Coconut Ice Cupcakes

Ice ice baby.

Well that is what should be falling from the sky tomorrow. Hopefully.

I really should have been doing some research for my next assignment due after the holidays but my brain just couldn't cope. So instead I baked. The only problem with said baking is that most of my friends have gone off home and so finding people to give these fellas a home is proving a challenge. So I decided that because tomorrow was likely to be such a terrible (or wonderful depending which way you look at it) day weather wise that these popping up in the Applied Science tearoom would go down a treat.

Hey we are a food science department, we have a bit of an affinity for food funnily enough.

Blogging about Cupcakes I do believe is a nice change. I haven't made any in a while. In fact I think the last time I made cupcakes was actually the lamington cupcakes that I posted here. Man they were good. Haha and also were covered in coconut.

I took the basic Hummingbird Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe and added a quarter of a cup of desiccated coconut and a few drops of coconut essence to the sponge. I then added more coconut essence as well as some strawberry essence to the icing. Oh then chopped up some coconut ice that I picked up at the supermarket from the bulk bins to place on the top of them.

Here are the flavourings I used. Oh and that's Dad in the background. Hi Dad.

So as you can see, they are not tricky at all!

I am just really liking the effect of the coconut on the top. I used both threaded and desiccated for that.

Also, because they are supposed to look quite rough (come on who has ever seen a perfect piece of coconut ice before?) it doesn't matter what the icing beneath the coconut looks like, in fact I think the rougher the icing the better the effect. It almost gives it that whipped, cloud-like look.

I can't wait for my little cousin Lulu to have big birthday parties. Haha I think I will end up going a little over the top with them!

Remember you can add more or less coconut essence, more or less strawberry essence and more or less pink food colouring to the sponge according to your own preferences.

Coconut Ice Cupcakes
Adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook 
Makes 12

40g butter, softened
140g castor sugar
120g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup full fat milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
a few drops coconut essence
1 teaspoon vanilla essece

50g butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
up to a quarter cup of milk (add it gradually until you achieve a fluffy consistency)
a splash of vanilla essence
few drops of coconut and strawberry essence
pink food colouring
threaded and/or desiccated coconut to cover
coconut ice to decorate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Mix together the butter, sugar, coconut, flour and baking powder until a fine, sandy consistency is reached.

Gradually add in half of the milk and mix until combined. Crack in the egg, beat until combined then mix in the remaining milk plus the coconut and vanilla essences. Mix until combined and smooth.

Spoon into the 12 cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden.

Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

To make the icing, cream together the butter and icing sugar, add small amounts of milk to loosen the mixture up. Add in the essences and pink food colouring until it meets your desired shade of pink. Keep beating until the icing is really voluminous. It should not be runny at all ie it should form stiff peaks.

Spoon this icing onto the cool cupcakes and using a knife or palatte knife, smooth the icing into a swirl. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect. Imperfection is the new perfection. Natural looking is far more pleasing to the eye.

Sprinkle (or totally drown) the cupcakes with the coconut and decorate with the coconut ice (I chopped mine into smaller cubes).

Stand back and marvel at how terribly girly everything looks and curse at your previously spotless floor that is now covered in icing sugar and coconut.



White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Hello all!

This is just a breather post. A non chocolate laden browniesque recipe to cleanse the palate. Ok well it is chocolate laden, but there is no dark chocolate, or snickers bar in sight! So it will do.

I feel like I need to be a bit more adventurous in my cookie baking. It is like there are only so many types you can make before you delve into what I call the 'nut-based' zone, where every other recipe contains an expensive ground nut base such as almond, or hazelnut.

I also feel that there are only so many sorts of chocolate bars bloggers can hide inside cookies before it becomes a bit crazy, a bit ott and just a bit gluttonous. I feel there are many baking blogs out there which aren't really baking blogs at all. Instead they are just methods for assembling pre-mix cakes with the confectionary isle's worth of chocolate bars into one heart attack and diabetic coma. The craft, skill and love lacks somewhat.

So maybe I will have to dive into those fancy looking almond based cookies after all.

So anyway whilst skulking the works of Donna Hay online for new recipes to try I found a recipe for coconut and white chocolate chunk cookies.

I love coconut.

I love white chocolate.

I love cookies.

We had a winner.

Although I have to say, the appearance of the final baked cookie looks nothing like the picture on her website. I wonder what happened. I wonder how she got them so excellent looking.

Regardless, they tasted excellent.

Ah, speaking of excellent, I managed to find a new cookie consumer. All my current cookie consumers (who receive snap lock bags full of cookies on a semi regular basis) are all on diets. Apparently Maxie wants his abs back. Boooo!!! But through sheer luck, my lack of social normalcy and a casual chat in the Link at uni I managed to find a new consumer. There is nothing better than gifting fresh baking to people who appreciate it. I get as much joy giving it away as I do making it, so if I can brighten someone else's day as well it is well worth it. Baking equals love folks.

I swapped the self raising flour here for an extra cup of plain plus a teaspoon of baking powder. I also added more white chocolate melts. Because you can never have too many of those.

Coconut and White Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Donna Hay
makes 25ish

125g butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g white chocolate melts or white chocolate chopped into chunks
1 cup desiccated coconut

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the egg and mix until voluminous. Mix in the vanilla.

Mix in the flour, baking powder and coconut.

Stir in the chocolate.

Roll into balls and use the palm of your hand to flatten them on the tray (lined with baking paper).

Bake at 180 for 12 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Easy as that.


Chocolate Lamington Cupcakes

I have been baking non stop. I think today is the only day I haven't made anything in the last like ten days. That's pretty bad. In those last ten days I have made another brownie, hot cross buns, countless cookies including the white chocolate, maple syrup spice cookies that I have yet to perfect and a double layered vanilla bean cake. I think it is just turning into a habit. I really need to stop.

I think the problem is that it is actually quite lonely in our little three person flat. The others are always doing something away in their rooms. I like being alone but I prefer friendly company more. Sometimes you don't even have to interact with the person. You can just sit there doing separate things but still feel like you are being part of something and spending time with that person. Take my best friend Cara for example. We can sit in the same room for hours not talking (although lets be honest, going without talking to her never lasts long!) but we still feel like we are spending quality time together. I think thats why my friends sometimes just find me sitting on the end of their bed, or on their couch just chilling, just absorbing the friendly, loving vibes that are around.

How did I get onto this? ah right, I am substituting in-flat human contact with baking. After all baking equals love. Hmm gift giving (especially of the edible kind) and kind acts of service (get your minds out of the gutter people!) are my expressive love languages.

So now it seems I have a whole stack of recipes I need to blog about. Looks like a job for this coming weekend! But for now I will share with you some delicious cupcakes.

Lamingtons are having a bit of a comeback in the trendy department. You find some very cute looking ones hiding away in some nifty cafes. There is nothing better than a fresh lamington filled with whipped cream and a dollop of really good berry jam. Nom! They are quite a retro wee cake, reminiscent of tea rooms and bakeries stopped at during long family car trips in small New Zealand towns. They are on the same sort of nostalgic level as the mighty custard square.

In the Treats from Little and Friday book I have they have these amazing looking lamingtons. The only thing is that thy aren't your typical lamingtons. They are in fact a cone of really moist, dense chocolate cake smothered in ganache and thickly desiccated coconut. They looked amazing. I really wanted to make them. The only problem was that I didn't have the cone shaped moulds that they baked them in.

So instead of making cone shaped lamingtons I made cupcake sized ones. But I didn't make a dense heavy cake, I made a light and airy chocolate cupcake sponge instead which I then smothered in chocolate ganache. They were divine. They looked really effective too. They certainly didn't last long, especially after giving some to the neighbours as well as Maria, Jamal and Jolene on my way to the gym. Its a good thing most of them were given away, like I said, there are only three of us here.

So the cupcake recipe I used came from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf but I made a wee change. Instead of using 140g of caster sugar I used instead muscovado sugar. This is a less refined sugar as it still has molasses in it. This doesn't make it any better for you though! It has a greater moisture content and the granules are slightly bigger. It lends a wonderful colour and more intense flavour than regular caster or even regular brown sugar. This is perfect for making chocolate cakes with. It make the cakes slightly more velvety that they usually would be. It's hard to describe but I feel like velvety is a good world.

Now for those of you who have never made a ganache before (dear lord you have been missing out!) it is really easy but you are gonna want to do it a few hours before you want to use it as it needs to set in the fridge.

In a double boiler (ie a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water) you want to heat your cream. Once the cream is hot enough so you cant put your finger in it for longer than five seconds you can pop in your chocolate. Now I like using the Nestle dark chocolate melts for this. I just like the intense flavour but the sweetness too. For these cupcakes I used just a block of Cadbury 70% cocoa solids chocolate but substituted in about a quarter of it with just plain dairy milk to make it sweeter. It's all up to personal preference. Stir in the chocolate until it is all melted and smooth. Take the bowl of the water (carefully!) and leave to sit on the bench until it is cool enough to pop in the fridge. Don't cover it while it is still hot because then you get condensation dripping back into it. Then once it is almost fully set (still spreadable but firm), use a hot knife or palate knife to artfully swirl the ganache onto the cupcake. Then sprinkle over the coconut and you are ready to go.

I used rather large cupcake cases for these. The Jaytee ones (in the supermarket) I find are quite small. I wanted a decent sized cupcake for this. Just whatever you do, only fill it to 2/3 of the way up otherwise you end up with a very messy spill over! Not ideal!

Chocolate Lamington Cupcakes
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Makes 16

200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
280g muscovado sugar (brown sugar will also suffice)
3 teaspoons baking powder
80g butter, softened
240ml (1 cup) milk (preferably whole but it doesn't really matter)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

about a cup of large flaked desiccated coconut

for the ganache:
400g good dark chocolate (If using really high cocoa solids try try substituting in a proportion of milk chocolate to make it sweeter if you wish)
1 cup full fat cream

To make the ganache, heat the cream in a heatproof bowl over some simmering water. Place the chocolate into the bowl, leave to sit for a minute then stir until melted and smooth. You may want to take the bowl off the heat if you are worried about the chocolate burning on the bottom. Leave to cool on the bench before transferring to the fridge for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa and baking powder until a fine sandy consistency is achieved.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla together. Slowly add, in thirds this mixture to the dry mixture. Beat well after each addition. Once all the liquid has been added, beat on high for a minute so that the mixture becomes thick and smooth.

Spoon the mixture into a muffin tray lined with large paper cases until they are two thirds full (!!!).

Bake for 20 or so minutes or until the sponge bounces back when touched, a skewer comes out clean, your house smells like baked cupcake or you can hear them no longer sizzling away.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Leave to cool completely before smothering in ganache and sprinkling with coconut.


Caramel Oat Bars

With emphasis on the caramel.

Imagine you are a slice living in my house. Your main goal in life as a slice is to be eaten but more importantly is to win the affection of me, Sophie so I will make you over and over again. How does a slice win my affections? Well the same way anyone does; with chocolate, caramel and enough sugar to turn a health freak into a diabetic in one bite.

This slice is a winner, no doubt about that. Sure the others I have posted about have the chocolate and the sugar aspects and are delicious but few slices can compare to one that is layered and within those layers lies a gooey caramel centre.

In the flurry of all these new slices that Mum and I have been finding recipes for I forgot about my old favourite, my turn to, my staple to impress. I am blaming my Christmas bakewell and birdseed slice for this.

Rewind back to last January and I was making this caramel oaty slice as well as my lemon krummeltorte slice at least once a week to take to friends places or as thank yous to people for letting me stay at their houses over the holidays.

I made this slice for my brother to take as a thank you for his friend Drew's parents for letting him stay a couple of nights in Tairua with them. It was this or the brownie and I was not in the mood to battle with sticky chocolatey brownie mixture.

Its pretty easy, in fact it is very difficult to get wrong unless you burn it (ok which I sort of did) or burn the caramel.

Don't let me fool you, this isn't fiddly, candy thermometer requiring caramel. This is can of condensed milk + butter + golden syrup + saucepan caramel. Easy as. Unless your tin of condensed milk decides it wants to be far runnier than usual leaving you confused and wondering whether or not it will thicken to produce a delicious caramel.

Perseverance and sheer laziness to go down to the shops and buy a new tin paid off. The caramel thickened and the day was saved.

This slice requires three components; the oath base, the caramel filling and the coconut topping.

Usually when I see things that have components I flick the page and look for something less ingredient hungry.

But this slice is different. And well worth it.

I chose to cook my base slightly longer than it says too, this made it really nice and crunchy. If you are into more cakey slices with a softer base then only cook it for ten minutes. The end result is still delicious.

Caramel Oat Bars
Source of this glorious creation completely unknown
Makes a thin 20x30cm slice

100g butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats

395g tin of full fat, full sugar condensed milk
50g butter
2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 cup threaded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
50g butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and line a 20x30cm (or smaller) baking tin with baking paper.

Cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Sieve in the flour the mix then add in the oats and the coconut.

Press firmly into the base of the lined tin and then bake for 10 (soft) to 15 (crunchier) minutes. Once baked, remove to cool while you make the caramel.

Place all the caramel ingredients into a saucepan and stir over a low to medium heat until the contents has turned a dark golden colour and has thickened. This should take 3 - 5 minutes.

Spread the caramel over the base.

To make the topping, place the butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and melt together. Add in the coconut and oats and stir until well coated.

Sprinkle the topping over the caramel and base.

Bake in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes or until the topping has turned crisp and golden in colour.

Once cold, cut into bars or squares.


Delicious Delicious Date and Coconut Cake

I don't make enough cakes. It's always cupcakes, slices, biscuits but no decent discs of great cake.

I am aiming to change that.

The only problem with cakes is that you kind of need a reason to bake a cake and a significant number of people so that you don't eat the whole thing by yourself.

I found out the other day that I got into the honours program for my food innovation degree. I thought that was a good excuse as any to bake a cake. I had dreams of the whole family sitting around the table to eat cake.

Alas that is not the life of the modern day working family.

I had also made chicken and sundried tomato fettucine for dinner to be ready at 6ish. My brother and I waited and waited but the parentals did not turn up. We gave up waiting and had our portions just us. Then finally at 7ish Dad walked in. Then nearing 7.30 Mum walked in. There goes the family dinner.

Oh and then Dad complained that we had eaten all the dinner. No Dad, that is what half of the chicken mixture looks like. Exactly half. Aah then their were complaints that their fettucine wasn't cooked. We thought we were doing them a favour, afterall who likes half cold stodgy pasta?

Then I watched in agony as Dad attempted to boil water and cook the fettucine, asking every thirty seconds whether it was cooked or not.

They say girls marry their fathers.

I will certainly not be marrying a man who does not know when his pasta is al dente.

Right, where was I? Aaah Cake.

Right so the time that everyone had come home, Jack's and my stomach had empties sufficiently to fit in some delicious cake. Unfortunately Mum and Dad at this exact time were beached like whales on the couch full of creamy pasta and nursing their food babies. They did not feel like cake.

Epic failure.

So I ate cake by myself. It was just as delicious as if I was eating it with company. Also no one could judge me whilst I ate a second piece. Mmmm so moist was this cake.

Oh yes, what type of cake did I make?

I recently purchased Julie Le Clerc's book; Favourite Cakes. It is full of wonderful looking cakes, from chocolate cakes to syrup cakes to cheesecakes to celebration cakes. The best part is that it only cost me $20. Win!

I love dates, they are so great. So anything with dates in it I naturally love also. I also love that delicious caramelly coconut topping that sometimes makes an appearance on top of slices or cakes.

This magical cake had both dates and the magical coconut topping! What a match made in heaven!

Mum used to make a cake similar to this one except it also had apple in it. She used to make them before she got all boring and worky and Mum and Dad actually had friends come over for lunches and the like. Seriously it was a delicious cake, who wouldn't have friends willing to come over at every possible moment if you can make a cake like that?

When I started making this cake I thought the recipe was a bit odd. The cake batter only called for 50g of butter, and you were supposed to cream this with a great deal more sugar. I tried to cream the two but it just wasn't working for me. I decided to add 20 more grams of butter. That seemed to do the trick.

So once all the egg, butter and sugar was fluffed together, you then had to ruin this beautiful aerated emulsion by pouring in all the dates and their cup of hot soaking water turning the fluff into a sloopy (yes sloopy) mess. Arrg??? so much confusion.

Anyway the end result was absolutely devine! Well worth making. It is very rich so I don't suggest you have it after a heavy meal such as our cream laden fettucine. The topping is supposed to have orange blossom water but unfortunately I felt too poor to go and buy some. If you do have some, add a tablespoon or so into the topping and let me know how it turns out! I also am having a bit of a thing with making things nice and spicy. The recipe said to add just cardamom but I went ahead and added some nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. I think it is just the time of year when everything is nice and spicy, why not let this cake join in on all of the fun?

Also, just to note that I used a 22cm tin rather than the 20cm. This means my cake was a little flatter than it was supposed to be. It just meant a greater topping to cake ratio haha.

Arabian Date Cake
Adapted from Julie Le Clerc's Favourite Cakes
Makes a 20cm cake.

170g pitted dried dates, chopped
1 cup water
1 teaspoon baking soda
70g butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly baked soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

50g butter
2 tablespoons cream
1/2 cup firmly packed soft brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of long threaded coconut.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake and prepare a 20cm spring form tin with baking paper.

Place the dates, water and baking soda in a sauce pan and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in the egg and beat until nice and volumous.

Stir in the cooled date mixture forming a sloppy and sloopy mixture.

Sift in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg and stir gently to incorporate into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven whilst you prepare the topping.

In a small sauce pan, melted together the cream, butter and sugar. Heat until a medium dark to golden colour is formed. Stir in the coconut.

Spoon this mixture over the top of the cake evenly and then return the cake to the oven for another 15 minutes so that the topping turns a wonderful golden brown.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin before serving.

Serve with a nice big dollop of whipped cream. That would be great.


Pineapple (and a wee bit of Coconut) Cupcakes

Hello all!

Now this adventure all began with my food innovation class. Wait no it didn't, it started with me gazing at the gourmet food isle at New World for City Centre 40 minutes one Friday night (yes that is how raving my life is).

During this awe struck state I came across these packets of freeze dried fruit powders. Now this made me really quite excited as I had heard before that some cupcake shops use fruit powders to flavour their cupcakes. Now each packet was $8.99 for 40g, a bit pricey for me at the time. Fast forward to our ice cream making lab and were were in a flavour dilemma. Then it hit me, why not colour and flavour the ice cream with some of the fruit powder I found. So we ended up getting raspberry and pineapple and our raspberry chocolate fudge ice cream was a success. But alas! There was powder left over, so I took on the burden of giving it a home with the promise that I would bring out class cupcakes (which I did haha). The first lot I made were vanilla with a raspberry cream cheese icing. Boy was that icing good. It tasted like yoghurt-berry chupa chups. Ill pop a photo down below of them. I was a bit hesitant about putting the pineapple powder into the cupcake batter due to it's acidity. From this experience I would limit the amount in the batter and just knock people out with super pineappley icing, just to ensure a super fluffy sponge.

Now these powders I found at New World City Centre in Dunedin but I imagine places like Farro and Nosh should have them too. I would be surprised if they didn't. They come in all sorts of flavours, actually here is the link, explore for yourself All made here in New Zealand. Very cool I think.

Once again I took a Hummingbird Bakery Recipe for vanilla cupcakes but swapped the vanilla for a tablespoon of the pineapple powder. If you didn't have pineapple powder, hmm perhaps if you get a tin of pineapple in full syrup, drain a small amount of syrup into a sauce pan then boil it until it becomes a thicker syrup then add a tablespoon of that? I imagine that would work. Same with the icing, heat some of the juice up and add the hot juice instead of water when mixing your simple buttercream icing. Yeah that would definitely work.

Slightly altered Hummingbird Vanilla Pineapple Cupcakes

makes 12

40g softened butter
140g caster sugar
120g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon of pineapple powder (or pineapple syrup)
1 egg
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line a muffin tray with 12 cases.

Beat the sugar and butter together. They won't cream but the mixture should lighten in colour. Beat until the sugar is evenly distributed and there are no lumps of butter. Sieve in the flour, baking powder and pineapple powder. Beat until a sandy consistency is achieved. Whisk the egg into the milk, pour half of it into the dry mixture. Beat until smooth then add the rest and continue to beat. Add in the syrup if needed. Beat until smooth. Spoon into cases until they are two thirds full. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Once completely (!!!) cool ice them with a simple butter-icing sugar-hot water buttercream. Add a few tablespoons of the pineapple powder or replace the water with hot pineapple syrup. Sprinkle on some desiccated  or threaded coconut and serve.

I piped the icing on these with a Wilton 1M tip. I piped starting from the outside, swirling in and over. Here is the tutorial that taught me how to swirl and do roses :)

and here are the raspberry ones

Don't they look delicious?

Any of the fruit powders could be substituted for pineapple, the raspberry I know works excellently.

I hope this encourages you to venture down the gourmet aisle and look a little bit more closely at all the wonders that lie there! :)

See you later!