Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Coffee Cupcakes

I come from a family of non-coffee drinkers (yes, I know, there are some out there!) My sister and I have both been through coffee drinking phases, which at the time seemed like a very sophisticated idea, and we have both discovered that we too have the anti-coffee gene. Admittedly after a big night I am partial to a very well made mocha (in between glasses of cold lemony water) but really I think it's time to accept that I will never be a fanatic coffee drinker. Luckily for me, I can still get my takeaway hot chocolate and look like one.

Coffee in baking, however, is another matter entirely. It almost (but not quite) knocks chocolate off the pedastal, especially when in cake or cookie form. When coffee and chocolate are combined in baking, my life goes on hold until the gazing-savouring-devouring-reminiscing process is all over. I have even converted my family to coffee in baking, weaning them onto it piece by piece.

So last week two of my friends had birthdays. Because I am a poor student and an awful present buyer cupcakes are all my friends ever recieve from me on their big days, unless I have time to make then a card which I usually don't, because I am busy adding final touches to cupcakes and procrastinating over whether the decorations are sitting at the right angle/are the right colour/size/shape/choice/amount. Whilst consulting my Father in the proces of this last week, he tentatively suggested that it probably didn't matter. Woe is him.

Anyway, the cupcake part is adapted from the Coffee and Pecan Cupcakes by Tamara Jane, a Wellington based cupcake baker whose recipes never seem to fail. I did try to convert the measurement into cups rather than grams but if I managed, I ahve since forgotten. I HATE weighing things! The icing I just made up. I've found it's usually easier and moer reliable once you have a good buttercream recipe to just adapt it to whatever you need; I don't even bother following the instructions anymore.

Coffee Cupcakes (makes 24)

200g flour
1 heaped T baking powder
200g butter
230g castor sugar
4 eggs
2t vanilla essence
2T instant coffee granules
1/4 C boiling water

Preheat oven to 170C and line two 12 hole muffin trays with cupcake papers.

Soften butter until you can stick your finger in it easily. Sift flour and baking powder together in a bowl.

In the large bowl of a cake mixer cream butter. Add half the caster sugar, beat 1-2 minutes then add the rest and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well in between. Mix in vanilla.

Add half the flour and beat on low speed until combined. Dissolve the coffee in the water, add to butter mix with remaining flour and beat until just combined.

Divide batter evenly between papers and bake one tray at a time for 20 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean. Cool in their trays for five minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Coffee Buttercream

Cream 250g softened butter with 2C icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Add 3T strong instant coffee, 2T milk and, gradually, another cup of sugar. Beat throughly, adding more sugar until you reach a soft, thick consistency suitable for piping. Add more sugar as needed.

Ta Da!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Citrus Slice

This slice is absoulte heaven for lemon lovers (me!). The sweet biscuity base is a perfect contrast to the tangy icing and you can adjust the amount of juice/zest you use to taste. It says to refrigerate it however I prefer the softer consistency of the base at room temperature so unless you live somewhere super hot I'd recommend you just leave it in the pantry. My father hates lemon so I used orange juice in the icing instead and he loves it! I also only put in about a third the amount of coconut they say (not being a big coconut fan) and made up my own icing which I've put here instead of their cream cheese version.  The recipe is from the Old Vicarage Cafe in Christchurch.

Citrus Slice

200g butter
395g tin condensed milk
2x 250g packets of wine biscuits
2C desiccated coconut
Zest of 1 lemon & 1 orange

1 1/2C icing sugar
1T butter
Juice of lemon to mix

Grease a pan approximately 20x30cm and line the base with baking paper if preferred.

Melt the butter and mix in condensed milk to combine. In a food processor finely crumb the biscuits in several intervals. If you like a bit of crunch process them for a little less time. Add crumbs, coconut and zest to the butter mixture and mix until it's all combined. 

Press mixture evenly into pan, smooth the top and refrigerate to set.

For the icing boil some water, sift the icing suger into a bowl and place the chunk of butter on top. Pour a couple of spoonfuls of water over the butter to melt and beat in until thick. Add juice to taste and mix with a fork until the icing is smooth. You can add more or less juice and icing sugar to suit yourself. 

Spread over the base and once set cut into squares. If you want to go all out you can sprinkle some zest on top as a garnish. Delish!