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SHF, so hastily fantastic – A reminder

Hey guys, I’m so sorry I haven’t been around lately. I had high intentions: from carrot cake to peanut, chocolate and salted caramel; from vanilla and chocolate crispy crackles to pineapple and coconut.

In the end, my thesis (and presentation) took much more time than what I originally had expected. But I guess, this could be my life’s motto: everything I’ve done has taken me much longer than I thought it would.

Anyway, I really do hope you who haven’t submitted your favourite classy cupcake recipe for this month’s SHF, go and make some. Then email me!
Can’t wait to share all the terrific cupcakes you made. Stay tuned, I’ll be back on monday.

PS. I’m not answering your SHF email? Well, I’m moving house right now, so don’t worry. xxx

SHF, so horribly fluffy – S’more cupcakes

I came across S’mores quite late in life. A Michael Recchiuti book. A tiny note at the bottom of a page.

S’mores.

A piece of chocolate and a marshmallow, sandwiched together in crisp graham crackers. After a quick moment in the oven, the chocolate and marshmallow melt into each others, making for the most delicious sweet sandwich ever.

As good as it may sound, I’ve never had the chance to taste S’mores – let alone graham crackers – in real life. And although I could have just made some myself, I simply didn’t find the time to.
But S’mores kept hauting me. Just like someone you’ve never kissed, and yet miss. A lot.

I even thought of making a S’more tart. Picture a crust of crushed homemade graham crackers, topped with a thin layer of dark ganache, and covered with a pile of fluffy Italian meringue. And then Deb did it. And it looked good.

But well, I eventually forgot about it. The tart, that is. S’mores still had their place in my dreams.

When I started thinking about all the cupcakes I could put together for this month’s SHF, you can guess what came first.

S’more cupcake. A graham cracker inspired cake – or at least a cake that tastes like graham crackers do, in my mind. A thick and smooth meringue. A deeply flavoured chocolate ganache coating.

The S’more cupcakes were born. Proving the world there is so much more than buttercream frosted cupcakes.

S’more cupcakes

With a healthy dose of chocolate and fluffy marshmallow, those delicious cupcakes will make everyone happy.

The cake is fragrant with brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla; and has that slight saltiness I suspect graham crackers have (or maybe, I just see graham crackers as English digestives).
The marshmallow cream is sweet but not overly so. I think it’d be terrific to add the seeds of one vanilla bean to it.
And well, the ganache… Deep, dark and smooth. You definitely don’t want the chocolate flavour to be overwhelming here, so aim for a thin coating.

You’ll have more gaanche than needed – but that’s only because you have to have enough to dip the cupcakes. I suggest you make plain truffles.

s’more cupcakes

makes 6 jumbo cupcakes, or 9 small ones

for the cupcakes
160g flour
3/4 tsp fleur de sel / maldon sea salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
60g butter, at room temperature
85g light brown sugar
one egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
160g milk

Preheat over to 170°C.
Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in egg, until fully incorporated; and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk.
Divide batter evenly among the paper cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until skewer inserted into centre of the cupcakes comes out clean.
Cool on wire rack before frosting.

for the meringue
one egg white
75g caster sugar
2 tbsp water

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt at slow speed until the foam throughout, gradually increase the speed to fast, and beat to soft peaks. Turn the machine to slow as you complete the sugar syrup.
Bring the sugar and water to 115°C.
Beating the egg whites at moderate speed, pour the boiling syrup into them. Increase the speed to high, and beat until the bowl is no longer hot (it should still feel slightly warm). Pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes and smooth it with a spatula to form a neat dome. Chill while you get on with the ganache.

for the ganache
150g double cream
150g dark chocolate

Bring the cream to a rolling boil. Mix in the chopped chocolate off the heat. Allow to stand for a minute, then mix until smooth.
Transfer to a small bowl and dip the cupcake tops.

And don’t forget. Sugar High Friday is running until the 26th of September. So put your aprons on. Get your wooden spoon and whisk. And make cupcakes!

SHF, so highly frisky – Cupcakes à la noix de coco fraiche et à la ricotta

[Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting]

It all started with the crazy cool idea of making my own coconut extract. Something I had been dreaming about for years without thinking I would actually one day get rid of the horrid fake-tasting stuff my cupboard is full of (I tend to stock it every time I visit Jane Asher’s shop because it tends to disappear quite quickly).

Now it’s done. Delicious coconut extract, which also happens to make delicious vodka shots.

Trust me (however, I’m strongly against drinking while baking, dangerous things can happen in one tiny kitchen).

The next step was quite obviously the coconut cupcake. A delicate-crumbed cake, subtly flavoured with our extract, the water from the coconut itself, and some homemade coconut milk. Smooth ricotta as a frosting. And a pile of fluffy grated fresh coconut.

Of course, since I intended to serve this for breakfast, I had a light hand on the frosting; but if you’re feeling sweeter than me, please make an Italian meringue and pile it on your little cupcakes.
I hope a bite at those will encourage you to participate to September’s Sugar High Friday. Please. Pretty please.

Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting
Adapted from Alton Brown.

I love this cake. The crumb is so fine it’s divine. It will melt in your mouth as it hits your tongue.
Of course, it will taste better if you make your own extract, however, if you don’t have the time or will, I recommend you just skip it. No fake stuff, please.

You can also turn this into a layer cake, as Alton does, but I think cupcakes work nicely here, because you get an even part of caramelised crust and soft inner, all at the same time.

Since we’re going to work with fresh coconut here, I think it’s time I share my secret about how to open a coconut when you’re a girl.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the coconut onto a folded towel set down in a large bowl. Using a screwdriver, hammer holes into the eyes of the coconut. Turn the coconut upside down over a container and drain the water from the coconut. Store the water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the coconut onto a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cracked. Place the pieces into a bowl of iced water and when cool enough to handle, separate the flesh from the husk. Wrap as is, or grate it; and store in the fridge.

Fresh coconut cupcakes with ricotta frosting

makes 12 small cupcakes, or 9 regular ones

for the coconut extract
75g freshly grated coconut
100g vodka

Place the grated coconut into a glass jar with lid and pour the vodka over it. Seal and shake to combine. Place in a cool dark place for 5 to 7 days, shaking to combine every day. Strain the coconut and discard. Return the vodka to a clean flask and store in a cool place for up to a year.

for the coconut milk
75g freshly grated coconut
125g boiling water

Place the grated coconut into a small mixing bowl and pour over the boiling water. Stir to combine. Cover tightly and allow to sit for one hour. Transfer the mixture to the carafe of a blender and process for one minute.
Place a tea towel over a mixing bowl and carefully pour the mixture into it. Gather up the edges and squeeze until all of the liquid has been removed. Discard the coconut.

for the cupcakes
200g flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100g butter, at room temperature
230g sugar
2 egg whites
2 tbsp coconut water
125g coconut milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately one minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over two minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture.
Switch the paddle attachment to the whisk, and mix in the egg whites on high speed, until thick and increased in volume.
Using a wooden spoon, incorporate the flour mixture alternately with the coconut milk and extract and water, in three batches; ending with the milk mixture.
Scoop the batter into paper cups and bake for 25 minutes or until the cake is light golden in colour and firm to the touch.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely, spray with the remaining coconut water.

for the frosting
ricotta
freshly grated coconut

Frost each cupcake using ricotta, then sprinkle with grated coconut.

And don’t forget. Sugar High Friday is running until the 26th of September. So put your aprons on. Get your wooden spoon and whisk. And make cupcakes!

Cupcakes, le dernier chapitre: un évènement Sugar High Friday – Cupcakes, the final chapter: a Sugar High Friday event

If you’re anything like me, you probably think that cupcakes do deserve their disputable standing. I mean, just a quick look around you, and the only thing you’ll see are colourful, sprinkle-packed, prettily piped buttercream topping tasteless (or even worse, awful-tasting) cakes baked in cups.

So yes, that’s what you think.

However, if you’re anything like me, you might also have the inner feeling that you can change that. Make delicious cupcakes, baked with flair, sophistication and novelty.

And well, this is totally what I want you to do for this September edition of Sugar High Friday – aka, SHF; the terrific event created many months ago by the no-less terrific Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess.

Please, help me prove the world that cupcakes can be as tasty as they look. Prove that they aren’t dead.

I heart them. For their size; for their cuteness; for they practical-ness; for how fun they are to make. And to look at. And to eat.
Today is your chance to show that you heart them too.

1. Make cupcakes. But make them original, with a twist. There is so much more to explore than box-cake and plain buttercream.

Think chiffon cake, chocolate fondant cake or flourless nut cake. Think meringue, ganache or French fondant. Go off the usual – and boring – path. And most importantly have fun. It’s just flour and sugar after all.

2. Take pictures of your cupcakes, and write down the recipe on your blog (if you don’t have a blog, please email me with both pictures and the recipe).
Do this before the 26th of September, and you’ll make me happy. If you happen to miss the deadline – which you don’t want to, trust me – do not hesitate to email with your details during the week end.

3. Send me an email – fanny[at]foodbeam.com – with SHF as a subject line, containing the following info:
– your name
– your blog’s name and url
– a link to your SHF post
– a picture of your choice, at least 205x205px

4. Enjoy the cupcakes you’ve just made with the people you love.

Et en français? Non non, je ne vous ai pas oubliés. Voici les instructions (résumées) pour participer à Sugar High Friday.

1. Faire des cupcakes. Un seul mot d’ordre: originalité et sophistication.
2. Les prendre en photos et écrire un article.
3. M’envoyer un email avec votre nom, le nom et l’url de votre blog, un lien vers votre article SHF et une photo de votre choix d’au moins 205x205px.
4. Profiter de ces cupcakes avec les gens que vous aimez.