Mini Cupcakes for Valentines Day

I know this is my second Valentine inspired post, (first one being my packed lunch made with love) but I just could not resist and think you might like it.

Cupcakes look amazing, there is no doubt about that, but for me the mountain of buttercream icing is a bit too much.  However, give me a bite-sized version and everything changes.  I’m quite happy to indulge in a completely guilt free fashion, and maybe even pop a second in for luck.  Well they are only little so why not?  Mini cupcakes can look just as amazing as bigger ones, and their size demands attention because they just look so cute.  If you get creative in the way you present them, there is definite potential for the ‘wow factor’.

When I found out I was picked by Bakingmad.com as one of 15 bloggers to bake in their Valentine competition, I immediately started to think about how I could create an extra special entry which would include a few mini cupcakes.  After all the brief was to make something I would want to receive myself!  A few days later the idea of a mini cupcake selection box came to me.  This is my alternative to the traditional box of chocolates that might get given on Valentines I guess, but much more thoughtful and definitely more memorable.  I was thrilled with how the end result looked.  Even better than I had imagined.  I think these would be perfect for a birthday gift or any other occasion too.

So what flavours did I pick with so many to choose from?  Here are my final four:

Hazelnut and chocolate: two of my favourite flavour combinations

Strawberry and white chocolate: it’s valentine’s after all so a bit of pink had to feature somewhere

Green tea: this is my experimental side coming out.  I love the taste of these and the green colour that is totally natural

Peanut Butter: a bit of fun, and my daughters LOVE peanut butter

It is easy to change any of these (if you would like) to a flavour that you would prefer.  Just put a quarter (from the recipe you use) of any ‘flavour’ ingredient in the cake batter mix and give it a whirl.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes and a few regular sized ones as well.

What you will need:

Basic cake batter

  • 240g plain flour
  • 200g sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 80g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 240ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste

Flavour ingredients

  • 1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp white chocolate chips
  • 5g cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp nutella
  • 1 tsp green tea matcha power

Icings and decoration (for the mini cupcakes, I just used more of the chocolate melt to cover the bigger ones I made as well)

I used a lot of Silver Spoon products as Baking Mad were kind enough to send me a selection for use in the competition, but you can get creative with any sprinkles or icing you might have in the cupboard already.

  • half a pack of Silver Spoon strawberry chocolate buttons
  • 1 pack each of Silver Spoon white and dark chocolate easy melt (you won’t use a whole pack but can seal up with a freezer clip and use another time)
  • 1 Silver Spoon giant white chocolate snowie chopped up (I actually love these as the chocolate is lovely and they are really colourful so I’m sure the rest of the pack will get used up pretty quickly)
  • a sprinkle of Silver Spoon chocolate heart duos and hundreds and thousands
  • Sprinkle of chopped hazelnuts
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 40g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 15ml of whole milk
  • 1 tsp green tea matcha powder

You will also need a 24 hole mini cupcake tin and cases, piping bag and piping nozzle (I use the Wilton M1 nozzle), old small box (I used an empty chocolate box)

How to make:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170c/325f/gas 3
  2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and mix until fully combined with a breadcrumb like consistency
  3. Put the milk, vanilla paste and eggs in a measuring jug, lightly whisk with a fork and add slowly to the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until smooth
  4. Divide the mixture into four separate bowls and add the nutella and cocoa to one, matcha powder to another, peanut butter to another and white chocolate chips to the final bowl
  5. Fill up 6 of the cases 2/3 full with each of the mixtures (any left over mixture put into large cases or make more little ones)
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 mins (any bigger ones you make will need 20 mins)
  7. Whilst baking, I made the green tea buttercream by putting the butter, icing sugar and milk in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment and mix slowly to start (icing sugar will fly everywhere otherwise) and then quicker until smooth.  This normally takes at least 2-3 mins of mixing to get it smooth
  8. Once cakes are out and cooled you can start the really fun part and decorate them
  9. I put the white chocolate easy melt onto the peanut butter cupcakes and topped with small pieces of the white chocolate snowie.  You have to work quick with the easy melt as it dries and hardens pretty quickly.  I used a palette knife to spread it on
  10. I put the dark chocolate easy melt on the chocolate and hazelnut cupcakes and sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts and a bit of gold edible glitter
  11. I spread melted strawberry chocolate buttons on the white chocolate chip cupcakes, then sprinkled with hundreds and thousands and for a final valentines touch added a chocolate heart
  12. And for the green tea cupcakes I put the buttercream in a piping bag, iced starting on the outside working in to make a little swirl, and the same the strawberry cupcakes, finished with a chocolate heart
  13. To present I put 16 of my mini cupcakes in an empty box that used to have Christmas chocolates in and tied a pink ribbon round it

I am also entering this for not one, but two blog challenges!

The first is a regular challenge for me now and is this months Tea Times Treats run by Karen from Lavender and Lovage and Kate from What Kate Baked. This months theme is ‘romance’.

The second is my first entry to English Mum’s ‘Baked with Love’ bakeoff.  I’ve just started reading this fablous blog and can recommend popping over for a look yourselves.

https://i1.wp.com/englishmum.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Baked-with-Love-Bakeoff-150px.jpg

PS:  Did any of you spot the sneaky pic of my very own Valentines pressie from my DH?

Disclaimer- I do not work for Baking Mad nor did not get paid to write this review.

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13/02/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Celebration, Homemade gifts, Party, Sweet Baking. 19 comments.

A packed Lunch Made with Love

I’m an old romantic at heart.  My husband and I literally met by bumping into each other on the street.  It was fate that he got off the bus just as I was walking past with my pal, and for our eyes to meet.  It could of easily been a ‘sliding doors’ scenario as a minute later and we would have been heading off in different directions, lost in the crowds having never seen each other.  Obviously, I’m so glad it wasn’t, as 13 years later we have been married for nearly 7 years and have 3 wonderful children.

Our household is a pretty busy place as our children are still young and as a result I think it is easy to forgot the romance when real life gets in the way.  My husband and I are like ships in the night sometimes.  He works long hours and as a result so do I.  It can be a struggle to find time for one another when we are both exhausted at the end of the day,  but its so important.  This is why I try and do something special every year for Valentines.  I’m not a fan of the commercial side of Valentines day so it won’t be anything big or costly.   Just a little token of love.

This year there was no doubt that anything I do for Valentines was going to be homemade.  After making 6 Christmas hampers and being a self confessed baking addict, it was also going to be edible.  It had to be unique but also useful.  Cupcakes look pretty but were just not going to cut it, I’d make 12, he’d eat 1 and then have a sandwich!  Same with most other treats.  Then the idea of a valentines packed lunch came to me.  At the moment my husband buys his lunch spending far too much on a dry sandwiches,  but he has no incentive to make his lunch and I don’t have time ordinarily either.  A packed lunch made with love would be perfect.  I spent quite a while working out what I would make him.  A number of criteria had to be met including portability, deliciousness and thoughtfulness.  Below is what I came up with.  I hope it inspires you to do the same for your partner or for someone you care about this valentines.

For all the recipes I am giving you enough to make more than just one packed lunch.  No point going to all that effort if you can’t enjoy some of it too.  You could even invite a friend over for lunch on the day you make it all to join in with the enjoyment and impress by pretending that this is the sort of lunch you eat every day!

You can be as creative as you like in packaging it all up.  A ribbon and a tag would be a nice finish I think.

Blood orange, walnut and goats cheese salad with avocado hearts

This salad uses ingredients that I love and means you can justify buying lots of blood oranges which are amazing but only in season now for a short few weeks.

What you will need:

Salad

  • packet of ruby gem lettuce, or any other lettuce with red in
  • 100g goats cheese
  • 4 blood oranges
  • 50g walnuts chopped
  • 1 avocado (needs to be fairly large)

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp blood red orange juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • Small heart cookie cutter

How to make:

  1. Wash and chop your lettuce and arrange in the bottom of a Tupperware dish.
  2. Cut the ends off your oranges and then use a knife to cut off the peel and pith working from the top down and round the orange.  Cut into chunky slices and arrange on top of lettuce.
  3. Crumble a portion of the goats cheese and sprinkle on top of salad, then add some of your chopped walnuts onto the salad.
  4. Cut your avocado in half, skin and take the stone out then cut thin slices.  There should be the fat bottom bit on each slice.  Use this to cut out your hearts and place on top of the salad.
  5. Finally, to make the dressing mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl or dish then pour over the salad using as much as you think it needs

Sundried tomato, basil and cheese rolls

Keeping with the theme of valentines, I thought these rolls would be perfect as when the lucky recipient cuts into them they will find a gorgeous red inside.

Makes about 8 large rolls (freeze any you don’t use)

What you will need:

  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 200g strong wholemeal bread flour
  • 7 sundried tomatoes chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 sachet of 7g dried yeast
  • 75g grated cheddar cheese
  • 450ml hand hot water – not too hot or it will kill the yeast
  • Sunflower seeds for top (optional)

How to make:

  1. Put the flour, salt, tomato puree and yeast into a bowl
  2. Add water and mix with hands until a dough is formed.  Remove from bowl and knead for 10 mins.  Alternatively, use a dough hook on an electric mixer for 5-6 mins
  3. Use your hands to push the dough out flat onto your work surface and put cheese, sundried tomatoes and basil in the middle on top. Fold the edges of the dough back over the cheese, tomatoes and basil and then lightly knead for a few minutes until you think everything has been incorporated into the dough.  You might find that bits fall off as you go but don’t worry just pick up and place back into the dough and you will soon start to see that most it has been mixed in
  4. Once you feel the cheese, tomatoes and basil had been evenly mixed into the dough, put it back into the bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size
  5. Gently take you dough out of the bowl and gently knead to punch the air out of it and then make 8 or so small rounds of dough and place on a baking sheet.  Cover with cling film again and leave for another 30-40 mins somewhere warm.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas 6.  The small balls should have grown into bigger rolls.  Don’t worry if they are slightly misshapen, I think this adds the homemade appeal.  At this point I put a sunflower seed heart on top of my rolls and then placed them in the oven.  Feel free to miss out the sunflower seeds if you wish
  7. Bake for about 20-30 mins.  Timings will depend on the size of your rolls but you are looking for a crusty top and a hollow sound if you tap the bottom

Red velvet mini heart cakes with orange cream cheese frosting

I adapted this recipe from my Hummingbird Bakery cook book.  I used natural red colouring (mine was Dr Oetker), and found the silicone heart shaped bakeware in my local Sainsburys, (and I was extremely chuffed too).  If you cant find the heart moulds, small round cake tins would be fine as well.  I hope you are getting the red theme here folks 🙂

Makes 4 small cakes

What you will need:

Cake

  • 60 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 10g cocoa powder
  • 20 ml red food colouring
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml butter milk
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Frosting

  • 300g icing sugar
  • 50g butter, room temperature
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • A few sprinkle decorations of your choice. I used white chocolate stars and mini chocolate stars, both found down the baking aisle of my local Sainsburys

How to make:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas 3). Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add the egg and mix until incorporated
  2. In a separate bowl mix the cocoa powder, red colouring and vanilla extract to make a paste
  3. Add the paste to your butter, sugar and egg mixture and mix well
  4. Then add half the buttermilk and mix, then half the flour and mix, then the remaining buttermilk and mix and the remaining flour and mix
  5. Add the salt, bicarb of soda and vinegar and beat well for a couple of minutes.
  6. Pour mixture into your cake tine and bake for 25 mins until the top is slightly firm to touch and a knife comes out clean.  Take cakes out of their tins and leave to cool on a wire rack
  7. To make the frosting mix the butter and sugar together in a bowl with an electric whisk.  Add the cream cheese and orange extract and beat until smooth
  8. Ice your cakes with the frosting using a palette knife if you have one and then sprinkle our chosen decoration on top

Present on Valentines morning, and expect a few ‘nom, nom, nom’ texts throughout the day…for the sake of my lovely blog readers, my husband got his packed lunch early!

I’m also entering this into Cakeboule’s virtual valentines craft and bake competition 2012.  Looking forward to seeing all the other entries too.

20/01/2012. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Homemade gifts, Savory Baking, Sweet Baking. 6 comments.