Tag Archives: cupcakes

Recipe: Vegan Sacher-cupcakes

Calling these cupcakes Sacher-cupcakes is probably an insult to Austrians everywhere and they will never let me go back to their country, let alone that hotel, but I do think it’s a fair description. 

Sachertorte is a light chocolate sponge covered with apricot jam and chocolate glaze.  These cakes are also light and chocolatey, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate ganache, and they are really delicious.  I’ve made this recipe quite a few times in the last year or two for work events, because it’s incredibly easy and fast to make, works with gluten-free flour mix if it needs to, and once you fill it with apricot jam and load it with ganache nobody will believe that it’s vegan.

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Recipe: Lavender Butterfly Cakes with Blackberry Jam and Whipped Ganache

These are really quite basic cupcakes with a little bit of lavender in them.  If you’ve ever made a plain butter cake, you probably used this recipe, but without the lavender.  The only slightly complex part is the whipped ganache, which is a bit fiddly, but actually very easy. Once you’ve made the ganache once, you’ll probably want to make it again, because it gives you a delicately flavoured cream that holds up much better than whipped cream if it needs to sit around for a few hours.

The only thing to remember is that you need to start the ganache at least 7 hours before you plan to serve the cupcakes.  Making it the day before is fine.

Also, I just love the flavour of lavender, but usually I make it either too strong or not strong enough.  For me, this whipped ganache is in the magical Goldilocks zone – noticeably lavender, without making you think about soap…

Your shopping list

75 white chocolate
125 + 160g cream, both chilled
3 blackberries, crushed
1 tsp dried culinary lavender + 2 tsp for the cake
12g liquid glucose (yes, I know, I know.  This recipe is usually made in a much larger batch.  This is about 1 1/2 teaspoons, I think.  Just think how much worse it would be if I’d only made a dozen cupcakes!)
250g butter, softened
300 g caster sugar
4 eggs
370 g self-raising flour
160 ml milk
500g blackberry jam

Now what will you do with it?

First, make the ganache.  Chop up the white chocolate and put it into a bowl.

Put 125g cream in a small saucepan with the blackberries and 1 tsp of lavender, and heat until boiling point.  Switch off the heat and leave for five minutes.

Pour the cream through a seive into another bowl.  Press the blackberries into the seive with the fork to make sure their juice comes through.  Return the cream to the saucepan.

Add the liquid glucose, which is, yes, a pain to use, but it does somehow make the ganache more stable.  What I recommend doing is rinsing a teaspoon and your hands in cold water, then using the teaspoon to scoop out the glucose and your finger to push it off into the cream – the cold water makes the glucose stick less.  And I’m sorry about the quantities.  This is the halved version of the recipe, and even with 24 cupcakes, you are going to have more than you need…

Bring the cream and glucose back to the boil, and pour the mixture over the white chocolate in the bowl.  Stir until the chocolate melts.  If you’ve made ganache before, you are probably worried about these ratios, because this is a very thin ganache and about to get thinner.  Don’t worry – think of this as whipped cream thickened with chocolate, and it will make more sense.

Stir in the rest of the chilled cream.  You might add a drop of purple colouring to the mixture to make it more inviting if you like, but this is optional.  Cover the ganache with clingwrap, which should be directly on the surface of the cream, and refrigerate for at least six hours or up to two days.

When you are ready to make the cupcakes, preheat your oven to 180°C, and line two twelve-hole muffin tins with paper cases.  (Or do this in two batches, one tin at a time.)

Grind the lavender in a mortar and pestle (you can grind it with some of the sugar if you find this easier) until it is somewhat broken down.

Put the lavender into a medium-sized mixing bowl with the butter and sugar, and cream together.  Add the eggs one at a time, then mix in the flour and milk, alternately.

Divide the mixture between the muffin tins, and put into the oven.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cakes feel soft and springy when you poke at them gently.  You might want to swap the trays around at the 15 or 20 minute mark, depending on how they are doing.

Remove from their tins, and let cool on a rack.  Get out your ganache, and whip it as you would cream.  The ganache has a higher fat content than cream, though, so it will whip up much faster – don’t put on a stand mixer and wander off to hang out the washing or something, this is probably only going to take a couple of minutes.

Use a small knife to cut a conical circle (I’m sure that is terrible geometry, but the right words escape me) in the middle of each cake – basically, you want a nice, round, section of cake, slightly pointed in the middle, which you are going to cut in half to make the butterfly wings, so don’t eat it!

Place a small spoonful of blackberry jam in the centre of each hole, and pipe or spoon the lavender ganache over the top of it.

Gently place the two ‘wings’ into the cream, pushing slightly inward as you do, to help raise the cream.

Dust with icing sugar or little purple stars.

Feed to the people you love.


Well, there’s no reason this has to be a lavender cake, I suppose, but isn’t that rather a waste? You might make the cakes with raspberry jam and a little rosewater in the ganache (add half a teaspoon with the cold cream, then taste and see if you need a little more), in which case I’d keep the cakes plain vanilla, because it is far too easy to wind up with overly-perfumed rose cakes.

You could replace 50 grams of the flour with cocoa, and then fill the cakes with cherry jam and add kirsch to your ganache.  Apparently, I’ve decided that black forest is the variation I want for every cupcake I’m doing.  Or just go ultra-chocolate – I bet this would be amazing with dark chocolate whipped ganache and a caramel filling, or a raspberry one, or maybe you could add peppermint essence to your whipped chocolate ganache, and have a choc-mint cupcake.  At which point you should probably decorate it with shards of Peppermint Crisp, because that is the law.

In terms of dietary requirements, I don’t think you are going to be able to avoid dairy here, but if you have a good, basic vegan vanilla cupcake recipe you could certainly make this ensemble eggless.  It is obviously free of nuts.  It would work just fine with my gluten-free self-raising flour mix, and the result should also be low in fructose, though certainly not in lactose.

Recipe: Vegan Cheeseburger Cupcakes

This is the time of year when bloggers do their retrospectives, but I don’t feel like doing a blog retrospective for 2015.  For one thing, I did hardly any blogging, and barely kept up with reading other blogs.  For another, the end of 2015 was made absolutely horrible for us by the disappearance of our beloved cat, Mystery.  She slipped out on the evening of December 22nd, and has not been seen since.  We’ve letterboxed and doorknocked and rung vets and visited shelters, but to no avail, and at this stage, we hold out little hope.  It’s been a painful and distressing way to end an exhausting year, and it’s very hard to look ahead and come up with plans, resolutions, or even hopes for 2016 at this point – because right now we are all too aware that life is uncertain and cannot truly be planned for.


So no perspectives from me, just a remarkably silly recipe, inspired by Rosanna Pansino’s Nerdy Nummies Cookbook.  She has a very fun recipe for a cupcake that looks like a cheeseburger, with a brownie patty, coconut lettuce, and buttercream piped to resemble cheese, tomatoes.

It’s very cute, but it also looked terribly sweet.  Also, I was cooking in part for Steph, so I needed a vegan recipe, and frankly, I found the idea of a vegan cheeseburger cupcake absolutely hilarious and thus irresistible, so off I went.

To avoid the excessive use of buttercream, I decided it would be more fun to give the burger a fruity sort of theme. Mango fruit leather strips make an excellent (and truly revolting-looking) substitute for plastic cheese, jam makes a fine substitute for tomato sauce, and tinned plums replace the beetroot that is a necessity in any Aussie hamburger. Mint leaves made a delicious substitute for lettuce, and at that point, you’re done.


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Recipe: Sunken Blueberry, Macadamia and Lime Cupcakes

I always have my suspicions when a recipe calls itself a ‘sunken cake’.  I am sure that this is meant to convey a sense of dense, richness, almost of decadence – the sense of a cake that is so full of wonderful things that it sinks under its own weight.

But I’m pretty sure what it means is that the cook in question made this awesome, delicious, moist cake, and yet, through some accident of culinary alchemy, the rotten thing came out of the oven with a canyon in the middle.  But naturally you can’t tell your visitors or customers that, so you pretend that this was what you were aiming for all along.  “Oh, that’s just my famous sunken chocolate cake.  It’s simply divine with cream.  Would you like the recipe?”

Of course, it’s possible that my suspicions are founded entirely on the fact that this is what happened to these cupcakes.  I decided to experiment with macadamia meal (which does not, thank you so much, Sunbeam, behave exactly like almond meal in a cake), and thought I’d start fiddling around with a recipe loosely based on another one of those beautiful things from Red Velvet, Chocolate Heartache.  And of course, the macadamias turned out to brown much faster than almond meal, and then it’s possible I put in too many blueberries, and the whole thing sank like a stone.  Well, stones.  There were 14 cupcakes, so that makes 14 little valleys of the shadow of culinary disaster…

I wasn’t going to post the recipe, because they looked so disastrous, but they actually met with a fair bit of enthusiasm at this morning’s meeting, so there you go.  Which is another way of saying that the photographs on this recipe are rather minimalist.  I’m sorry about that.  If I could think of a way to make that sound intentional and appetising, I would…


Your Shopping List

150 g macadamia meal
50 g white rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
zest and juice of 1 lime
200 g zucchini, peeled, topped and tailed
2 medium eggs
120 caster sugar
125 g blueberries, plus 12 for decoration
250 g icing sugar
a teeny tiny drop of green colouring

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Recipe: Allergy-Friendly Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes with Tofu Mousse and Scream de Menthe

I made these cakes for a Big Number Birthday yesterday.  The brief was that they had to be gluten-free, low-FODMAP and vegan, which does, in combination, take a lot of the fun out of things – but fortunately, nuts were allowed, giving me a bit more leeway in terms of flavour and texture.  They are based on my insanely spicy Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes with Smoky Chipotle Mousse.  This time, instead of insane heat, I went with insane alcohol levels. 

Apparently, there’s just something about these cupcakes that brings out the insanity in me… 

I have no idea why he filling is called Scream de Menthe, but for some reason there is no other possible title for it.  None whatsoever.  Some things just are, and one cannot deny them.  I suspect it has something to do with the positively poisonous green colour and the undeniably alarming alcohol and sugar content.

The really important thing to know here is that these cupcakes were yummy.  And alcoholic.  And should probably be kept out of reach of children…


Your Shopping List

1 cup cashews (raw, or at least, not toasted)
1 1/3 cups almond milk + 30 ml for the mousse
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar (or cider vinegar, if you are less worried about FODMAPs)
2/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cups rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2/3 tsp xanthum gum
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp bicarb of soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup crème de menthe
225 g dark chocolate
250 g silken tofu
30 ml crème de cacao

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Recipe: Passionfruit Cupcakes with Lemon Coconut Butter

I wasn’t going to bake anything for the Movember morning tea.  I mean, really – I’ve donated to all the Mo Bros on my floor, and surely, surely in the name of men’s health the boys can take a turn at baking?*

Well, it turns out that some of them can, but not enough for our purposes.  And when it comes down to it, faced with a conflict between ‘really, why should the women be baking for all the men’s health days *and* all the women’s health days too?’ and ‘but what if there isn’t enough food?’, well, there really can be only one answer in the land of Cate.

Besides, I bet none of the boys were going to bring anything that was vegan.  And I have friends who are vegan.  So there.

Anyway, having not intended to bake, I then certainly didn’t intend to post a recipe, largely because I really wasn’t in a cooking mood (yes, it’s true I baked a fruitcake today, and made a hot lunch, and made dinner for tonight *and* started dinner for tomorrow, but most of this was about the fact that our heating has been broken and baking keeps the house warm), and also because I didn’t plan to do anything fancy. Aside from using the passionfruit powder I ordered from TasteBom and have been looking for a use for.

Also, when I did start making these cupcakes, I swapped them around in the oven too early, so most of them sank in the middle. 

Also, the icing came out beige.  And when I went to fix it, it wound up mustard-coloured. Which probably is a masculine colour, at least.  Most of the ugly ones seem to be, if you believe the clothing shops.

And yet… the crumbs of cake that were stuck to the tin were *amazing*.  Properly tangy and full of passionfruit flavour.  And then, the ugly, ugly icing is rich and lemony and smooth with a coconut creaminess to it… and altogether, my ugly duckling cupcakes… taste like swans?  Only vegan.  And not kind of tough and unpleasant-tasting, which I gather swan meat is.  And that right there, folks, is why some people shouldn’t be licensed to use metaphors.  Especially the clichéd kind, though I don’t think anyone can claim it was still a cliché by the time I was done with it.  Unappetising, yes.  Cliché, no.

Have I put you off yet?  I hope not.  These really are delicious cupcakes.  And you can’t see how ugly they are once they are in your mouth…

(Even that came out sounding vaguely unappetising.  I think I’d better stop with the describing and just give you the recipe)

(Also, unsurprisingly, there are very few photos, and they aren’t that good – this is because I wasn’t documenting as I went, and the light in the kitchen is bad…)

photo 2

* I strongly suspect that the appeal of Movember has nothing to do with men’s health and everything to do with growing the most gross moustache one can.  And I say this as someone who is actually mildly in favour of facial hair.  But some of the shrubbery currently to be seen in our lab should really not be encouraged.

Your Shopping List

1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
400 ml (1 standard tin) light coconut milk
3 lemons
40 g freeze-dried passionfruit powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

2 – 2 1/3 cups raw icing sugar

90 g virgin coconut oil, melted (you want the virgin stuff because it has a strong coconut taste – the refined version is too neutral here)

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Recipe: Strawberry, Orange and Blue Curaçao Cupcakes for Ovarian Cancer Morning Teal

icedgroupYou may be getting the impression that my workplace is all about cake, or at the very least, all about morning and afternoon teas.  And… you might well be right.  But, you see, our research covers so many different things, and they all have fundraising days!  And then there’s the fact that a goodly proportion of staff and students are also involved in non-medical-research-related fundraising, and basically the outcome is a lot of morning teas.

It’s dreadful.  I don’t know how I cope.

Anyway, the Division just along the corridor from my two has a lab devoted to ovarian cancer research, so naturally a morning tea was required – or rather (since teal is the ribbon colour for ovarian cancer research), a Morning Teal.

(You know, I can’t help wondering whether all these morning teas are conditioning me to hear ‘cancer’ and immediately think ‘cake!’.  But then, just about everything makes me think ‘cake!’, so my psychology was probably pretty abnormal to start with.)

I’m telling you now, I have never seen so much blue food in the one place in my life.  It was both gorgeous to look at and somewhat disturbing.  I think that, as an Institute, we probably consumed at least two bottles of blue food colouring this morning.  I didn’t notice any personality effects resulting from this, but then, I had my share of food colouring too, so I was probably running with the hyped-up crowd on this one.

Anyway, teal in food terms pretty much means blue curaçao in my book.  My first thought was that evil blue curaçao marshmallow pie I made for Eurovision last year, and indeed, I did make that.  But it is my practice to always make something dairy, egg, gluten, soy and nut-free for these events, because so many of my favourite people at the Institute are allergic to many of these things.  Hence the cupcakes…

I could tell you that these cupcakes are gorgeous and tangy and strawberryish, and strangely friand-like in texture for cupcakes that involve absolutely no nuts.  They are also decidedly teal and mildly alcoholic, icing-wise (though, I must confess, far less so than I’d hoped – but then, the number of people who were told the ingredients for my curaçao tart and kind of went teal themselves contemplating that much alcohol that early in the morning suggests that I covered the alcoholic crowd sufficiently with my alternate offering), but really they speak for themselves.  No, really, they do.  It’s the blue curaçao that does it.  If they aren’t speaking to you before you eat them, eat a few spoonfuls of the icing and the application of wild blue food colouring and high alcohol content to your bloodstream should do the trick…

Your Shopping List

zest and juice of one orange
zest of one lemon (and keep the juice aside, just in case you need it later.  You can always freeze it in an ice-cube tray for future lemon juice needs if you have spare)
1 1/2 cups rice milk
2 tsp raspberry vinegar
2/3 cups canola oil
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2 punnets (500g un-hulled) strawberries
3 cups gluten-free flour mix (or gluten-free flour from a packet)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb of soda
1/2 cup tofutti cream cheese
1/2 cup nuttelex or other non-dairy margarine
4 cups icing sugar
20 ml blue curacao


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Cooking Class: Cake Decorating with the Whimsical Cakehouse

 A while back, I bought a Scoopon for a cake decorating class with the Whimsical Cakehouse.  The Whimsical Cakehouse is based in Sydney but does periodically run courses in Melbourne.  This one was just a two hour class, with a Marie Antoinette theme, and of course with my feelings about bling on cakes, it was pretty much irresistible.

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Recipe: Pistachio, Raspberry and Rose Cakes (Vegan and Gluten-Free)

Today was the VegMel Vegan Pot-Luck Picnic, to which I was invited by the lovely Steph from VeganAboutTown (who made some of my recipes!  How cool is it when people actually make your recipes?  And change them?  And then you get to taste them?  Very cool, that’s how cool it is…).  And I got to meet Cindy from Where’s the Beef (who had been bemused at the number of seemingly-unrelated people on Friday tweeting about eating raw tacos at the cricket), and hang out with Hailey from Ballroom Blintz, which was wonderful.

Anyway, after writing all those variations on my chocolate, raspberry and coconut cake on Friday, I realised that I haven’t invented a new cupcake for a while, though I’m not sure it actually counts as inventing, when you basically have one cupcake recipe and just play an advanced version of Swap The Ingredients.  These cupcakes were inspired by the Persian fairy floss and the pistachio and cardamom sugar that turned up in the hamper my Aunt J gave me for Christmas.  And who can resist the combination of roses and raspberries?  They are part of the same botanical family, and really fresh raspberries always have a hint of rose about them, I think.  Not that I used fresh raspberries here – the frozen kind is perfectly fine for cupcake use…

I am, in fact, quite serious about this being the same as yesterday’s recipe – if you swap out the coconut milk for almond milk and the cocoa for ground pistachios, if you keep the raspberries whole and use rosewater and cardamom as your flavours rather than raspberry essence, and if you then swap out the wheat flour for a mix of gluten-free flours, this is what you get.  And it’s really, really good – moist and sweetly-scented and raspberryish and not too rosy.

But beware the fairy-floss!  My finished cupcakes looked like I had decorated them with muppet scalps, and ten minutes after that, the muppets began melting until my cakes looked a little sadly hairyPistachio fairy floss may be an excellent source of inspiration, but as a cake decoration, I fear it is only for those who can make use of the last possible minute (and are better at making fairy floss look good on cakes than I am).

Your Shopping List

500 ml almond milk
3 tsp apple cider vinegar
100 g pistachios
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 1/4 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 cup of raw caster sugar or caster sugar
1/3 cup sunflower oil (or canola or light olive)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
40 ml rosewater
200 g raspberries 
Icing (somewhat approximate, as I was in a hurry)
2-3 tbsp raspberry juice (ie, raspberries pushed through a sieve)
1/4 tsp rosewater
300 g icing sugar
enough lemon juice to make a good paste – about a quarter of a lemon

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A menu for the cricket, with chocolate, coconut and raspberry cupcakes (revisited)

http://cooksjoy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/BakeFest.jpgMy brother and I did a gift swap this year for Christmas – he bought me a ticket to the cricket (in the Members’ Stand, no less), and I catered lunch for his party.  Vegan lunch, because one of his friends is vegan and it is of course absolutely necessary to cater for the most interesting / challenging set of food requirements in the bunch.

The menu was a great success.  The cricket, alas, less so, largely due to the fact that Sri Lanka had a lot of injuries and absolutely no confidence and (despite my enthusiastic barracking and determination that they would bat amazingly and astonish everyone) they lasted about one session before being dismissed shortly after lunch, ending the game on Day 3.

Our menu was as follows:

Since I am participating in this month’s BakeFest, and since I’ve baked these several times in the last few months (and since, I will confess, new recipes have been a little hard to come by of late, principally because I am in the Sleep All The Time phase of my holidays), it seems appropriate to re-post my chocolate, coconut and raspberry cupcake recipe today.  And why not?  They are, after all, one of the best recipes I’ve written, and endlessly adaptable, as I’ve been showing over the last year and a half since I created them! Continue reading