I feel like I'm in a bit of a time warp at present - it seems as though my last batch of cupcakes was ages ago, but in reality it was just two weeks. I think that's more of a reflection on the fact that this month I wasn't in a mad rush to bake them before the end of the month. They just sort of happened, because I felt like baking them, and didn't feel like I was under pressure to bake and blog before the end of the month.
It's much more enjoyable cooking when you're not under pressure. I think the fact that I baked 2 things AND completed my February Daring Cooks challenge (no link yet as the post won't be up until the 14th) all in one afternoon, as well as fitting in a swim, a trip to the movies and some decent time spent curled up with a book, and felt tired but not stressed, really tells me that I enjoyed myself on Saturday.
This month, after the roaring success of last month's GF Chai Cupcakes (they rose! They really rose!), I decided to re-work a recipe for vanilla cupcakes that I had previously attempted to adapt to become GF. The recipe was originally from thecupcakeproject but now that I'm into the second incarnation the recipe is resembling the original less and less. I decided that, seeing as Valentine's Day is coming up, I would decorate them accordingly.
I was hoping the changes I made to the recipe would cause them to rise better, but it didn't seem to make a great deal of difference. They were still flattish, but not sunken, so I guess that counts as a partial success! Then again, I am increasingly filled with skepticism about the integrity of mum's oven. I think I may have to get a thermometer to place IN the oven, because I suspect it's five to ten degrees too cool, so for all I know this recipe could actually be a roaring success. They tasted less like vanilla, too, although in hindsight that's probably more to do with the fact that I loaded them up with chocolate ganache! I dropped a couple when I was turning them out of the pan, which meant they were squashed, so I had to eat a squashed one while it was still hot (you know, in the name of quality control ;) and it did taste like vanilla, so perhaps next time I use this recipe I will ice it with something significantly more subtle.
Also, I apologise for the photos - fading light + having no idea how to photograph glossy brown things in red wrappers = terrible photos!!! If anyone can tell me how to improve this situation I would be much obliged :)
Note that the below flowchart is how I normally copy recipes out by hand, so I thought I'd give it a whirl today. If you're struggling with the format, I have written notes below. Each set of ingredients is referred to as "set 1", "set 2" etc. in order down the page.
Now, for a favour - my Statcounter tells me there are regular readers all over the world and I value your input, so PLEASE comment and tell me whether you like this method of copying out recipes, or you prefer the good ol' fashioned method. Everyone who comments will go into a draw to win baked goods (home-made if you're within Australia, or a packet of Tim-Tams if you're outside of Australia). The draw will close on the 17th of February and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Get commenting!
And to the notes on the recipe -
Preheat oven to 180oC and line cupcake trays with cupcake liners (makes about 22 Australian cupcakes, give or take).
Combine Group 1 ingredients in a small bowl until vanilla seeds are evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Smells divine!
Whip egg whites (Group 6) until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Mix Group 2 ingredients together in a large bowl and add combined Group 1 ingredients.
Add Group 3 ingredients to the large bowl and mix until resembling bread crumbs.
Mix Group 4 ingredients together in the bowl that originally contained the sugar/vanilla mixture until even in texture. Add to large bowl and mix well.
Add Group 5 ingredients slowly to the large bowl, mixing on low (you don't want to over-work GF products).
Fold half of Group 6 into the large bowl until evenly mixed, then fold the other half in.
Immediately scoop into cupcake wrappers (half fill) and bake for 14-16 minutes.
Note that the original recipe said 175oC for 14 minutes, but I ended up turning the oven up by ten degrees and baking for an extra five minutes or so once the 14 minutes was over. I think this has more to do with the seals on the oven than the accuracy of the recipe!
THE CHOCOLATE GANACHE:
300mL of thickened cream (the sort you use to whip)
300g chocolate, finely chopped.
Note - I used 200g of dark chocolate and 100g of milk chocolate as this is what I had on hand. Milk chocolate can help take the edge of dark chocolate as dark chocolate on its own makes a very rich ganache. And I just realised why my ganache turned out so sloppy - I probably added a little less chocolate than I had originally intended (oops!), and the closer to a 1:1 ratio of cream to chocolate, the sloppier the mix and the softer it will remain, even when refrigerated. For a stiffer mix, add more chocolate
Heat cream until bubbles form, dump in the chopped chocolate (make sure it is all submerged), let it sit for a few minutes and then stir it until it forms a smooth mixture.
Divide mixture in two. Mixture #1 will be cooled and then whipped, and mixture #2 will be cooled until it thickens so that it is spreadable but not uruly, but do not cool as much as mixture #1. I am impatient so I cooled mixture #1 in the freezer and stirred it every 5 to 10 minutes until it was still just pliable but a little on the stiff side, then whipped it with the whisk attachment on the Kenwood.
While I was daydreaming about ganache on the bus yesterday (as one does!) I realised that this would make a very good chocolate mousse replacement for people who are freaked out at the thought of raw egg (which is in normal, home-made chocolate mousse. I'm sorry if you didn't already know that and it has ruined your love for it!). Aaaanyway...
I then attempted to use this, which I got for my birthday last year from Kirsti. It's a hoover-joover for making holes in cupcakes and then filling them with something yummy.
I don't think I was using it correctly, but it still gave me a good-shaped hole.
I only cut about half way through the cupcake and then lifted the little cake round out with an old-fashioned sugar/jam spoon with a large, rounded end (think soup spoon, but smaller, and decorative)...
...filled them with a spoonful of whipped ganache...
...and then smooshed the tops back on.
Next time I will definitely consider putting the ganache in a piping bag and injecting the cupcakes with the filling - it would probably give a nicer finish. You know, provided the cupcake didn't explode ;)
And here are the super-cute heart-shaped sprinkles and red jimmies I used, available at bakingpleasures.com.au (they don't know I exist, except that by the end of the year I will probably have just about paid off their mortgage!), which is also where I got the red and black cupcake wrappers from.
And here they all in rows.
And because it was getting dark, and because I also think I need glasses now, I have included another photo because one seemed too blurry. Except now that that one looks blurry, too... yep, time to visit the optometrist!
Don't forget to comment on the recipe format, even if you don't have a Google account. Thanks! :)