Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Yummies

My Secret Pleasure...

Baking cup cakes! It's my version of a stress ball. Whenever I'm feeling a bit uptight, I dig out the mixing bowl and bake. No stress this time, though, just my daughter's Christmas bake-off at school. Tomorrow they all have to take in some cakes, and this is what I came up with..

Moist chocolate cake with yummy peppermint buttercream, topped with a mini candy cane. Want to know how? Just follow the recipe below - it's so easy!

For the cakes

You will need:

 115g good quality dark chocolate
85g unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, separated
185g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
250ml semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat the oven to 170C (fan)/190c/375F/gas mark 5.
  • Break the chocolate into pieces and melt (the easiest way is to put it in a plastic bowl and microwave in short bursts of 30 seconds). Leave to cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg yolks for several minutes. Slowly add the egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat well. Next, add the melted chocolate and beat well.

  • Combine the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda in a separate bowl. Put the milk in a jug and add the vanilla extract. Add one third of the flour to the chocolate misture and beat well. Pour in one third of the milk and beat again. Carry on until all the flour and milk have been added.

  • In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Carefully fold into the chocolate mixture using a metal spoon. Do not beat as you will beat all the air out of the mixture.
  • Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Check they are cooked on the inside before removing from the oven. Leave to cool in their tins for about 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack to cool. This helps to maintain the shape.

For the buttercream topping

You will need:

110g unsalted butter
60ml semi-skimmed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
500g icing sugar
few drops of food colouring (green or red)

  • In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, peppermint extract and half the icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes using an electric hand mixer. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.
  • Add a drop of colouring and beat thoroughly. Just one small drop is all you will need to achieve a very pale pastel colour.
  • Decorate the cupcakes. Top with some chocolate chips or crushed candy canes or peppermint sweets.
I wish I could send some to you all!

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