Baking · Cupcakes · Nation Cake Challenge · South America

Bolivia: Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes

English: State flag of Bolivia, from the xrmap...

Back to the country cakes, today we are moving continents, over to South America. Two very important ingredients in Bolivian Cuisine are chocolate and coconut, and as these make a brilliant duo, it seemed to be a easy combination to do. Therefore these chocolate coconut cupcakes were born. They are very quick to make and really hit the spot when you just need that chocolate fix!

Coconut Chocolate Cupcakes

To be really authentic, these cupcakes should be made with top quality chocolate and coconut, and the best cocoa powder you can afford. However, it will also taste good when made with good quality chocolate and dessicated coconut, so whatever you have will do!

Chocolate and Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2oz dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 300g double cream
  • 2 tbsp dessicated coconut, to decorate.

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a cupcake tray. Cream together the butter and sugar before adding in the eggs and mixing well. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat well, before finally mixing in the vanilla essence. Spoon in the cupcake liners and bake for 30 minutes until risen and firm. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing the cupcakes. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.

Make the chocolate ganache by melting the chocolate in a bain-marie and then stirring in the double cream. Once completely combined, leave to cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes until thickened.

Spoon a small amount of ganache onto each cupcake, and swirl slightly with the spoon. Sprinkle the top of each cupcake with extra dessicated coconut. Store in the refrigerator once iced and eat within 3 days.

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Baking · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

France: Apple Tarte Tatin Cupcakes

Flag of France

Like many famous desserts the origins of the tarte tatin are heartily disputed, but it is considered (by most versions) to have been a mistake on the part of the chef. Serving the incorrect dish, the chef was so pleased by the reception of the dish that it became a regular dessert, thus becoming the classic dish we see today.

Apple Tart Tatin Cupcake

These cupcakes are based on this famous dessert, but in this case, the pastry is replaced by a brown sugar cupcake, topped with caramel apples and a caramel sauce. Sadly they are not baked upside down, but they do make a good alternative for those less fond of pastry!

Apple Tarte Tatin Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Caramel apples:

  • 2 large eating apples
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar

Caramel sauce:

  • 65g butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line a 12-hole cupcake tray with liners. Make the cupcakes by beating together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla essence until well combined. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave the cupcakes to cool completely.

Peel, core and slice the apples. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and place the apples in a single layer in the pan, cooking until golden brown (turning as necessary). Add the sugar to the pan and allow to dissolve, coating the apple slices in a lovely layer of caramel. Remove the apples from the pan, and place the slices on top of the cupcakes.

In the same pan, melt the remaining butter and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla to the pan, stirring until a thick golden caramel is created. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the tops of the cupcakes with the caramel sauce.

Baking · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Scotland: Cranachan Cupcakes

Flag of Scotland. Ratio 3:5. The blue used is ...

Every so often you make something that works really well, and that needs to be repeated. These cupcakes were one of those recipes, one that was so popular that i was requested again and again, quoted as an example of a really good cake. Last time, I made this recipe as a cake, right at the start of writing this blog, but as a layer cake rather than cupcakes. Good, but less practical when there are only two of you. This time, I made it as cupcakes – a great improvement for a couple!

Cranachan Cupcakes

These cupcakes are boozy, featuring a oat-enriched cake soaked in Scotch whiskey, a raspberry whiskey compote and a whiskey-infused whipped cream topping. The cupcakes are then sprinkled with a combination of freeze-dried raspberries and rolled oats. The recipe is very similar to the original recipe, with just a few tweaks for a better flavour, based on feedback from the previous ones. Scottish or not, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like one of these cupcakes for an afternoon treat.

Cranachan Cupcakes 2

Cranachan Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12-16, depending on your generosity)

Cake:

  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz rolled oats
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of Scotch whiskey

Raspberry Compote:

  • 2 punnets raspberries
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/4 cup scotch whiskey

Whipped cream topping:

  • 300 ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp whiskey
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp freeze-dried raspberries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and line a cupcake pan with liners

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and smooth. Add in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Mix together the flour, oats and baking powder. Add this to the creamed mixture, mixing well to make a smooth mixture. Add the vanilla essence and stir in until completely combined. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

When the cake comes out of the oven, use a skewer or sharp knife make small slits in the cupcakes. Pour over the whiskey, allowing time for the liquid to sink into the cakes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin and allowing to cool completely. Use a small knife or a cupcake corer to remove the centre of each cupcake ready for filling.

Make the raspberry compote by reducing down the sugar, whiskey and raspberries in a small pan until the mixture is thick. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds and taste, adding more sugar as you feel necessary. Once it is sufficiently thick (you want it to be the consistency of raspberry jam) then spoon a small amount of the mixture into the centre of each cupcake.

[Cheat: You could use raspberry jam instead of the compote if preferred  -just ensure you choose a good brand!]

Whip up the cream, icing sugar and whiskey together for the topping, ensuring that it is really thick and creamy. Pipe the cream onto the top of each cupcake, before decorating with freeze-dried raspberries and rolled oats.

Baking · Cake · Cupcakes

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

When I was younger, I used to go to orchestra on a Friday night, held up at the local high school (later to be mine). In between junior and intermediate orchestra, the parents association used to hold a tuck shop, selling chocolate bars and pick’n’mix sweets to hungry string players. This stall, formed of three school tables provided me and my brother with our weekly treats – we were given some money and were able to buy sweets for the following week. Now early on, I would choose white chocolate mice – something I still associate with being very small, but soon moved onto mint imperials. The reason? Quantity – you would get 10 for the price of 5! I was too young to completely understand the concept of bulk buying, but I knew I wanted as many sweets as I could get for my money! And thus began my affection for mint.

Fast forward a few (a lot) of years to Sixth Form college, and we discovered the local ‘Home Bargains’ store, particularly the confectionary section. It was here that I got introduced to Poppets (peppermint creams covered in dark chocolate) and it was here that my liking for mint developed into an obsession for mint chocolate. Even now, I cannot say ‘no’ to an After Eight, and woe betide the person who leaves a box in front of me…

choc mint buns

These cupcakes are based on this favourite flavour combination and combine a dark, dense chocolate-peppermint cake, with a mint infused chocolate ganache and a mint-flavoured buttercream. Decorate with mint matchmakers (if they last long enough) and enjoy, after eight or indeed at any time.
chocolate mint buns

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • 4oz butter, softened
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract (optional)

Chocolate Mint Ganache:

  • 100ml double cream
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 100g dark chocolate

Chocolate Mint Frosting:

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g softened butter
  • 20ml whole milk
  • Peppermint extract
  • A few drops of green food colouring
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/190°C/375°F and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with bun cases. Set aside for later.

To make the cakes, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, eating after each addition. Add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and peppermint extract and beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the bun cases and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean and the tops are firm to the touch. Set aide to cool completely.

Whilst the cupcakes are cooling, make the chocolate mint ganache. Heat the cream and the mint leaves until the cream starts to boil. Immediately remove from the heat and take out the mint leaves, before pouring the hot cream over the broken dark chocolate. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and then leave to cool. Using a cupcake corer or a sharp knife, remove the centre of each cupcake and spoon a small amount of the chocolate ganache into each hole.

Make the buttercream icing by beating together the butter and icing sugar until thick and fluffy, adding the milk to bring the mixture together. The mixture will take about 5 minutes to become thick and fluffy – if you have a stand mixer this is very useful! At this point, divide the mixture into two halves. Add the cocoa powder to one portion of the buttercream and beat thoroughly to combine. To the second portion, add the peppermint essence and the green food colouring and beat thoroughly.

To make the two-tone icing bags, fill two icing bags, one with the mint buttercream and one with the chocolate buttercream. Cut about half and inch off the end of each, and place both bags into a third bag with a large star-shaped nozzle on the end. Try out the duo-bag on a spare cupcake, to ensure that it does not have any trapped air bubbles that may disrupt the flow, before using it to top your cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate decorations as wished

Baking · Cake Decorating · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Sugar Flowers

Estonia: Rhubarb, Rose and Cardamom Cupcakes

Flag of Estonia

The development of a national cuisine is an ever-changing process. It is affected by many things, from global climate issues to historical events, all of which can drastically change the food that is eaten by a national people. Estonia is a clear example of this; the elimination of much of the culinary leaders during the USSR annexation of 1940 resulted in a country viewing food simply as a way of survival. Food was scarce, both the variety of foods available, but also the amount of food. The many restaurants were either shut down completely or reopened, providing Soviet cuisine. As a result, traditional Estonian food became less and less usual. Alongside this ran an influx of new culinary influences through the many displaced immigrants from other eastern Europen countries, who all played their part in adding a great amount of diversity to the existing culinary minds. After the annexation, Estonians took advantage of the diversity in ingredients, fusing traditional ideas with new concepts, brought in from countries all over Europe. The existing meat-and-potato based cuisine has been extended to include more uncommon fruits and vegetables and as a result to develop a tradition of food which is far more exciting than was previously available.

Estonia Cake Final 2

This recipe makes use of rhubarb, the lovely deep pink stems of which are seen in many Estonian gardens. A very popular cake in Estonia contains rhubarb and cardamom, so I combined these two flavours with hint of ginger and a dash of rosewater to create a cake which takes traditional Estonian flavours and brings them forward into a decidedly modern cupcake.

Estonia Cake final 1

Rhubarb, Rose and Cardamon Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25 cardamon pods, seeds removed OR 1 ts ground cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 8 sticks of rhubarb
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 10ml cup water
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 80g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 2 drops red food colouring
  • decorations of your choice

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line 2 12-hole bun tins with bun cases. Set aside for later.

Cream together the butter and sugar, before beating in the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder, vanilla, cardamon and ginger and mix thoroughly. Spoon into the bun cases and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove and leave to cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the  rhubarb filling. Cutthe sticks of rhubarb into small pieces and place in a small pan with the water and sugar. Cook on a medium heat until the rhubarb is falling apart and the mixture is thick, gloopy and sticky. Remove from the heat and strain 4 tablespoons of the mixture through a sieve to produce a pink syrup. Set this syrup aside for later. Leave the remainder of the compote to cool completely

Use a cupcake corer or a small knife to remove a small section from the middle of each cupcake. Fill this hole with the rhubarb compote made earlier. Set aside. Make the buttercream by beating the butter, icing sugar, rosewater and the rhubarb syrup until the mixture is thick and fluffy (about 5 minutes) Add a few drops of red food colouring to create a pink icing. Spoon this in the piping bag with a large star nozzle and pipe onto the top of the cupcake. Decorate with sugarpaste flowers or other decorations of your choice.