Berry-Nice Blackcurrant Cupcakes

Like a juicy little blackcurrant pie, all wrapped up in a mini cupcake.

Today the sun shone, and so to the garden we headed. Mum’s blackcurrant patch was bursting with berries which needed picked, and something yummy to make use of them. The whole garden seemed like it had just been turned to ‘super-bright’ like that camera setting you sometimes have. Every flower, tree, plant was beaming with bold colour and brightness, brought to life by the glow of the sun. It was really rather pretty.

A half hour later we had armfuls of blackcurrant stems which needed stripped. I was coping alright, I managed to put up with being covered in leaves, berries and general dirt. That was until a few spiders decided to join the garden party. You should know I really do not do spiders. Eughhh. Passed that branch to mum, and kept calm and carried on. Very soon I had a large tub full of bright purple berries. An hour well spent I thought. It’s little things like this that my mum has passed on and taught to me, that I hope I will be able to replicate later in life myself. There really is nothing like using fruit and produce you have grown and picked yourself, and eating it within hours of it leaving the plant. Fresh is most definitely best!

Tomorrow we head to the North Coast, or you may know it as the Causeway Coast of Northern Ireland, home to the Giant’s Causeway, and my favourite little town of Portstewart. This will be my 4th holiday this year and you have no idea how blessed and happy that makes me feel. The long, endless Portstewart Strand is my little slice of heaven. Days are spent body-boarding, swimming in the slightly chilly sea or if the sun decides to make an appearance, you can dare to lay out on the sand. Today’s sun is getting me excited that this week may be different, and a contrast to the usual weather we expect in Ireland, and maybe, just maybe, a little bit like summer. Touch wood.

If all else fails, these cupcakes may insert some sunshine. The sheer amount of juicy purple fruit in these beauties, makes you feel you’re eating something quite healthy, and I’m sure the vitamin C content cancels out the sugar and butter. Anyway, just indulge in a little goodness. Recipe which is from my mother’s favourite cook book of Sarah Raven’s, is included below.

*recipe adapted from Sarah Raven’s Garden Cookbook

Blackcurrant Cupcakes

115g butter

115g sugar

115g self raising flour

2 eggs

1/2 tsp baking powder

100g blackcurrants, topped and tailed

1-2tbsp milk

Icing

250g icing sugar

2-3 tbsp blackcurrant juice/Ribena (I used half and half)

dash of lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 180oc. Line muffin tray with cupcake cases.

2. Cream butter and sugar then beat in eggs. Add sifted flour and baking powder gradually and beat in.

3. Add milk to make a smoother mixture, then gently fold in whole blackcurrants.

4. Divide between cupcake cases, only about half way and bake in oven for 15-20 mins.

Blackcurrant Icing

1. Sieve the icing sugar, then add lemon juice and blackcurrant juice and mix well until smooth. If too thick, add extra blackcurrant juice or water (if you don’t want the icing to be any sharper) till of desired consistency.

2. Spread over cupcakes using a spatula and decorate with extra blackcurrants.

Bite and chew, enjoy!

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Dreamy Rainbow Cupcakes

Let the fun and games begin!

It’s hard to believe tomorrow marks the start of that rather important world event in London.. Yes the Olympic Games of 2012 have arrived! Cue mass National Pride and just a little harmless rivalry as the world gets ready to turn its eyes to London.

These cupcakes were originally meant to be adorned with those iconic coloured rings, the Olympic Games’ symbol. However as the Olympic organisers/bosses/spoil-sports decided it would be a great idea to ban all use of these harmless and universal coloured circles on all goods, including cakes and cupcakes, this idea had to be sadly scrapped. Where’s the fun in that? This received a very large BOO from me when I found out. I was willing to bravely go ahead and decorate my cupcakes as I pleased, but I soon realised that cutting out rings was proving a little too fiddly, and maybe it was in fact best to stay on the right side of the law.  Thus, these cupcakes became simply Rainbow Cupcakes, but I hope you appreciate their nod towards all things Olympic.

And on a happier note, the sun finally decided to shine on Northern Ireland today! Yay, summer has arrived!

Whilst making these happiness-filled little buns, I found it impossible not to taste and sample as I go along. Yes, I’ll hold my hands up, I am the type of baker who licks her fingers with joy and always pop away a cupcake when its fresh from the oven and still steaming. I guess it’s something that I’ve done since I was very little, and is a habit that doesn’t want to leave me. It ain’t so good for the thighs, but it’s excellent for the soul! I call it the ‘Baker’s Diet’. I often spend so long in the kitchen, and inevitably nibbling away at some leftovers, or finding a happy home for that ugly cupcake (you always get one right?) that soon I get so sick of looking at so much sweetness and gooeyness, and FOOD, that I have to give myself a good few hours out of the kitchen, and drink water, lots of water, that after all that, I wasn’t hungry and oops, I missed lunchtime! I think I need to learn to NOT eat as I go, and NOT constantly lick buttercream off my fingers! Woops! Please tell me this isn’t just me?

Anyway, these cute cupcakes are made with a classic Vanilla Cupcake recipe and a Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream to match.You simply divide the mixture into small bowls, colour each a different colour with food colouring and then gently spoon a little of each in layers into your cupcake cases. Then bake, frost and enjoy!

I hope unlike me, you can resist the urge to taste-test as you go, and have the patience to wait and enjoy the momentous first bite of a huge, fluffy, creamy cupcake. (Man that sounds good, don’t it?)

Hehe, Have a lovely day,

Amy x

Sweet Cherry Cupcakes

Sweet as a Cherry Pie..

Summer always seemed to last forever, when I broke up at the end of term as a nine or ten year old. I now realize it is only a mere two months, and a very short two months at that. Days which otherwise would seem endless, suddenly seem to become even shorter, and there are never enough hours to pack in everything that is needed. For now though I am content to bake, read, and repeat, in that order. It seems the perfect way to spend a lazy summer for now. It’s hardly like the Northern Irish weather permits anything more summery or outdoorsy.. rain always puts paid to that.

In an effort to inject a little sweet summery happiness lately, I decided to whip up these cute little cupcakes, made with yummy morello cherry jam, and matching  fluffy icing! A family get together was calling and so I knew these would be the perfect little treats to share. I skirted out to the cinema with friends though, sadly a date I could not get around, and so had to enjoy one of these yummies when I arrived home later. Once again inspired by a recipe from my favourite Lola’s Cupcakes book, which still hasn’t made it back to the library, oops!

Oh so sweet and sticky, the cherry jam adds colour and gooey bits to the cupcake mixture,and gives the buttercream frosting a light cherry taste and beautiful pink colour. These really are very sweet indeed my friends!

*inspired by Lola’s, but my own recipe

Sweet Cherry Cupcakes

125g butter
125g sugar
2 eggs
125g self raising flour
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbsp morello cherry jam, warmed in microwave
1tbsp milk
 
Preheat oven to 160oc (fan assisted)

1. Cream together butter and sugar using an electric mixer still fluffy. Then add eggs and beat in.

2. Sift in the flour, mix to combine, then add milk and vanilla extract and beat till creamy.

3. Using a spatula gently fold in the warm cherry jam, only a few times, you don’t want to completely combine it. You want the mixture to be streaked, or marbled throughout with cherry jam.

4. Divide between muffin cases and bake in the oven for around 20- 25 mins. Check with a skewer, which should come out clean.

5. Remove from tin and place on a cooling rack.

Fluffy Cherry Buttercream

3oz butter
80z icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp slightly warmed cherry jam
1tbsp milk
 
1. Whip the butter until smooth and cremy. Sieve in icing sugar.

2. Beat together with jam until smooth and creamy. Slowly add a little milk at a time until of desired consistency.

3. Beat for around 3-4 mins, or even longer if you can manage it, until buttercream is light and fluffy in texture.

4.Place in piping bag and swirl over cupcakes using a star nozzle.

5. Decorate as you please.. I used little fondant flowers and a spot of extra buttercream on top.

Enjoy! Thanks for dropping by! x

Raspberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

First off, I must warn you.. these cupcakes are exceedingly delicious

Tangy, tart raspberry and creamy sweet vanilla? A match made in heaven I’d say! These cupcakes were the only way I could think of combatting the dark greys clouds and howling winds that were making today feel a lot more like winter than the start of summer! Typical Northern Ireland weather really. The power cut out for 3 solid hours, which meant me and the little sis cuddled up and read… the perfect way to pass the time, no electricity required.

I really was surprised at how scrumptious these were, (blowing my own trumpet, I know) , but I rarely am amazed by something I’ve made myself, I’m so often in awe of other’s gorgeous bakes.

They were relatively simple to make, and would be perfect for afternoon tea, a summer party or simple, just because.. They were made extra special with fresh raspberries picked from my Mum’s raspberry patch in our garden, just the day before. There really is nothing like picking a fresh berry and popping it in your mouth, as it squeezes out its bright red juice.

I tried to recreate this wonderful moment, as these beauties also hide a secret. Cut them open and they ooze. Thick, sticky, pink raspberry goodness.. take a look!

Hiding this sticky substance inside does take some patience mind you.. good job I only had 7 cupcakes left by this stage! Though it is most definitely worth it, trust me, you’ll believe me when you try it yourself!

I apologise for using different measurements below, it’s just that these basic recipes I use so often, and one I inherited in one scale and the other in a different, and I simply know them in each their own way. If its not broke don’t fix it right?

Raspberry Cupcakes

*inspired by recipe from The Primrose Bakery book

125g butter, softened

150g self raising flour

125g sugar

2 eggs

2tbsp milk

1tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp good quality raspberry jam (I used a mixture of mashed up fresh raspberries and jam)

+ extra for inside of cupcakes

Vanilla Buttercream

3oz butter

80z icing sugar

2tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 160oc (fan assisted) and line a 12 hole cupcake tray.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, then sieve in flour, and fold in until well combined.

3. Mix in vanilla extract, and slowly add milk, mixing until of a smooth, creamy texture.

4. Fold in raspberry one tbsp at a time so that it is combined, but not completely mixed in. The aim is to have a sort of marbled affect, with streaks of raspberry through the mixture.

5. Divide into cupcake cases, and bake in oven for around 20-25, or until slightly golden on top, and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into cakes.

6. Once cooled, using the end of a spoon or knife, make a small hole in each cupcake, and carefully spoon raspberry mixture into cupcake. Ease the mixture down using end of spoon, and fill till reaches top.

7. Cover in buttercream, and top with a fresh raspberry or decoration of your choice.

Sit back, seize the moment, and savour this cupcake! YUM!

If this is your first encounter with Snazzy Biscuits, then I only hope you have enjoyed your stay, that you now have a little smile on your face and are inspired to go find some raspberries and get baking!

Oh and please drop me a comment, I can’t wait to say hi!

Au revoir,

Amy xxx

Vanilla Cookies

“When things don’t go right…   go left.”

I have never been much of a sugar cookie girl me. I’ll happily eat them if you serve me up a plate, but I just find them much more hard work than the simplicity of whipping up a batch of cupcakes, or the type of cookies that will happily be splatted onto the tray! All that chilling, then rolling.. then chilling again really does take a LONG time.

What’s more I can never seem to get them the right thickness, or be able to pry them off the counter top without them ending up in bits.. or in my mouth most often!

(Cookie dough tastes much better uncooked right??)

However today I challenged myself to give it a shot.. what was the worst that could happen?

Well.. I will confess that once again, me and the cookie dough didn’t quite along too well! It turned out less like cookie dough, and more like very thick cupcake batter.

Maybe the fairy baking mother is trying to tell me something.

But I proceeded to chill, roll, chill my gloopy cupcake batter. And it really was a lost cause by then. So, I resorted to how I like to do things. The ‘cookies’ were simply rolled into a smallish flat ball in my hand, and placed on a tray. And cooked of course.

Out popped my improvised cookie/cake creation! Crunchy on the outside, but deliciously soft on the inside! (Best eaten warm from the oven!)

Loved by everyone in my house, I guess they weren’t such a disaster after all! A new afternoon treat fave!

Baking after all is never exactly perfect, its about how you make it, and learning from past (cookie dough) mistakes I guess!

Have you ever had any baking ‘mishaps’? Or have you perfected the sugar cookie? If so, please let me  know!

Happiness is Homemade…

Ever wondered why those cakes you buy in the shop, just don’t quite taste the same as the one you carefully measured out, beat, whisked and spent all morning creating? One simple thing, LOVE. (and a few less additives and nasties too of course!)

A cake is a gift to someone, straight from the heart. A shared joy that many can delight in.

It can say ‘I love you’. ‘I’m wishing you the very best birthday possible’ or simple, ‘I love spending time with you’.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, eat Cupcakes as if you’ll die today.”