30 and Fabulous!

They say that 30 is the new 20, so fear not the big 3-Oh! Embrace it and let the good times roll on, after all, you’re only as old as you feel.

A friend of mine turned 30 on the 30th, so I decided to make cupcakes to celebrate the occassion. He is an avid cupcake fan and choosing a flavour was difficult. I finally settled on double coffee – a moist coffee cake base, with coffee cream cheese icing and topped with a Cafe Latte chocolate stick. The coffee flavour is very appropriate – I never met anyone before who drinks so much coffee in a day as he does, so I figured coffee cupcakes would be the perfect add on to that morning, mid morning, lunch or afternoon cup of coffee. To be honest, I could use the extra caffeine kick myself – recently the nights are alot shorter than they used to be for me!

I baked a mix of mini’s and regular sized cupcakes, but personally I prefer the mini’s. They’re the perfect bite size treat and loaded with flavour.

This was also the debut of the new camera- quite chuffed with my recent purchase, however, still have the pit in my stomach after the last one was stolen at the train station – thanks Cologne! Anyhoo, time moves on and I am back in business. In the meantime, Happy birthday my friend! Hope you enjoy your cupcakes.

(P.S. This is a nut free cupcake recipe).

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White Chocolate

TheMonday morning cupcakes are starting to become a sort of tradition.  Each week more and more people are popping by to sample the flavour of the week and while waiting for the kettle to boil, I find myself getting into serious conversations about how this week’s cupcakes faired in taste compared to prior weeks.

You can’t go wrong with chocolate and fruit. This cupcake is a white chocolate chunk vanilla cake base, topped with a white chocolate icing and fresh cut strawberries.  I found a good anonymous quote online which is rather fitting – “Chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays”. These white chocolate strawberry cupcakes are the perfect make up for Monday, and best when shared at morning tea time or at a breakfast date.

 

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Cape Caramel

I’d consider this a simple, but elegant cupcake, perhaps something more traditional. A light caramel cake base, a creamy chocolate icing and hidden caramel chunks. The sweet and fragrant smells of caramel fill the kitchen – and are somewhat reminiscent of a retro ice-cream parlour. The kind you’d visit, barefoot after a hot summer day at the beach, with sand in your hair and salt on your lips.

The summer in Germany is rapidly ending, temperatures have cooled and the autumn is fast approaching. As the trees colour to deep shades of copper and prepare to lose their leaves, I find myself with a deep summer nostalgia – longing for sunrays that warm your skin, long days that last into the night and the gentle breeze filled with aromas of fresh fauna.

I though this cupcake was the perfect flavour and an appropriate fitting to the end of season. As you look out the window and see trees dance in the wind, watch light raindrops fall, the first bite is a moment of escape, taking you back to summer, caramel flavours and moments where you can’t lick the ice-cream as fast as it melts.

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Nutty Nelson

Hold on to your knickers! This cupcake is very nutty. Nuts in the cake, nuts in the middle and double nuts on top. A mix of dark chocolate, a caramel nut centre and a whipped dark chocolate ganache icing. This cupcake shouts rich – rich flavours and a chocolate overload presented in the perfect shape of a cupcake.

The whipped ganache icing is a light and fluffy chocolate dream and leads to a soft and gooey caramel centre. Luscious is the best word to describe these – a succulent, pleasingly rich, sweet taste.

I’d suggest pairing this cupcake with a glass of red wine for the perfect after dinner treat.

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Tokoloshe Trio

This has to be my most favourite cupcake that I have made so far. A chocolate cake, filled with home made custard and covered in a rich caramel icing, topped with nuts, caramel and chocolate. This is the perfect combination of flavour. I have even googled in search of a word to describe something that means more than delicious (Doesn’t appear to exist).

Where does this cupcake get it’s name from? The Tokoloshe part comes from an old Zulu mythology – it is considered a mischieveous and evil spirit. It’s a great analogy for these cupcakes – you can’t stop at just one and the calories in these are simply evil for your hips. And the trio part is self explanatory – chocolate, custard and caramel.

While this is probably not considered a very healthy Monday morning breakfast, it makes a great start to the week when shared with good company.

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Mega Mix

It’s not every day that your good friend/ former college roomate from out of town and his beautiful girlfriend visit. I was very glad to have some special friends visit for the weekend and news of the blog had spread over the past weeks…their first request on arrival was for a feast of cupcakes.

“Mega Mix” is the best way to describe the cupcakes I made for the weekend. In theory a mega mix is a medley remix with multiple songs played in rapid succession. In baking terms I’d classify Mega Mix as a selection of variable cupcakes – from mini’s to regular size, from chocolate chunk to espresso, and from nuts and mocha beans to stuffed molten chocolate centres. You name it, it was on the tray.

Was there perhaps a hidden agenda to the mega mix baking tactics? Consider this: a big tray of cupcakes. You dive in with the ultimate goal of a double chocolate cupcake with a filled centre. First bite in, you realize you’ve hit an espresso. It’s very tasty but you now have your eye on the cupcake sitting far right. Perhaps that’s the double chocolate? Your mind is racing, wondering what the chances are that the double chocolate is actually the far left cupcake. Decision time. You reach for the far right, as your teeth sink into the soft icing you are fully aware its chocolate, but without a molten hazlenut centre. In a panic, you see somebody else reaching in for the a second cupcake. Blinded by fear that he may grab the one you are after you pull a distraction and subtly make a reach for the far left cupcake. Bingo! You’ve strucken lucky in your third round of the Mega Mix.

Concluding the afternoon coffee and cupcake lineup were a range of mini’s. The perfect bite size cupcake. The best thing about the mini’s is that they were wrapper free. With the regular cupcakes, you have the empty paper wrapper on your plate as a reminder of how many you’ve already eaten, and you find yourself comparing with the others and how many they’ve had. You feel guilty as you reach in for another. With the mini’s…it’s a whole new ball game. And you yourself lose track as you pop the third mini in your mouth (or was it the fifth?) Who knows – nobody is counting!

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Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

The pancake! There’s an old tradition in many families all over the world and personally one of my favourite breakfasts. Think stacks of pancakes, syrup, cream and cinammon sugar – that’s enough to get the taste buds watering. This flavour cupcake was a brilliant suggestion from a friend, who is perhaps the most avid lover of blueberry pancakes. The way he described the maple syrup and the blueberry batter was enough to inspire me to give the blueberry pancake cupcakes a go.

The cake is amazing and really tastes like pancake batter, and the icing is a maple syrup cream cheese, covered in cinammon brown sugar. Any pancake chef knows the most important task with making pancakes is perfecting the flip: The only flipping with the cupcakes is flipping out when you realize you’re down to one last cupcake. And forget about tea time – these pancake cupcakes definitely count as breakfast.

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Madiba Mint Mondays

Aah Monday morning…can’t say that I’m a fan of you. I’d rather have Tuesday come twice. But what better way to start a Monday than with delicious mint and chocolate cupcakes – this is definitely one that is worth going the distance for. It’s like a giant peppermint patty. This was a great start to the week and I got to experiment with a white chocolate mint flavoured green icing. Absolutely delicious when paired with a rich chocolate cake, filled with a molten hazlenut cream centre.

After a weekend spent sailing and enjoying some fresh air, I had time to think about a new and creative recipe. Everything was going great – cupcakes were baked and iced and had just been packed into the cupcake carrier. In typical clumsy me fashion, I made a long reach for cupcake container and in mid air, let them slip. In slow motion, I watched them fall to the ground and all the icing smudge onto the neighbours as the cupcakes made a tumble. No! I couldn’t believe it. Luckily, I was able to rescue a few that were required and much needed to get us through the Monday morning.

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Cheeky Cappuccino

Who doesn’t love a Cappuccino Cupcake? This really is a delicious cupcake – rich flavours of espresso coffee mixing with melted chocolate on a moist vanilla base and topped off with a wafer. The perfect compliment to this is a cup of strong coffee.

A good cup of coffee is the first thing I need to get me out of bed and a good cappuccino cupcake makes the perfect morning breakfast treat.

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Banana Boys

For those of you who don’t know the banana boys, here’s a bit of a history lesson for you – until the mid 1990′s the local Durban rugby team was known as the “Banana Boys” before the rebranding to “The Sharks” as they are known today. Then there were also the banana boys who sidelined and supported the team by carrying their surfboards and doing multiple pushups as the team scored more points.

These banana cupcakes were one of the favourites from all the baking last week. The moist banana base is not too sweet and compliments the lemon cream cheese icing. After living in Germany for almost 3 years, I have come to learn that the Germans like fruit in their cakes – variations from peach to cherry and strawberry. In South Africa we are used to fresh baked banana bread with a cup of rooibos tea and while perhaps the banana taste was a bit unfamiliar to some, it was difficult to stop at just one cupcake.

After eating a few of these cupcakes, I think more than a handful of pushups will be needed to burn off the calories.

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