Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing

Chocolate and chilli is a combination that people either love, or are really skeptical about. I am a lover of this combo, but am so often disappointed that you can't taste any chilli or get any heat. So when I decided to try this combination for myself, I made sure the flavours and heat were there!

I used the chocolate red wine cake recipe, which is an absolute winner, I use that ALL the time now, it's my go to recipe. It's so versatile - if you don't want the red wine in there, use full cream milk instead. You can add all kinds of flavourings to make this batter into whatever kind of cake you like. It works as a cake, or as cupcakes. This time I used mini cupcake tray, which gives me 24 cupcakes (the mix actually yields more than that, I also filled a 12 hole cupcake tray as well!). This is a great recipe for parties because you get so many cupcakes out of it!

Make sure you try the batter before you cook it - if you can get a hint of chilli, then it's perfect. When the cupcakes bake, the cayenne pepper becomes more pronounced - you can taste it, and it's hotter! Don't worry - the icing balances it out perfectly!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup red wine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 generous cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


1) Preheat the oven to 160°C, and non stick your tray/prepare patty pans.

2) In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until it forms ribbons. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. At this point, the cake will look a little split, but it's all good, it'll come together!

3) Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and cayenne together, and add to the wet ingredients. Mix gently until combined, then use a teaspoon to fill the cupcake holes about 2/3 to the top.

4) Place the trays in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes (depends on the size of your trays though!) or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.

Now, the cream cheese icing... This isn't a recipe. It's just a guideline. I often find cream cheese icing gets really runny. I decided not to follow a recipe and just wing it. It worked.

I used a whole packet of cream cheese, and used my KitchenAid to beat it with about a 2/3 cup of icing sugar until it was sweet enough for me, double cream to take the savoury tang off the cheese, and some full cream milk just to loosen it up a bit (because the double cream was REALLY thick!). I added a heaped tsp of cinnamon as well. Just add these ingredients until you get to a consistency you can work with, whether you're piping or just using a palette knife. Use your instinct. 

I experimented with how I wanted the piping to look, though I'm really not much of a piper. I found out that I pipe slightly to the left! I actually quite like the look of having the stars and swirls mixed up on the stand.

These little cupcakes are perfect for high tea as well, which is handy as that is this months Sweet Adventures Blog Hop theme! Have a look at Delicieux, the host blog for this month!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Secret Cake Club Perth - Pumpkin cake

We had our last Clandestine Cake Club meeting on Saturday, but there is no need to be sad! Because while this is the end of Clandestine, we have branched out and created the Secret Cake Club Perth! We found that while there is nothing wrong with cake, people were starting to to want to bake more than just cake... as one of our members said, she got a new cookbook recently, and was flicking through it looking for something to bake for a meeting and page after page of gorgeous bakes she still had nothing, because it MUST be cake. Our members are fabulous bakers, and we wanted to give them the opportunity to show off their creativity, and bake the things they like! Coming into summer, having the oven on for 90 minutes does not suit us here in Perth, it's simply too hot. So being able to create other dishes, which require less oven time, or even having things set in the fridge instead is what will work for us! We have a nice new webpage (www.secretcakeclubperth.com), facebook page (www.facebook.com/secretcakeclubperth) AND twitter account (@SCCPerth). So come and have a look at the new thing in Perth!!

After the last meeting, which was retro/childhood cakes, we all needed the month between meetings to get over the sugar coma, which was made worse by the food colouring! The cakes looked amazing, but it's no surprise kids go nuts at parties! So this time we tried to even it out a bit, and we chose vegetables/savoury cakes as the theme! It was probably the best meeting we've had so far, there was such variety, and with the announcement of the NEW cake club, everyone was buzzing with excitement, it was such a social meeting.

I chose to make a pumpkin cake with a chai drizzle. I used the recipe from Delishhh, changed a few things, but not really enough to warrant the recipe being written out again, I just added more ginger and used treacle rather than molasses. I got a perfect looking cake, which was moist and really nice. I really liked it! I would definitely make it again!!

Tha chai drizzle was really easy - I just put a teaspoon of loose chai tea into about a cup of full cream milk, and warmed it up. I then added it slowly to a cup of icing sugar until I got a thick, pouring consistency. Poke some holes in your cake and drizzle it over!

If you'd like to come along to the Secret Cake Club Perth then check our website or Facebook page for the next meeting, or email me on secretcakeclubperth{at}gmail{dot}com, we'd love to have you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Barbacoa beef cheeks with green sauce and salsa

I wandered around Stirling Farmers Market on Sunday and headed over to the caravan which always has some great quality meat, and this day was no different. I picked up some chunky beef cheeks for $12, enough to feed quite a few, it was a bargain! I wasn't really that keen on making a stew, it's too wintery for this weather. What could I do with this tough, sinewy cut?

I decided that I would go down the Mexican route, and slow cook the meat, in a heady mix of spices until it was falling apart, and make tacos. Now if tacos aren't summery and vibrant then what is?

I chose this recipe from Food 52 for Barbacoa Beef Cheeks, but adapted it to suit what I have in the cupboard... Looking up Barbacoa, I found out that it's actually a way of cooking meat that originated in the Caribbean and Mexico, and it means to barbeque, usually in a coal pit. Pork cooked this way is called carnitas, which you'll see in many a Mexican restaurant. But interestingly, I found that a typical Mexican barbacoa cooks the meats without any sauces or spices, rather adds them once they're cooked. However there are variations, and the Arawak people, who lived in the Caribbean, are thought to be the first to use this method of cooking, and they add the sauces and spices before cooking as a means to preserve the meat, and this is the method the recipe calls for. It ends up saucy from the cooking juices, and richly spiced, which can be forked apart and piled onto a taco! The recipe includes a teaspoon of instant coffee, which gives the dish a richness and really works together with the smokey characters that the chipotle and smoked paprika give.

It's traditionally served with mole or salsa, and so I decided to have both!

I wanted a tasty, tangy sauce to counter the rich, unctuous (that's a wanky food word, but really, I can't think of another word for it!) meat, and so I threw together a bright green sauce of rocket, spring onions, garlic oil, cumin, chilli, tomato, vinegar and cayenne pepper into the blender. What came out was, to quote Nigel Slater, such a bright tasting sauce. I would have preferred to have lemon/lime instead of vinegar, and garlic instead of garlic oil but some days, you run out of things in the house! Today was one of those days. Room for improvement yes, but it was still great. Isn't that what cooking is about? An experiment here and there, finding out what works and making it better!

The salsa I served it with has got to be one of the simplest sides you can serve. It goes with any meat. Really. Roast beef, grilled fish, or slow roasted barbacoa beef! Slice up a couple of tomatoes, spring onions, and if you like, cucumber. Add a generous pinch of salt to draw out the moisture, and a shlug of white wine vinegar. That's it. It's delicious straight away, or after you let the juices develop into a tangy dressing - I make this aaaall the time! 

This whole meal requires very little effort, just a little forward planning! This cut of meat is cheap and all the ingredients are easy to find, you'll probably have them all already anyway! The chipotle we found at a specialist spice shop at Coventry Market. We served our meal with corn wraps - in hindsight, get something sturdier, like actual tortillas, you need something to hold onto the juicy contents without splitting!!

Barbacoa Beef Cheeks

1kg beef cheeks
4 cloves garlic
1 chipoltle chilli (soaked or zapped in water in the mincrowave)
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 handful fresh rocket
1 tsp instant coffee
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 lemon/lime

1) Place all the ingredients aside from the beef and the lemon/lime into a blender/mortar and pestle and mix until you get a loose paste.

2) Trim the beef cheeks of any excess fat and sinew, then marinate the beef, covered, in the paste overnight.

3) Place the beef in an ovenproof dish with all the marinade, and roast slowly  for 5-6 hours on 100C. Make sure you cover the meat up with foil or a lid, otherwise it will dry out. Turn the beef every now and again (not the end of the world though if you can't). You can also use a slow cooker, but I have not tried this.

4) When there is about an hour to go, turn the oven up to about 150C and cook until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened.

5) Take the meat out and let it rest while you prepare the other sauces etc. When it has cooled slightly, use 2 forks to tear the meat apart and coat generously in the cooking juices. Squeeze the juice of a lemon (to taste) over the meat before serving.

6) Serve with tortillas, mole, salsa, avocado, and some greens.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Death by Chocolate - Clandestine Cake Club

WOW, our little cake club has grown! It started out as just 5 people who like to bake, and now look at it! We've been featured in a bunch of magazines, newspapers and websites, and our numbers are growing! We have some exciting new developments coming up as well, so keep your eyes peeled for announcements!

These were the kind of memories this theme evoked! Dress up party! I was a rockstar! But I look like a drag queen...

Our last meeting had a theme that everyone got excited about! Retro and childhood cakes had a lot of people reaching for the old Womans Weekly Birthday cookbook, myself included! We had some gorgeous cakes that so many people pointed at and shouted out "Hey I had that cake!!", it was so nice to bring back so many memories! I had quite a few cakes from that cook, the most memorable being for my 2nd birthday (though not sure HOW I remembered it, must be one of my earliest memories!) I had the train cake, with the coloured popcorn cargo! I loved it! My Mum went to so much effort for that cake... I was proud as punch, until Andrew Monk came and ripped the smoke stack off it and shoved it in his mouth! I cried, he got in trouble, and cried... I don't remember much past that though! Great party!

I decided not to do a cake from that book though, and do chocolate. That seems to be my forte - cakes never mess up when they're chocolate in my house! I remember my friend Jemma having sleepovers when we were a bit older, and she always had a death by chocolate cake from the local bakery. We thought it was just the height of over the top amazing cakes, and it was hands down the most delicious option for a cake, ever. Everyone kept peeking under the cardboard lid at it, wondering when we could have at it. This was the cake I would recreate!

I went with my old favourite, the chocolate red wine cake. I made 2, and sandwiched them together with Rachel Khoo's chocolate mousse. I then covered it in ganache, piped mousse, cream, and cocoa nibs. Death by chocolate indeed.

The recipe for the chocolate red wine cake can be found here.

The recipe for the chocolate mousse can be found here.

Here is what I ended up with! A little wonky with the piping, but a decent result!

We were really lucky to have the venue offered to us by Gregory Bruyer, who also happens to be a photographer! He took some gorgeous pics of all our cakes, including the one above.

Have a look at what our awesome bakers came up with!
*NOTE* The following photos are mine, not Gregory's - his are much better!