Cupcakes

Spiced Pear Sticky Toffee Muffins

Sticky toffee pudding is one of my all time favourite desserts; rolled out on many a Sunday after a family roast and drenched in sweet, buttery sauce, there are few dishes more comforting. Now, I’m not going to lay claim to these sticky toffee inspired muffins beating the classic pud format, however, unlike that Autumn staple, they needn’t be reserved for lazy weekends as they’re conveniently hand held, light in texture, benefit from the addition of fresh pear, and are just as delicious cold as they are hot from the oven and dripping in toffee. Make them now and they’ll last for a few days in an air tight box.

Ingredients (makes 6-8 large muffins)

For the muffin batter

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 1 large pear, diced
  • 100g pitted Medjool dates, soaked in boiling water

For the sticky toffee sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 60g light brown soft sugar
  • 80ml double cream
  • pinch salt

Optional finish

  • caramelised pear slices (to make these, just slice up 1 pear into 3mm thick pieces. Heat 2tbsp light brown soft sugar and 2tbsp butter in a pan until gently bubbling then add the pear pieces and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a 12 hole muffin tray with muffin cases (this recipe makes 6-8 large muffins but if you prefer a smaller cupcake-size you will get 12).
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a small bowl and stir together. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla and sugars until well combined, then stir in the diced pear. Drain the boiling water off the dates and crush them up into a rough paste and add those in too. Finally, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined (don’t worry if the batter is lumpy and a few specks of flour remain- the trick with muffins is to mix as little as possible to achieve a light texture).
  3. Fill each case 3/4 of the way up and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  4. While the muffins are baking make the sticky toffee sauce. Place the butter, sugar, cream and salt in a small saucepan and set over a gentle heat. Allow the butter and sugar to melt, stirring occasionally, then cook until the ingredients come together to form a smooth, golden sauce. Add the salt to taste.
  5. When the muffins are ready, prick a few holes over the surface of each one and pour on a generous helping of toffee sauce. Finish with some caramelised pear slices, if you like.

Enjoy!

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Blueberry, Squash and Spice Muffins (GF/ R.Sugar Free)

Yep, I’ve jumped on the detox January bandwagon, and here’s the first of my healthier bakes; butternut squash, date, blueberry and cinnamon muffins. A quick scroll through my blog and it won’t come as a shock that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to ‘free from’ baking, but I’ve actually surprised myself with what can be done without the conventional sugars and flours I’m used to. The fruit in these muffins add sweetness and the almonds create a moist and soft texture making them a great (and still tasty) alternative to the sugar packed treats I’m sure we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. Give them a try!

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Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 200g finely grated butternut squash
  • 100g melted butter
  • 100g chopped dates (softened in a little boiling water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 175g buckwheat flour (or self raising if you don’t need a GF option)
  • 200g fresh blueberries

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Place the squash in a bowl along with the melted butter, dates, date water and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.
  3. Add the baking powder, spices, ground almonds, flour and blueberries. Stir gently into the wet ingredients until just combined then distribute evenly between the muffin cases.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

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Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

As it’s now officially December ( ie. time to go Christmas mad) I thought I would share my recipe for gingerbread latte cupcakes! These treats are my baked take on the delicious Christmas drinks Costa and Starbucks are serving at this time of year, and are a great alternative to regular gingerbread or ginger biscuits. I’ve made little gingerbread stars to top my cakes, but you could make any shape you like, or sprinkle with glitter instead!

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To make the ginger cupcake mix, you will need (makes 12-15): 300g plain flour, 2tsp ginger, 1tsp cinnamon, 1tsp mixed spice, 2tsp baking powder, pinch salt, 220g caster sugar, 150g butter, 60g golden syrup, 2 eggs, 225ml milk.

Preheat the oven to 190c (fan) and line a cupcake tin with cases.

Sift the flour, ginger, cinnamon, spice, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl.

Melt the butter then whisk together with the syrup, eggs and milk in a jug. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mix. Stir until well combined and you are left with a fairly loose batter.

Fill each cupcake case 2/3 full and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.

Once baked, cool on a wire rack.

And to make the coffee frosting, you will need: 500g icing sugar, 140g softened butter, 3tsp very strong espresso

Using an electric whisk, combine the icing sugar, butter and espresso until very smooth. If thick, loosen with a little milk until it reaches a piping consistency.

Pile the buttercream into a piping bag with a star nozzle and pipe onto the cupcakes. Top with espresso powder and some gingerbread shapes.

Enjoy, and keep your eyes peeled for Christmas recipes!

A Christmas Hit of Vitamin C

Everyone loves a chocolate orange in their stocking at Christmas, so I’ve concocted these rich chocolate orange cupcakes as a baked alternative. Orange spiked chocolate sponge topped with a smooth cream cheese frosting- what’s not to like!?

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To make these Christmas treats you’ll need: 80g butter, 200g caster sugar, 100g soft brown sugar, 2 eggs, a couple of drops of vanilla extract, 240 ml milk, the zest of one orange, 250g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder, pinch salt and 1tbsp baking powder (Makes 12)

First of all, line a muffin tray with cupcake cases and preheat the oven to 190c (fan).

Cream your butter and sugars together until fluffy, then sift in your plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

In a jug, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, milk and orange zest then add to the bowl in three additions, carefully mixing between each.

Separate the mix between your cases and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the topping you will need: 600g icing sugar, 50g butter, 250g cream cheese, 60g cocoa powder and 2tbsp orange zest.

Mix together your icing sugar, cocoa powder and butter until a crumb-like mix has formed, then add your cream cheese in three additions, mixing vigorously between each. Stir in the zest and use a piping bag to neatly top your cooled sponges (or just spread over with a palette knife, if you like).

Decorate as you wish, I’ve used a little reserved orange zest, some chocolate swirls I set in the fridge, and a Christmassy flourish of glitter!

Enjoy!

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