How cute is a cupcake? I know, every man & his canine are doing them, but they are a lovely alternative to a birthday cake, and provide a higher icing to cake ratio than a normal slice (ok, I am not sure this has actually been scientifically proven, but should NASA ever take on the job I am sure that would be the finding...)
I recently catered a friends parents joint 80th birthday party, and thought snowball cupcakes would be the perfect sweet finale. They look fab, and are easy to make with a hand held beater. A vanilla cupcake laced with lemon zest, containing a teaspoonful of tangy lemon curd, topped with sweet marshmallow frosting and coconut, I want one of these on my 80th birthday please.......with champagne thanks.
Snowballs (recipe adapted from "Cupcakes!" by Elinor Klivans)
Vanilla Lemon Cupcakes (makes 24 normal sized cupcakes)
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar (yep, these are sweet little cakes!)
1 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
grated zest of a lemon
1 cup sour cream
Pre heat the oven to 180C
Sift the flour, baking powder, soda & salt together into a bowl.
In a large bowl eggs and sugar together until pale & thick (I use my Kitchen Aid but a hand held beater would be fine) With the beater on low add the oil, vanilla and lemon zest, beating until well mixed. Add the sour cream and mix in. Add the flour mixture and beat gently again until all the flour is combined. Pour into 24 lined cupcake cases, filling about 3/4 full, then bake for about 20 mins, until they are pale golden and a skewer poked into the middle of a cake comes out clean.
Cool, then scoop out a tsp of the cake crumb, and fill with a tsp of lemon curd (passionfruit or lime curd is also perfect here, you need something with a tang to counter all that sweet) and top with the following frosting, and a sprinkle of coconut.
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
pinch of cream of tarter
1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
Put the sugar, water, egg white and cream of tarter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl. Using an electric beater, beat the mixture together until it forms a fluffy thick white frosting, this takes about 5-7 minutes. Remove from over the water, add the vanilla and beat for another couple of minutes, where it will further thicken and cool. Swirl all over your cupcakes in generous swirls (cupcake icing is no time for restraint......) and top with the coconut. Hose down yourself and the kitchen, which will somehow have managed to acquire sticky frosting and coconut all over it..........or maybe that's just me?
I also made sticky honey soy chicken wings, zucchini muffins with smoked salmon (recipe here), chicken and walnut mayo sandwiches, ham and brie sandwiches and hummus...........
oh and of course, sausage rolls! I make mine using my butchers best pork bangers, skinned and mixed with onion, seasoning and fresh parsley. So simple, so retro, so good.
All of the pics above were taken by my lovely friend Briar. Not only can she operate a camera with more confusing buttons and knobs than a space shuttle, she fits in photography around being a clever clogs lawyer and mum to a gorgeous little girl, cooking and having a better garden than mine. Oh and she is great fun too.
I know, overachieving tart.....
Speaking of gardens, I thought I would share with you my latest garden disaster, in case you are having a rough day and would like to feel superior. Please admire my sad little courgette plant, after a dawn raid by the local snail community............I tried in vain to cox it back to health but the little buggers had eaten all the fresh growth.....my revenge was a liberal does of Quash, firmly shutting the gate as the horse gallops down the road..........
I was chatting to one of my sisters this morning, she lives in Kerikeri, far north of Auckland, where they get more sun and hence an earlier start on Spring crops. She had been talking on the phone to our Mother (whose garden at the moment is quite spectacular, Ma's fingers are green to the bone, what happened to me is still a mystery) and commented her radishes had grown really well. Mum paused for a second then responded "well anyone who cant grow radishes cant grow anything". They get sun in Northland, but also the odd shower of rain on parades...........
You might have noticed I have had a wee break from my blog. It has been a funny few weeks, I have changed jobs, had some rather worrying news and attempted a "staycation", a holiday at home. This was not exactly a success, instead of coming back from a beach in Fiji relaxed and slightly pink (my version of a holiday tan....), I have a very clean house (even the windows!), and a desire to book a beach break imminently...........actually we are off to Sydney to visit another sister in January so I can look forward to that.
In the meantime I will sit in the sun with my book, finished Vanda Symon's Overkill, great book, am now attempting a Lee Child thriller, not usually my scene but he seems very popular so will give it a go........