Sunday, 30 March 2008

DB 1: Brave, Courageous and... Daring!

I'd been wanting to join the Daring Bakers for a long time before this month, but somehow I'd never got up the nerve. I think perhaps it was the name; 'daring' made me think of pirates, or ninjas, and as much as I may aspire to be a ninja pirate (or a pirate ninja?) I wasn't sure if I was cut out for it.

When I finally decided to go for it, I was pretty relieved to learn that my first DB challenge was going to be a cake. I may not be the most daring of Daring Bakers, but I'm alright at cake.

I was so petrified of doing something wrong and being cast from the DB fold forever (do they have hitmen? I fondly imagine them having some sort of secret service at their beck and call) that this cake did take about a decade to make, and I kept having to take breaks to hyperventilate and frantically email Pixie, but all in all I think I was pretty successful.

That said; this cake was far more effort than I'd usually put in, and while it looked impressive (my mum said it looked like a wedding cake), I actually prefer normal sponge and regular, non-classy buttercream to the Swiss buttercream used here. So it was a good experience, but I think I'm sticking with my Gran's tried-and-true cake recipe ^__^.

Thanks Morven for hosting, and the recipe is in Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours.

Also; sorry for posting this late - I was in Bath visiting my sister, without an internet connection. Fail. Looks like the DB secret service will be on my trail anyway...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Why Choosing Between Desserts Is A Thing Of The Past

On Happy Love Strawberry, 'excess' is not a word that I know the meaning of.

Well, I mean, I know the meaning of it. I'm not stupid.

What I'm trying to say is: I love brownies. I love ice cream. I had six egg yolks rocking out in the fridge (you know, I swear they started reproducing at one point? I'm not pointing any fingers, I'm just saying; one day I had three sharing a mug, the next day, there were four in there. No one else uses egg whites in my house, so the logical conclusion is that they had a baby. Anyone know anything about the reproductive cycle of an egg yolk?). It made sense to me - and I don't mean in the weird, egg-yolk-multiplication way - to make both.

At the same time. Together. In one glorious, hybrid, taste-explosion. Heeee.

My photos say this worked.

My stomach says something very similar, but in a more 'oh GOD, this is GLORIOUS, but STOP EATING, I'm GOING TO DIE' sort of way.

In reflection, I should have made this when I had someone to share it with.

I used The Only Brownie Recipe In The World That I Can Actually Make, which is a Nigel Slater recipe, and for the icecream, I used Donna Hay's recipe which I found on Spicy Icecream (deceptively, the icecream is not spicy). However, I've copied and pasted a bit to convert the measurements to metric, so I'll stick it all up here ^__^.

For the icecream:
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
From Modern Classics 2 by Donna Hay
Makes about 1 litre

240ml milk
480ml single cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
6 egg yolks
115g caster sugar

1. Place the milk, cream and vanilla (including the bean) in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the mixture is hot but not boiling. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 15 minutes

2. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk mixture, and slowly pour over the egg yolk mixture. Whisk well to combine.

3. Return the mixture to the pan and stir over low heat until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool. A good way to do this is to fill your sink with a little cold water and a few ice cubes and place the saucepan in there.

4. Either place the custard in an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions OR place the mixture in tub, cover and freeze for 1 hour. Beat with an electric hand mixer, or, you know, a spoon, and return to the freezer. Repeat three times at hourly intervals until the ice cream is thick and smooth. In the meantime, make the brownies; they need to be cool and set by the time your ice cream has been freezing for about 3 1/2 hours or is just almost ready to be left to itself.

For the brownies:
Very Good Chocolate Brownies
Recipe by Nigel Slater. Makes 12 or 16 normal sized brownies, but we're not making normal sized brownies...

300g caster sugar
250g butter
250g chocolate
3 large eggs plus 1 extra egg yolk
60g flour
60g good quality cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder

1. You will need a baking tin, about 23cm x 23cm. Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4. Line the bottom of the baking tin with baking parchment. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a food mixer and beat for several minutes till white and fluffy.

2. Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces, set 50g of it aside and melt the rest in a bowl suspended over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. As soon as the chocolate has melted remove it from the heat. Chop the remaining 50g into gravel-sized pieces.

3. Break the eggs into a small bowl and beat them lightly with a fork. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix in a pinch of salt. With the food mixer running slowly, introduce the beaten egg a little at a time, speeding up in between additions. Remove the bowl from the mixer to the work surface, then mix in the melted and the chopped chocolate with a large metal spoon. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa, gently and firmly, without knocking any of the air out.

4. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for 30 minutes. The top will have risen slightly and the cake will appear slightly softer in the middle than around the edges.Pierce the centre of the cake with a fork - it should come out sticky, but not with raw mixture attached to it. It will solidify a little on cooling, too.

5. After the icecream has been in the freezer for about 3 and a half hours, and is smooth and starting to freeze, divide the tin of brownies in half (you won't need it all. Go crazy with the rest of the brownies. You can make a lot of friends that way. Alternatively, you could double the icecream quanitites and make two litres, but whatever). Rather than cut your brownies into twelve or sixteen or whatever, cut them into small, bite-sized pieces, and drop them on top of the icecream. Don't stir them in just yet, because if they're gooey they'll just marble in too much and you'll end up with muddy icecream. Cover the tub again and put in the freezer for ten minutes or so, THEN stir it in. You might need to add the brownie bites in two batches, but if you're doing it you may as well do it properly and use loads.

Then you just have to leave it to freeze up properly (I went to a party, and returned late this morning feeling rather ill. I then ate lots of brownie icecream, and felt more ill, but rather smug and cheerful at the same time).

'This icecream makes you feel smug and cheerful' is not really the height of good food writing, but I'm sure you get the idea. Over-indulgence for the win XD.

Friday, 21 March 2008

'What has it got in its pocketses?'

`...We call it lembas or waybread, and it is more strengthening than any food made by Men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts.' -- The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein.

I think everyone's gathered I'm a bit of a nerd, yes? Just checking. So when I had the combination of the Novel Food: Spring 2008 blog event and another busy day tree-forting ahead of me, it made sense to make food with a tree-theme. If you didn't think there was such a thing as tree-themed food, this is where you have to think again.

I came across this recipe for lembas (the elf waybread) from Tolkein's Middle Earth books on the internet decades ago, and printed it off out of scientific interest -not really expecting I'd ever get a chance to make it- so that was my first port of call on Tuesday night (I like to think of it as stopping briefly at Rivendell on my culinary journey to Mordor. This isn't really an analogy that works, but I've not actually read the Lord of the Rings books in a long time, so I'm pretending it does). I floated round the kitchen in an elf-like manner, clad in silver and leaf-green (grey jeans and a hoody?), singing joyfully in a birdlike voice in Elvish ('IF I WERE A MANLY MAAAAN...').

Anyway, the lembas was shit. It was kind of sad.

I think the problem was that the writer of the above recipe, had internalised the 'this waybread lasts about a billion years while you trek across Middle Earth and one bite is enough to fill you so you don't eat any more'. They'd kind of overlooked the 'elf-food, yum yum, delicous' aspect. I mean, technically that recipe would last a long time, and you wouldn't eat any more, but mostly because it was horrible.

I'm exaggerating a little bit, and now I feel mean. It's just that it yielded something more like a cracker - it had the consistency of a cork mat, and tasted like a ryvita cracker. Actually, it turned out to taste pretty good with houmous (although anything tastes good with houmous), but I was still disappointed over the lack of... 'elf-food, yum yum, delicious'. Also pissed off that I'd used up all the almonds we had in the house.

I'd taken this failure a bit personally, anyway, so after this I got myself online to find another recipe. I was mollified (and a bit relieved) to discover that I'm not the only nerd around - I found about five different lembas recipes, not including small variations and links on different pages. Some included stuff like raisins, which didn't seem accurate to me, and others were a bit dubious in various other ways, and most of them called for ground almonds (DAMN YOU, BASTARD ALMOND-USING RECIPE UP THERE), but as I wasn't up for a Tesco trip I went for one that didn't.

I did change it, though. For starters I switched honey for sugar, which turned out to be a very good decision, and I used less milk, and lemon juice instead of extract, cause we had half a lemon floating around the fridge. And the result is... good. It's difficult to describe what it's like (one of my friends went, in a tone of bewilderment, 'this is... so unlike anything else...') but the closest comparison I can think of is a scone - it's maybe like a not-sweet cookie, or a kind of flatbread (the raw mixture was suprisingly like bread dough, and I almost began kneading it automatically). Definitely more lembas-y than most of the recipes I found on the internet, though I would like to try it with a proportion of ground almonds (DAMN YOU ONCE AGAIN).

So... a success! I'm still considering this a work in progress, but if you happen to open your door to a load of dwarves one morning, or get given a magic ring and are lumped into treking about a billion miles to the unfortunately-named Mount Doom, or similar... at least you have a picnic option now XD.

Adapted from this recipe.
Makes about 16 pieces.
350g flour
1 tbsp baking powder
115g butter
2-3 tbsp honey
120ml milk
juice of half a lemon
1. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix the butter in until you get a crumbly mixture, like breadcrumbs, then add the honey and mix in. Add the lemon juice and pour in the milk slowly - you may need a little more/less to form a dough that you can handle.
2. Roll the dough out to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 3 inch squares and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake at 220C for about 12 minutes, or until lightly golden (the tops will be blonde, and the edges darker gold).

“The hobbits each ate two or three pieces. The taste brought back to them the memory of fair faces, and laughter, and wholesome food in quiet days now far away.” --The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein.

Monday, 17 March 2008

For Manly Men

If I were a manly man/ If I were a manly maaaaaaann.../ I'd have --

Okay, this is what I like to call a family-friendly blog (I am quite obviously lying, as I don't recommend small children, pregnant women or the eldery be exposed to my terrible language. Next thing you know they're all on crazy rampages, and I don't want that to happen) so I'm not going to finish that particular song about manly men. Needless to say it goes on for several verses, and includes 'testosterone', 'a really really really really deep voice', 'chest hair', a liking of 'wrestling bears', 'really curly sideburns' and other such manly characteristics (my friends and I have a very accurate view of the world, along with our song-writing talents).

Anyway, it's common knowledge that one thing manly men DO do (when they're not wrestling bears or being unable to communicate emotions *sings* because I'm socially devoiiid!) is drink Guinness, the drink of Men. Men, and The Irish.

None of my friends are Irish Men (although some of them are one or the other - I'm thinking of the lovely Nirish here (the clue's in the name) or... Boy close enough) so since, at a strapping five foot two, I am the strongest and most manly of the group (sorry, Boy) I thought the time seemed right for a Guinness cake.

Technically it's a Guinness cake made with 'Irish Stout', but I am a Man, and to the Manly, that means Guinness.

I'm entering this in the St. Paddy's Day Pub Crawl event just because I can, even though I've seen several Guinness cake posts on other blogs, all far better than mine - but this is a Gary Rhodes recipe that I haven't seen on anyone else's blog, and it has a soft icing rather than a buttercream one. Actually I think the idea was to let the icing cool a bit and set over the top, ala a pint of Guinness, but I am Manly and Impatient, and couldn't be bothered waiting, basically. So it all ran over the sides and into the middle, because my cake sank. The bastard.

The icing is also oddly yellow, that's the other strange thing. It's mostly white chocolate, so I've no idea why this is. It was less yellow once it had set a bit (you can tell by the shine on the pictures that it hadn't set when I took them) but... hmm. Mysterious. Looks a bit like custard. I promise it isn't.

Guinness Cake (For Manly Men)
Recipe from Rhodes Around Britain by Gary Rhodes
Makes one 8-10" (20-25cm) cake (I used an 8.5" round tin)

225g butter
350g soft brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsps bicarbonate of soda
400ml stout (Guinness)
100g cocoa

1. Oven to 180C. Grease/ line your tin.

2. Cream butter & brown sugar til pale. Gradually add the beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarb, and in a separate separate bowl mix the stout and cocoa powder (whee, volcano!). Now add the flour and stout mixes alternatively to the butter and eggs until completely and evenly bound. The consistency will be quite soft. I don't recommend you lick out the cocoa/stout bowl because it tastes FOUL. Stick with me.

2. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour - 1 hr-15 until done. (Mine didn't need more than an hour)You might need to cover it with foil after about fifty minutes or so to stop it browning too much, but with an almost-black cake it's hard to tell. Allow to cool before removing from the tin.

For the topping:

200g white chocolate
180g butter
1-2 measures whiskey

3. Melt the white chocolate and butter with the whiskey until just softened, then leave to cool. I mean it. Leave it to cool. Don't be like me. Spread it on top of the cake (clue: it should be spreadable). Unless you're feeling daring, you might also want to let the cake cool first, too.

Now cut yourself a manly hunk and toast St. Patrick!

Or at least walk around for twenty minutes or so going 'top o' the morning to ye, Moo! Oi be called Noirish, on account o' the fact tha' oi be Oirish! Oi drink Guinness by day, an' eat potatohs by noight!'.

Warning: Irish friends may not be as amused as you are.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Not-Actually-Sweet Temptation

I think I should make it pretty clear that my eating habits don't revolve around cake or chocolate cookies (although with these, I could make a good go of it). You might not believe me, but I eat pretty healthily most of the time; it's just never light enough in Winter to get good photos of my dinner. Yeah, that's the reason. Ahem.

Anyway, now it seems pretty weird to get all excited over something that is -gasp!- Not Sweet, but AJSNJFSD. These are GOOD. Yes, they're all sorts of vegetables and, you know, filled with nutrients and suchlike (am I disappointing you? Sorry, I'm having an out-of-character day), but they also taste godly - I think it's the basil pesto. And when they're fresh out of the oven which these pictures don't show as I had to photo the leftover portion the day after when it was light the peppers are roasted to a golden sweetness, just charred on top, and the feta cheese bubbles from beneath the salty fresh pesto, and I'm making myself feel hungry.

It's another recipe from Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Supercook, which I am thinking of making my Bible (blasphemy ahoy!). I've not done anything original with it, but it is THAT GOOD that I'm going to put the book's recipe up anyway (copyright issues ahoy!). Looks like I'm going to hell. Or, you know, prison. Maybe they'll let me off if I say: 'BUY THIS VERY EXCELLENT BOOK. ALL PROCEEDS TO ROSE ELLIOT HERSELF AND NONE AT ALL TO INDY'.

Time for a not-so-subtle subject change. The lovely Maria on The Goddess's Kitchen tagged me for a meme decades ago and I'm so disorganised that I've only just got round to posting it. Enjoy!

What were you doing 10 years ago?
Well I was seven, so probably not a lot. I don't know any seven year olds so I don't know what kind of things they get up to, but I imagine primary school and getting generally messy O__O

What were you doing 1 year ago?
Pretty much the same as I am now; working towards my A-Levels and wishing something a bit more exciting would happen ^__^. Dying to go to uni, which is a bit closer now!

Five snacks you enjoy:
1) Chocolate hobnobs. Actually to be honest, I don't really snack, but chocolate hobnobs are just -- kgdnksnjdn <333>

Five things you would do if you were a millionaire:
1) One way ticket to Japan, I think?!
2) A few more tickets so my friends could come too.
3) Buy a house in Japan by the sea.
4) Get a car other than the Satanmobile (my current set of wheels, which I'm learning on. I blame the car for my total failure at driving). I've always wanted a VW campervan.
5) I'm keeping this one free, in case something else occurs to me ^__^

Five bad habits:
1) Binge-eating. I'm trying to stop, haha. I don't eat a lot usually but if I'm upset or drunk I go straight for the fridge.
2) Procrastinating (did I not mention I'm doing this instead of homework?)
3) List-making. All the time. It wouldn't be a bad habit if it was just occassional, but I can't sit with nothing to do - I start planning things I need to do, things I want to make, what outfits I'm wearing where...
4) This sounds very up-myself, but I don't have a lot of patience with people who aren't as clever as I am. If someone can't follow my train of thought (which is admittedly pretty insane) I get very frustrated. I do try not to show it, though.
5) Checking the mirror too much. I don't know what I expect to change, haha.

Five things you like doing:
1) Hanging out with my friends (we always do fantastic things, like having tea parties and building tree forts, or going to safari parks)
2) Cooking and baking, especially for other people.
3) Playing guitar & singing
4) Shopping, especially if someone else is paying.
5) ...Building tree forts?

Five things you would never wear again:
1) Can I be honest and say there's not a lot I won't wear? I'll change my mind in a couple of years, but give me a chance to look ridiculous first ^__^

Five favorite toys:
1) My computer. No question
2) My pink electric guitar
3) My digital camera (it's not a great one, but we have fun)
4) My computer tablet, Belle
5) My acoustic guitar (it used to be my mum's, back in the day, so it's pretty vintage XD. It's also the best guitar I've ever played, and I've unofficially inherited it ^__^)

I'm supposed to tag five people but I'm feeling tired, so I'll just say that anyone can have it who wants it =P

Meditteranean Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Mash
Recipe from Rose Elliot's Vegetarian Supercook
Prep: 10 mins, Cooking: 30 mins
Serves 4
301 kcals per serving

4 red peppers
200g feta cheese, cut into 1cm cubes
8 heaped tsp pesto (I used green basil pesto)
16 cherry tomatoes, halves (mine were particularly mini so I used more - almost all of a small 250g tub)

For the cauliflower mash:
1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
25g butter
salt & pepper

1. Halve the peppers, cutting right through the stems too if you can. Trim the insides and rinse away all the seeds. Put the peppers in a roasting tin and divide the feta between them, then spoon over the peso. Finally top with the halved tomatoes, skin-side up. Bake in a preheated 200C oven until the tops are charring and the insides full of juice.

2. Meanwhile, make the cauliflower mash. Bring a couple of inches depth of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the cauliflower, bring to the boil, cover and cook for 5-6 mins until it's tender. Drain well, then put it in a food processor with the butter and some salt & pepper and whizz to a smooth, thick mixture. Return to the saucepan and gently reheat, stirring so that it doesn't catch. Serve with the peppers.

I may be going to prison/hell, but at least I will be glowing with energy and nutrition, having already had three of my five portions of vegetables for the day. Outwitted!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

So Outrageous, It's The Rage

Chocolate. Probably the best invention in the world, ever. Except maybe the internet. Whoever introduced chocolate to the Earth (I'm thinking maybe the Aztecs?) deserves a knighthood, or a large sack of gold, or maybe one of these cookies.

Only one, though.

I'm trying desperately to think of ways to fully express the chocolate hit of these cookies, and the fudgy, brownie-like texture, and the chunks of sweet, milk chocolate spread throughout... and nothing I can think of really does them justice. I'm, to be honest, not much of a cookie eater (I prefer cake XD) but across the bottom of print-out of this recipe, I have scrawled in giant, black felt-pen capital letters 'THESE ARE GODLY', underlined it twice, and drawn a huge, lopsided heart beneath it.

Probably you get the idea.

The recipe for this is from Bake Or Break, but I had to change it quite a bit as the recipe conversion flummoxed me. Yeah, I can handle the quantities, but I had one, big problem - semi-sweet chocolate? The what?

In Britain, we have plain (dark) chocolate, milk chocolate, or white chocolate. Thassit. But one Google search later, I was sifting through realms of 'bittersweet', and 'dark' and 'semi-sweet' and (most confusingly) 'baking' chocolate. I tried to narrow down my quest; the British equivalent of semi-sweet chocolate. Was it just milk chocolate?

Er, apparently not.

'Do not substitute milk chocolate for recipes that call for semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate' one site told me.

'you should never use a bittersweet chocolate if the recipe specifies semi-sweet or sweet' another ordered.

'Semi-sweet - plain (dark) chocolate.' The Recipe Corner tried to clear it up for me.

But then it added that it was apparently sweeter than bittersweet WHICH IS ALSO PLAIN CHOCOLATE. LE FUCK?

Apparently American plain (baking) chocolate is darker than British plain (dark) chocolate, and not something you'd eat on its own. I don't know if we have a British equivalent to that - just dark chocolate with higher cocoa solid level, maybe? So bittersweet chocolate is more like British plain/dark chocolate. Semi-sweet chocolate is somewhere between dark and milk chocolate, I think. 'Right,' I decided, 'I'll bloody well go halves'.

...A victory for my mad conversion skillz. But my head still aches.

Safe in the knowledge that almost 49% of my readers are actually British, I'm going to blame the Americans for this. Damn those Yanks!

Except not too much, because, uh, these are good cookies.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies
Original recipe by Martha Stewart found here.
Makes 24 (but mine were too big and only made about 17)

100g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
125g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
55g unsalted butter
100g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
300g milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (I used 300g cause my milk choc comes in 200g bars, so it made sense to use two)

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat the 100g milk choc, the dark chocolate and the butter in a microwave safe bowl until almost melted, stirring together. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, and beat in the melted chocolate. Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

3. Drop smaaall tablespoons of dough 2-3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in the centres, 12-15 mins. Cool on sheets for ten mins, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

I made these for an evening out with my friends, and naturally I have too much self-control to eat two before then, so I'm afraid if you want pictures of the middle, you'll just have to--


Bloggers who made this:
17/03/08 Antonia at
Food, Glorious Food

Monday, 3 March 2008

Spectacular, Spectacular!

There is a certain baking etiquette for most situations. Birthdays require cake, book groups or sleepovers call for brownies or slices, afternoon tea (because obviously I have that so often) needs biscuits, presents should always involve cookies.

Okay, yes I did make up half of that. Feel free to use it as your staple baking etiquette guide from now on. I live to serve.

You may remember my unfortunate tendency to come up with bizarre ideas. I'm insanely lucky that in my friend group, when I send an email round saying 'WE SHOULD BUILD A TREE FORT!!' I get a load of replies emailed back - not saying, 'er, what have you been smoking?' or even, 'haha, that would be mildly amusing', but saying 'sure, let's do it on ____ at ____'s house!!' XD.

The point is, my amazingly definitive baking ettiquette guide doesn't cover tree-fort building.

Addendum #1: If in doubt, make cupcakes.

When I think of cupcakes, I always turn to this book, and the first thing that caught my eye was lemon coconut snowballs. Everything was merry and bright (I sometimes like to throw in phrases like this when people aren't expecting this; I'm just adding a bit of Julie Andrews to my corner of the blogging world) until I realised that when I added the frosting we were talking about at least nine egg whites here. Bollocks to that, I thought (sorry Julie). Nine egg whites is nine egg whites. What the buggery am I going to do with nine egg yolks? (that is a hypothetical question, by the way, before you all start shouting 'ICE CREAM' at me XD)

Anyway, I flicked through the book a bit more and came across another white cupcake recipe that was almost exactly the same but with just three egg whites in the cake. I also couldn't be doing with the 'let's-make-lemon-filling-even-though-you-could-just-use-lemon-curd-but-shush' malarky that the filling is all about, so (unsuprisingly) I just used lemon curd. To summarize; I've bastardised this recipe to the nth degree (and that's not even including my dodgy conversion). But God, it tastes good.

I seem to be effing and blinding all over the place now (if by 'effing and blinding' you mean 'using three very mild swearwords', which I do). Over-compensating for the Julie Andrews moment, I think. I'm very insecure.

These are pure white cupcakes with a chilled lemon filling, covered in the mystery that is seven-minute-frosting (the first time I've had it - it's not buttercream, it's not whipped cream, it's not meringue... what is it?! Crazy, that's what it is. Crazy good) and sprinkled with tons of coconut flakes. One of my friends described it as 'more or less the best thing in the world', which I think says it all and then some. ('And then some' being that I have the greatest friends XD)

Snowball Cupcakes
adapted to save egg whites from Cupcakes by Elinor Klivans
Makes 12 regular cupcakes (I had enough left over to make a couple of mini ones too, but that was cause I didn't fill my case enough D=)

White cupcake recipe:
175g plain flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
180ml milk (it says whole milk, but obviously if you're making these cupcakes you're crazy-healthy and only have semi-skimmed in the house. Right? Yeah, me too)
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g butter
180g caster sugar
3 large egg whites

Jar of lemon curd

Seven Minute Frosting:
150g icing sugar
80ml water
3 large egg whites
1/4 cream of tartar (I lived without)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Looads of dessicated coconut to sprinkle ^__^

1. Oven to 180C. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper liners. 'Sift' (ha! I do not sift) the flours, baking powder & salt into a bowl and set aside. In a separate small bowl, stir the milk & vanilla together.

2. In a large bowl (get your kitchen mixer out) beat the butter and sugar until smooth and light, until it's sugary and in large clumps. Sounds attractive, hnn. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, alternating between the two - so you start and end with the flour. Mix just until the flour is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Set aside.

3. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites nice and fast with clean beaters until they look shiny and smooth, and the beaters form lines in the egg whites. If you stop mixing and lift up the beaters, the whites should cling to them. Stir about 1/3 of the beaten whites into the reserved batter, and use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining white until just blended.

4. Fill each paper liner with however much mixture it takes to fill all twelve. We go in for accuracy, round here. Hint, you shouldn't have enough to make mini ones as well X__X. Bake for about 20 minutes until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and leave to cool.

5. To make the seven minute frosting, put the sugar, water, egg whites and cream of tartar in a heatproof bowl and beat with a handheld electric mixer (I don't have one, so used one of the handheld mixers that you beat by hand. I fail at terminology. It was bloody hard, is the point) until opaque, white and foamy (about 1 minute).

6. Put the bowl over (but not so the bottom's touching) a pan of barely simmering water. Beat on high speed until the frosting forms a soft peak that stands straight up if you stop the beaters and lift them; about 7 minutes, hence the name. Remove the bowl of frosting from the water, add the vanilla extract, and continue beating for 2 mins more to further thicken the frosting.

7. To fill the cupcakes, cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1 inch across & 1 inch deep) out of the middle of the top of each cake, and keep them aside. Put a spoonful of lemon curd into each hole and replace the cake pieces. Immediately frost the cupcakes (you might need another quick beat of your frosting if you've left it while you filled, here. This is where another person would be good).

8. Put a plate underneath to catch falling coconut before you start frosting. Holding a cupcake in the palm of your hand, dollop a thick layer of frosting over the top and sides of each cupcake. Sprinkle coconut generously over the frosting, letting any extra fall onto the plate to be recycled for another cupcake XD.

The cupcakes can be refridgerated for up to 2 days. If you're spending one of these days tying pirate flags to trees in the freezing cold, they should pretty much survive.

I'm entering these in Cupcakes Spectacular , just because I can. ^__^