Baking · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge · Travelling

Slovakia: Chai Maple Cupcakes

Sometimes the simplest thing can transport you back to a place; a sound, a smell, a taste. It may be something you experienced throughout a holiday, or it maybe something new, something that from that point on becomes inextricably linked to that moment.

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A few days ago I wrote about a recent trip to Bratislava, and my fondness for the cafe Urban Space. I’ve talked enough about the cheesecake, but today I’m going to embellish a little more about my beverage of choice – the Maple Chai Latte. I love this drink. Enough said. In fact I loved it so much, I decided that I needed to make it into a cupcake, that being the ultimate accolade for any foodstuff.

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This recipe was adapted from Naturally Ellathough with a couple of minor changes. These changes were borne out of necessity but still worked well. Primarily I used whole spices as opposed to powdered spiced. I also added some vanilla to the whipped cream rather than the maple to add a contrast. They also went down well with Max who liked it far better than the initial Maple Chai latte (not his favourite drink…) Success all around!

Maple Chai Latte Cupcakes

Ingredients:

Chai Mixture

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 whole star anise
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 black tea bags
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup 2% or whole milk

Cupcake Batter

  • ¾ cup unbleached flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 large egg

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar

Instructions

In a small pot, combine spices, tea bags, butter, maple syrup, and milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, letting butter melt, and once everything is melted together and warm, remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes. After, remove star anise and tea bags, making sure to squeeze any remaining liquid from the tea bags.

Preheat oven to 350˚ and line a muffin tin with 6 liners. Whisk the egg and then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir in the cooled chai mixture and mix until just combined. Divide batter into the muffin tin and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 18-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer muffins out of the tin to a rack and finish cooling.

Once muffins are cool, whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract together. Pipe the whipped cream onto the cupcakes and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon to serve.

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Cupcakes

The Great Durham Cupcake Challenge

Flag of the city of Durham

As a brief follow-up from the Great Phoenix Cupcake Challenge of a few weeks ago, I am pleased to announce that right in the middle of Durham, there is a cupcake shop which rises above many of the more famous American counterparts. On a recent trip, we went to visit this little shop, less that 5 minutes walk away from the beautifully picturesque cathedral and castle and were so excited to find that these were no less than some of the best cupcakes we had ever tasted! High praise indeed!

The shop in question, Be Tempted has been running just over year, and consists of a little shop and coffee shop combined. They sell a range of handmade cupcakes alongside standard English coffee-shop fare – sandwiches/drinks and afternoon tea foods. We did not stay for coffee, but based on the quality of their cupcakes, next time I would!

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We tried two of the many cupcakes, the double chocolate cupcake and the carrot cake. Max picked the double chocolate cake partly because of the lovely chocolate button decoration on top, but we were both pleasantly surprised by the cupcake itself. Chocolate cake can often be dry, but this cake was lovely and light, and the sweetened cream topping was a lovely change to the usual chocolate buttercream.

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However our standout was the carrot cake. My choice, it was something I did not usually eat, but they looked so tempting in the shop disply that I couldn’t resist! There was no question that this was the right choice – wonderfully full of flavour, full of nuts and the cinnamon frosting was divine (I could have eaten it by the spoonful!)

No question that this cupcake is a permanent addition to my list of coffee shops – I can’t wait to go back. If you are in the Durham area please go and visit – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

Baking · Cake · Cupcakes

United States of America: S’Mores Cupcakes

Flag of the United States of America

Yay, S’Mores Cupcakes! Now being from England, s’mores are not traditional – whilst I love toasting marshmallows in front of the fire, we English don’t do the whole biscuit/chocolate/marshmallow thing. However, after seeing many recipes in blogs/magazines and the internet and having a full jar of marshmallow fluff in the cupboard, I decided to give this American classic a try. So if you are in the mood for an American girl-guiding experience, try these!

Smores cupcake

The cake is a sponge mix enhanced with Graham crackers and chocolate chips, which is then topped with a marshmallow fluff frosting (which could be torched if you wanted to add a really authentic flavour to the cupcake). This is then decorated with dark chocolate drizzle and more graham crackers. I used honey grahams, which added a lovely depth of flavour, but it would also work well with plain crackers if you are unable to find the flavoured versions.

Marshmallow fluff frosting recipe taken from here

S’Mores Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 4oz graham crackers, ground into powder
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2oz dark chocolate chips
  • 150g butter
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 200g marshmallow fluff
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5, and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with liners. Make the cupcake batter by creaming together the butter and sugar before beating in the eggs. Mix in the flour, ground graham crackers, baking powder and chocolate chips before spooning into the cupcake tin. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and well risen. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, beat the butter and sugar together using a hand blender until light and fluffy. Add the milk and marshmallow fluff and continue to beat until a good consistency is reached. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe a swirl onto the top of each cupcake. Decorate the cupcake with graham crackers and drizzled dark chocolate.

Baking · Cake · Cupcakes · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Turkey: Turkish Delight Cupcakes

Flag of Turkey.

Today I’m presenting you with a new and improved version of one of the most popular cakes on this site so far, the Turkish delight cupcakes. These have without a doubt been the most raved about, most regularly made and the most searched out of the whole site, and I’m pleased to be able to give you an updated version of the recipe with some better photographs! (Always helps!) Enjoy, and if you make them, let me know what you think!

Turkish Delight Cupcake 2

I’ve added a chocolate-covered coffee bean to the decoration of these which I feel works very well as a flavour contrast, however if you cannot get your hands on them, feel free to leave them out. Do not leave out the pomegranate seeds though, they provide a sharp contrast to the sweetness of the buttercream which is essential to the overall balance of the cake.

Turkish Delight Cupcake 1

Ingredients

Cake

  • 8oz butter
  • 8oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 4oz plain flour
  • 6oz ground pistachios
  • 3tsp baking powder
  • 6 pieces rose Turkish Delight, cut in half

Rose Buttercream

  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 25ml whole milk
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 drop of red food colouring
  • Chocolate coffee bean and pomegranate seeds to decorate

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 and place cupcake liners in 2 12-hole cake tins (you will likely use 18 of the 24).

Beat the butter and sugar together before adding the eggs and vanilla essence. Mix in the flour, baking powder and ground pistachios and combine gently. Place a teaspoon of the mixture  into the cupcake cases  and place a piece of Turkish delight into each case. Cover with the remaining mixture and bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.

Once the cakes have completely cooled, make the buttercream by beating together the butter and icing sugar, before adding the milk and rosewater and beating for about 5 minutes until fluffy. Add the red food colouring drop by drop, mixing after each addition until a light rose pink colour is achieved. Pipe the buttercream onto the top of the cupcakes and decorate with pomegranate seeds and a chocolate coffee bean..