Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buttermilk Milo Chocolate Cupcakes

Both my nephews are borned in June. I remembered my older nephew once says he wants aeroplanes, tanks and helicopters on his next birthday cake. I wonder when I will ever master fondant! So..this year, when his birthday rolled around, I said I will make cupcakes..not very fancy since I'm still such an amateur.. but I tried to do something that matches his current interest which is insects!
Googling around for ideas, I must admit I blantently copied a few designs off Pinterest, my latest best friend for inspiration. The following is the result of my clumsily copied rainbow, caterpillar and ladybug cupcakes:

Guess which one my nephew reached out for? The plain green one with colourful sprinkles, cos he says they looked like ants! ha ha!
And.. my niece took the catepillar... picked the M&Ms & Gummy head off it.. and returned the cupcake to me. Double ha ha! Luckily I like the cupcakes itself so we make a good match, her with the topping, me with the cake.

For the cupcake base, I used the yoghurt cupcake recipe and a Chocolate Buttermilk Cake recipe from The Little Teochew, which is now of my favorite cake recipes. It's so soft, moist and totally chocolatey! Slight tweak that I did was to swop the unsweetened cocoa powder in her recipe to my current love, Australia Recipe Milo powder. Yums!

Recipe for Buttermilk Milo Chocolate Cupcakes, makes around 15 small cupcakes:
1 cup cake flour
1/2 cup Milo Powder (sifted to remove the sugar granules from the powder)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, softened
180g sugar (Reduced as Milo powder is already sweeter than cocoa powder)
2 large eggs
180g buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g dark chocolate, finely cubed

1. Pre-heat oven to 175C
2. Sift flour, milo powder, salt & baking powder together
3. Using a mixer, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar gradually, until mixture achieved a light texture. Beat in eggs gradually, ensuring that it's well-incorporated.
(original recipe calls for the paddle attachment, I've used both paddle and normal beater attachments, works either way)
4. At low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Lightly mix and add 1/2 the buttermilk. Repeat with 1/3 of flour, remaining 1/2 of the buttermilk, vanilla extract and last 1/3 of flour, mixing in lightly after each addition.
5. Stir in chocolate cubes.
6. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20-23 minutes, depending on volume of batter per cupcake.
I used 12in cupcakes, filled to 80% full and baked for 23 minutes. These cupcakes would dome slightly while baking but will deflate upon cooling.
Remains moist even after 2 days in the fridge, reheat lightly in microwave for a yummy warm afternoon treat with your coffee.
In an earlier attempt with this recipe, I frosted the cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream. However, I find the cupcakes best on their own, to savour the chocolatey cakes with the subtle hint of milo fragrance.

My 2 very cute and happy nephews at their birthday party:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Yoghurt Cupcakes

Yoohoo! I'm back in Singapore and happy to be shopping in my familiar neighbourhood hypermarket. Made 3 trips in my first week back; I definitely fall into the "loyal shoppers" group of FairPrice.  In this week, I've bought 8 oranges, 6 lemons, 6 peaches, 3 bunches of banana and 2 punnets of fresh blueberries! I miss the wide variety of affordable fruits here. We also had 3 times of after-dinner durians!  Now that I've listed everything out, does sounds kinda over-the-top for only 2 persons in 7 days right?? No more durian! for June at least or so I hope.. (I'm not very strong-willed when it comes to the king of fruits)

So.. with so much fruits in the fridge, I made lemon blueberry cupcakes. Adapting a low-fat recipe that I see circulating around, from Alice Medrich, I added lemon juice instead of vanilla essence and blueberries for that anti-oxidant boost.

It turned out soft and pretty fluffy, though the lemon taste was not particularly pronounced. Would have to add more than 2 teaspoons next time and perhaps some lemon rind as well. However, husband and I both love the texture of this cake, it's not heavy nor dense like a butter cake but not light without bite like some chiffons. Just soft enough to be a somewhat similar to a steamed cake and crumbs are a little tighter and smoother than a spongecake. Try it to know it!

Ingredients, Makes 12 cupcakes:
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar (Add up to 1 cup sugar if you like it abit sweeter)
2 eggs
90g unsalted softened butter
1 cup low/non fat unflavored yoghurt
2 teaspoon lemon juice (Add more if you like the lemon flavor to be stronger)

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C, line muffin tray with cupcake liners
2. Combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a big bowl and mix thoroughly
3. In mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
4. Add egg 1 by 1 to the mixture in mixer, continue to beat and combine
5. On med speed, add half the yoghurt and let the mixture combine
6. On low speed, add half the flour mixture
7. On high speed, add remaining yoghurt and lemon juice
8. On low speed, add remaining flour mixture. Beat in to combine
9. Spoon into cupcake liners, up to 75% of the height so as not to have a spillover effect
10. Add blueberries on top of dough and press them down slightly

Bake for around 18 minutes, until toothpick test comes clean.

Cool slightly and eat it while it's warm!

Best with a cup of Nespresso.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Apple & Pear Cinnamon Jam

Before leaving Malaysia, I did a couple of home-mades for my v nice colleagues who hae become such dear friends. One of them is a Apple & Pear Cinnamon Jam. I first tried making home-made jam after returning from Europe last year, enamored with all the yummy jam cooked by the B&B owners. They were so fragrant without being sickly sweet as alot of jams tend to be. My first attempt was strawberry which was fragrant but a tad too sweet as well. I reduced the sugar but after reading up on jam-making, I did not reduce dramatically since sugar is one of the key ingredients in setting the jam.

This time I thought of using apples which has high pectin content already, so I can cut the sugar further, presumably.. and also, who doesn't like apple cinnamon? I love apple pies with a generous dose of cinnamon. I love my coffee with cinnamon. I love cinnamon bread rolls. I love cinnamon! Added pear to the mixture to make it sound a little less boring though.. haha! not sure if it makes a large impact to the taste though. Anyway, the overall verdict was not bad. It was sweet but not overly so and infused subtly (OK...not so since I love it and added a fair bit) of cinnamon!

Recipe here:

5 large ripe pears (I used the green, bell-shaped pears). Should be a little soft when pressed.
5 large apples (used Fuji red apples)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons gelatin powder
3 cups of finegrained sugar

1. Peel, core, dice apples & pears, soaking them in water as u cut to prevent browning.
2. Drain and mix the pear/apples/ lemon juice in a big sturdy pot
3. Bring to boil and simmer until the fruits are soft, ard 30 minutes
4. Mash the fruit either with masher or fruit processor. I mashed them slightly only to retain some chunks and give bite to the jam.
5. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon and gelatin, stir to dissolve
6. Add all the sugar, bring to boil. Simmer for around 10 minutes.
7. Remove from heat and ladle into clean & sterilised jars. Cool to room temperature, cap and refrigerate.

The above makes 8 small jars. I like the little pieces of fruit in the jam, you can bite into them and they melt easily in the mouth. Goes well with chunky bread or plain crackers!