18 June 2013

Recipe | Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes

Another day, another cupcake.

Everything's been a bit mental recently and it all feels a bit up and down. I was looking forward to a busy weekend and decided a batch of cupcakes (which I'd no doubt feel guilty about scoffing afterwards) was a good idea to keep me even more busy and bring a little goodness back into the moment.

I still have lemons from my pink lemonade cupcakes but this time I felt like something a bit different. And I'd been sort of ordered to make them chocolate-y by a friend. So these are chocolate-y.


Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes

makes 12
125g butter
125g caster sugar
eggs, beaten
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla essence

100g butter
200g icing sugar
cocoa powder
a few drops vanilla essence

(melted) white chocolate
milk chocolate drops

1. Preheat the oven to 180*C.

2. Cream butter until soft and add caster sugar; beat mixture until light and fluffy.

3. Gradually add beaten eggs.

4. Sift in (although I didn't...but someone more professional than me would) the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture.

5. Add vanilla essence.

6. Divide mixture into 12 cases and bake until a knife comes out clean (about 18 minutes).

7. Cream the butter for the icing and add icing sugar gradually. Beat the mixture.

8. Add cocoa powder to taste. I used a recipe that said 1 teaspoon and ended up adding way more. And it still wasn't enough (coming from a massive choco-holic).

9. When cupcakes have cooled, ice with chocolate buttercream. Drizzle melted white chocolate (melt carefully in the microwave) and sprinkle chocolate drops.

Snazzy Stork background.

There's another birthday coming up at work...

Better get baking.

16 June 2013

Recipe | (Accidentally Pepto) Pink Lemonade Cupcakes!

Not that I EVER need an excuse but a birthday is the perfect excuse for cake and all things sugar. I had seen this recipe for pink lemonade cupcakes over at A Beautiful Mess and was determined to whip up my own version. I used this lemon cupcake recipe as it was the only one I could find that didn't involve buying a whole pint to use a couple of tablespoons of milk.

I thought pink lemonade was a nice twist on regular lemon cupcakes but, turns out, a little dye goes a long way...

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

makes 12
125g butter
125g caster sugar
zest of 1/2 large lemon
2 eggs, beaten
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

icing sugar
zest 1/2 large lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 180*C.

2. Cream butter until soft and add caster sugar and grated lemon zest. Beat mixture until light and fluffy.

3. Gradually add beaten eggs.

4. Sift in (although I didn't...but someone more professional than me would) the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture.

5. Divide mixture into 12 cases and bake until a knife comes out clean (about 18 minutes).

6. Cream the butter for the icing and add icing sugar gradually (I did not. It was...messy). Beat the mixture, adding the lemon zest and lemon juice.

7. Add a drop or two of pink food colouring.

I added a tad too much food colouring and ended up with a slightly pepto bismol concoction...

8. When cupcakes have cooled, smooth on buttercream and decorate!

I added some freeze-dried strawberry-bits to the cupcakes and ta-da! Pink lemonade cupcakes.

It's not happiness in a tin unless it's cupcakes in a happy tin!

I was worried these wouldn't be very lemon-y but the cake and buttercream combo was perfect. I do, however, need to work on my icing and find the right amounts as I kind of completely ignored the original recipe thinking I knew better... I didn't. I can never get it right! Always too buttery or too sugary. Guess I'd better get some more practice...

02 June 2013

May Roundup


Once again I find myself apologising for the distinct lack of posts... This time I sort of have an excuse - I've been in Turkey! I just returned from a lovely 2 week trip which included touring around Istanbul, Cappadocia and Ephesus and a lovely week at a hotel near Faralya with my mama and I'm so sad to be back. Everything was amazing - the food, the people, the landscape and everyone at the hotel felt like family, so I'm missing everyone and everything terribly. But enough of my blubbering and of Turkey-talk - there will be plenty of picture-heavy posts coming soon(ish). For now, a little round-up of May through the medium of Instagram. The best kind of roundup.

Bioderma Sébium H20 | nakd bars | Prosecco Fridays!

Found this dinky little bottle of Bioderma in my local pharmacy and thought I'd give the Sébium range (for combination skin types) a go. I am absolutely in LOVE with nakd bars at the moment. When I picked these up in Holland & Barratt they were on offer so I stocked up for the week! May also saw an incredible feat - we managed to convince our boss that prosecco Fridays were a good idea...wonder how long it'll last...

Adorable & delicious cocktails in teapots at Simmons, Kings Cross | Winona warning at The Lexington, Islington | New bikinis from Topshop

Had a lovely night out with friends at Simmons and The Lexington. Divine cocktails in the most adorable teacups followed by tune after tune, we ended our evening chatting to a vegan rasta outside Angel station. Perfection. Picked these new bikinis up at Topshop after finally finding some that fit and looked decent! Mama treated me to this cover up which was perfect for popping to the loo poolside.

Sunset at Göreme (#nofilter) | Elephant towel in Ephesus | More towel art!

Absolutely stunning sunset in Turkey, such a beautiful country. These cute towels were actually in our hotel in Selçuk but I like a bit of alliteration where I can. I think every hotel should follow suit, swiftly.

 Stalks in Selçuk (#nofilter) | The travertines at Pamukkale (#nofilter) | Poolside near Faralya

There's that alliteration again! We could see these stalk nests from our hotel terrace restaurant - the stalks are dotted all around the town, some of them have even set up nest on top of ancient columns! These stunning travertines are formed from the natural springs at Pamukkale, which means 'cotton castle'. It was like being surrounded by snow - in the boiling, boiling heat. Finally, the beautiful hotel we ended our trip at. I miss it so much it hurts a little.

So that's May in a little, heavily-condensed nutshell. Absolute heaven, followed by a miserable 1st June mourning the end of our holiday and our return to dreary England. Even the sunny days here are cold. WTF.

Even thoughts of London can't cheer me up. It's time for a big change, I'm just trying to work out what that should be.

11 May 2013

Baked Jerk Aubergine with Creamy Rice & Peas

I love Notting Hill Carnival. I don't know why, considering it's bloomin' months away, but I've had carnival on my mind recently. There's a stall near my flat on Saturdays that sells jerk chicken and rice & peas and oh dear LORDY the smell is insane. I don't eat meat and can't cope with spice but man that stuff smells good. There's something so perfect about Caribbean food for me; a quick look on Wikipedia may explain why - listing some of the main ingredients as rice, beans, red pepper, chick peas, tomatoes, sweet potato and coconut. I mean, it's like the best shopping list ever. It's MY shopping list, let's be honest.

I've made my own jerk/rice & pea combos before and, whilst I can't claim they taste in any way authentic (because they don't), I can state they always taste freaking delicious. I have a little jar of jerk seasoning which I recommend you add to your spice rack immediately - way easier than making your own, and I'm a lazy so and so. That way, I can sprinkle and go. Perfection.

This recipe is serious comfort food. I like my rice & peas creamy but still with a bit of bite and my baked jerk aubergine crispy on the outside and going gooey on the inside. I recommend plonking yourself down with a plate of this and a good, long film.

Baked Jerk Aubergine with Creamy Rice & Peas

Makes 1 serving
1 small aubergine
1 215g can kidney beans (or half of a regular size can)
50g grated creamed coconut
60g rice
1 large salad onion or shallot
1 clove of garlic
1/2 vegetable stock cube
jerk seasoning
olive oil

1. Cut off the ends of the aubergine and slice it in half length ways. Score the cut side of the aubergine, I like to do diagonal criss-cross.

2. Mix olive oil and jerk seasoning (depending on how spicy you want it!) and pour over aubergine on an oven tray. Rub together and on the tray to get the halves evenly coated.

If you're ladylike/in any way professional, you could use a pastry brush here. I need to get me one of those!

3. Preheat the oven to around 180*c and pop in your aubergine for around 25/30 minutes or longer if you like it going a bit crispy like me.

4. About 15 minutes before your aubergine is due to be done, start cooking your rice with the stock until the rice is very nearly done.

5. Meanwhile, about 5 minutes before your rice is done, start to gently fry your garlic and add your sliced onion. When golden, add your kidney beans and about half of the liquid from the can.

6. When some of the liquid has gone and the beans are heated through, add your rice to the beans before stirring in your grated coconut.

7. Serve!

I've made similar in the past with jerk-roasted vegetable kebabs and that was also delicious! With smaller veg you can marinate them slightly in the seasoning & oil to get some serious flavour. In the meantime, enjoy this while listening to this (or watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? like I did)-

Apologies for the blurry images - the steam coming off the rice was immense and I couldn't wait any longer to tuck in!

08 May 2013

Bear with me....

...blog is getting a long-awaited revamp and and a snazzy new name x

20 April 2013

Recipe | Creme Egg-surprise Muffins!

Why hello there!

As you may have realised, this post was planned for a couple of weeks ago... Everything has been really busy and I have barely been able to keep up with my favourite blogs, let alone find the time to write up posts for mine! After a very hectic 2 weeks (paintings and events galore) I'm hoping I can get back into a bit of a blogging routine. So, without further ado...


This is the last post like this you're going to see on here.

That's right folks. No more chocolate. No muffins, or peanut butter-y cups of joy. I'm going sugar-less.

I've worked out it's exactly 6 weeks until I go away...and I'm in full-blown panic mode. I need to shed some seriously pounds and become a full-on gym bunny. Ok, let's be serious, there are no plans to even step inside a gym. But things like this will definitely be out of the question -

Yes, that's right. It's only a bloomin' creme egg muffin. HELLO.

I first got the idea for these from Becky over at MilkBubbleTea and, as my cousin's birthday was coming up and she loves creme eggs, it seemed like the perfect reason to make them.

Hubba hubba.

Creme egg-surprise Muffins

Makes 12 muffins
2 bags creme egg minis (you can eat the left overs...)
100 g / 3.5 oz cocoa powder
120 g / 4 oz caster sugar
350 g / 12 oz flour
1 tbsp baking powder
375 ml / 13 fl oz water
135 ml / 4.5 oz sunflower oil

icing sugar
yellow food colouring

1. Freeze the mini eggs for a couple of hours or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190*c / 375*F & line a muffin tray with muffin cases.

3. Sieve all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.

4. Mix the water and oil and stir into the dry ingredients thoroughly, making sure all liquid is mixed in before adding more. Beat until smooth.

5. Half-fill the muffin cases.

6. Pop a creme egg in each case!

7. Fill the muffin holders with the rest of the mixture.

Make sure there is a decent amount of muffin mixture in the bottom but not too much so that you also get a decent amount on the top otherwise...


8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.

This is a difficult judgement call. There's a creme egg in the middle. I mean, what kind of stupid directions am I giving you!? I tended to go for around the outer edge on a bit of a slant...just FYI.

9. Leave the muffins to cool on a wire rack.

10. When the muffins have cooled, make up two lots of icing (again this is just a judgement call as we are using such a small amount). Add yellow food colouring to one lot until you're happy you have a yolk-y colour.

11. Drizzle! I went with white drizzled one way, yellow drizzled the other. I'm snazzy like that.

The result?

Interestingly, the melted creme egg matched my icing - clever, non?

I made these with a vegan muffin recipe, but obviously you can use whatever recipe you like! I've heard Betty Crocker makes a mean chocolate sponge...


It's now 4 weeks until my holiday. I ate a bag of Sainsbury's Taste the Difference cookies every day last week. Ohhhhhh God. Stress binge-eating is never a good move.

N.B. creme eggs are still in the shops. Get your bake-on!

31 March 2013

Recipe | Using Chocolate Moulds, Easter-stylee

Let's be honest, I don't need an excuse to eat chocolate. I mean honestly, it's like my whole family turn into enablers at Easter-time; I get showered with so much chocolate even I struggle to keep up. Struggle, but manage. I do have unnatural chocolate-consuming capabilities, even if I do say so myself.

Anyway, back on topic.

Oh, wait, chocolate IS the topic.

That's right folks, it's Easter and that means it's chocolate all round! 

This can pose quite the dilemma for those looking for a vegan option. Don't get me wrong, they are out there. Dark chocolate Easter eggs do exist, and some of them are vegan. They're just fairly few and far between, and often not very exciting. So, I decided to make mama siddalee some vegan eggs from some adorable little moulds I'd seen in Paperchase (were £4, now £2. Typical. Go and stock up now!). This was...not quite as simple as I'd envisioned.

I used dark chocolate drops for the egg shells as they melt so easy and were the cheapest vegan option (necessary when you're buying as many hundreds of grams of chocolate as I was!). I made some hollow eggs, some filled with peanut butter & chocolate and some filled with mint chocolate (melted Green&Blacks peppermint fondant dark chocolate).

I'm not going to lie, the process was long and labor-intensive, not least because I foolishly felt certain I would be brilliant at this as I used to make eggs loads as a kid with my nan. Wrong. Here are some tips and pointers for using chocolate moulds I wish I'd known before I began my egg-making journey, as opposed to discovering them halfway through (oops)...

1. It's better to build up your chocolates in thin layers. Fill your mould with a thin later of melted chocolate and, when this has hardened, add more chocolate if desired.

2. If using a mould that makes two halves, leave the mould to stand upside down on some baking parchment - this is more likely to help a thicker edge to form which you will wish you had when it comes to sticking the two halves together, believe me.

3. Have a heated baking tray at the ready when it comes to sticking your halves together - you can slightly melt the edges of your halves as opposed to adding chocolate to stick them, as I did.

I added a bit of oil to the chocolate that was filling the eggs so that they didn't harden completely and break any teeth. They went from saucepan to fridge pretty quickly and changed temperatures a lot, hence the slightly 'dusty' look. Overall though, they were tasty and cute and I think something homemade just shows that little bit more thought, which everyone always appreciates when it comes to gifts!

Mmmm, egg-cellent!