Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!!

I had planned to get all festive for Halloween and bake something pumpkiny to eat while I watch some scary(ish) films later on, and maybe even share them with trick-or-treaters. So... I decided on pumpkin cupcakes. I know cupcakes are a reoccurring feature at the moment - but I just love them - they are delicious and look way nicer than muffins or any other baked goods without icing on top!

I mentioned to some friends over the weekend that I would be baking pumpkin cupcakes and to my surprise I got reactions of shock and disgust.  I never tasted pumpkin before but after  listening to tales of horrible tasting pumpkin pies and the likes, I quickly decided to shelve the pumpkin idea. And I moved on to the idea of ginger cupcakes which I thought would still be Halloweeny.  Then I realised this morning I didn't have the ginger that was required and with the Dublin marathon going past our road I was trapped inside without any ginger stems! So after much deliberating and then coming across a nice ripe bunch of bananas I settled on Chocolate and Banana cupcakes! These are going to be the new Halloween flavour of choice - I'm sure it will catch on. Once they were baked and iced I just sprinkled them with orange stuff and the odd ghost and ta da! I now have Halloween cupcakes!  I'm  hoping we don't get many trick or treaters - they taste that delicious!

And with all the junk everyone eats around Hallloween these lovely things  have the added benefit of providing you with potassium! Got to love bananas - one of the best fruits ever! And when combined with chocolate: just perfect. Hope I've convinced you enough to try and make a batch so you can enjoy these yourself!

Here's how to make them....

Makes 12 cupcakes (according to the book, but I somehow had way more mixture and was able to make a whole load of mini cupcakes with the remainder!)

  • 125g unsalted butter  (at room temperature)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs, free-range or organic (slightly beaten)
  • 1 tea-spoon good-quality vanilla extract 
  • 250g plain flour (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons baking poweder
  • 4 ripe banans (mashed with a fork)
  • 175g good-quality 70%cocoa solids dark chocolate (chopped into small pieces)
  • Chocolate buttercream icing to decorate (recipe below)

  • Preheat the oven to 160(fan)/180C/350F/gas mark 4
  • Line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases
  • In a large mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth, which should take 3-5 minutes using an electric hand mixer
  • Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat again briefly
  • Add the flour and baking powder and beat again until well combined
  • Stir in the mashed bananas and chocolate pieces using a wooden spoon

    •  Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full

    • Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes (If you are doing mini ones bake for 15 minutes)
    • To check they are cooked, insert a skewer in the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean 

      • Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool

      Now for the chocolate buttercream icing!

      Makes enough to ice 15-20 regular or 60 mini cupcakes

      • 175g good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
      • 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
      • 1 tablespoon semi skimmed milk (at room temperature)
      • 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
      • 250g icing sugar
      • Melt the chocolate in a heatproofglass bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water
      • Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth
      • Leave to cool slightly 

        • In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth - this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer
        • Add the melted chocolate  and beat again until thick and creamy 
        • If it looks too runny, simply keep beating as this will thicken the icing and improve its consistency 

          Once you have iced the cupcakes you can leave them plain or decorate. I decorated a few with chopped almonds and the rest with orange coloured sprinkles and scary ghosts ha ha! Yum!

          I got the recipe from my favourite cupcake book Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery. I think I love it so much because anything I make from it turns out delicious! Which surprises me every time because I use to be such a disastrous baker!

          Happy Halloween!


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