning the turntable and keeping your hand steady–let the turntable do the work. Clean up edges with your small offset palette knife. Chill cake to set. Bring to room temperature before serving–about 2+ hours. Sprinkle with Fleur de Sel.

Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
The first step is making the salted caramel (you can also do a non-salted caramel by omitting the sea salt), to set aside to cool while you make the swiss meringue buttercream. You then add the cooled caramel sauce to the buttercream as the very last step. Place 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan to a boil over medium heat. Brush down the sides of the pot with a dampened pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. Stop stirring and cook until caramel is dark amber, gently swirling from time to time. Remove from heat, and slowly add cream, whisking by hand until smooth. It will be splatter and bubble, so be careful. Whisk in sea salt and vanilla. Let cool. Place butter in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed, until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer clean with lemon juice, and place egg whites and remaining sugar into bowl over a pot of simmering water (not boiling–you don’t want to cook the eggs). Whisk occasionally and gently until sugar dissolves and mixture registers 160° on a candy thermometer. Remove the bowl from heat, and place back onto the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form (about 5-6 minutes). Once the bottom of the bowl is neutral and no longer warm to the touch, reduce speed to medium-low, and add beaten butter, one cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Switch to paddle attachment. With mixer on low speed, add cooled caramel, and beat until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:
Combine cocoa powder and the boiling water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, and stir until cocoa has dissolved. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, the icing sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until it is pale and fluffy–about 5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add melted chocolate (cooled), beating until combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture until well incorporated.

Thanksgiving in New Zealand

I really should have taken more pictures for this. I also should have posted it about 2 weeks ago, so sorry for the slackness! I do have the excuse of exams, then moving out of home and having no internet... But still, here we go. Because dad is American, we celebrate Thanksgiving every year. We celebrate it with another family, the Griffiths, because Zoe went on exchange to America for a year and it's cool to have people to celebrate with. Mum always cooks a huge turkey and we always have candied yams and scalloped potatoes and then other yummy things. We also always have pumpkin. Every year. But dad and Alex decided that this year they didn't want pumpkin pie. Who doesn't want pumpkin pie?! Instead they wanted peanut butter cheesecake. Which is very, very nice still, but... Pumpkin pie! Earlier on mum told me about these pumpkin pie cupcakes that she saw online, and seeing as we weren't going to have a real pumpkin pie, I decided it was my mission to find a recipe and make these cupcakes. The only problem is, in America you can get pumpkin pie filling in a can. Now, I do love America and all, but really? How can you call yourself a baker if you just buy a pie crust from the store, fill it with a can of pumpkin pie filling and then add some cool whip on the side. No, I decided (and the fact that New Zealand is too small to sell such things decided for me) that I would make my own pumpkin pie filling to replace the canned one in the recipe and then add a cream cheese frosting to the top. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the finished product, only the frosting-less cupcake but let me tell you, they were amazing! Even my flatmate who doesn't like pumpkin, and Becca my friend who doesn't like frosting liked them! They were that good. So it might be a bit late for Thanksgiving, but either just make them for autumn or put them on your list for next year, because you won't regret it!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes (from scratch)

Makes 24-30 cupcakes


2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2t baking soda
2t baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 large eggs

800g pumpkin pieces (any type, or a small pumpkin that weighs that much)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1t nutmeg
1t cinnamon
1/2t salt

400g cream cheese (remember - only Philadelphia in New Zealand!)
160g butter
3 1/4 cups icing sugar

Directions:Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line muffins tins with paper liners. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, brown sugar and oil. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions, mixing just until incorporated. Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake until the cupcakes are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting how desired.

Pumpkin Pie Filling (from scratch):
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line a tray with sides with baking paper. If not using pumpkin pieces, then cut off the top of the pumpkin in a circle and quarter them from the top down. Then scoop out the seeds and tendrils. Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces, either halves or thirds. Smear the inner surfaces of the pumpkin with the butter. Rub with brown sugar and spices and salt. Use your hands to make sure they well seasoned. Bake for 30 minutes, or until you can easily stab through the middle with a fork. Let stand and cool (or if you're impatient like me, just let it stand for a minute) then pull/cut the skin away from the flesh. Put the pumpkin pieces in a bowl and mash until very liquidy.

Cream Cheese Frosting:In a mixer, blend together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar gradually and continue mixing until well blended.


A Very Difficult Biscuit

I wasn't sure if I was going to post this yet. I haven't quite figured out the secret to macarons, haven't perfected the art, but I thought I would share, just in case you would like to try. :) So the first time I made them, they failed. They were huge and all cracked and they looked kinda weird. They tasted like the should, and the chocolate buttercream was really good, but they didn't look very good. So I didn't take any photos, sorry! The second time, I decided to go down a citrus path, a bit odd ae? So I actually tinted the shell dough two different colours because I was going to do two different flavours of filling, but I couldn't really be bothered in the end! You have to have a lot of time to do macarons, they definitely take a while. I actually started practising them because I was going to make them for the cookie bake off that Tristan and I did today, but I hadn't perfected them, so I ended up doing a version of my Awesome Double Chocolate Cookies instead. I tweaked them a little by adding milk and white chocolate to them so that they were quadruple chocolate! I didn't have any peanut butter chips though unfortunately, so I used lots of extra chocolate! I cooked them a little too long too so they were crunchy... :( But, I still won. Tristan tried to make out that I didn't, but people marked their favourites on post-its... I had more! :D Anyway, so one tray of the macarons turned out much better. They were a little cracked, but they had feet and they tasted really good, so I was quite happy! I took those ones into work... :) I would recommend drying the macarons for as long as possible. On the recipe it says 30 minutes, but I think an hour could mean that they would crack less. Good luck!

NB: This recipe made 4 trays of macaron shells. And we have big trays. So maybe halve the recipe?

These were the good ones!
Macarons with Lemon Buttercream

200g caster sugar
75ml water
4 egg whites
200g almond meal, sifted
200g (1 1/4 cups) icing sugar, sifted

115g butter, softened
2 cups icing sugar
1t vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon, juice of two lemons


To make macaroons, preheat oven to 200°C. Combine caster sugar and water in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring, for 8-10 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Heat sugar syrup until it reaches 118°C (test using a sugar thermometer), brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystallisation. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk 2 egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high, then slowly add sugar syrup in a constant stream until combined. Set aside. Combine almond meal and icing sugar in a medium stainless-steel bowl, then gradually add remaining unbeaten egg whites, mixing with a wooden spoon until the mixture is firm and paste-like. Separate mixture into smaller bowls, depending on how many colours you want. Add desired food colouring to each bowl and combine well, then divide beaten egg whites evenly between each bowl and thoroughly combine. The mixtures should have a velvety texture. Spoon coloured mixtures into piping bags fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe mixture to make 3cm rounds on silicon-mat lined, or baking paper lined baking trays. Tap trays to flatten peaks and rest for 30 minutes or until mixture feels dry to touch and forms a skin. Reduce oven temperature to 150°C and place trays in oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until bases are firm and a macaroon can be lifted from the tray. Remove trays from oven and cool macaroons on tray. Using an offset spatula or a palette knife, spread one shell with the buttercream and then press together to make the macarons!

Lemon Buttercream:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Slowly begin adding the sugar, and beat until well combined. Beat in the vanilla. Once combined, turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for about 3 minutes straight. Turn the mixer down to low and add the lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat for another 3 minutes until the frosting is fluffy and light (if it's too thin, add some more icing sugar).

The not so good ones... :(


A Bakesale for Two Amazing Little Girls

Dad forwarded me an email the other day from a colleague of his with a very sad story. Her name is Alice, she's only 1 year old but she had Non Ketotic Hyperglycinemia. This disorder is apparently extremely rare and Alice is currently the only survivor of it in New Zealand. Her parents were told that at 3 months old she wouldn't live much longer but she's still fighting! They are trying to raise money to fund research into the disorder and also to help another family with a child who was in their son's daycare class before she was diagnosed with cancer. At 3 years old she faces what many adults struggle with, being constantly sick and in hospital. Her name is Brianna and her parents are really struggling with her cancer and may have to sell their house if they can't raise enough money. This is such a sad story and I am amazed at the Underwood family who have so much compassion that they are trying to help another family with their sick daughter when their own daughter has such a rare disorder. I can't imagine what these people go through on a daily basis, and when dad asked if I could contribute by baking something for the bake sale I was happy to help in any way I could. It's part of "The Big Family Day Out" fundraiser for the children which is going to have lots of raffles and auctions and the like so go along to the Ngatitoa Domain tomorrow at 11 if you're keen to help out (or buy some baking!). I decided that a good, kid-friendly thing to bake would be some cookie dough and cupcakes mixed together! They turned out really well, even though I nearly forgot to put the cookie dough in!  Luckily I remembered. Hopefully they're a hit tomorrow!

PS: If you want to read more about the girls or make a donation, click here.
PPS: The recipe came from Recipe Girl.

PPPS: (Last one I promise!) This photo was published on FoodGawker! :D

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes (makes 24)

1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4t baking soda
1/4t salt
115g butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
4T white sugar
4T milk
2t vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate bits

230g butter, softened and cut into cubes

100g dark chocolate bits
1 cup dutch-processed or other dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1t baking soda
1 1/2t baking powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
2t vanilla extract
1t table salt
1 cup sour cream

350g butter, softened

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
4 1/2T milk
3t vanilla extract


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to stir together the butter, sugars, milk and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and the chocolate chips. Refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the cookie dough is firm. Scoop out dough in 2 tablespoon scoops and place it on a cookie sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes. (You could also make the cookie dough ahead and freeze for a couple of days. Just take it out of the freezer when you make the cupcakes and it should thaw to the right temperature.) Also, the amounts of this part of the recipe made enough for me to make 24 balls of cookie dough and 24 mini cookies for garnish, which as you can see I ended up slicing because they were still too big. If you wanted small balls like I did (about a teaspoon of dough or less) and no mini cookies, then halve this part of the recipe.


Preheat oven to 180°C. Line standard-size muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at a lower power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. This is what I did.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of the flour, baking powder and baking soda over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is and thick. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Plop one ball of cookie dough in each cupcake and push down a little until it sinks to level with the surface. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 30 minutes.

Cookie Dough Frosting:

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour, milk and vanilla and continue to mix until all is well combined.


Looking After My Boy!

Third batch of cupcakes in a week! I was really keen on baking this week, and I kept seeing things that I wanted to bake. Cue Nutella Cupcakes, stage right. I've always wanted to try doing two-toned frosting but I in fact ended up trying three-toned frosting. Personally, I don't think it needs the vanilla. If you increased the measurements for the other frosting flavours by 1.25 then you would have enough for all of the cupcakes and they'd still look just as great. Still, Cam loved these! Probably not a great move on my part, I left 19 at his house. While he's there alone. Still looking for a job. Hm... I may have to steal a few tomorrow so that he doesn't eat them all... Not that I can blame him, because they were fantastic! They came from Good Life Eats and just wow. Just nutella wow. Make them.

PS: Notes on how to do the three/two-toned frosting are at the bottom of this post.

Nutella Cupcakes with Nutella, Peanut Butter and Vanilla Frosting

2/3 cup nutella
1 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (or just 2 1/2 cups plain flour)
1 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2t baking soda
1t baking powder
3/4t salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups buttermilk

150g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2T butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
2t vanilla extract

150g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2T butter
1/2 cup nutella
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
1t vanilla extract

150g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2T butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups, sifted
1t vanilla extract

NB: You may need a little bit of milk to bring the peanut butter frosting together.

Line 2 standard 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake liners or grease using non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 180°C. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, until it is pale and thick. Add in the butter. Mix until combined. Add in the nutella. Now, add in the buttermilk. Beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments and beat until smooth. Divide batter into the cupcake tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over-bake. Remove from oven and let cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Frosting:Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the vanilla. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency.

Nutella Frosting:Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the nutella and vanilla and continue to cream. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency.

Peanut Butter Frosting:Cream the butter and cream cheese in the large mixing bowl of a stand mixture. Add the almond butter or peanut butter and vanilla and continue to cream. Slowly incorporate the powdered sugar as you continue to cream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat on high speed until fluffy and smooth, adding milk or additional sugar (if needed) to reach desired consistency.

Doing multi-coloured frosting:
Lay your colors or flavors out in different containers to keep them separate. Fill three bags with the three different flavoured frostings. You will not add a tip to any of these bags. Just the bag and the frosting. Twist the tops of the bags and cut about a half inch of the ends of each filled bag. Then, you’ll take a fourth bag. Add your favorite piping tip to the bag. Now, load all three frosting bags inside the fourth bag with the piping tip. Twist the top of the fourth bag so nothing escapes and pipe as usual. I usually do a couple of test pipes on a napkin until all three frostings are evenly coming out and any air has passed.


Getting Drunk Off Cupcakes?

I really like new flavour ideas and when I find something cool I just have to try it. Of course anything with chocolate is always fantastic, but when I saw these cupcakes, the non-chocolatey-ness really caught my attention. I think the best mojito I had was actually at Evie's 18th birthday party, as weird as that may sound! I asked her about it the other day and she said that they had this apple and lime or apple and mint juice or something and they used that as the base, which is why they tasted so good! I tried making one the day I bought the ingredients for these cupcakes actually... Didn't turn out so well. I think they needed to be sweeter. And have more flavour. But oh well! That day was actually a few weeks ago now and the buttermilk was about to go off so I thought I better get cracking and actually make these! Luckily, my intuition was right and these cupcakes taste fantastic. It's like eating a mojito-really yummy! I used Becca's piping bag again too and I'm totally going to get one. They're amazing. Just like these cupcakes, which, btw come from Brown Eyed Baker. Enjoy!

PS: This photo was accepted on Tastespotting! :D

Mojito Cupcakes

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mint leaves, bruised
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2t baking powder
1/4t salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1 1/2 limes
2T white rum (e.g. Bacardi in New Zealand)
1t vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups icing sugar
2T lime juice
3T white rum

Directions:Combine the buttermilk and the ½ cup mint leaves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm until just starting to steam (do not simmer), then remove from the heat and cover. Let steep for 15 to 30 minutes. Once finished, strain the milk into a bowl using a fine mesh sieve. The milk may appear curdled or clumpy, but don’t worry, it will come back together. Press on any milk solids and mint leaves to extract all the liquid possible. Give the milk a quick stir to smooth it out and set aside. While the mint is steeping in the milk, preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until pale, light, and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and rum. Mix until combined. (The mixture may start to look curdled at this point, but don’t worry, it will all come back together, power on!) Reduce the mixer speed low. Add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer shows only moist crumbs attached, rotating the pan at the halfway point. Allow cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

Lime and Rum Frosting:To make the frosting, whip the butter on medium-high speed of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment for 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Give it a mix on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add the lime juice and rum and mix on medium-high speed until incorporated and fluffy. If the frosting appears a bit too soft, add some additional sugar, one spoonful at a time until desired consistency is reached.

A Cupcake Competition

I've been in this new (ish) job for about 3 and a half months now and I've gotten to know some of the people pretty well. Us data entry girls seems to have a sort of running competition of who can out do each other with the IT boys whose office is on the other side of the wall from ours. One of them, Tristan, decided he'd like to rubbish my baking and was going on about how I burn things all the time (which I don't!!) and when I found out he could bake too, well. It was time for a little competition! I challenged, he accepted and we decided that cupcakes would be a fun thing to make. For mine I used the dark chocolate cupcake base that has become my go-to and fav and added graham crackers and a toasted marshmallow frosting. I didn't realise that Tristan had never made cupcakes before, so his were really pretty good for a first try! But, alas, I came out on top... His were actually really nice and I think it was a pretty good fight! Till next time ae?

PS: I actually made double the recipe this time because I wanted to have extra and it worked out to exactly 24 cupcakes, but this one makes 12. :)

Tristan's cupcakes-vanilla with lime buttercream frosting

Fierce competition...
Mine :)
Chocolate Graham Cracker Cupcakes with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting a.k.a S'Mores Cupcakes

115g butter, softened and cut into cubes
50g dark chocolate bits
1/2 cup dutch-processed or other dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup plain flour

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (or 3/4 cup of flour and no graham cracker crumbs. Or digestive biscuits)
1/2t baking soda
3/4t baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1t vanilla extract
1/2t table salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Chocolate bits
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (or digestives)
40g butter

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C. Line standard-size muffin pan with cupcake liners. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at a lower power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted. This is what I did.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and baking soda over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is and thick. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Sprinkle chocolate bits and graham cracker topping over the batter, making sure you get the graham cracker topping right to the edges so that you can see it once the cupcakes are frosted. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 30 minutes. I used Becca's piping bag fitted with a large open star tip instead of my usual piping bottles because the frosting is quite thick. I think I shall have to invest because I have seen the light of piping bags again! It was so easy and her one is amazing. Sigh, I'm going to go find one next week. So after piping the frosting on, either broil them in the oven on the highest setting until the frosting turns brown (I didn't do this so I'm not entirely sure how it would work out...), or use a blowtorch to lightly brown the frosting. YUM.

Graham Cracker Topping:
Melt the butter and process the graham crackers in a food processor until they are just crumbs. Then add the melted butter and process again until mixed.

Marshmallow Frosting:
The quantities of this recipe for the frosting are for 24 cupcakes, so adjust them accordingly.
Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use immediately.

Tupperware cupcake taker, isn't it cool??


A Cheesecake Dessert

On Thursday, my parents went away so Alex and I thought that we would have Becca and Ashleigh over for dinner. Dinner was easy, going to be wraps but I thought I'd be nice and make a dessert too. I saw this cheesecake on Love and Olive Oil which apparently comes from "The Loveless Cafe" in Nashville. I changed it quite a bit though because I wanted petite cheesecakes and the difference between American and New Zealand ingredients. But they still tasted amazing, even though Becca and Ashleigh wouldn't eat them. Who wouldn't eat cheesecake right? But Becca doesn't like cheesecake and Ashleigh doesn't like bananas, so they were both out of luck there! Still, if you do like banana and chocolate and cheesecake, then you'll really enjoy this recipe.

Banana Split Mini Cheesecakes (Makes 12)


3/4 cup digestive biscuit crumbs
2/3 cup sugar
3T cocoa powder
5T butter, melted
250g cream cheese (Philadelphia of course!)
1/4 cup mashed overripe banana (2 small bananas)
1/8 cup sour cream
2T plain flour
2 eggs
50g chocolate bits, melted

Directions:Preheat oven to 150ÂșC. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper cupcake liners. Process the digestives in a food processor until you get fine crumbs and take out any large pieces. Add 1/3 of a cup of sugar and cocoa and process until combined. Then add the melted butter and process until the mixture comes together. Spoon 1-2T of the mixture into each muffin cup, until there is a layer covering the bottom and press down into the liners.

Filling:To make the filling, place the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, banana, sour cream, and flour in a food processor; pulse to form a smooth paste. With the machine on, add the eggs, one at a time; scrape down the sides and pulse briefly to ensure all ingredients are incorporated. Measure out 3/4 cup of the filling and set aside. Pour the remaining filling into crust. Return 1/2 cup of reserved filling to the food processor. Add melted chocolate and pulse to combine, scraping the sides of the bowl to make sure the batter is evenly mixed. Spoon 1-2T of the chocolate mixture over each muffin cup, until the banana mixture is covered. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup banana filling over the chocolate in each muffin cup and use a blunt knife or bamboo skewer to swirl them into a marbled pattern; do not overmix. Bake in the center of the oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove the muffin tin from the oven when the centres are still just slightly jiggly. Return the cheesecake to the oven, turn off the heat, and let stand without opening the door for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand in the pan on a rack until cooled to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight if possible, to allow it to set completely. Enjoy!
Becca and I got bored that night so we took heaps of photos on my computer... This is my favourite. I hope you like it too! ;)


Baking Day with Evie Pt 3

So the last thing on our baking day was cookies. Unfortunately they were a little bit dry because I should have just pulled them out of the oven but I was like no, they can go a little longer... So I cooked them a little long. But other than that they taste great, so I would definitely recommend them!

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

125g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
75g milk chocolate, chopped
30g cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 eggs, at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/2T espresso powder or 1/2T brewed coffee
1t vanilla
6T flour
1/2t baking powder
1/8t salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Put chopped chocolates and butter (first three ingredients) into a sauce pan over low heat and melt. Once melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Mix eggs, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla. Add the melted chocolate to the egg/sugar batter. Mix well. Next add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the batter. Mix well. Lastly, add chocolate chips. Chill dough for approximately 60 minutes or until it can hold a shape. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking sheet/tray with baking paper and scoop dough in small balls on paper and space about 2cm apart from each other. Press dough to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes. DO NOT OVERBAKE!