Brownie & Fudge · cupcakes

Long Weekend Baking: Brownie Galore and Memorial Day Cupcakes

What better use for a long weekend than some time in the kitchen, baking up a storm. There are few things that make me happier! However a poorly-timed cold/flu took me down during the week so I’ve been trying not to go crazy with baking, let alone blogging about it. 

(‘Poorly-timed’ because a) when is a cold ever welcome, and b) it was my BIRTHDAY, plus my parents were visiting from out of town. The cold sent my tastebuds AWOL and so I couldn’t taste much of the two birthday dinners that I had 😦 ). 

But………………………………………………………………………………….

…would I be an ‘irrepressible’ baker if I could be stopped?!?!? In addition I have been reminded by a certain faithful reader (my MIL 🙂 that I am overdue for a new post. I’ve been working myself up to posting about Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting/icing, but obviously I haven’t reached the motivation threshold for that yet. So here’s a ‘filler’ til then – albeit a delicious one!

While Monday (yesterday) was a holiday in NZ known as Queen’s Birthday, I hear that those in the States are celebrating Memorial Day around about this time. The main reason I know this is because a friend of ours, an expat American married to a Kiwi lass, had his birthday party this weekend and it was M-Day themed. So we decked out in red, white and blue and I turned out these wee Red, White and Blue Berry Cupcakes.

I used Julie Le Clerc’s delicious and super-easy Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from this post, adding about a cup and a half of mixed berries to the batter just before dividing it between cupcake cases. It gave a lovely red and blue tinge to the batter. 
 
 
The cupcake/patty pan cases were the closest I had to red, white and blue! The ones with babuska dolls I just couldn’t say no to…
 
 
Although these cupcakes didn’t rise as much as they would have without the addition of berries, they were beautiful and moist.
 
 
I iced them with a half-quantity of the regular buttercream (using my favourite margarine as I didn’t have any butter softened at the time) from this post by filling a piping bag attached to a size #1M Wilton (large open star) piping tip, and topped with some sweets in suitable colours 🙂

 


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Now for her Majesty the Queen, the very best must be presented. The obvious choice (to me) was brownie. What could be more cakey than cake, more chocolatey than chocolate, more decadent than decadence itself?!? Few things in the world can make me happier than a perfectly gooey, yet fully-cooked, fudgey bite finished with a crisp top and chewy underside. I can’t imagine a heaven without brownie.

And brownie was also what I promised to make my colleagues at work for my (delayed) birthday morning tea ‘shout’. I’m hoping they’ll enjoy my efforts with these two amazing flavour combinations!

 

Bring on the brownie: Peanut Butter & Caramello Chocolate and Raspberry Dark Choc brownies

All I seem to get as gifts these days are recipe books (not that I’m complaining!), and for this birthday just gone my mum got me the fabulous Whittaker’s Passion for Chocolate recipe book. Both my sovereign-worthy brownie recipes were inspired by this fantastic publication.

NB: My conscience has recently been checked in the area of copyrighting. As a result, my general rule will be, if a recipe (that’s not my own original – ha!) isn’t available on the net/to the general populace by the author themselves, I shouldn’t be taking the credit by putting it out there. However…if someone else has already put it there…ahem, may I present, incredibly scrumptious and drool-worthy Peanut Butter Chocolate and Caramel Brownie

The recipe is faithfully produced by those links belonging to the ‘someone else’s (not me!), but I have a few hints for making it:

  1. Make sure you dissolve all the sugar in the butter and vanilla over the heat at the start, so that you don’t find granules in the bottom of the cooked brownie. I did this before adding the peanut butter chocolate so that the chocolate only *just* melted and maintained its gooey peanut buttery nomminess… (sorry got carried away salivating)
  2. Take the chocolate mix off the heat and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes before adding the eggs. This is more a precautionary step that stems from a childhood nightmarish baking memory of mine, which involved eggs scrambling themselves inside cooked brownie…*shudder-worthy*
  3. If you can’t be bothered with (or are a little hesitant about) making your own caramel, you could do as I did and chop up a block of Caramello or other caramel-filled chocolate. I’ve had (other) bad baking experience where my caramel wouldn’t set and my choc-caramel slice failed…so a block of Caramello gifted for my birthday by a thoughtful brother-in-law was the perfect alternative here!
  4. If your oven tends to singe baked goods, make sure you put another tray or container underneath your brownie tray while it’s baking to prevent the bottom from burning.

 

Cadbury and Whittakers, co-existing peacefully
Dark cocoa for seriously dark and decadent brownie
Someone should really stop that chocolate thief…not that I can blame her…er, them…!
All the ingredients (bar the caramel) mixed together.

 

Caramello dotted through the brownie batter
The delectable final product – fudgey, rich, decadent! Surely fit for a Queen 🙂

Brownie Number Two: Raspberry and Dark Chocolate. I’ve heard that this recipe is the ‘best in NZ’ but I shirked the 7 eggs it takes (although it probably feeds an army – let me know if you ever try it out!). So instead I tried the NZ Women’s Weekly version (4 eggs) and it worked a treat 🙂 No shortcuts this time!

Raspberries dotted on top – attractive, healthy and oh-so-tasty!
The perfect dessert – brownie, brownie and more brownie (how could her Majesty not approve?!)
Hope you had a great long weekend and that you got some time to bake up some celebratory treats – or even to have a right royal rest! 


xo Claire

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