Jan 12, 2012

Devilishly Decadent Devil’s Food Cupcakes

I’ve tried many a bad chocolate cupcake in my life and went on a sort of quest to perfect my own chocolate cupcake recipe. I think these chocolate cupcakes come pretty close to perfection – decadently dark and rich and not too sweet.

Devilishly Decadent Devil’s Food Cupcakes
 
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Author:
Serves: 18

Ingredients
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
  • 7 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 125g butter (room temperature)
  • ⅔ cup caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1⅔ cups plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Chocolate Ganache
  • 285g dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • ½ cup water
  • 175g butter
  • ⅓ cup icing sugar

Instructions
Devil’s Food Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line 2 x 12 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Stir the cocoa powder, coffee and brown sugar in a bowl and pour over the boiling water. Whisk to mix and set aside.
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy and then add the vanilla extract.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Slowly add the flour, bicarb and baking powder. Pour in the cocoa/coffee mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. Spoon the mixture into prepared muffin tins and fill approximately ¾ full (this recipe should make around 18 cupcakes)
  7. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes slightly spring back when touched.
  8. Allow the cupcakes to cool slightly in their tin before turning out onto a wire rack.
Chocolate Ganache
  1. Melt the chopped chocolate with the water in short bursts in the microwave, stirring occasionally until melted.
  2. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the chocolate.
  3. Whisk in sifted icing sugar until completely combined and the ganache is smooth. If it starts to go grainy keep whisking – it will come good!
  4. Cool until spreadable, whisking occasionally. Pop in the fridge to speed up this process.
  5. Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.

Jan 10, 2012

The past few weeks…

Wow, life has been insanely busy lately and I am sorry to neglect you poor blog! Christmas and NYE festivities, I started my new job, began the agonising process of house hunting in Sydney (I clearly need to be more patient), managed to come down with a nasty throat infection (in the middle of summer? really?) and lots more.

Fortunately my good friend Instagram has been there to capture some of these moments! My username is Swah if you want to follow me, but be warned I take lots of pictures of cats and food.

♥ I drank a lot of champagne in December (trying to kind of detox now. Ha!)

 
♥ Gave myself a candy cane manicure (courtesy of Sally Hansen nail strips) and bought myself I Love Bodoni (amazing book)

 

 ♥ Looked after a kitty with a foot fetish and and took glamour shots of my beloved Bruce

 
♥ Went to the Harry Potter exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum! I purchased some Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans and my friend and I got our souvenir photo taken (we look SO.EXCITED!)

 
♥ Ate way too many desserts. Chocolatey goodness from Passionflower and hazelnut meringue Japonaise from Runcible Spoon

 
♥ NYE involved champagne, sparklers and friends

 
♥ Admired pretty hanging things (red lanterns in Chinatown and fairy lights on the way out of the Powerhouse Museum)

 
♥ Delicious coffee and gelato at Caffe Sicilia

 

 

Dec 31, 2011

2011 – In brief review

2011, oh what a crazy year! So many amazing and new things happened, there were highs and there were lows and I was the busiest I have ever been in my life.

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♥ Woke up New Years Day 2011 in an amazing apartment in the 1st arrondissement in Paris

♥ Thought I was going to die with pneumonia and was bed ridden for over a month and then continually sick for months after (not fun)

♥ My design skills improved dramatically and I started producing work I was genuinely happy and proud of

♥ Made some new amazing friends (from TAFE) and reunited with lost friends (from high school)

♥ Graduated from my graphic design and communication course with great marks

♥ Broke up with a long term love (…an example of when the heart shaped bullet point is not appropriate)

♥ Completed my first City2Surf despite my pneumonia-ruined lungs. Tough but rewarding. Going to try and run the full length next year!

♥ Got headhunted for an amazing job which I start next week (!!)

♥ My blog has gone from strength to strength and my readership is steadily growing. So proud of my baby – all that hard work is paying off!

♥ Moving into an awesome apartment in the inner city with an awesome friend

This NYE I will be enjoying some champagne with my girlfriends and partying on to the wee hours. Sure it may not be Paris, but I KNOW it’s going to be a fun night.

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So 2012 is going to be very new and different for me. A new job, a new house, a new single life…. and possibly some plans to spend NYE 2012 in New York. HELL YES!

Dec 25, 2011

Christmas ginger cupcakes with cream cheese icing

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are all having a lovely day with family or friends and eating FAR too much.

I made these festive ginger cupcakes for visiting relatives and they were a huge hit! Feel free to add 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to the cream cheese icing for an extra flavour hit.

Christmas ginger cupcakes with cream cheese icing
 
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Author:
Serves: 24

Ingredients
Ginger cupcakes
  • 340g butter (room temperature)
  • 1½ cups caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
Cream Cheese Icing
  • 250g cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 120g butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups icing sugar

Instructions
Ginger Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C. Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy in a large bowl.
  3. Beat in golden syrup, vanilla extract and eggs, 1 at a time.
  4. Sift flour with spices and add to wet mixture. Mix until just combined (over mixing can result in tougher cupcakes).
  5. Fill cupcake wrappers ¾ full and bake in the oven for around 20-25 mins or until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
Cream cheese icing
  1. Cream the butter and icing sugar together until well mixed.
  2. Add the cream cheese in cubes slowly until incorporated. Continue mixing for 5 minutes until the icing is light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon icing into a piping bag and pipe swirls onto the cooled cupcakes.

Dec 22, 2011

Christmas Markets in Munich and Prague

Wow, it’s hard to imagine that this time last year I was in Europe freezing my butt off and finally getting to experience a White Christmas! As an Australian, Christmas has always meant a stinking hot day with a BBQ and lots of salads followed by a swim and a nap. But I had always yearned for that quintessential white Christmas experience – snow covered buildings, mulled wine, and CHRISTMAS MARKETS!

First stop was Munich. The Christmas Markets in Munich are located in Marienplatz and run from Nov 25th – Dec 24th with opening hours of Monday – Saturday 10 a.m – 8.30 p.m  and Sunday 10 a.m – 7.30 p.m.

The most famous Christmas market is the Christkindl market.

The Munich markets are breathtakingly beautiful with fairy lights lining the streets and illuminated Christmas trees and stars dotted around the marketplace.

The Rathaus (new Town Hall) looks even more beautiful lit up at night and serves as the perfect backdrop for these markets.

I LOVE gingerbread. Gingerbread stalls are everywhere, coming in different shapes and sizes. Happy Swah!

There are beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, photo frames and dolls for sale throughout the market place.

There are other smaller Christmas markets dotted around Munich, we stumbled upon this one whilst out sightseeing one day.

I LOVE YOU gingerbread. I demolished this in a day.

My next stop were the Prague Christmas markets. I was only going to walk by and briefly check them out but I actually enjoyed these markets even more than the famous Munich ones! The Prague markets are located at the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square and run from 26 November – 08 January. Their opening hours are Monday – Friday 9 a.m – 7 p.m  and Saturday – Sunday 9 a.m – 8 p.m.

Gorgeous Christmas trees are lit up with fairy lights throughout the Prague markets.

Similarly to the Munich markets, Prague stalls sold a variety of crafts, sweets and mulled wine.

The Prague markets also serve a dessert called Trdlo. It is a cylindrical pastry that is rolled in sugar and almonds. It looked and smelled amazing but as I am allergic to almonds I only could stare and sniff. :(

Even walking back to my hotel there were Christmas decorations and lights everywhere! It was like a fairy tale.

In the day time the Christmas markets are still beautiful (and a lot less busy). What a great time I had experiencing my first White Christmas :)

 

Dec 19, 2011

Celebrate

It was my birthday last week and I have been celebrating ever since! Amazing family, friends, food and (too many) drinks really made this a special one. And I love that basically every card I received had either a cupcake or a cat on it :) You guys know me well!

My plans for detoxing, exercising and eating healthily have now been thwarted by Christmas celebrations so I guess I’ll just worry about that all later!

I’ve been recently staring at gorgeously styled birthday parties, invites and cakes. Divine. Watch out next year!

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Dec 13, 2011

Footwear when travelling – what to pack

When you are packing for a big overseas adventure, shoes are generally something packed last minute and given little thought. But I am sure a week into your trip when your feet are covered in blisters, your lower back is aching and you are scolding yourself for taking 7 pairs of shoes you will wish you had been more organised!

Now firstly, for the love of god – please don’t wear sneakers when travelling. If you want the equivalent of a large sign strapped to your head declaring “I am a tourist!” then by all means go ahead. But if you like to look somewhat fashion forward and try and blend in as a local when abroad, there are other (comfy) options.

Summer

♥ DON’T wear thongs – they are easy to trip over in, are slippery when wet and don’t protect your feet properly from nasty things (broken glass or worse). Similarly, ballet flats look great but most provide no cushioning or support for your feet and can lead to lower back pain.

♥ DO look for nice sandals that have proper arch support and a sole with stable grip. I love Ziera shoes (formerly known as Kumfs)- they are designed with comfort and support in mind and whilst they used to be a bit daggy, they have released a lot of nice looking designs.

1. Ziera Black Pulp shoes

2. Ziera Talon shoes

♥ Dressing up at night – strappy heels/wedges are perfect for warm nights. But only take ONE pair that goes with everything – something black and timeless works well.

1. Wittner Hush heels

2. Wittner Glorious heels

 

Winter

♥ DON’T think you can get away with wearing just sneakers or low cut leather shoes. Not only will you freeze but your feet will get soaked through from snow.

♥ DO buy knee high boots preferably in leather (for quality, although I understand if you would prefer pleather for ethical reasons). As you’ll be wearing them everyday, select a simple style and colour that can work with all your outfits.

♥ DO ensure your new boots have a rubber sole to prevent slipping in the wet/on ice (if you find your dream pair of boots that have a leather sole, then go to your local cobbler and get them re-soled with rubber!)

1. Sandler Mason boots

2. Ziera Smash boots

♥ Dressing up at night – enclosed high heel brogues or heeled boots are the safest option. You’ll look sexy and won’t lose a toe to frostbite!

1. Wittner Lavish heels

2. Ziera Zoey heels

 

Mid season

♥ Ankle boots, brogues, mary janes – mid season weather is the easiest in terms of shoe options! Make sure you always have a wet weather shoe option.

♥ Team your shoes with socks or cute hosiery if it gets a bit chilly.

1. Ziera Briana shoes

2. Camper Mary Janes

 

And remember:

♥ Always break in your shoes/boots before you leave for your trip! You don’t want to spend the first few days of your holiday covered in blisters.

♥ Waterproof your shoes with a waterproof spray before you leave.

 

Stay tuned for a post on what clothes to pack for the various seasons!

Dec 8, 2011

Illustrated Desserts

Isn’t this painting of biscuits by Caitlin Shearer divine? I might have to stalk her etsy store and purchase myself one so I can stare at it when I have no time to bake!

 

 

I have also recently stumbled across They Draw & Cook, a site featuring recipes illustrated by artists from around the world. Two that grabbed my attention:

Holiday Poached Pears by April Brantner - See the full size here

 

Chocolate Coconut Candy by Taylor Higgins – See the full size here (love this colour palette)

 

Dec 7, 2011

Spiced cookies with salted caramel buttercream

I have made these cookies 3 times in the past 2 weeks due to popular demand! In fact a guy in my class declared them “the best cookie I have ever eaten” (thanks Jason!) This recipe makes 24 cookies (12 filled cookies in total) and my god are they decadently amazing.

Spiced cookies with salted caramel buttercream
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Serves: 12

Ingredients
Spiced Cookie
  • 125g butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2½ cups plain flour
  • 1½ tsp bicarb
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • ½ cup raw sugar (to roll cookies in)
Salted Caramel Buttercream
  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • 4 tbsps water
  • ⅔ cup cream
  • 175g butter (at room temperature)
  • 1½ tsps salt (I like to use sea salt)
  • 2 cups sifted icing sugar

Instructions
Spiced Cookie
  1. Preheat oven 180°C. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add egg and golden syrup and mix well.
  4. Sift in flour, bicarb and spices. Mix until combined.
  5. Roll mixture into small balls and roll in raw sugar.
  6. Place balls on baking sheet and flatten slightly (I fit 12 per baking sheet).
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden.
Salted Caramel Buttercream
  1. Dissolve the sugar into the water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and let it bubble away over a medium heat.
  2. The mixture should turn a golden caramel colour after around 5 minutes. DON’T stir the caramel mixture – the sugar will crystallize.
  3. Once the caramel has reached the desired colour, take it off the heat and add the salt and cream. Stir furiously as the caramel will want to harden quickly.
  4. Pop the caramel cream mixture in a small bowl and put it in the fridge to help cool down quickly.
  5. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and icing sugar for 5 minutes until fluffy.
  6. Add the cooled caramel cream mixture and continue beating until well combined.
  7. Dollop a generous amount of the buttercream (about 1 tablespoon) on half of the cooled cookies and sandwich the cookies together with the remaining ones.

Enjoy!

Dec 2, 2011

Kike Besada

I stumbled across these collages by New York based Spanish designer Kike Besada and they really grabbed my attention. I would love to hang one on my wall!

 

 

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

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