Vixxy’s Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

With the annual gushy-lovey day approaching and a spare rainy Sunday I decided to attempt a recipe I have been thinking about for a while, trying to work out how to get a secret little cake within a cake (inspired by The Great British Bake Off, and also that well known baker of cake Lauren Conrad!)
Have to admit, my man and I do enjoy an excuse to go out for a nice meal and some time together but we don’t really ever celebrate on the day itself. I’m a bit of a miser with money and hate the inflated for one day only prices and also gushing love really does put me off my meal when I am surrounded by couples declaring their undying forevers to each other whilst I’m tucking into something utterly delicious… bleurgh.

Anyways, on with the recipe and not my ranting!

So here they are in all their glory.

Image of Secret Valentine's Cupcakes with Champagne frosting recipe

Secret Valentine’s Cupcakes with Champagne frosting recipe

I was rather chuffed with the outcome and hope yours will turn out the same.

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

Secret Valentine Cupcakes with Champagne Frosting recipe

The recipe I used for the batter mix was from another post I made The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

Method

1. Prepare sponge batter mix as per the recipe in the link above till no. 8 in the method.

2. Divide the batter mix. I separated a third of the mixture in to a separate bowl, and the other two thirds I put to one side (even in the fridge if your kitchen is quite warm)

3. Then add red food colouring. The density of the colour is up to you, but I definitely think the more you dare, they more you are rewarded as the stark difference in colour of the sponges really adds to the secret heart in the cupcake!

4. Prepare and line a baketray (one that you would use for making flapjacks or brownies)

5. Pour the red batter mixture in to the baketray, smoothing the batter down. The aim is to have batter mixture of about half an inch or less.

6. Pop in the pre-heated oven at 180c for 15/20 mins, keep checking on it as it will cook a lot quicker than you think! (it will be slightly under cooked so will feel quite ‘wet’ but make sure it is cooked through by using a clean cocktail stick or a skewer in the middle of the tray

7. Bring the red sponge out the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool completely

8. Once this has cooled completely, you can either buy a mini heart shaped cutter or you can use a knife and cut out round a heart template you can cut out from paper/card

9. Cut out 12 hearts and place to one side

10. Get the plain sponge batter you have set aside

11. Set out your cases in a cupcake tray and spoon 1 spoonful of the plain mixture in each case

12. Place your red heart sponges in the middle of each cupcake case, standing up to attention rather than flat down with the pointy bit of the heart at the bottom. Press the sponge carefully down into the batter mixture. It should hopefully hold in the middle as the wet batter will hold it in place

13. Once you have placed all 12 of the hearts in the centre of the cupcake cases, divide the rest of the mixture around the all 12 of the hearts in the cases

14. Put the cupcakes back in the over and bake at the same 180 for another 20 mins. This was a little tricky as I left mine in for about 5/10 mins longer after I checked them, but use a skewer/cocktail stick to check after the initial 20mins first.

15. Once they are fully baked, place on a cooling tray. The top of the hearts may be peeping out the top of the cupcake but that is ok

16. Prepare a buttercream made up of icing sugar and unsalted butter, I don’t really have a recipe for this as I just whip room temperature/soft (not too soft!) butter and then add icing sugar till I like the taste!

17. I used flat room temperature champagne and added it very slowly so I wouldn’t ‘curdle’ the buttercream. I used about 3 ‘generous’ tablespoons! ūüėČ

18. Once mixed together use a teaspoon to decorate the top of the cupcake, I used just enough on each one so they covered the little peeping hearts in the cupcakes.

19. Chill for half an hour so the buttercream sets, then enjoy these little surprises or give them as gifts to your Valentines ( there are 12 so I am not judging anyone on how many people they give one to!)

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

I have to admit straight away this is NOT my own sponge recipe! ¬†But I have to share this. Cakes are my passion and you can’t get more classic than a vanilla sponge. With the classic and simple comes complication. The more simple the sponge the tricker it is to get right as you can’t hide a not-so good cake behind textures and flavours.

This has to be the best recipe I have tried and tasted so far! If you have one to rival it I would love to know!

Mary Berry - photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

Mary Berry – photo by Megan Taylor for The Telegraph Online

The recipe is by the cake goddess herself Mary Berry. My mother had the fortune of taking an AGA course with her at her home many moons ago, and said she is the sweetest and most gentle soul who loves cakes, baking and sharing her experience with others. What a lovely lady!  Her sponge recipe is taken from:

Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

The best Vanilla sponge recipe ever!

So here is my recipe for a wonderful vanilla sponge topped with sweet buttercream and fresh strawberries. The key thing about baking is technique, you don’t have to have top quality ingredients if you can’t get them or afford them. It is the technique and process you follow. You can do this, I promise! Just have a go!

Ingredients

Sponge

225g Unsalted butter (*important* room temperature, soft to touch but not melted)

225g Caster sugar

225g Self-raising flour

4 large eggs (*important* room temperature)

1tsp Vanilla essence

1tbsp milk (*important* room temperature)

Topping

150g Unsalted butter

300g Icing sugar

140ml whipped cream

1 punnet of fresh strawberries

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/350F/gas 4 and grease your chosen tin(s). Put the soft butter into a mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or electric mixer for a minute until very smooth and creamy.

2. Gradually beat in the sugar, then keep on beating for 3 or 4 minutes or until the mixture turns almost white and becomes very fluffy in texture; scrape down the bowl from time to time.

3. Break the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and the eggs into a small bowl, add the vanilla and beat lightly with a fork just to break them up.

4. Slowly add to the creamed mixture, a tablespoon at a time, giving the mixture a good beating after each addition and frequently scraping down the bowl. This will take about 5 minutes.

5. If the mixture looks as if it is about to curdle, add a tablespoon of the sifted flour and then continue adding the last portions of egg.

6. Sift the flour again, this time onto the mixture and add the milk

7. Gently but¬†thoroughly¬†fold the flour into the mixture using a large metal spoon. Do this as lightly as possible so you don’t knock out any of the air you have beaten in.

8. Stop folding when there are no streaks of flour visible in the mix and no clumps at the bottom of the bowl.

9. Spoon the mix into a tin (mine was a silicone Mickey Mouse shaped one!), or into two tins if you want to create a sandwich cake

10. Spread the mixture evenly in the tin(s) right to the edges

11. Bake for 20/25 mis or until a golden brown and the sponges are springy when gently pressed with your fingertip. They should almost double in size during baking.

12. Whilst the sponge is baking take the butter, icing and cream and mix thoroughly in a bowl with a metal spoon. Once mixed pop in the fridge to chill

13. Remove the tins from the oven and leave for a minute – the sponges will contract slightly. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of each tin to loosen the sponge, then turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

14. Once the sponge has chilled spoon and spread the buttercream on the sponge, spreading to the outside of the cake

15. Hull the strawberries and slice them in two so they have a flat surface to place on the icing

16. Stick the strawberries to the buttercream icing on the cake to cover the cake. You could also sift icing sugar over the cake if you wish.

17. Enjoy!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Sounds peculiar I know. When I came home tonight after a week of attending lots of incredible London 2012 Paralympic events my fridge was a bit of a sorry sight.

Vixxy P at London 2012

Vixxy P at London 2012

Usually bursting with colour and choice the fridge consisted of a few ingredients that possibly would not even satisfy Ainsley Harriott and the Ready Steady Cook gang! So this is what I put together, and for my sister, my boyfriend it was something they both claimed was a triumph! It was really quite easy and lovely and comforting.

Try it and see!

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Tasty Cheesey Sausage Pasta recipe

Ingredients

6 chipolata sausages (ours were pork and free range from Waitrose)

50g Butter

5 tbsp Plain flour (heaped)

200ml Chicken stock

100ml milk (I used semi skimmed)

4 tsp Honey and Whisky Wholegrain Mustard (You can add these all separately ingredients)

50g Gruyère cheese (Leave a couple of pinches aside for to sprinkle on top)

100g Extra Mature Cheddar cheese

170g Double cream

100g Frozen peitis pois (you could also try adding any other green veg like courgette/broccoli/spinach)

350g Pasta (I used amori but you can use any of your choice)

Salt and Pepper (add to taste)

Method

1. Grill the sausages till golden brown, put aside to cool and then chop into chunks

2. Bring some salted water to the boil and add the pasta (cook for the recommended time on the packet or just taste test it as you go!). Drain the pasta and set aside

3. You can either do this after the pasta or prepare the ingredients before and make whilst the pasta is cooking.  Make a roux from melting the butter in a pan on a medium heat and whisking in 3 tbsp on flour gradually so it becomes paste like.

4. Add half the chicken stock and whisk till thoroughly mixed through.

5. Add the whisky, mustard, milk, cheese, salt and pepper then continue to whisk till it is fully combined and heated through (don’t let this boil!)

6.  Add the petit pois and gently heat through till the peas are cooked

7. Add the pasta and sausages to the sauce

8. Pour in the cream and mix well so that all the pasta and ingredients are covered in sauce! Add more salt and pepper if needed!

9. Dish up and sprinkle some of the Gruyère on top before serving

10. Enjoy!

Raspberry Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

For something a little different and refreshing why not try this amazingly simple recipe for sorbet?!  I made this last week when the weather was very humid and we needed something to cool us all down!

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

Raspberry and Mango Sorbet recipe

This is such a simple recipe you have to try it!

Ingredients

150g caster sugar

50ml Water

600g fresh raspberries

1 fresh mango, diced into small chunks (pat dry)

1 tbsp lemon juice

Method

1. Pour the sugar and water into a pan and place over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove and let it cool

2. When the sugar syrup is cool, add raspberries and lemon juice to the syrup in a food processor and puree.

3. Strain the pureed mixture through a fine sieve and transfer to a freezable container

4. Put the container in the freezer for half an hour

5. Take out the container, break up the mixture that will be slowly freezing, take the mango and slowly stir it into the mix

6. Place the mixture back in the freezer for about 4 – 6hrs

7. Enjoy!

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub recipe

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Say the word Syllabub, go on! Brilliant isn’t it. I decided to look up it’s meaning and what I didn’t realise is that it is a traditional English dessert. I always thought it originated in Europe somewhere, apparently not! It dates back from as far back as the 16th Century and was¬†traditionally¬†a drink made of new milk and cider, with the cows milked directly into an ale pot! I think I prefer this version below!

So…In this so called summer I have not had a chance to stretch my legs along the al fresco dining path as much as I would have liked. So instead I am just going to write about them! This particular dessert is something introduced to me by my sister. ¬†It is a firm favourite in our family and even the non dessert-likers will eat this one!

This is zesty, zingy, fresh, creamy, lush, rich and refreshing all at the same time. It is well worth the wait! A fantastic dessert for a dinner party, or refreshing indulgent treat!

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Zingy Lemony Limoncello Syllabub

Ingredients

3 Large lemons (the fresher the lemon, the better the dessert!)

100ml Limoncello liquer

300ml Double cream

100g Caster sugar

15 Italian Amaretti biscuits

Method

1. Zest all three of the lemons and put to one side

2. Then juice all three of the lemons into a bowl

3. Add about 75% of the zest to the lemon juice, then add the limoncello and mix together

4. In a separate bowl whip the cream with the sugar. Whisk only until it is starting to thicken and is like thick yoghurt. Slowly add the lemon mix bit by bit and whisk until fully combined.

5. Pour portions into bowls, martini glasses, shot glasses, anything that can be chilled.

6. Pop in the fridge and let them chill ideally over night but you can serve them after 2-3 hours in the fridge

7. Crush biscuits and mix with the left over lemon zest and use this to decorate on top of the dessert just before serving. I normally use half the biscuits for decoration and have a bowl full of the rest of the crushed biscuits and lemon zest on the table for people to add more if they wish (they always do!)

The Best Carrot Cake you’ll ever bake recipe

The Best Carrot Cake you'll ever make

I know that is quite a statement, and I suppose maybe I should put a few disclaimers in there stating that it depends on the quality of your oven, the ingredients you use blah blah blah…

But I am not. I am going to say it and stick by it. You will have to let me know if you think it is true!

I adapted this recipe as I have to give credit to the original recipe which is from BBC GoodFood. But I think my little additions make it more moist, and tantalizingly earthy.

The picture below doesn’t do it justice, and also… I sliced the cake in half so this is only the top half of the cake! I had to slice it for transportation reasons as it was a gift for someone. But believe me this baby rises HIGH!

The Best Carrot Cake you'll ever make

The Best Carrot Cake you’ll ever make

Ingredients

300g Plain Flour

2 tsp mixed spices

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

200g soft brown sugar

4 eggs

200ml sunflower oil

50ml Orange Squash (I use Robinson’s R Orange Squash)

1 orange zested

1 lemon, zested

200g carrots, grated

150g pecans, smashed/chopped

Small tin of pineapple pieces

200g unsalted butter softened at room temperature

200g icing sugar

250g cream cheese

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 150c/300F/Gas Mark 2

2. Prepare and line a deep cake tin (20cm ideally)

3. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar

4. In a separate bowl or jug beat the eggs with the oil and then add the orange squash, orange and lemon zests.

5. Pour the carrots to the egg/oil and mix well

6. Slowly mix this into the dry ingredients until well combined and you have a sticky shiny batter

7. Fold the nuts and pineapple (try and make sure the pineapple is as well drained as possible – I sometime put it on kitchen roll to absorb the liquid) into the batter

8. Spoon the batter into the lined tin and make sure the surface of the batter in the tin is as flat as you can (use your spoon or spatula to smooth the mixture so it has a level/even surface)

9. Pop in the oven for 1hr 20 mins (test this as this may vary from cake to cake – it does for me!)

10. Once the cake is baking beat the butter until it is smooth and creamy, add the icing sugar slowly! I have learned the painful way with this stage when not wearing an apron!

11. Add all the cream cheese and beat till it is a silky creamy cream cheese icing

12. Pop the cream cheese icing in the fridge and let it chill until the cake it cooked and cooled

13. Once the cake has cooled, take out the icing and decorate, I vary the way I apply the icing from having it just on top of the cake like in the photo above, or alternatively you could cover the entire cake in cream cheese icing which is when you are feeling particularly indulgent! (I have put the measurements in the ingredients for if you want to cover the entire cake, as another thing you could do is half the cake and make two if you wish!)

14. Enjoy!

 

Tasty Tasty Tuna Lasagne recipe

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

I know this blog is normally about things that your mum used to make, but this is something my school used to make! Many moons ago now I attended boarding school and Supper was that triumphant meal when you knew the working day was over and you had a few hours of freedom before you had to do it all over again.

Tuna Lasagne is what it was called but I suppose you could call it a Tuna Pasta Bake? This isn’t the recipe they used at school, it is my own version but it was a creation of mine one night when I was craving the school supper classic. ¬†It is so simple and actually tastes really good. ¬†A great alternative to the Italian meat version. Go on see what you think.

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

Tasty Tuna Lasagne

Ingredients

4 tins of flaked tuna in brine (normal sized tins that you get in the supermarket)

2 tbsp Creme Fraiche

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

1 tbsp Malt vinegar

50g Frozen Petits Pois

50g Frozen Sweetcorn

Lasagne sheets

Cheese sauce (you can buy a packet or jar but I made my own)

Grated cheddar and parmesan cheese

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/400F/Gas Mark 6

2. Defrost the petitis pois and sweetcorn, drain and let them cool

3. Drain the tuna and flake in a bowl till separated but still chunky

4. Add Creme Fraiche, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, malt vinegar and mix till fully combined (Here you can add anything else you like as well as more mustard or creme fraiche to suit your personal taste)

5. Fold the cooled sweetcorn and petitis pois into the mix and put to one side

6. Heat the cheese sauce and let it cool for 10 mins so it isn’t scalding hot

7. In an ovenproof dish spoon and spread a layer of tuna mix (about 1-2cm thick)

8. Then cover the mixture entirely with lasagne pasta sheets

9. Spoon and spread cheese sauce over the pasta sheets

10. Repeat the process till up to the top and cover with a final layer of pasta and cheese sauce

11. Cover the top layer with the cheddar and parmesan grated cheese

12. Place in the middle of the oven for 40 mins or until the cheese is golden brown.

13. Serve with roasted green vegetables or salad

14. Enjoy!

 

 

Cadbury Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

If you live in the UK you have probably seen something rather odd sat in the¬†refrigerated¬†shelves next to the soft cheeses. ¬†Kraft/Cadbury’s have launched a chocolate philadelphia spread which is aiming to take on the almighty Nutella.

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia

 So obviously something so peculiar sparked an interest and I made it my mission to discover this mysterious collaboration.  This included hunting my local shops and supermarkets, and even taking to my social media pages to ask if anyone has seen it!

Finally I found what I was looking for, I purchased 4 tubs, as there was one thing I was dying to try, and that was my favourite American baked cheesecake recipe. ¬†And you know what… it was fantastic! ¬†It is even better when it is really chilled. ¬†Try it, you’ll see what I mean!

Cadbury's Chocolate Philadelphia Baked Cheesecake

Ingredients

16 Digestive biscuits

110g butter, just melted

600g cream cheese (if you want to try the recipe I did use the Cadbury’s Philadelphia cream cheese)

2 tbsp plain flour

175g caster sugar

vanilla extract

2 eggs, plus 1 yolk

142ml sour cream

Method

1. Heat the oven to 180c/gas mark 4

2. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin

3.Mix with the melted butter and press into a 20cm spring form tin and bake for 5 minutes, then cool (to speed this up you could put it in the fridge)

4.Beat the cream cheese with the flour, sugar, a few drops of vanilla, eggs, the yolk and the sour cream until light and fluffy

5.Pour into the tin on top of the biscuit base

6.Bake for 40mins and then check.  It should be set but slightly wobbly to touch.  Turn off the oven and leave in the oven to cool down

7. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving

N.B – Don’t be impatient with this! ¬†The cheesecake will split and it tastes rubbish if you don’t let it cool properly.

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

What a great weekend of weather. ¬†A lovely weekend of open windows and sunshine. ¬†It has also been a weekend of baking and cooking (well… when is it not?!). ¬†My partner has just received the eagerly anticipated Blu Ray he has been waiting for and tonight is set aside to watch it (For those of you who are wondering it’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). ¬†One of our favourite TV dinners is this one. ¬†Loaded nachos. ¬†If you can they are always best if you can make the chilli the day before so it can rest and develop a fuller spicy flavour.

Spicy Loaded Nachos with Homemade Guacamole

Serves 6-8

Chilli mince

Ingredients

2tbsp olive oil

2 onions chopped

4 garlic cloves

1kg mince (beef/turkey/pork)

250ml red wine

2 tins of chopped tomatoes (400g)

3 tbsp tomato puree

2 red chillies, thinly sliced (or 4 tsp of dried chilli flakes)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 stick cinnamon (or 3 tsp ground cinnamon)

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 beef stock cube

2 tins of red kidney beans (400g tins)

1 tin of baken beans

1 lrg bunch of coriander chopped roughly

3 squares of Marmite chocolate

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy based pan and fry the onions and garlic gently till softened

2. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking until browned all over and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon

3.Pour in the red wine and boil for 2/3 mins

4. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, fresh chilli/dried flakes, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube.  Also season well with salt and pepper

5. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid, cook for about 50 minutes-1hour, stirring occaisonally until the sauce has thickened

6. Add the kidney beans and the baked beans and cook for a further 10 minutes without the lid, adding any extra seasoning or spice if required (I normally slug a good bit of tabasco or piri-piri sauce in)

7. Break up the marmite chocolate and stir into the chilli ensuring it has fully melted down and mixed in

Guacamole

Ingredients:

2-3 Avocados

1/2 a white onions, finely chopped

1 salad tomato, de-seeded and chopped

2 tbsp lemon juice

Salt and Pepper

2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream

Method:

1. Roughly crush the avocados in a bowl

2. Mix through the chopped onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, salt and pepper

3. Add the creme fraiche or sour cream and mix through

4. The most important part here is to taste it, see if it needs more of anything as it is all personal preference

Other ingredients for Loaded Nachos

2x bags of Lightly Salted Doritos

Sour Cream

Grated cheese

Method:

1. Pre heat oven to 100c

2. Pour nachos into a large heatproof bowl, top with chilli mince and pile a generous helping of grated cheese on top

3. Put this into the oven for 10-15 mins

4. Prepare the other ingredients in to bowls for everyone to choose their own toppings, or pile on to the loaded nachos when they come out the oven

Towering Yorkshire Puddings

If you are from the British Isles, and more specifically the northern half, these are a staple in most house holds.  Mothers (inlcuding my own) constantly strive to achieve the perfect balance of height with lightness without them going too crispy!

Apparently a¬†2008 ruling by the¬†Royal Society of Chemistry¬†has it that “A Yorkshire pudding isn’t a Yorkshire pudding if it is less than four inches tall”

This is one of my mother’s favourites. ¬†She received from one of my father’s work colleague’s wives whilst at a work function, the napkin is treasured and I am posting this online so forever will it be immortalised. ¬†This recipe may already be out there, so let this be the disclaimer that although I cannot claim this recipe, I have no proof of where it originally came from…. so there!! ¬†See what you think.

Towering Yorkshire Pudding recipe

makes 24 yorkshires ( I always make a batch and then freeze whatever is not used)

Ingredients

295g plain flour

3/4 pt (ideally skimmed) milk

3 large eggs

1 egg white

Salt & Pepper

Goose/Duck Fat (or lard/oil)

Method

1. Pre-heat the oven to 240c/475/Gas Mark 9 (or the highest you can get it)

2. Place half a tsp of fat/lard/oil in each pudding tin

3. Once the oven is heated place the tins into the oven

4. In a bowl whisk together with an electric whisk the flour, milk, eggs, egg white, salt and pepper

5. Chill in the fridge for 3 minutes, then whisk again

6. Immediately from whisking, check the fat is smoking in the tins and pour mixture into the tins as quick as you can but taking care not to burn yourself or splash any hot fat

7. Close the oven and watch them rise! ¬†They usually take about 25 minutes, but depending on whether you like them ‘puddingy’ or ‘crispy’ add 5-10 mins if required (this may depend on your oven as well). ¬†Try it and see what is best for you.

8. Serve with your Roast Dinner! ¬†Or… with fruit jams, custard with baked apples, and many more traditional methods!