At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

colourful cute cupcakes... :)

There's something just so, irresistibly adorable about the cupcake. Surely, they have to be the daintiest, prettiest, and undeniably cutest members of the baking world? Of course, as with many things, appealing and aesthetic qualities can be greatly enhanced with a little bit extra of tender loving care. And so is the case with these little beauties.
I mean, just look at them. ;)

So even before the divine white and dark chocolate ganaches are applied, the extraordinary beauity and enticing qualities of these miniature gateaux has already been well established. All thanks to a little colour coordination on the part of the baker. Mine were pink, yellow and brown, but of course it's entirely up to you and what kind of mood you are in. On Paddy's Day this year I had green and yellow ones in keeping with the Irish theme. And then, of course, when they are topped with the two different kinds of ganache, the delightful attractiveness of your colourful creations is made wonderfully complete. As you can see from the pic above, varying the way in which you actually apply the ganache...a little dark rosette on smooth white coating in one, one big dark swirl on another, or vice versa...augments their charm ever further. Though once more I must stress that my way is NOT the only way. feel free to experiment with different types of ganache and the ways in which you choose to decorate your cupcakes. I think a glace cherry or a malteser, for example, might look very sweet stuck on top of a dark chocolate ganache swirl, surrounded by very fune shards of grated milk chocolate or sprinklings of icing sugar for a snowy effect.   
Anyway, on to how to make your very own marble-lous cupcakes. ;)
  • 125 g butter/margarine, softened
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180 g self-raising flour
  • few drops of red food colouring (or whichever colour you like ;) )
  • About 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence/extract
  • 5 tbsp full-fat milk + extra for the cocoa batter
For the ganaches...
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 100g plain chocolate, chopped

  • Preheat the oven to 180c/fan 160. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cases.
  • Beat the butter or margarine in a bowl until really soft, then add the sugar, the eggs and the vainlla. Beat well for about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl after a minute so that it is all nicely incorporated.
  • Sieve in the flour and pour in the 5 tbsp of milk. Gently fold in with a big metal spoon.
  • Now it's time to make your cupcakes all pretty and colourful. ;) Depending on how many colours you want, distribute the mixture evenly between two, three or four bowls. (or five, or 6...rainbow cupcakes?! well there's an awesome idea. ;)
  • For the cocoa-flavoured batter: If you are doing just three or two colours, sieve the 1 tbsp of cocoa powder into one of the batters and add about 2 tsp (or more if necessary) milk to get a nice soft dropping consistency. (if you have just two batters perhaps add a heaped tbsp of cocoa and 3 tsp of milk so its chocolatey enough. ;) ) for more than three colours, add a little less cocoa and milk - if you have six colours, say, you'll only need about 1/2 tsp. (It's not an exact science, so don't worry too much about it. My advice would be to aim for about 1 tbsp for 2-3 olours, 3/4 tbsp for 4-5, 1/2 for 6...etc. ;)
  • For the other coloured batters, simply add a few drops of your chosen food colouring to a batter. Leave one batter plain if you want a yellow colour.
  • Distribute alternative spoonfuls of the different coloured batters amongst the 12 paper cases, filling them about three quarters full. When you're done, take a little thin skewer and swirl it round in each case to get that gorgeous, swirly marbled effect.
  • Bake the cupcakes for about 17-20 minutes, until well-risen and springy to the touch - if you press the top of one gently with a fingertip, it should spring back. If an indention is left bake for a few more minutes and then test again.
  • Leave in the muffin pan for about two or three minutes, and then move to a wire rack to cool. While they are cooling make the ganaches, starting with the dark chocolate ganache. ;)
  • Make the dark choc ganache by melting the 100g plain chocolate with 100 ml single cream, on a very low heat in a small saucepan. Stir until smooth and then refrigerate for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, checking after 1 ½ hours…you don’t want it very hard, just a nice spreadable consistency.
  • Next make the white choc ganache: in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the white choc with the 4 tbsp single cream. Stir now and again and watch it very closely – the white choc will temper easily if it is overheated. As soon as the choc has melted remove from the heat and stir until nice and smooth. Refrigerate for about 1 hour – 1 ½ hours, checking after an hour, until the ganache is thicker and more spreadable.
  • When the cupcakes are completely cold, decorate them with the two whatever way you heart desires. To get swirls or rosettes of course, you will need an icing bag or small piping bag fitted with a star-shaped nozzle. The cupcake in the front right of the pic above was first covered by a smooth layer of white ganache, before a small rosette of dark ganache was added on top. But don't worry if you don't have one. Undisputed prettiness is guaranteed whichever way you choose to finish off your cute cupcakes. ( As is, I am sure, the likelihood that all your friends and family will be won over entirely by the charming appeal of these edible, colourful little delights. ;)

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