Saturday, 30 June 2012

Entry sent in !

I just sent in my entry for http://www.bbcsouthafrica.com/cupcake-competition/. I will post photos of my cupcake tomorrow.

I hope I at least qualify for the TOP 10!

Hold thumbs all you cupcake lovers out there. Send me some good cupcake karma.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Great Cupcake Challenge for National Epilepsy Week 18 - 24 June 2012

I have entered 2 cupcakes in the Great Cupcake Challenge. Please vote for my 2 cupcakes!


Also share on Facebook on Twitter please :)

Thank you for your votes!

X X X

The Cupcake Alchemist

Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcake




This weekend I tried a baked cheesecake cupcake. I've never backed cheesecake before, so this was a total new experience.

It is definitely something that I want to experiment with more in the future. The taste was define, but the cheesecake texture and puffiness needs some work still.

I think the key lies in trying different basic recipes and finding the one perfect recipe that can be adapted to the different flavour profile your looking for.

I've been craving something with berries for quite a while and when I saw this recipe I just had to try it. The recipe required canned raspberries, but after the third shop that did not have any I opted for frozen berries. (Fresh berries will be best, but its winter year so had to use and alternative)

I can't wait for summer to try out more berry treats and my cocktail inspired range. I'm thinking Pina Cola, Strawberry Daiquiri, Long Island Ice Tea and my favourite Bellini - a fantastic combination of champagne and peach juice. My go to drink for a New Years party !

I'm also going to try a Bellini ice cream this summer. Mmmmmm.

It's so easy to make and I can guarantee you it's going to become one of your favourite summer time drinks. Here's a recipe for you to try!

Bellini

1/3 Cup Peach Juice
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice 
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2/3 Cup Champagne (Or any bubbly wine you prefer) 
Sprig of Mint

Mix juices & sugar, till sugar is dissolved. Pour into a cocktail glass or champagne flute and top it with the champagne and sprig of mint.

Salute!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The Brainy Walnut


Walnut's latin name, Junglans Regia, is derived from Jovis glans meaning regal nut of Jupiter or nut of "the Gods." Ancients believed the gods dined on walnuts, hence regia or regal.


It is difficult to trace the native home of the walnut tree, but ancient Romans believe it originated in Persia.


Walnuts have long be known to be terrific brain food. A study conducted recently showed that students that eat half a cup of walnuts every day for 6 - 8 weeks experienced improvement in critical thinking, specifically inferential reasoning. (The ability to think further than the given facts)


They are also rich in protein, there for essential in a vegan diet, combats unhealthy fats due to being rich in compounds that reduce hardening of the arteries, and keeping them flexible. Walnuts are also key sources of omega three fatty acids, the brain is almost 60 percent comprised of the fats that are found in walnuts.


Walnuts also ranks as the nut provides the highest level of quality antioxidants. Even just a handful a day can help combat breast cancer.


My favourite dish with walnuts must be Baklava, (I'll be testing the cupcake version soon), but in the mean time, here is a recipe for this fantastic Mediterranean pastry from allrecipes.com



Baklava


1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
1 pound chopped nuts
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey


Directions


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut whole stack in half to fit pan. Cover phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make diagonal cuts. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool. Serve in cupcake papers. This freezes well. Leave it uncovered as it gets soggy if it is wrapped up.


Kali Orexi!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Oh, Fudge!

Fudge always takes me back to childhood. Whether it was buying it at the school bazaar or tucking into a freshly made batch my grand mother made. Sweet, innocent, wicked, decadent morsels of pleasures.


These pieces of heaven are so easy to make and whether you use a recipe that states the exact amount of minutes you have to boil it or use a candy thermometer or old style pour in water to gage that its reached soft ball stage, you'll quickly get the hang of it.


Fudge is so versatile and can be adapted to tickle anyone's fancy. 


The fudge I used this weekend, I must confess I got from the café, our equivalent of a corner store, partly because it was a verge of the moment idea and greatly, because I know that my son will most likely eat himself sick and polish the whole batch in a couple of days.


For you that want to try your hand at fudge making, here is a basic fudge recipe. 


This recipe is from a recipe in my Grandmother's old dog eared hand written recipe book, where she jotted down recipes she just have to try herself after trying someone's baked goodies.


Fudge (From Mrs Botha - Umtata)


Ingredients

6 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup Water

1 Can Condense Milk
3 Tablespoons Golden Syrup
Vanilla Essence - it does not state amount, but I would guess 1/2 - 1 teaspoon
1/4 Pound Butter



Method
  • Slowly bring sugar, water & butter to the boil at low heat. (Cleaning the sides with a wet brush)
  • Add syrup and bring up to the boil again
  • Add the condense milk. Stir every now and then for +- 20 minutes till it reaches soft ball stage
  • Remove from the stove and let cool. Once it's cooled, add the vanilla and whisk till it thickens
  • Pour mixture into greased pan
  • Cut into squares when it hardens completely
To test softball stage without a thermometer, pour a bit of the boiling mixture into ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you've reached the right temperature. Apparently seasoned sweet makers, can tell by the size and texture of the bubbles that it has reached the desired consistency.


Give it a go and maybe even put your own spin on it. Let me know how it turned out!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Allspice and All Things Nice

The pumpkin cupcakes I made yesterday has the perfect balance of spices. It had a combination of cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg (one of my favourite spices).


It was the first time ever that I used allspice and was curious about this beautiful spice.


Allspice (Pimento) is native to Central and South America, but is mostly associated with the West Indies island of Jamaica where they use it in meat dishes such as meat patties and as a jerk seasoning. This warming spice is also used in mulled wine, marinades, cookies and other baked goods.

(To those not familiar with south African cooking, we also have an equivalent to jerky called biltong, made with beef, venison and even ostrich meat. One of the things South African's try to smuggle through customs when going to visit family abroad - its that good.)

Allspice originates from the Pimento Tree (Jamaican Pepper Tree). The berries is harvested and dried just before the berries reach maturity (when they are mature they lose their flavour)

The name, Allspice, derives from its complexity of flavours being a combination of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg with a hint of peppercorn and juniper.

It has been used for centuries to aid indigestion, but also used in a liniment to sooth muscular aches and pains. Its essential oil is realise on its antiseptic properties, but is also good for depression, so the perfect spice to add to your baked goods if you want to chase the blues away!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater



Pumpkin, Walnut & Fudge Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Winter is encapsulated in this delicately spiced pumpkin cupcake. The little bits of fudge in the batter gave it almost a sticky toffee pudding texture. Ideal for warming away the chilly weather. Mmmmmmm...


Here is the cupcake in his naked glory, without the trimmings. I'm quite happy with the way the icing swirl came out. When I make this cupcake again, I'll definitely use a little bit less of the icing, so that the cupcake's flavours are more pronounced.


I also experimented when I snapped the cupcakes. My cupcake travelled to my kitchen counter, window sill and outside to get the best light and shadow balance...

The Cupcake Alchemist