26 December, 2012

Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes

Merry (late) Christmas everyone! I hope everyone is having an amazing and festive holiday season. I wish I could say I'm having a white christmas..but I'm not. It's blazing heat over here and I am sweating balls!

These cupcakes have 43grams of butter in them. Yes, you read correctly. 43 grams in 12 cupcakes. So out of the ordinary for cupcakes yet so amazing! These have become a staple in my house as me and my family don't feel guilty stuffing our faces with them.

My family is safely inside with the AC on full blast. We have been lazy asses all day because the heat has gotten to all of us.

I made these cupcakes the day before yesterday for myself. I adapted the recipe slightly so I could have it by subsitituing the white flour for spelt flour and the milk for rice milk. It turned out absolutely fine and super spongey!

The recipe also calls for 5 tablespoons of butter in the icing - but I left that out because it seemed too sickly sweet in such hot weather. But altogether, it's one stick of butter for BOTH the cupcakes and icing. You can finally gorge on cupcakes and not even feel bad about it.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
    adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
    makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour (I subbed in 1 cup of spelt flour)
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk (I subbed in 1/2 cup of rice milk)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 celcius).
Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
     from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
     makes enough for 12 cupcakes, double this recipe to frost an 8-inch cake

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the powdered sugar and butter together in an electric mixer fit with a paddle attachment on medium low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer speed to low. Combine the milk and the vanilla extract and slowly stream it into the butter and sugar mixture. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. If you find that your frosting is getting to warm in the summer months, stop beating and set in the fridge for a few minutes. Once chilled, hook the frosting back up the the mixer and beat once more until you reach the desired consistency.

14 December, 2012

Hervé's Two Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

This recipe is absolutely fabulous and as the posts title states, yes it has only two ingredients! The recipe produces the dense thickness yet airyness of a chocolate mousse while keeping the calories down.

I suggest while making this to use the best possible chocolate you can get hold of as there is no cream or eggs to mask the flavour of the chocolate and instead, the chocolate is the star of the show, being mixed only with water to produce this mousse.

This recipe was created by a French chemist who was a molecular gastronomist and I watched Heston Blumenthal make it on his show.

It's important to not overbeat the chocolate sauce once it is in the ice cold bath as it can become too grainy. However, keep in mind, the more you whisk, the more moussey the mixture becomes up until the point where the chocolate siezes.

I left mine at the cold chocolate pudding-semi mousse stage, however you can always keep whisking longer to get that thick dense mousse most people are after.

The recipe is all about timing. However, this recipe being as incredible as it is allows you to also reverse your mistakes using the SAME mixture! All thats needed is to scoop out the "wrong" (overbeaten, grainy etc.) mixture and place it back onto the saucepan where you reheat it to get the glossy chocolate mixture. Then you carry out again, the next step where you chuck it in an icebath with a bowl on top. So fab.

You could also use this recipe for a chirstmas vibe! And add any flavouring you want with the water, whether that be liquor or orange essence or juice to give it another layering of flavour. However, I think just using the chocolate on its own produces a very thick, rich and creamy mousse which lets the chocolate flavour shine through. Bon appetit!

Hervé's Chocolate Mousse (Adapted from Hervé This' Molecular Gastronomy, via Food 52)

100g high quality dark chocolate (roughly 70%)
80ml (or g) water
a few handfuls of ice cubes
good glug of double cream (optional garnish)
cocoa nibs (optional garnish)

Chop the chocolate up into chunks. Put the ice into a bowl then fit a metal bowl (if possible, it will let the mixture cool faster, meaning less whisking) into it. Add some water to the ice to make sure the bottom of the top bowl is submerged and cooled. Get a whisk and serving bowls ready.

Place the chocolate into a saucepan with the water. Warm over low-medium heat until the chocolate has dissolved and you have a smooth liquid. Pour into the cold bowl and start whisking immediately. As you whisk, the mixture should start to slowly thicken. Keep going until it holds thick ribbons. Quickly transfer to your serving bowls before it starts to set.

Remove the chocolate bowl from the ice and replace with a clean one. Pour in some double cream and whip until it holds soft peaks. Spoon over the mousse and sprinkle some cocoa nibs over the top. Serve immediately if possible. If not, place in the fridge then bring up to room temperature before serving.

(Serves 2-3)

11 December, 2012

Sweet Potato and Brown Butter Scones

Hey yo! I made these last night because I was craving a snack and the recipe kind of fell into the holiday recipe category!
I love scones so much their so easy and so simple in flavour and you can just snack on them whenever you want.

These scones are so good. Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices and it's flavour in the scone works so well with the sweet potato. I've demolished half of the tray.
The addition of the brown butter also provides a nutty taste to the scones, making it even harder to not go back for a second, or third, or in my case...fourth.

The scones almost taste like gingerbread, but you need to remember to put the tea towel over the scones after they come out of the oven - because I didn't and they went a bit tough..oop. But still delicious anyway.

The countdown to christmas also begins!

Sweet Potato & Brown Butter Scones
(adapted from this recipe, makes about 10)
1 3/4 cups (245 g) plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup (250 g) cooked, mashed orange sweet potato
60g unsalted butter
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (I used skim)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp brown sugar
To serve: Clotted cream & fresh strawberries, maybe a drizzle of maple syrup

Prepare your sweet potato first. I boiled mine until very tender, mashed and then set aside to cool. Place butter in a small saucepan on low heat and brown, swirling the mixture regularly so it heats evenly. Set aside. Preheat oven to 210°C (410°C). Sift flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg into a small bowl. Stir together sweet potato, browned butter, milk, egg and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Cut flour mixture into the wet ingredients using a flat bladed knife until just evenly moistened.

Turn dough out onto a well floured work surface. With floured hands, gently pat (don't knead!) out to a 2-3cm-thick round (I like them thick, so I do 3cm). Cut into rounds with a 6 cm biscuit/scone cutter. Place rounds on a baking tray about 2.5 cm apart. Gather up remaining dough. Pat into a circle; cut out remaining scones. Brush tops of the scones with some extra milk using a pastry brush. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes, cover with a clean tea towel once out of the oven to keep them soft. Serve warm with clotted cream and sliced fresh strawberries and maybe a little maple syrup if you wish.