Sunday, May 19, 2013


Lazy. That should be my middle name. Earlier this year my vow was to blog weekly. Seemed simple enough right? Cook, take photos, write up a story and post. Well, it's easier said than done.

I must admit, I like to think that I'm great at multitasking. After all, what kind of woman would I be if this wasn't so, and what woman can deny this isn't true? It seems I have a limit. I can juggle two things, three max. And while I can't devote an equal amount of time to each, it's still better than only focusing on one thing.

I am guilty of focusing much of my thoughts on one thing and today, after listening to such a candid and honest speaker, I asked myself, what's occupying my thoughts and time? To be honest I didn't like the answer.

It's time to refocus, renegotiate with myself and reprioritise my time. I'm off to a good start. New blog post soon!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

piƱa colada cupcakes

Here we go... Round two of cupcake combat! It's the mojito (Rebecca) vs. the pina colada! (me)

Also, I realise that Down Syndrome is over, but there are plenty of other charities going on, so who's to say you can't bake cupcakes for that?!

Now I wanted to do something different for round two. Chocolate's been done, so I thought I'd entertain my other thought: fruit. Now, I have to admit, for this round, I received some help. Actually, not some, but quite a lot. This week has had to be one of the harder weeks of the year so far. A trip away from home for two days, doing interviews with about 20 people within 4 days, plus the work that is slowly piling up at my desk, the Cat Empire gig on Friday night and a cupcake order (yes, someone actually paid for me to bake them cupcakes!). I don't remember a week quite like this since last November, when I travelled to Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney for groups, Harvest Festival and Coldplay, all in the space of 2 weeks...!

So for this round, I admit, I needed a little nudging. And more time to think. Thinking time is far and few. We should be allowed to time to think. Though, in my field of work, I think it's a luxury. So, that makes me a firm believer that many heads are better than one. So much so that for round two, colleagues helped in the brainstorm process and fellow blogger and foodie friend Rebecca helped me make these bad boys, by lending me her kitchen and tools for a night. She always knows the right amount of push I need. I digress.

I'm not a massive fan of coconut. Sure, I like coconut water, coconut juice, coconut in hummingbird cake but when I was thinking about cocktails, all I could think about is Malibu. I've never been a big drinker of Malibu (there's something 80's-esque about drinking Malibu and pineapple. I think it has to do with its staid packaging) but hey, when pina colada came up as a suggestion, who was I to turn it down? I'll give most things a go, at least once.

I must admit, I made the cakes a bit on the fly... I looked around for recipes but each were a bit different so I decided to make my own. I think in the end, they turned out quite well. Not too sweet and most definitely moist. A bit like a hummingbird cake but without the banana. And the cream cheese icing isn't too boozy, but the alcohol does give the cupcake the extra oomph of coconut. Topped with a glace cherry, depends how much of the Malibu you've had but it looks either very 80's and retro or something a bit ruder.

I'll let you decide for yourself.

If you want to make the scrummy yet "refreshing" mojito cupcake, visit Rebecca's blog here, otherwise, read on and make the pina colada cupcake.

pina colada cupcakes

pineapple cupcakes

preparation time | 15 minutes
cooking time | 20 minutes
makes | 18 cupcakes

110g butter, softened at room temperature
3/4 cup of caster sugar
1 1/3 cup of plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
3 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
3/4 cup of coconut cream
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
450g can of crushed pineapple, drained
1/4 cup Malibu

1| Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Line your tray with cupcake liners.
2| In a bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Set aside. In another bowl or jug, slowly mix the Malibu with the coconut cream until smooth. If you like, you can use the drained pineapple juice, if not using Malibu.
3| Start beating the butter with a hand held mixer or in a bowl of a stand mixer. After a couple of minutes, add in the sugar and beat until dissolved and light and fluffy.
4| Add in an egg, one at a time, making sure the egg is incorporated before adding in the next one.
5| Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.
6| Now add the coconut cream mixture, a third at a time, alternating with the flour until combined. Don't overbeat, or your cake will be tough!
7| Add in the pineapple and shredded coconut and stir gently, perhaps while thinking of a tropical island, far far away.
8| Divide the mixture into the liners and pop into the oven. Admire your handiwork thus far and take a swig of Malibu (why not?!)

9| Bake for about 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.
10| Let the cakes cool on a wire rack. In the meantime, whip up the coconut cream cheese icing.

malibu cream cheese icing

250g cream cheese at room temperature
125g butter at room temperature
3 tbs of Malibu
icing sugar (about 1 cup, but that depends on how sweet you want it)

1| Get the cream cheese going first. Place it into the bowl of a mixer or using a hand mixer, start the beating.
2| After a couple of minutes, add the butter and whip that up.
3| Add in the Malibu. Careful not to lug a whole heap in...! After a couple of more minutes, add the icing sugar. Use 1 cup first, add more if you want it sweeter. Beat until thick and fluffy.
4| Try not to eat the whole icing out of the bowl. Pipe on to cakes and if desired, top with shredded coconut, or a cherry. Dream of a tropical island in the sun while chowing down on said cupcake. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

mudslide cupcakes

How can something sound so wrong be so right??

Now before you think “ew. Mudslide.” I ask you to stop, and reconsider.

Now, I’ve been known to have a few cocktails in my time. But not a mudslide, or if I have had one, I can’t remember having one. The only thing I’ve had that comes close to a mudslide is a Toblerone cocktail or some CSCs (I’m sure you know what the abbreviation is and I don’t need to spell it out).

I love cocktails, and everything about them. I love that you can concoct pretty much anything by combining liqueurs and fruity or chocolately flavours. You’re only limited by your imagination.

So when Rebecca suggested the theme for our Cupcake Combat could be cocktails, I couldn’t say no! As soon as the theme was settled, I dreamt of two things: sweet, tasty, fruity concoctions or rich, creamy, velvety chocolate creations.

So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that for my first cupcake (out of three) I decided on mudslide cupcakes. Before I decided to take on this cupcake, I did a bit of research. To say I wasn’t daunted would be a lie. A dual swirl of frosting? I’ve never done that before. All the versions I saw online looked so professional, so beautiful and not to mention so tasty!

And then if the frosting dilemma wasn’t enough, there were so many different cake base recipes. So many in fact that I got confused. Ones with Kahlua, ones with Baileys, ones that were plain chocolate… Turns out everyone else in the cupcake sphere enjoy experimenting no?

Nevertheless, I decided to give these bad boys a go. I adapted the chocolate cake recipe from the Crabapple Bakery Cupcake Cookbook and added dashes of Kahlua and Baileys to just a simple vanilla buttercream icing recipe.

The results as above: you judge for yourself. Winner? I think so, but I’m biased.

Mudslide cupcakes

Chocolate Baileys cupcakes

Makes lots and lots of cupcakes – at least 50 mini cupcakes and 16 standard sized cupcakes (that’s what I took in to work and they were all gone!)

3 cups of flour
2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of hot water
1 cup of cocoa
2/3 cup of Baileys Irish Cream (or 1 cup of Baileys if you want even boozier cakes)
1/3 cup of milk  (omit if using 1 cup of Baileys)
200g of softened unsalted butter
2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

1| Preheat your oven to 170oC. Line your trays with cupcake liners.
2| Sift together the flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and salt. In a small separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, combine the milk and Baileys.
3| In the bowl of your mixer or in another bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add the castor sugar a third at a time, beating for around 2 minutes after each addition. After the last addition, keep beating until the butter and sugar mixture is light and fluffy. You should see it change colour – the mix won’t be as yellow as when you first started the creaming process.
4| Add the eggs in, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and beat for another minute or so.
5| Add a quarter of the flour to the creamed mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Add about a third of the cocoa and Baileys mixture and beat until combined. Repeat this process twice more. Add the rest of the flour and until combined. Be careful not to overbeat – it will toughen the mixture. Beat until just combined and you can gently fold the rest with a spatula if you like.
6| Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling each to about three-quarters full. If you don’t want cracks in the tops of your cakes (come on, no one does right? It’s not that pretty), just sit your cakes for 10-20 minutes before baking.
7| Bake for about 10 minutes (for little cupcakes) or 15-17 minutes for standard sized cupcakes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the trays immediately and completely cool on a wire rack before frosting. Try to refrain from eating.

Baileys buttercream icing

150g softened unsalted butter
1-2 cups of icing sugar mixture, depending on how sweet you want it
A dash of vanilla extract
3 tablespoons of Baileys Irish Cream

1| Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes in a clean, dry bowl.
2| Add in the Baileys and vanilla extract and beat for at least a couple of minutes.
3| Add in the icing sugar, a bit at a time, adjusting to your tastes.

Kahlua buttercream icing

150g softened unsalted butter
3 tablespoons of Dutch cocoa powder (this is the good stuff – it’s dark and has a slightly bitter taste so will balance out the sweetness of the Baileys)
A dash of vanilla extract
6 tablespoons of Kahlua

1| Cream the butter for 1-2 minutes in a clean, dry bowl.
2| Add in the cocoa powder and beat for at least a couple of minutes.
3| Add in the Kahlua and vanilla extract and beat for at least a couple of minutes.
4| Add in the icing sugar, a bit at a time, adjusting to your tastes.

Frosting the cupcakes

Note: this is a little tricky, and messy if not careful but definitely doable. You need a bit of equipment, but nothing that a well-equipped kitchen won’t have. The cakes do look better with a swirl but you can easily find a swirl nozzle from many stores like House, Matchbox, or the General Store.

You’ll need:
A large swirl nozzle
2 smaller piping bags (you can use disposable piping bags
1 large piping bag to house the 2 smaller piping bags

1| Place the Kahlua and Baileys icing into the smaller bags (one bag for Kahluah, one for Baileys). Try to make sure that the amount of icing in each bag is equal.
2| Place the nozzle in the end of the big piping bag. Snip the end off (but only make a small cut). Place these two bags side by side into the big bag. Close off the big bag by twisting off the top.
3| On each cake, make a swirl and sprinkle with chocolate shavings if you like.
4| Eat one or many, until full.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

cupcake combat: mudslide VS margarita

A battle to the death! Okay, it’s not really a battle to the death, obviously. I have been known to be dramatic at times. 

I'm challenging Rebecca, from adashofchocolate to a cupcake showdown.

This is combat though, this is serious, and there can only be one winner.

Alright, I'll stop being dramatic... neither Rebecca nor I will technically be
crowned the ‘winner’ because we will both be winners (in the eyes of our loved ones anyway).

So, it goes like this. We have chosen the theme ‘cocktails’, and we will both be creating a set of
three cupcakes based on alcoholic beverages. How good is that?

I've tried to conduct some serious research but haven't quite made it to the local watering hole and tried a bevvy of cocktails. Maybe I will before round two. All for a good cause of course. 

Now it really is for a good cause, because we are doing this to encourage you all to be involved with
World Down Syndrome Day on the 21st of March 2013. Host a tea, bring cupcakes to work and sell
them to your colleagues (we’ll give you some recipes), or just donate. You can sign up here.

So for round one... can I get a drumroll please... Rebecca's margarita cupcake vs. my mudslide cupcake.

How good do these margarita cupcakes look??? Super moist orange tequila cupcake with a lime, tequila and orange buttercream, topped off with sweet n' salty candied lime slice. I hope Rebecca saved one for me.

My cupcake is for any chocolate lover... luscious chocolate cupcake with kahlua and baileys frostings, swirled together. BOOM.

If you want to make Rebecca's cupcake, click here.

Otherwise, if you want to give my cupcake a go, click here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

hump day afternoon dee-lights

ah. Wednesdays. I actually don't mind Wednesdays. The day of the week when I have choir... that's what probably makes Wednesdays so good. A capella goodness every Wednesday for 2 hours, I can't go wrong.

On the weekend, beau and I revisited a classic - Anchorman. I forgot how funny this movie is... and how many classic comedic actors are in it.

So what better song for hump day than Afternoon Delight? And I'm pretty sure in the movie it was done a capella. Even better.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

throwback thursday

Continuing on with my 90's theme... this week it's about one week. Chickity china the Chinese chicken. Say what?!

One of my absolute favourite songs that is on extremely high rotation to this day, on the iPod. I think I listen to this song every day. Yes, it's that good.

Now, I'm trying to remember, as with all my throwbacks, what was happening to me at the time the song was 'in vogue'. Ok, a quick look on Wikipedia tells me that this song peaked in 1998-1999. Ah, the start of high school. Probably not the best of times, if I was to be honest. The first few years of high school, in my opinion, are not that fun. Let's face it. You're at the bottom of the ladder, far from the leader of the pack and all that jazz. Nevertheless, life was carefree, responsibilities were limited. You only had to worry about homework (if that, really). Maybe a bit of peer pressure but nothing like what kids are facing today, I'm sure (pretty sure I wouldn't survive if I was in school today).

Anyway, enjoy, pretend you're a pimply, greasy long haired 14 year old, head banging head lolling. Why? Because it's fun.

Friday, February 15, 2013

red wine chocolate cupcakes

Red, red wine.... go to my head...

Yes, I'm a light-weight. A cadbury, as one would say.

I always have trouble finishing off a bottle of red. Don't get me wrong, I do like a glass of red, but am not one for drinking a whole bottle. Luckily, I found this recipe while browsing through one of my sites of inspiration: Smitten KitchenThe red wine in this recipe is the perfect amount to finish off that last bit  of wine in a bottle.

This cake is really divine. You can smell the wine (yes, it doesn't completely cook off!) and so has that 'adult' feel to it. The flavour can be quite intense but I think that's a good thing. Some type of topping or cream would help with the intensity of the flavour. I used cream cheese icing for my cupcakes - a bit like a red velvet cupcake. I recently made some for a friend's party and her daughter accidentally ate one (apparently she is attracted to anything 'chocolate'). She quickly proceeded to tell her mum that 'they taste funny' so a word of caution: probably not best for the kiddies!

If however, you are looking for a lovely cake for dessert or a cheeky somewhat boozy afternoon tea, this cake will hit the spot. It works in multiple ways - I made them into cupcakes but it would work as a cake too, as seen on the Smitten Kitchen website.

They are really easy to whip up, so go on, treat yourself, use up the last of the red wine in that bottle and kick your feet up when done. You'll thank me for it, I'm sure.

red wine chocolate cupcakes

adapted from smitten kitchen's Red Wine Chocolate Cake

85g unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup red wine, any kind you like
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tbs plain flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1| Preheat the oven to 165 degrees. Line your cupcake tray with cupcake liners.
2| In a large bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter on a medium speed until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy (for about 3 minutes).
3| Add the eggs and beat well. Pour the red wine in and vanilla. The batter will probably look a little uneven but that's ok.
4| Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, over the wet mixture. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Nice and slow, so it's all even.
5| Divide the mixture into the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes or so, or until the cake tester inserted into the cupcakes comes out clean.
6| Cool the cakes on a rack. Top with any icing you like or with icing sugar. I topped mine with cream cheese icing. mmm. cream cheese icing.