Caramel & Chocolate Choux Pastry Eclairs

chocolate and caramel choux pastry eclairs piped icing finish

I have a confession to make. During last years bake-off, I failed at making choux pastry. 3 times. It was a Sunday afternoon and no matter what I did it wouldn’t go right!

This time, as part of the second pastry week of this year’s Great British Bake-Off and #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 , I was determined not to be beaten.

I used Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Eclair recipe to the letter to avoid going wrong again – so won’t re-write it here. It’s definitely worth reading through a couple of times before you start so you know what’s ahead.

The lovely folks at Kerrygold sent me some butter to try, so this seemed a good place to start. Maybe the lower-fat butter blend I have as standard in the fridge was to blame for last year’s failure?

kerrygold butter blogger review choux pastry testing

Being ultra-prepared, I got everything out, pre-whisked the eggs, greased the tray just like Paul said…

ingredients and equipment ready for choux pastry making paul hollywood recipe

…and set about the choux pastry!

One of the main problems I find with making choux pastry is that it really doesn’t look like anything until it’s baked. The ‘cooking a ball of flour, butter and water dough’ is both unattractive and uninspiring in my book, but, what Paul says…!

choux pastry dough ball stage heating on hob gbbo

Dough satisfactorily ball-like and shiny, I put it in a bowl and set aside to cool. Suddenly it dawned on me where I’d gone wrong last year. Those five little words, ‘leave to cool until tepid’, (or the lack of them in my reading), were entirely responsible for my downfall. Cue flashbacks to last year and trying to beat eggs in the hot saucepan only for them cook and scramble… it’s like something from an outakes show!

Cool and tepid, whisking the eggs in was happily much easier this time!

choux pastry whisking in eggs method

And a smooth shiny, paste-like dough, well seemed pretty good to me 🙂

smooth and shiny choux pastry gbbo paul hollywood recipe

All that was left was to pipe…

piping choux pastry eclair lines gbbo

…and bake:

choux pastry eclairs greatbloggersbakeoff2014

What a result! I was as pleased as punch, my first choux pastries and they were really rather marvellous 🙂

freshly baked choux pastry eclairs long thin shape crunchy texture

Next came the cream piping – rather simple but made much trickier in a warm kitchen, with the cream threatening to melt all the time. I don’t envy the bakers in that tent one bit!

filling choux pastry eclair with piped whipped cream whipped cream filled choux pastry eclairs

And to top – I used Paul’s suggested chocolate topping for half the batch:

chocolate and caramel eclairs piped swirl shiny icing gbbo

And feeling more confident, whipped up a quick caramel icing for the remaining batch:

Caramel icing
55g light brown sugar
25g butter
20ml cream or milk

– Melt together the butter and sugar
– Add the liquid and boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
– Leave to cool and use once the icing reaches a spreadable consistency. If it over-sets you can easily re-heat to liquify it again

IMG_2456

I finished both sets with a decorative drizzle of the other icing – chocolate on caramel, and caramel on chocolate.

homemade caramel choux pastry eclairs filled with whipped cream decorated with piped chocolate

My first batch of eclairs – and I am so delighted with the results 🙂

chocolate and caramel cream filled choux pastry eclairs piped icing finish chocolate and caramel choux pastry eclairs gbbo paul hollywood recipe cream filled

Read more about #greatbloggersbakeoff2014 here.

greatbloggersbakeoff2014

And for all the cat lovers out there – what better use of leftover cream? Chilli and Pepper have just turned 3 and are as mischievous (and ravenous) as ever!

cats eating cream chilli and pepper gbbo baking leftovers uses

 

Disclaimer: I was sent some Kerrygold butter to use in my gbbo recipes. Opinions and bakes are all my own.

 

Caramel and Apple Opera Cake

caramel apple opera cake recipe white chocolate topping gbbo great bloggers bake off british

This week my parents came over for dinner, providing a perfect opportunity to try out another dessert from The Great British Bake Off, as part of The Great Bloggers Bake Off. The choices from the semi-final program were a Charlotte Royale ‘brain cake’ from the technical challenge, or a rather more appealing layered Opera cake. Easy choice.

The Opera cake recipe is pretty much the same all over the web – for the basic Joconde (almond) sponge at least. My recipe was based on this one over on BBC Food. However on reading through, my baking tins were not 18 x 13 inches as they’d used – so I scaled it down to 2/3 to fit with my 14 x 11 inch tins, which are your standard kitchen baking trays.

Ingredients – Joconde sponge

4 egg whites (you can use the yolks in a french buttercream, see below)
18g sugar
150g ground almonds
150g icing sugar
4 eggs
55g plain flour
58g butter, melted

Method

– Beat the egg whites to a soft peak stage, and add the sugar to form a stiff peak meringue mixture
– In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, ground almonds and sieved icing sugar for about 5 minutes, until roughly double the size
– Fold the egg whites gently into the almond mixture, before folding in the melted butter, a couple of spoonfuls at a time
– Spread the mixture into 2 tins – approx. 14 x 11 inches, lined and well greased. Ensure it fills up the corners
– Bake at 220 degrees for 5 – 7 minutes, until lightly golden on top and springy to the touch
– Remove from the oven and carefully peel off the paper. I found cooling on top of another sheet of baking paper helped move them around during assembly. Slice in half and fill.

opera cake method joconde sponge recipe meringue mixture ground almonds melted butter

opera cake joconde sponge mixture in prepared trays 11 by 14 inches

joconde sponge for opera cake sliced into two for layers

To fill

Buttercream – french or otherwise! My attempts at French buttercream weren’t great, but it’s a great way to use the leftover egg yolks, and is the perfect complement to the almond sponge.

Syrup to moisten the sponges

Ganache, or caramel in my case

Chocolate, to top

I borrowed some great tips from Joe Pastry for this bake as a whole. One of the best ones being covering the bottom sponge white another layer of chocolate, so it wouldn’t stick to the plate and would be easier to slice. Cool with the chocolate face down on a layer of greaseproof paper.

To moisten each layer of sponge, I made a caramel apple syrup. 2 apples, chopped (I didn’t peel them, the red skin added to both the colour and flavour), boiled in a saucepan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of water and 60g brown sugar, stirring to prevent sticking and burning, for 5-10 minutes, until the apple turns into a mushy puree. I added a couple of tablespoons of amaretto and left to cool, sieving, and spreading on each layer before adding the fillings. Another good tip I picked up was to have the cake facing upwards as it had baked, as the top is more porous than the bottom.

caramel apple syrup puree simple sieved for use on joconde sponges in opera cake

spreading apple caramel syrup on joconde sponge in opera cake layers

For the bottom layer of my cake, I used a spiced apple buttercream. Chopping the apple into small pieces, I microwaved it for a few minutes to remove most of the water, and soften to a stiff puree. When cool this was beaten with 30g butter and about 75g icing sugar – enough to make a stiff paste, and flavoured with 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch each of ginger and nutmeg.

dehydrated apple puree for making spiced apple buttercream

In the centre – a gooey caramel. I used about half a can (200g) of ready made dulce de leche, available in the supermarket, or you can make your own.

dulce de leche tinned caramel layer on cake with palette knife opera cake recipe

And the top section, some caramelised, spiced apple chunks for a bit of texture – 2 apples chopped and heated in 30g brown sugar, a teaspoon of water and a little cinnamon, for just a few minutes to soften.

crunchy caramelised fruit pieces in caramel apple opera cake recipe

I topped these with my no-so-great attempt at French buttercream. Made using egg yolks, a boiled sugar syrup, and butter, all whipped to (supposed) perfection, I think my problem came with not testing the sugar syrup temperature / texture, so it may not have been cooked enough. I followed this lovely recipe and simple steps, it looks so easy in the pictures!
Nevertheless whilst building my other layers, I found it was starting to set in the fridge, so chanced using it on this top layer. It was a bit thin but did add a certain something taste wise.

thin french buttercream spread over applie pieces in opera cake patisserie

Finally, my chocolate topping. Having a tableful of guests waiting for dinner I had no time to temper it, but honestly don’t think it mattered! I used around 150g of white chocolate although could have got away with a bit less.

white chocolate topping on caramel apple opera cake layered

At this point the cake was a little oozy – mostly from the French buttercream – but half an hour in the fridge did wonders!

oozing layers of caramel apple opera cake french butter cream dulce de leche

And to finish – decoration with more white chocolate.

opera cake white chocolate writing and swirls topping

The edges needed a quick trim to neaten them up – this is best done with a hot knife (run under hot water and dry), so as to get a smooth cut and not stick to any of the layers. This end wasn’t so straight – Paul Hollywood wouldn’t be pleased!

opera cake trimmed layers buttercream caramel dulce de leche apple white chocolte

And finally ready to serve – some websites suggest edible gold, I opted for a sprinkle of iridescent edible glitter for that shimmering touch.

opera cake great bloogers bake off gbbo caramel apple with white chocolate recipe

Again sliced with a hot knife, and I was so happy with how the layers looked inside!

opera cake perfect slice four layers joconde almond sponge buttercream dulce de leche caramel spiced apples french recipe

It was a lovely showstopper of a dessert, quite rich, but very well received. As for the 4+ hours spent in the kitchen making and assembling – lovely as it was, I think this might be a one off!

See more attempts at this weeks GBBO challenges over at the Great Bloggers Bake Off with Helen and Jenny.

GreatBloggersBakeOff

Toffee Apple Upside-Down Cake

toffee apple upside down cake from gbbo great british bake off bbc recipe review

Made a couple to weeks back, this cake was an amazing dessert to accompany a big Sunday lunch.  Not that it lasted long enough, but I’m sure a slice would be amazing any day of the week!

I wanted to make a dessert that used apples – as some of the best traditional desserts do – but something with a bit more of a challenge than your usual pie or custard.

toffee apple upside down cake granny smith apples three

Not very much research later, and I stumbled across this great recipe over on the BBC, from last years Great British Bake Off. As I’ve never made anything upside-down before, let alone something so spectacular, I followed the letter as close as I could, so won’t retype here. The only thing I added was a little spice to the cake mix which really ramped up the taste – a teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of cinnamon, and half a teaspoon each of ginger and nutmeg.

First step in the cake was by far the most challenging – toffee! I’ve not made anything like a tarte tatin before so was intrigued to see how this would work. Such a simple combination of water and sugar, boiled over a high heat until golden. But leave it just 10 seconds too long and it turns into a black, vicious, tar-like substance that will smoke out the kitchen!

burnt toffee sugar and water instructions
smoke in kitchen from burnt baking

Oops! Lesson learnt, and pan cleaned (you need HOT water to get this toffee off anything…), a second batch fared much better, and it was poured into the tin and covered with apple rings and slices.

layering apple rings in toffee upside down cake loose bottomed tin

Cake batter mixing and baking was a doddle after the caramel disaster (and to add insult to injury the house smelt of burnt sugar for a good few days after).
The next obstacle was to turn the cake out, and the moment of truth for its’ upside-down-ness, would it stay in one piece?

toffee apple upside down cake viewed from the top

turned out toffee apple upside down cake apple rings didn't stick

It made it! Just about – you can see a few small pieces of apple stuck on the greaseproof paper in the background. Next time I’d perhaps use large slices of apple, and not so many small bits.

As it cooled on the rack I was slightly concerned that all the toffee seemed to be dripping down the sides…

toffee dripping from upside down apple cake like tart tatin

…but other than put a tray underneath to catch the drips there wasn’t a lot I could do! Actually it turned out this wasn’t such a bad thing, when we ate the cake it was good to have sticky toffee flavour all the way down.

Finally – a third batch of toffee:

making caramel from sugar and water easy recipe bubbling in non stick pan

This was drizzled over the cleaned baking tin bottom, so as to create a sugar sculpture shell that was the same size as the cake itself.

toffee drizzles on round baking pan for hardened sugar topping freeform artistic cake topping

Quite how it was supposed to “gently remove” in one piece is still completely beyond me, but I was quite happy with my 3 pieces, you can hardly tell and they still finished off the cake to a T!

caramel apple upside down cake with abstract freeform sugar work on op

caramel toffee crown on apple upside down cake sugar toffee pieces

I have to say it looked amazing – the colours on the top were just fantastic, reds, golds, and browns, more autumnal than our current weather! On arrival at our Sunday dinner I took the lid off the tin to reveal an amazing scent of spices, apples, and sweet, sticky, sticky toffee.

hardened sugar pattern caramel on for toffee apple upside cake from gbbo recipe

toffee apple upside down cake caramelised sugar crownt topping

So I’d say another technical challenge really rather well conquered! Any suggestions on what to try next…?

toffee apple upside down cake with toffee sugar caramel crown art

toffee crown sugar artwork on top of upside down cake

Galaxy Bites Chocolate and Caramel Cupcakes

chocolate and caramel cupcakes recipe topped with rose buttercream and galaxy bites flower gold soft pearl centre

I’d love to tell you more about these but, truth be told, they have sat on my phone for about 2 months (the photos, not the cakes!), and my memory is, well, hazy at best!

The key ingredient I can tell you is my latest addiction in the chocolate market, Galaxy Bites. Think of a malteaser, but with creamy galaxy chocolate on the outside and smoooooth galaxy caramel inside. Yum!

galaxy bites chocolate fillled with caramel chopping up into chunks for cupcakes

The cupcakes were made form a basic vanilla sponge mixture. I used half light brown sugar to add a more caramel-y taste to the sponge, and a good handful of caramel bites, mixed in with the flour so they wouldn’t sink to the bottom on baking.

caramel cupcake mix with galaxy bites chunks chocolate mix in flour to keep from sinking

The baked cupcakes – a golden caramel colour and with sneaky peeks of chocolate!

caramel cupcakes with chunks of galaxy bites chocolate purple and pink foil cases

To decorate – it couldn’t really be anything else but more chocolate! A rose swirl of chocolate buttercream, topped with a quartered caramel bite, and finished with a soft gold pearl centre.

rose topped chocolate and caramel cupcake flower buttercream swirl gold soft pearl

purple and pink foil cases caramel and chocolate cupcakes buttercream rose swirl topping

chocolate and caramel rose flower cupcakes purple and pink cases artistic photos

Dulce de Leche Millionaire’s Shortbread

After making my banana and caramel cupcakes, I still had about half a tin of yummy dulce de leche caramel left. Whilst I was happily sneaking a tiny taste every time I went to the fridge, I decided it was probably time to use it for something more substantial.

You know those tubs of mini cake bites you get from the bakery section of the supermarket? Millionaire’s shortbread is my absolute favourite of these, I could happily eat a whole tub in one go!

And with the caramel layer ready-made – the rest is incredibly simple. I adapted Delia’s shortbread recipe, using cornflour instead of semolina, and scaling down as I was only making a small batch.
I used 50g plain flour, 30g cornflour, 50g butter and 30g golden caster sugar, which was the perfect amount for my little tiny tin.

You’ll also see I made it in a disposable foil tin – this was a cheap and easy way to bake and make the whole thing in one place, without having to worry too much about it sticking, or cleaning up afterwards!

Once the shortbread was cool, I simply spread the caramel on top, chilled, and topped with a layer of melted dark chocolate, before returning to the fridge.

I must confess that the minimal amount of photos is simply because I kept eating parts! The little foil tin made 12 cute little squares – well, only 5 even made it in front of the camera!

If you’ve never had them, I’d highly recommend giving these a try, they are simple and easy to make, but, as the name suggests, taste a million dollars! Buttery, crumbly shortbread, sticky, gooey caramel, topped with rich, dark chocolate. With all this sugar there’s a reason they only come in small bites – but I dare you to just stop at one 🙂

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Banana and Caramel Cupcakes

I have a confession to make. These photos have been on my computer for nearly a month, and I very nearly forgot what was in the cupcakes! They were made for the same housewarming as my New Home Biscuits so in all fairness I had such a busy time of baking and decorating that it’s no surprise things got a little forgotten.

So I don’t have the recipe to share I’m afraid – it would have been a pretty basic sponge recipe, with a mashed banana added, and they were beautifully light and spongy.

What I most want to share with you is this hallowed beauty:

Tinned caramel. Dulce de leche. This was my first time of using it and my gosh! I could have eaten the whole tin by the spoonful! It’s basically just condensed milk and sugar, but it tastes like a whole lot more than this.

I would have liked to have made my own – in fact I also brought a tin of sweetened condensed milk in the supermarket at the same time – but honestly did not have a three hour period in which to boil it myself. Thankfully Carnation have cottoned well onto the fact that we’re a lazy bunch, so you can but this pre-made caramel which is useable straight out the can.
I hollowed out the centre of the cupcakes with a knife, filled with gooey caramel, then topped with whipped buttercream, a generous drizzle more caramel, and some gold star sugar sprinkles.

And that’s all I really have to tell you about these cupcakes – but enjoy the photos! And think of that gooey, caramel-y, dulce de leche…. yum 🙂

NB – I packed them into cupcake boxes (I get mine from Hobbycraft in packs of 3 – can’t find them online though). They just about survived the journey without getting too melted or smushed. The good thing about the caramel drizzles is that you can’t really tell if they smudge – and even if they do they mix beautifully into the buttercream!

Chocolate Courgette Muffins & Cupcake Wrapper Reviews

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be sent a selection of beautiful cupcake wrappers from Cupcake Chic – a new business started by an ex-colleague.

Of course this meant I had to bake some cupcakes to go in them (it’s a hard life, I know), and wanted to try using some of the big, fresh courgettes that my dad had grown in his allotment.

I’d love to share my exact recipe with you, but it was one of those it’s-too-thin-add-more-flour, too-thick-throw-in-some-yoghurt type bakes. So I couldn’t tell you exactly what went into the mix, but it was loosely based on this recipe. My main adaptations were: omitting the chocolate chips; using all wholemeal plain flour (instead of the 2 different kinds); and using normal (sweetened) apple sauce as a substitute for some of the sugar (I tasted at length to make sure it was right!)

As the recipe is quite dense they don’t rise much – but you get cute little chocolatey muffins that are not only low-fat but also contain some of your five-a-day.

I topped them with low-fat caramel cream cheese frosting. If you haven’t seen my post on this recipe yet then be sure to check it out! It’s the stickiest, yummiest icing I’ve made in a long time; low-fat, and sets quickly so good for warm weather, long car journeys etc.
Plus, you get the fun of boiling up caramel  – just seeing this photo makes me want to make it (and eat it) all over again!

I piped the icing onto the muffins using a star nozzle, then topped with a sprinkle of chocolate flakes.

And with that the cupcakes muffins were done! A dense, fudgy chocolate base, topped with a sweet, creamy icing, and all amazingly low-fat.

Next step – cupcake wrappers! I had a couple of full packs (they come in sets of 12) to play with, plus a lot of other samples.

Basically they are intricately cut pieces of card, perfectly sized to fit around your cupcake. By far the best way is to assemble them  first, then carefully lower your cupcake in the middle.

The wrappers come flat packed as above – so they are great to have sent through the post and fit easily through the letterbox.

Assembling them is really simple – just tuck the small flap at the back into the pre-cut slot. They hold together really well so you don’t need to use any glue, they won’t fall off!

Then the world is really your oyster – I tried them out an a cupcake stand, on flat surfaces, against different backgrounds…

The good thing about these designs is that you can see the original cupcake case through them – so these red cases with gold wrappers would be great for a wedding colour theme. (This wrapper is Gold Ivy Vine)

The designs also come in a variety of colours, so you could mix them up this way. (These are Gold Ivy Vine and Plum Filigree wrappers, but both styles come in other colours)

As for the other wrappers – well, I really struggle to pick a favourite! These 3 are my wedding recommendations – how cute are the birdcages? But then the hearts… and the butterflies…

The coolest by far has got to be this halloween wrapper – can someone have a halloween party just so I’ve got an excuse to make some cupcakes for it? I’ve even planned on glow-in-the-dark cupcakes already!

So my verdict? As you can see, I had a lot of fun playing with these cupcake wrappers. They are a great way to jazz up displays, stands, stalls etc, and quite cheaply too. Definitely worth a try if you are making cupcakes for a wedding, birthday, christening or other party, as they will really look the part and tie the cakes into the event.
They’re a good thickness of cardboard so would last well, but I wouldn’t recommend having the frosting or cake touching the wrapper itself, as eventually it would probably start to go a bit soggy from the moisture.

Although I’ve not got much day to day use for them – they will still be safely stored to use for in future cupcake photo shoots – watch this space! Thanks to Cupcake Chic for introducing me to such a pretty (and simple) way to spruce up cupcakes 🙂

STOP PRESS: Low-Fat Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Stop what you’re doing. Make this. Eat it. All. Resume what you were doing.

Every now and then something comes out of the kitchen that is just too tasty to be kept to itself for long. (On the flipside, there are other things which really don’t that will never be made public…).

Yes it’s a Sunday afternoon and most people are making roast dinners, mowing lawns…, well I’m making cupcakes, and I don’t care who knows it!

I’d made the cupcakes last night (post to follow later this week) and wanted a frosting to complement them. I toyed between sticky caramel, and fluffy cream cheese. A thought occured that wait, maybe I could combine the two! But my online search failed to bring anything good up for “low fat caramel cream cheese frosting”. Low fat cakes with high fat frosting. Check. Caramel cakes with cream cheese frosting. Check. Using tinned or ice-cream topping caramel. Check. Making it yourself from scratch? FAIL!

So – I tried it out for myself. I promise you won’t be disappointed; it’s super easy and super yummy. So yummy that I’d recommend making this just after lunch, dinner etc, so you’re not tempted to eat too much of it. Really. But if you do, it’s low-fat, so not the end of the world!

It uses only simple ingredients (and no cream!) that you probably already have in the fridge/cupboard, and sets quickly into a crunchy outside, with a soft, creamy inside. A sugary, sweet caramel flavour, balanced with the creaminess of the cheese.

Ingredients (ices approx 8 cupcakes, generously, or fills one eight-inch round cake. Double to fill and cover the cake)

1 teaspoon low fat spread (e.g. flora light)
25ml skimmed milk
60g light brown sugar
60g extra light cream cheese
200g icing sugar (+ a bit more for consistency)

I didn’t say it was low sugar!

Method

In a non-stick saucepan, mix the spread, milk and brown sugar. Turn up to a high heat, stirring as the butter melts to combine everything together.
Once it’s all mixed, take your spoon out and let the mixture start to boil. It should quickly start to bubble round the edges, before boiling up into a gorgeous gooey mess. Let it boil and bubble for about 30 seconds, stirring once or twice.
After 30 seconds, take the pan off the heat, and give it another quick stir. Leave to rest.

In a mixing bowl, first put in the cream cheese, then cover with the sieved icing sugar. Drizzle half of the caramel on top and start stirring. The key is not to pour the caramel straight on the cream cheese, it’ll make it melt.

Keep stirring and add the rest of the caramel, before mixing really well until everything is combined. The consistency will depend on how thick your caramel was, so if you need to add more icing sugar to thicken it up (e.g. for piping), then add a tablespoon or so at a time.

And that’s it! I promised it was easy!
Do your non-stick pan a favour and fill it up straight after you’ve finished with warm water. The caramel should dissolve right off – but if you leave it you’ll have a bit more of a challenge getting it clean.

As it uses liquid caramel, it will start to harden on the outside pretty quickly. Keep it in the bowl and stir it occasionally, and work quickly to ice your creations.

I used it to ice my cupcakes – it pipes like a dream:

But also works really well spread and smoothed with a knife:

The possibilities are endless – carrot cake and caramel, chocolate, banana and caramel, apple, cinnamon and caramel… I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bowl to lick out…

Sticky Chocolate, Caramel and Fudge Chunk Muffins

I’m the first to admit that summer makes me more than a little lazy. Kitchen time has definitely lessened in the past couple of months; who wants to be slaving over a hot stove when it’s already sticky and warm out*.
(*I know it’s not that warm in the UK. But I need some excuse for my laziness!)

These muffins were made a couple of months back, and my poor brain struggles to remember why. I have a feeling that Rob was off road-tripping with the band several nights in a row, and in my boredom out of sheer niceness I made these the first evening, so he’d have something nice to take away the next day.

The observant among you may recognise the ingredients for these – yes – they currently feature as my blog header 🙂
Why oh why would you buy packets of pre-cubed chocolate and fudge chunks, at twice or even more of the price of a big block, when you could let loose and chop up your own. (If you were so inclined you could also make your own fudge, but that’s a little more effort than I’m prepared to put in…). It also means there’s plenty of opportunity for taste testing and quality control…

I chose to make muffins rather than cupcakes, simply because they would be more dense and suited to the chunky flavours and textures.

I threw some very generous handfuls of fudge and chocolate into the muffin mix, and they baked to perfection, looking and smelling like absolute heaven!

Inside was a gorgeous gooey fudge-y chocolate mess. They set a little as the muffins cool, just enough to have sweet stickiness with every bite.

Did they need frosting? No, not at all. Did I want an excuse to add more chocolate at gooey-ness? Yes, yes I did.

The icing recipe comes from the rather delightful Primrose Bakery. If you’ve not heard of them before, they are a London-based cupcakery, who’ve grown immensely in the last few years and now supply shops such as Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason, and also extended their product range to include larger layer and celebration cakes.

Although I’ve yet to visit either of their shops, I bought and can heartily recommend iPhone app.

With super-cute pictures, and simple, easy-to follow instructions, it is a great source of inspiration, and also serves as a good reminder for the more basic recipes you may forget the contents of.

This is where I discovered heavenly caramel buttercream, it’s one of the best icings I’ve ever tasted and rather fun to make as well (I love it bubbling up in the pan!)

Ingredients

90g butter
135ml milk
330g light brown sugar
360g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Melt the butter, milk and brown sugar in a saucepan, and bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Allow to boil for one minute, keep stirring as it will bubble up! (See photo below)

Allow to cool for 5 – 10 minutes, before beating in the icing sugar and vanilla essence (at this stage I substituted 30g icing sugar for 30g cocoa)

Leave to cool until it reaches the consistency you want. If you want to pour it, then it’s pretty much ready straight away. If you want to pipe it, as I did, it’ll need a good 30 – 60 minutes in the fridge first. (If you’re in a hurry add a little extra icing sugar to help thicken it up).
If it over-hardens, you can easily stir it up again, or pop over a low heat for a few seconds at a time.

Left – boiling up; Right – runny and ready to go!

I cooled my icing down to a pipeable consistency, before adorning the cakes with big swirls and more fudge chunks.

Wickedly good – I’m quite glad Rob took them away with him before they all had a chance to add themselves to my waistline!