Coconut Cupcakes

Friday, 23 January 2015

I made these Coconut Cupcakes a couple of weekends ago for Raph's birthday.  He and Jo have just come back from a month-long trip round Australia, bronzed and smiley and happy.

These... are not that coconut-y.  If it weren't for the desiccated coconut sprinkled across the top of the icing, I'm not convinced you'd get the flavour coming through, at all.  They are super yummy, but not all that coconut-y.  Phil, a lovely Jamaican guy at my gym, has advised that next time I try putting desiccated coconut into the mixture itself as well, so I will do just that. What a perfect excuse to make these again!

Yield: 12 cupcakes        Time: 45 minutes, plus cooling time


for the cakes

120g plain flour
140g golden caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml coconut milk (I use the pouring kind as opposed to the tinned version)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium egg
desiccated coconut, to decorate

for the frosting
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml coconut milk (same as above)


Heat the oven to 170C.

Line a 12-hole muffin tray with muffin cases.
  1. Beat together the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter until combined and you have a sandy consistency.
  2. In a jug, mix together the coconut milk and vanilla, and beat into the flour mixture on medium speed until combined.  Add the egg and repeat.  You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl!
  3. Spoon the cupcake mixture into the waiting cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.  The best ways to tell if a cake is baked are: skewer test (inserted into the centre of one of the cakes coming out clean), or the sponge springing back when you press a finger to it.
  4. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar and butter until completely combined (on a medium speed of using an electric mixer).  Slowly add the coconut milk until completely combined, and then speed up the mixing for 5 minutes until you have a fluffy white mixture.
  6. Once the cakes have cooled, spoon the frosting mixture onto them and top with desiccated coconut.


Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery cookbook p33.

Pea and Spinach Pasta with Homemade Pesto

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

If you've noticed fewer sugary recipes on my blog in the past few months, it's because - as much as I want to cry as I type it - I'm trying to be healthier.  Luckily for us, there is so much information out there to help us find what works (and doesn't work) for us.  It's taken me years to start listening to myself, but I'm finally paying better attention to what I'm eating and how it's making me feel.  I know it sounds like a crazy task to set yourself - transform yourself into a new, healthier you whilst still running a baking blog filled with butter, sugar and chocolate - but, thankfully, it is possible!  The funny thing is, once I started speaking to my friends about it, it turned out we were all doing the same thing.  Does this mean we're getting older?

This is a yummy dish for deep winter.  My weather app tells me it 'feels like -1' outside at the moment; a suitably cold day for such a fresh, warming dish.  The best thing is that it comes together in mere minutes, so you can spend more of your evening cosying up on the sofa!

Feeds: 4 people      Time: 20 minutes

for the pesto
100g (2/3 cup) pine nuts
200ml (2/3 cup) olive oil
30g fresh basil leaves, with the stems torn off
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
juice of 2 lemons
a pinch of salt

for the pasta
pasta (your usual amount of your usual pasta!)
300g frozen peas
200g fresh spinach leaves
salt and pepper to season (preferably Himalayan salt as it's unrefined)
grated cheese, optional


Bring a saucepan of water to the boil for the pasta.

  1. To make the pesto, place all of the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Place the pasta and peas together in the boiling water and cook until the pasta is done (usually 5 minutes for fresh pasta, 10 minutes or so for dried).  Once it's cooked, drain it off and place it back in the saucepan.  Stir through the pesto and spinach leaves, and place back on a low heat until the pesto has heated through and the spinach has wilted.  Season with salt and pepper, and grate over a little cheese if you like (I did!).


Adapted from:  Deliciously Ella

Star-Topped Mini Cranberry Mince Pies

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Happy New Year!  I hope you'll allow one final Christmas post before we move onto... well, possibly more Christmas-themed posts, as I still have a few wintery recipes to share with you!

As a child I was always most excited about all of the presents under the tree (my cousin Nina and I used to look at as many of the tags as possible before we were caught and told to wait until Christmas morning to find out which were ours!), but as I get older I am so much more grateful for the people that I am able to spend it with.  That's not to say that I didn't check every tag this year, too (don't tell anyone), or that I wasn't delighted to receive gifts, but it's true that your priorities begin to change.

I love Christmas because it's my chance to see most of my aunts, uncles and cousins, all at the same time.  It's one of the only times of the year that we're all in the same room, and it's no less magical than it was when I was a child.  The topics of our discussions may have changed but the smiles are still as true and the hugs are just as warm.

I make these mini mince pies every year to give to friends, family and neighbours.  You could absolutely make your own mincemeat (cranberry or otherwise) - I don't simply due to the expense of the alcohols involved that I would otherwise have no need for.  The pastry is so easy to whip up, and is worth the extra effort.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Yield:  50 mini mince pies       Time: 4-5 hours, including chilling the dough and baking


for the shortcrust pastry

250g plain flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
a pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 medium egg yolks
approx. 50ml cold water

for the filling
cranberry mincemeat: Nigella has a homemade recipe here / I use this one from Waitrose

  1. To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a bowl.  Tip in the butter cubes and rub together with your fingertips until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
  2. Add the egg yolks and start to mix in with your hands, then slowly add the water and mix until a paste is formed that leaves the sides of the bowl clean.
  3. Tip the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a bowl, being careful not to over handle.  Flatten the ball into a disc and wrap in cling film.  Chill in the fridge for 3+ hours.
Heat the oven to 180C fan / 200C / 400F / Gas Mark 6.
Have a mini-cupcake tray ready (I didn't have to grease mine!).
  1. Once chilled, roll out your dough on a lightly floured surface until relatively thin.  These mince pies are so little that you really don't want it too thick otherwise you won't have enough space for the filling!
  2. Using a small, circular fluted pastry cutter, or a small glass if you don't have one, cut out circles of pastry and gently push into the tin.  I find that laying it over the top and pushing a finger down in the middle tucks it in neatly and quickly.
  3. Place a 1/2 teaspoon of mincemeat in each - or judge your own amount, but overfilling will cause them to 'explode' out of the cases as they cook as the pastry cooks and pushes the filling out.
  4. Roll out the remaining pastry again and cut out your stars.  Top each mince pie with a star!
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pastry has turned golden brown.  Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Allow the tray to cool before starting your second batch.


Inspired by Nigella's recipe.

Shortcrust pastry recipe from Paul Hollywood's How to Bake.

Rudolph Cupcakes

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

There's something about turning ordinary cupcakes into seasonal faces.  They don't resemble anything akin to an individual personality until the final piece is in place (be it an antler, or an eye, or a red nose!), and yet each finished cupcake looks so different you could be forgiven for giving them all names after the reindeer in the song.

I'm having internet troubles, so I'll keep this brief in the hopes that I manage to post it before it cuts out again!  As with my Twit-Twoo Owl Cupcakes, these were so much fun to make.  White chocolate buttons as eyes are optional - I can't decide which look I prefer!  They are more comical with them, more authentic without.  

Are you all ready for Christmas?  I find no matter how organised you are there is always more to do!

Yield:  12 cupcakes     Time:  45 minutes (plus cooling time)


for the chocolate cupcakes

100g plain flour
20g cocoa powder
140g golden caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 medium egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g milk chocolate chips

for the reindeer tops

a few tablespoons of Nutella
mini amaretti biscuits
white chocolate buttons (optional)
dark chocolate chips
plain pretzels
red M&Ms


Heat the oven to 170C.

Line a 12-cup muffin tray with muffin cases.

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder in a bowl.  Add the sugar and butter, and mix until combined and you have a sandy consistency.
  2. Whisk together the milk, egg and vanilla in a jug, and slowly pour half into the flour mixture until combined, then repeat with the second half.  Be careful not to over mix.
  3. Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.
  4. Spoon into the waiting muffin cases and bake for 18-22 minutes until a knife comes out clean.  Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool fully.
  5. Top each cooled muffin with a tablespoon of Nutella and spread out with a fork until you have a fur pattern.
  6. Place mini amaretti biscuits at the bottom of each as a muzzle, with a red M&M as a nose, and white chocolate buttons topped with dark chocolate chips as eyes.  A couple of pretzels at the top give them their antlers!


Cupcake recipe adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, p17.


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