Things have been pretty insane lately. My husband and I are in the process of applying for a visa for me to move back to his home country (England) in January. Who knew it would be so draining? We’re exhausted and frustrated. There’s one good part, though – stress makes me want to bake. A lot. There’s just something so soothing about beating the hell out of the butter you’re creaming, you know?
And so, after a rather stressful afternoon which was blighted by a maddening lack of progress, I pulled out the baking equipment.
We’re currently house sitting for my dad, who has only recently moved in here and therefore has several distinct gaps in his collections of cooking utensils/bakeware/basic ingredients. I’ve brought a few bits and pieces with me from home – my electric hand-held beaters, cupcake papers and piping tips – so I had a bit of a rifle around in the kitchen cupboards. After eventually finding self raising flour, muffin trays, vanilla extract, brown sugar and a large jar of raspberry jam, my lovely husband traipsed to the supermarket to fetch me some white chocolate buttons, white chocolate chips and icing sugar.
While he was gone I did a quick Google search (the one key thing I forgot to bring with me was at least one recipe book – drat!) and found a recipe to use as a base for my idea: White Chocolate and Raspberry cupcakes. Let’s face it, it’s a great combination; our wedding cake was actually a White Chocolate and Raspberry Swirl Mudcake, so I think I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for it! The following recipe is my take on the gorgeous kitchen goddess Nigella Lawson’s original recipe.
WHITE CHOCOLATE & RASPBERRY CUPCAKES
250g salted butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups self raising flour, sifted
4 heaped tablespoons raspberry jam
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit or Gas Mark 4) and line one 12 hole cupcake/muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Melt the butter in the microwave in a heatproof bowl, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t bubble up or burn. Once the butter is just melted, whisk in the brown sugar and leave the mixture for a minute or two to allow it to cool. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking to combine, before adding the milk and vanilla. Slowly add the flour and whisk very gently until just combined, then fold in the jam and white chocolate chips. Don’t worry if the mixture appears rather dark; it’s just the brown sugar!
Spoon the mixture into the cupcake papers, filling around 3/4 full. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes (though have a peek at them after 10 minutes – once they get going they cook quickly!) until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cupcakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning the cupcakes out and placing them on a cooling rack to come to room temperature.
Makes 12-14 medium-sized cupcakes.
WHITE CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
200g salted butter, softened
8 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
150g white chocolate buttons, melted
Cream the butter with an electric beater for 2-3 minutes, until light in colour and creamy. Add the milk, vanilla extract and half of the sifted icing sugar and beat again for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is soft, light and fluffy. Add the remaining icing sugar and repeat. Place the chocolate buttons in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30 second intervals, stirring and returning to the microwave until the chocolate has melted. Be careful not to overcook it!
Working quickly, add the melted chocolate into the icing mixture and beat until well combined.
Frost cooled cupcakes with the buttercream and decorate with White Chocolate Hearts.
WHITE CHOCOLATE HEARTS
150g white chocolate buttons
Using the same melting method as above, melt the white chocolate buttons in the microwave. Then, using a piping bag fitted with a round-hole piping tip (I used Wilton brand #5 Round Tip), pipe lines of the melted chocolate onto a baking tray covered in baking paper, topping each stick with a piped heart-shape. Don’t worry about making them perfect – they’ll look adorable, I promise! Allow to cool to room temperature before gently sticking each completed heart into the frosted cupcakes.
I was a little concerned when I first pulled the cupcakes out of the oven. They were much darker around the edges than I would have liked them to be, which I put down to the sugar content – although I’d actually decreased it compared to the original recipe I based this on! However, once they were frosted and I cut into one, I saw that they’re not actually burnt at all, and they taste lovely. The cupcakes themselves are actually beautifully fluffy with a lovely, subtle raspberry tang, and the buttercream has just the right hint of white chocolate without being sickly sweet. Yum!
As a side note, today was the first time I’ve stepped out of my piping-tip-comfort-zone and used a closed star tip. Shock, horror! I must admit that I was a little nervous, as I love my usual open-star tip, but I’ve seen so many photos lately of pretty, ruffled frosting that I wanted to give it a go. I only did half with the closed-star ruffle tip, though – I couldn’t quite shake off the urge to go back to my open-star safety blanket. What can I say? Old habits die hard. I am pleased with the closed-tip results, though. I think I’m in love with the ruffled look!