Rolo Cupcakes

I got into a bit of a cupcake craze over the summer, trying various recipes and flavours. I follow quite a number of cupcake bakeries on Facebook and Twitter and they do such a variety of wonderful flavours, it got me wanting to experiment a little. I quite like rolo’s and love caramel, so I decided to try the Rolo Caramel Cupcakes.
I have to admit the recipe had quite a few stages to it and took some time putting all together, but it was worth it in the end, cos these babies tasted like rolo’s in cupcake format! These went down a treat for a friend’s birthday party: chocolate cupcake, topped with chocolate frosting, a caramel buttercream frosting and a rolo. YUM!
This recipe makes about 15 decent sized cupcakes. The original recipe was gluten free, I didn’t have any to hand, but to make a gluten free version for yourself, just substitute with gluten-free flour.
Cupcake Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 56 g chocolate, chopped
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • ⅔ cup plain yogurt, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup caramel sauce
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 extra-large egg + extra-large egg white, beaten

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 5 tbsp vegetable shortening (I searched high and low in a few supermarkets around and couldn’t source any, so substituted with butter instead)
  • 70 g chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cup icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup

Salted Caramel Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 tbspbutter, softened
  • 5 tbsp vegetable shortening (Again, I substituted with butter)
  • 1½ cups icing sugar
  • ½ cup caramel sauce, at room temperature, salted to taste with salt
  • Rolos, for decoration

(Salted) Caramel Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon sea salt
I started with the caramel sauce, to allow it cool in sufficient time. Add sugar and water to a saucepan. Stir and cook over a low heat for 5 – 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Using a wet pastry brush, brush down any sugar crystals that have made their way onto the side of the saucepan.
Attach a sugar thermometer to the side of the saucepan and increase the heat to medium. Do not stir the mixture at this stage. You should shake/swirl the saucepan gently just to ensure the mixture doesn’t burn. We have to wait for the mixture to reach 160 C, which takes about 5 minutes. You will notice the mixture firstly turns a light brown colour, then about 30 – 90 seconds later if turns a dark brown colour and almost looks burned.
Remove from the heat immediately. Whisk in your cream. Once you add the cream, the mixture will bubble violently, so be careful at this stage. Stir in your salt at this stage – season to taste. The caramel will last in the fridge, once covered tightly, for up to two weeks.
Now for the cupcakes! Preheat the oven to 165 C. Line your muffin tin and set aside. Place the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and caster sugar in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Melt the chopped chocolate with 8 tbsp butter until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool briefly.
Add the yoghurt, caramel sauce, vanilla and eggs to the dry mixture and beat well. Add the chocolate mixture and combine well. The batter will be quite thick. Fill the muffin wells to about 3/4 full and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, you can make your frostings. For the chocolate frosting: Use the paddle attachment of a stand mixer and beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the icing sugar and mix until well combined. Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie until smooth. Add the vanilla to the melted chocolate and stir to combine. Pour the chocolate mixture into the mixer and beat well to combine. With the mixer on low speed, add the corn syrup and mix until light and fluffy. The frosting should be thick, but not too stiff.
For the salted caramel frosting: Beat the butter (with the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the 1/2 cup of salted caramel sauce and mix until light and fluffy.

Rolo Cupcake

To assemble the cupcakes, fill a piping bag with chocolate frosting and another bag with the salted caramel frosting. Pipe a thin layer of chocolate frosting on top of each cooled cupcake. Allow the chocolate frosting to set for a few minutes, then pipe a thick swirl of salted caramel frosting on top of the chocolate frosting. Top each cupcake with a Rolo. Set aside to set.

Apologies I don’t have more photos of the process…as I mentioned there are quite a few messy stages to these cupcakes, but they certainly have the wow factor for any party or upcoming event!

Roast Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

Following on from my post about making chicken stock, I used some of my stock to make a delicious carrot and sweet potato soup. I made this up basically as I went along, but it was lovely – sweet and tasty.

For this recipe, I used:

1 medium sweet potato

3 carrots

1 tin chickpeas

1 onion and 2 cloves garlic

1 tsp cinnamon

1.2 litre stock

1 cup water

Firstly, I roughly chopped the carrots and sweet potato and roasted them in the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes at 175 C.

Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Meanwhile, I gently sweated the onion and garlic in a saucepan. After about 15 minutes, I added the roasted carrots and sweet potato, as well as the can of chickpeas. Add 1 tsp of cinnamon for flavour, stir well to combine flavours.

Next add the chicken stock and cup of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 15 minutes, then remove from the heat. I then blitzed in the food processor and voilla…a yummy soup was made!

I had a bowl myself right there and then and bagged the rest to be frozen. These Pour and Store bags from Aldi are so handy!!!

Savory Muffins

I’ve been out of my fitness regime now for quite a while. I haven’t been to Spin in almost two months, but I’m booked in to go on Monday evening. The fear. It’s going to be horrendous getting back up on that bike, but all the worthwhile afterwards. So with the fitness regime, comes the healthy eating and diet again. I decided today instead of baking sweet treats, I’d make some savory muffins as healthy snacks. Pop them in the freezer, ready to reheat when needed.

I found this recipe on the internet. These muffins were hassle free and took literally minutes to throw together. This time I made chorizo, cheese, tomato and chilli muffins, but there are so many variations you could try: chorizo and spinach; ham and cheese; cheese and onion; spinach, feta and roasted pepper; courgette and lots lots more. I’m looking forward to making more variations.

Ingredients

  • 1 chorizo sausage
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup good cheese, grated
  • 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 sp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup soy milk (or regular milk)
  • 125 g melted butter, cooled

Preheat your oven to 200 C. Line a muffin tray with cases and leave to the side.

Fry off the chorizo, chilli and tomatoes

Melt the butter and leave aside to cool. Gently fry off the chorizo, chilli and cherry tomatoes for about five minutes. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Old Irish Creamery, Seaweed Cheese

Meanwhile sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the cooled chorizo mixture, as well as the cheese. I picked up a lovely seaweed flavoured cheese from the Old Irish Creamery at my local market (Limerick Milk Market) this morning and decided to use this for some extra flavour.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk and cooled butter together. Make a well in the dry mixture and pour in the wet mixture. Fold until it just comes together.

Muffin mixture

Pour into muffin cases and bake for 20 – 25 minutes. As I mentioned above, I’m going to freeze most of this batch and reheat as needed as a filling snack – better than a bag of crisps or chocolate bar! 😉

Savory Muffins

 

Coffee Cake Muffins

This isn’t the easiest of recipes, there are quite a few stages to it, but the end result was good. I don’t like cinnamon, so I substituted with cocoa for the topping. I think cinnamon is one of those things you either love or hate. This recipe makes 12 muffins – happy baking! 🙂

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee (combined with 1 1/2 tbsp hot water)

For the Topping

  • 3 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or cocoa powder)

Preheat oven to 175 deg C.  Line muffin pan with paper liners.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan.  The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that.  Keep a close eye.  Remove from heat.

Brown the butter

Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl.  Add the brown butter and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Add the wet mixture all at once, and whisk gently to combine.

The mixture was quite thick at this stage

Divide half of the batter among muffin cups.  Stir the coffee and water mixture into the remaining batter.  Divide the coffee batter between the twelve muffin cups.

To make the topping combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly.  Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.

A messy muffin tray before baking

Bake until golden and crisp until a skewer comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The finished muffins!

Thai Red Curry

Prawn Red Curry on the menu tonight. I love love spicy food and love red curry in particular. I make my own red curry paste, as it’s more cost effective than the jars you can buy in the supermarket and also, it’s nicer to use homemade ingredients and know exactly what’s in your dinner. I make a big batch of paste and it lasts 3 – 4 weeks in the fridge. So firstly for the curry paste:

  • 1 shallot
  • 1 stalk fresh lemongrass
  • 1-2 red chilies
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb-size piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 tbsp thick coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice

Place all ingredients in a food processor too create a fragrant red curry paste.

Red Curry Paste

Red Curry:

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 7 prawns per person
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup chopped aubergine
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp red lentils
  • 6 mushrooms
  • handful fresh basil
  • tin of creamy coconut milk

Fry off 1 large heaped tbsp of red curry paste in a little oil in a frying pan.

This is to allow the flavours and spices develop for the curry. After frying for approximately 2 – 3 minutes, add the coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Add Coconut Milk

Add red lentils and allow to simmer for 7 – 8 minutes. Next add the prawns, mushrooms and aubergine. Simmer for 15 minutes and serve with boiled rice.

Serve with boiled rice

Mocha Cake

I had a request for a coffee cake recently. I’m not a big fan of coffee cake myself, so I wanted to make a coffee cake with a twist. I found this recipe for a Mocha Cake which was really simple to make. However, there wasn’t so much of a coffee flavour from the cake, my mistake. The recipe calls for very strong coffee, I used three tsps of instant coffee to 60 ml of water, but I think it would need a tsp or two more to bring out that coffee flavour.

Ingredients

  • 175 g flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 225 g soft light brown sugar (I used demerara sugar here)
  • 175 g butter, melted
  • 4 medium eggs, seperated
  • 60 ml very strong coffee, cooled (I used 2 heaped teaspoons of Nescafe Gold coffee)
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 x quantity coffee butter icing
  • Chocolate curls to decorate

For the chocolate icing:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted (I used 100g icing sugar here, because it tends to get too sweet otherwise. I just spread the icing between the cut cake and not on top as in Rachel Allen’s recipe)
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • 1 heaped tbsp mascarpone cheese

Preheat oven to 190 deg C. Oil and line a loaf tin (5 x 9in) with parchment paper.

Flour, cocoa powder and brown sugar

Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar to combine.

Using a wooden spoon, beat in the melted butter, egg yolks, coffee and water until smooth. The mixture is not very smooth at this point, because of the sugar, so ensure to beat enough so as there are no lumps.

Beat wet ingredients into dry

Whisk the egg whites in a large clean bowl until fairly stiff peaks form, then gently fold into the cake mixture in three batches making sure there are no lumps of egg white left.

Fold egg whites into the mixture in three parts

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf or cake tin and smooth the surface. Give the tin a tap to remove air bubbles. Bake in the oven for 35 mins, then reduce the oven temperature to 160 C for the last 20 mins or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Tap the tray before placing in the oven to remove any air bubbles

Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 mins then lift out by the parchment paper (if loaf tin used) onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing:
-Place the butter in a large bowl and beat thoroughly with a wooden spoon until it is very soft.

-Add the sifted icing sugar and cocoa powder. Beat slightly, then add the mascarpone. Beat until you have a thick creamy icing.

Layer icing inside the cake

When the cake is cold, remove the parchment paper. Using a bread knife, split the cake horizontally and spread about a third of the icing on the lower half with a butter knife. Place the other half of the cake back on the top and spread the rest of the icing over it.

Mocha Cake

Tip- The original recipe called for baking time of 35 mins plus 20 mins, however I found the cake was becoming very dry on the sides at about 30 mins into baking. So I’d recommend keep checking the cake during baking or the sides may become dry or burned.  As you can see with mine, it is slightly dry around the top, but once it was iced it was tasty. But we live and learn and hopefully next time will be perfect! 🙂

My unsteady hand ‘halved’ the cake slightly crooked! 😉

Chocolate Walnut Muffins

I think we all deserve a treat every now and then. I give you Chocolate Walnut Muffins. Light, fluffy, nutty chocolatey goodness….mmm!

This is a super easy recipe. Took literally a couple minutes to put together and 40 minutes later (after icing) we were eating them. The original recipe didn’t include any nuts, but I decided to add some walnuts to the mix, but you could substitute this with anything you like: other varieties of nuts, dried fruit, white chocolate chips….the options are endless. I topped with a chocolate icing, but I have on occasion used this delicious fluffy peanut butter frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • Large handful of walnuts

Chocolate Butter Icing:

  • 75 g butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175 g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp good quality cocoa powder

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 175C. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt together. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a separate bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk. Beat well. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until a toothpick or skewer comes out clean.

Chocolate Walnut Muffins

As the muffins are cooling, start on your butter icing. Beat the butter, cream and vanilla extract until very soft. Gradually sift the cocoa and icing sugar into the mixture. Continue to beat until very soft. Pipe on top of the muffins.

PS. Mine were super-sized muffins. The recipe yields 16 muffins, but I packed it into 12 – I didn’t have a second muffin tray available, so what’s a girl to do? 😉