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Chocolate Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn Cupcakes

February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day which calls for some romantic baking! Dark chocolate and raspberry are a match made in heaven…here I have spiced up the combination in a cupcake recipe with the addition of some pink peppercorns. The spice adds an interesting little kick we well as being a pretty decorative flourish!

This recipe makes approx 16-20 cupcakes. Feel free to half the recipe if you don’t wish to devour this many between you and your loved one!

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry and Pink Peppercorn

Ingredients for the Dark Chocolate Cupcakes:

  • 100g unsalted butter,
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 8g cocoa powder
  • 120g good quality 70% dark chocolate
  • 160ml whole milk

Ingredients for the Raspberry Buttercream

  • 100g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • Handful of pink peppercorns

Method

  • To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 160°C/315F and line two 12-hole muffin tins with 16-20 paper cases.
  • Place the chocolate, milk and half the sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until all the chocolate and sugar have dissolved.
  • Meanwhile beat the butter and remaining sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Scrape down the mixture from the sides if necessary.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the butter and sugar mixture and mix gently until just combined.
  • Pour in the melted chocolate mixture and mix again, scraping any mixture down from the sides if necessary.
  • Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the top of the cupcakes are springy to the touch.
  • Leave to rest in the tray for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely (note: tops of the cupcakes sink slighltly on cooling which is normal)
  • To make the buttercream, place the raspberries in a small saucepan with a small splash of water and heat gently until soft. Remove from the heat and mash. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl, scraping the sieve to get as much of the juice as possible. Return the raspberry puree to the saucepan and simmer gently until the juice has thickened and reduced by about half. Leave to cool and thicken further.
  • Meanwhile, beat the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer for approximately 10mins until light and fluffy. A little at a time, add the concentrated raspberry puree to the buttercream, mixing between each addition, until the desired strength of flavour is achieved. Take care not to add too much such that icing is too runny.
  • To finish the cupcakes, pipe the raspberry buttercream on each cupcake and sprinkle with crushed pink peppercorns!

Hazelnut Chocolate Orange Macarons

I made these macarons as my edible Christmas gifts last year. The combination of chocolate and hazelnut is a well renowned match made famous of course by Nutella! The addition of orange zest adds a fresh twist and the decoration of dipped chocolate coated in crunchy hazelnut praline adds an additional layer of flavour and luxury….the perfect gift and indeed luxurious teatime treat! Enjoy!

Hazelnut Macarons with Chocolate Orange Ganache and Hazelnut Praline

Ingredients for the Hazelnut Macarons:

  • 50g hazelnuts
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 x 40g egg white

Ingredients for the Chocolate Orange Ganache:

  • 110g 70% dark chocolate
  • 100ml pouring cream
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • finely grated zest 1 orange

Ingredients for the Hazelnut Praline Decoration:

  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 75g skinned toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Step 1: To make the hazelnut macarons, preheat the oven to 170°C/315F.  .

Step 2: Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and place in the oven for approx 10-15mins, shaking every few minutes to turn. Take care  not to burn. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before placing in a clean tea towel and rubbing to remove the skin.

Step 3: Place the skinned hazelnuts, ground almonds and icing sugar into a blender and grind to a fine powder. Sieve into a clean metal bowl, discarding any large particles. Add 1 x 40g egg white and mix to form a paste (called the tant pour tant). Set aside.

Step 4: Clean the inside of the metal bowl of a food mixer and the whisk attachment with lemon juice or boiling water to remove all traces of grease. Wipe with paper towel. Place the second 40g egg white into the bowl.

Step 5: Place the caster sugar and water into a small saucepan and bring to the boil, swirling now and then to ensure even heating.

Step 6: Meanwhile whisk the egg white to soft peaks. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 105°C, increase the speed and whisk to stiff peaks. When the syrup reaches 115°C, remove from the heat and pour the syrup in a thin stream into the egg whites. Whisk for approximately 10mins until thick and glossy.

Step 7: Add about a third of the meringue mixture to the hazelnut/almond mixture and fold in to loosen. Then add the rest of the meringue mixture, folding in until it has a ‘flow’ similar to consistency of lava.

Step 8:  Fit a piping bag with an 8mm round nozzle and pour in the batter. Pipe small well-spaced rounds of batter approximately the size of  a walnut onto a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet (if you don’t have a silicone mat use baking parchment and attach the corners to the tray with a small blob of the batter). Tap the trays on the counter 3-4 times to remove air bubbles. If any fail to pop use a cocktail stick to do so. Leave to form a ‘skin’ for approx 25-45mins depending on ambient temperature and humidity (test by touching gently with the tip of your finger, if skin has formed your finger should come away clean).

Step 9: Bake in the oven for 12-15mins, turning the tray half-way through. Leave to cool completely on the tray before removing.

Step 10: To make the chocolate orange ganache, place the orange zest and cream in a saucepan and heat gently until warm. Remove from the heat and allow the orange to infuse for 1hr. Pass through a fine sieve to remove the orange zest.

Step 11: Add the sugar to the cream and reheat.

Step 12: Meanwhile place the chocolate into a mixing bowl.

Step 13: Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.

Step 14: Finally add the butter and stir to combine. Allow to cool and refrigerate for approximately one hour before filling the macarons

Step 15: To make the hazelnut praline, heat the caster sugar in a small saucepan until dissolved. Swirl gently to ensure even heating. When the syrup is a golden brown colour, remove from the heat and add the chopped hazelnuts. Stir with a spatula before transferring to a piece of baking parchment to cool. When cool, break into a food processor and pulse gently to form a medium coarse powder.

Step 16: To finish the macarons, dip half the macaron shells in the melted chocolate and place on a piece of baking parchment. Sprinkle with the hazelnut praline and leave to set.

Step 17: Using a piping bag fitted with an 8mm nozzle, fill the other half of the macaron shells with the chocolate orange ganache and place the chocolate praline coated shells on top. Place the macarons in the refrigerator. They are best eaten after 24 hours and within 72 hours of filling.

Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Bundts with Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel Glaze

 

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As many know I am a huge fan of mini bundt cakes. Often requiring little in the way of adornment they are the perfect individual treat for guests. I wanted to make a festive version and this Chocolate Gingerbread cake recipe is deliciously light and fluffy so not too heavy for a Christmas dessert. Adapted from a recipe by Supergolden Bakes, I have paired it with an Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel glaze for a little extra indulgence!

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The recipe makes 10 mini bundt cakes but if you prefer to make one large cake, double the quantities for a large bundt tin and increase the baking time to 40-45 mins. The caramel recipe makes more than is needed but store any leftover in a clean jar in the fridge and feel free to pour over ice-cream, cakes and desserts over the festive season!

Chocolate Gingerbread Mini Bundt Cakes with Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel Glaze

Ingredients for the chocolate gingerbread bundt cakes:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 75 soft brown sugar
  • 60g self-raising flour
  • 30g ground almonds
  • 2 medium eggs, separated
  • 1/2 tbsp black treacle
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda

Ingredients for the Irish Whiskey Orange Caramel:

  • 75ml cream
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g cold butter, cubed
  • 2tbsp Irish (or other) whiskey
  • finely grated zest 1 medium orange

Step 1: To make the cake, preheat the oven to 160°C/315F.  .

Step 2: Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water and leave to cool.

Step 3: Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy.

Step 4: In the meantime whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside

Step 5: Beat the egg yolks into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.

Step 6: Add the cooled melted chocolate and treacle and beat until combined.

Step 7: Fold in the flour, ground almonds, spices and bicarbonate of soda.

Step 8: Add a spoonful of egg whites to the mixture and fold in gently with a metal spoon before folding in the remainder of the egg whites

Step 9: Divide the batter between 10 silicone mini bundt moulds. Place on a tray in the oven and bake for approximately 15 mins or until top is springy to the touch. Remove from oven and leave to cool for 15mins before carefully turning out of the moulds.

Step 10: To make the caramel sauce, heat the cream gently in a saucepan.

Step 11: Put the sugar in a larger saucepan and heat on medium heat until the sugar starts to dissolve. Swirl to ensure it heats evenly.

Step 12: When all the sugar has dissolved add in the butter a cube at a time and stir until smooth.

Step 13: Slowly pour in the cream and stir again until smooth.

Step 14: Finally add the whiskey and orange zest and stir.

Step 15: While caramel sauce is still runny, pour over the mini bundt cakes. The cakes taste best warm but to my family taste testers they were also equally delicious cold!

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