Minion Cupcakes

You know how life takes it’s twists and turns and after a few fast paced yet manageable weeks, you suddenly have one that stands out from the calendar, screaming at you for attention and you can’t quite see how you’re going to get everything done that needs to be done in that specific 7-day period. Asking “How” or “Why” just ends up being a waste of time and you pop your “big girl” shoes on, plan the lists or timetable and hope that you haven’t forgotten something which could ultimately upset the apple cart. Well, this week, I forgot the one very big thing that upset my apple cart…or rather Chocolate Goose’s apple cart.

I overlooked the renewal of my domain!! Aaaarrrgghhh! By last night I plonked myself on the couch and thought it must be too good to be true that I actually made it, the well oiled machine that was the past seven days actually worked, but alas, it wasn’t to be. I logged on today and horror of horrors, my beautiful creation was nowhere to be found. Nothing quite gets the heart pounding and the sweat glands pumping than the panic which threatens to engulf you when you try to log in and it’s just not there.  But thankfully, after a few minutes of investigation and self recrimination, we’re back up and running and have the most gorgeous cupcakes to share with you.

Minion Cupcakes

Having kids is an awesome adventure. We’ve been through many phases and each phase brings with it new adventures, fun times and wonderful family memories. We’ve enjoyed Barney, Noddy, Thomas the Tank Engine, Lightning McQueen, racing cars, trucks, diggers and dumpers of every shape, sort and variety, Ben 10, Star Wars and Army vehicles. Most recently our home has been filled with the sounds and sights of Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 characters, most notably the Minions.

When my little one asked to take cupcakes to school the other day, I discovered his heart was set on Minions – mine skipped a beat. Luckily I enjoy baking and creating Novelty cakes, but his faith in my abilities always astounds me. We eventually settled on these cute creations and he diligently assisted (or should I say “supervised”) every step of the process.

Needless to say they were a hit with his class mates and the best part was I got to spend a fun afternoon with him in the kitchen. Normally my family is happy for me to be ferreting away on my own in the kitchen, and for the most part, I’m pretty happy with the status quo. They see their roles more as the ones to devour the fruits of my labour and offer honest opinions.

Anyway, with regard to my earlier comments about my manic week, this was of course the week the cupcakes had to be made too. Oh well, it all starts again tomorrow, being Monday, but I wouldn’t have it any other way… I love my life and I love my family. Who can ask for more than that?

This is a plain vanilla cupcake recipe, one of my all time favourites. I used standard cupcake/muffin tins (NOT the big Texan muffin ones) and got 33 cupcakes out of it. I only filled each cupcake wrapper between 1/3 and 1/2 full as I didn’t want big domed cupcakes. When decorating cupcakes with fondant icing, I think it’s better to have a flat top to work on. The recipe normally makes about 24 normal/decent sized cupcakes.

ingredients:
Cupcakes:
250 g unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup milk
¼ tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C conventional, or 160°C fan-forced.
  2. Prepare the cupcake/muffin trays by lining with paper cupcake cases.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar salt and vanilla until it is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add half the sifted flour and half the milk and stir until combined.
  6. Using two spoons, transfer the mixture into each cupcake case, filling only about 1/3 to 1/2 capacity.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes (mine were ready at 18 minutes, so I would suggest checking a little earlier). They are cooked with a toothpick or cake tester is inserted into the cupcake and comes out clean.
  8. Set aside for a few minutes to cool and settle, then transfer each cupcake to a cooling rack.

Vanilla Buttercream Icing (a very tiny amount) – once all fondant shapes have been cut out, apply a very thin layer of buttercream to each cooled cupcake. This helps the yellow face discs to adhere to the cupcakes.

Fondant decorations:
yellow, white, blue, orange (or red) and black fondant
various shapes for cutting out the different elements
icing sugar or cornflour, sifted lightly

  1. Roll the yellow fondant onto a cool flat surface, using a thin layer of icing sugar or cornflour to stop it from sticking to the rolling pin and the bench top.
  2. Cut out the round discs to be used as the Minion’s faces.
  3. Seal any left over fondant into plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out. It can be used again when the creative bug strikes again.
  4. Roll the white fondant out and cut out enough smaller circle shapes for the eyes. Repeat step 3.
  5. Combine a little of the black with some white and manipulate quickly with your fingertips, combining the colours until you have a grey suitable for the goggles.
  6. Repeat step 4, followed by step 3.
  7. Roll out plain black fondant and cut out strips for the goggle straps. Repeat step 3.
  8. Either form tiny balls of orange fondant for the eyes, or combine small amounts of red and yellow. Repeat step 3.
  9. Roll out plain blue fondant and cut out shapes to make the dungarees. I just used an inverted glass and cookie cutters to snip away the edges but if you have the tool, by all means, rely on free hand. Repeat step 3.
  10. By now you should have lots of odd shapes waiting to be formed into Minions.
  11. Layer them up, creating expressions with the eyes and different shape mouths. Use a drop of water behind each shape to stick it to the other fondant.

Enjoy!
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Chocolate Swiss Roll

I have been wanting to try making a Swiss Roll for ages and for some reason, I have been quite nervous of the rolling up part. They are known to crack if you aren’t super careful and follow the instructions to a T – no messing about with the steps here I’m afraid – except for the ingredients. I’ve had an idea for a chocolate Swiss Roll with Chocolate whipped Ganache in the centre, but most recipes you find on the web either don’t look appetising, i.e. like somebody really just tried making one for the first time and should perhaps have practiced a few more times before publishing it or they just haven’t matched what’s been in my imagination.

Chocolate Swiss RollNow that might sound a bit judgmental, it isn’t meant to be, but truthfully…do you want to spend time and ingredients on a recipe that doesn’t look like it came out perfectly? And after all, I claim that Chocolate Goose recipes are “tried and tested” to make sure I’m passing on the best. So yesterday I set about trying to find what I was looking for. Nada, nothing, not a sausage that fit my self-imposed brief so once again, I fiddled with the ingredients of a very simple one and it worked splendidly. Traditionally, Swiss Rolls use only 4 ingredients: flour, eggs, sugar and the filling, normally jam. The recipe normally relies on the eggs and sugar being whipped to such a degree, that vast amounts of air are incorporated, which replaces the need for a raising agent, i.e. baking powder.

There was a very simple vanilla roll with a strawberry jam filling which looked DIVINE, but I couldn’t get the chocolate one out of my mind so I’ve bookmarked that one to try at a later stage. I then found a recipe that asked for the egg whites and yolks to be separated. I was intrigued. The yolks and sugar are whisked together until they are light in colour but the mixture is lovely and thick – about 8 – 10 minutes of beating. The sifted flour is then carefully folded into the mixture – I was slightly alarmed at how thick this mixture was at this stage, but the next step sorts that out. The egg whites are whisked until they reach firm/stiff peak stage, but you don’t want to overwhisk them. Egg whites are then also folded into the mixture, a little at a time to break up the flour mixture and eventually it all comes together beautifully. I was therefore surprised to find that this recipe also called for baking powder, but I’m sure that with all that whisking you could actually leave it out. Given that the original recipe was also a vanilla one, I reduced the flour somewhat and replaced that with the equal quantity of cocoa (equal to what I had reduced the flour by). My experiment was working.

The pan measurement also needs to be exactly as stipulated in your recipe of choice. If the sponge cake, which this effectively is, is too thick (i.e. the pan was too small), it won’t roll properly and may even unroll. If it is too thin (i.e. the pan was too big), it will definitely crack and could overcook. Thankfully I had just the right size pan on hand, 23 cm x 32 cm. You can either butter or spray the tray with baking spray oil and then lie a piece of baking parchment along the bottom. Trim it so it fits as well as possible.

As I progressed through the various stages, I was surprised at how nervous I was when it came time to turn the cake out of the tray and then again when it was time to roll it up. Some recipes call for baking parchment while others ask for a damp clean tea towel. I used both (only my tea towel was dry, the “yuck” factor of a damp tea towel messed with my idea of perfection) and it worked a treat. The secret is to work quickly though. You need to remove the cake and roll it up as soon as it is finished baking and is still very warm and flexible so make sure you have everything you need already set out while the cake is still in the oven.

Some recipes also ask that you sprinkle extra castor sugar over the dish towel or baking parchment and then flip the cake out onto that but I had visions of it flying out of the pan and breaking in a heap. You should do whatever you think is best, but I sprinkled the castor sugar over the cake while it was still in the tray and just after removing it from the oven. I then ran an off-set spatula around the edge of the cake to make sure that it wasn’t stuck to the side of the baking tray and then placed the new piece of baking parchment over the cake, followed by the dish towel. The last item to be layered was the cooling rack on the top. Using both hands and holding both edges (the tray and the cooling rack) firmly, I inverted it all very quickly and TaDa! I let out the breath which I hadn’t realised I’d been holding and checked to see it was all still ok, which it was. Removing the tray – gently – followed by the baking parchment on the bottom of the cake, I then sprinkled a little more castor sugar over this side of the cake before trimming the edges of the cake to remove any of the harder/drier bits that would negatively affect the rolling up. Some recipes call for you to score the edge of the cake were you plan to begin the rolling, but I chose not to do this, not wanting to cut too deep. Perhaps I’ll give that a try next time.

And then the rolling begins. Keeping your whits about you and using both hands, gently but firmly roll the cake up inside the paper and tea towel and set it aside to cool. ELATION!! It had worked….so far. Later, once the cake has cooled and your filling is ready, carefully unroll the cake and add the filling. Too much and it will squish out the edges which wouldn’t look too good, unless that is the look you’re going for, but I wanted nice neat edges.

Once all rolled up again, obviously minus the paper and tea towel, a dusting of icing sugar finishes it off nicely. Now go forth, Goslings, and conquer that Swiss Roll. It’s not as difficult as it pretends to be and I have to say, I am rather chuffed with my first attempt. I’d love to see yours if you want to post them onto the Chocolate Goose facebook page. Come on…you know you want to! Let’s see how many versions we can come up with :).

ingredients:

Swiss Roll
4 extra large eggs, separated and at room temperature (if you don’t have extra large, I’d probably add an extra egg)
¾ cup castor sugar
5 ml vanilla essence (optional)
½ cup flour
¼ cup cocoa
5 ml baking powder
2 ml salt
whipped chocolate ganache for filling

  1. Beat the egg yolks, gradually add sugar, beating until thick.
  2. Add the vanilla essence.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and fold into the beaten egg yolks using a metal spoon.
  4. Beat egg whites with the salt until stiff but not dry.
  5. Fold the beaten egg whites gently into the batter with a metal spoon.
  6. Line a 23cm x 32cm Swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper. Grease well and pour the batter into tin.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for 15 to 20 minutes (please check from 15 mins as mine was ready to come out then).
  8. Turn out immediately onto a damp cloth sprinkled with Castor Sugar or follow my steps above, remembering to remove the drier edges.
  9. Peel off paper and roll carefully.
  10. Leave Swiss roll to cool in tea towel.
  11. Prepare your filling.
  12. When cool, gently unroll the roll and spread the filling, using an off-set spatula or the back of a spoon. Roll it back up again, as tight as you can.
  13. Dust lightly with sieved icing sugar before serving.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  1. Use two parts good quality bittersweet chocolate to 1 part full cream (weigh the cream – I’m serious – and then double the weight  measurement for the chocolate to get the ratio for this type of ganache correct).
  2. Chop the chocolate up very fine so it melts quickly.
  3. Warm the cream to just below simmer (you can do the finger test and if you can hold your finger in it for 3 – 4 seconds, it’s just the right temp to melt the chocolate).
  4. Pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and stir gently until all melted and combined. You can pour it through a sieve to remove any lumps if you want it absolutely smooth, but as a filling, I don’t have a problem with the odd small lump of delicious chocolate.
  5. When combined and silky smooth, set it aside to cool to room temperature and thicken.
  6. When nice and thick, but not hard, whisk it until it is fluffy and light (in texture and colour).
  7. Use it as an icing or filling.

Enjoy!
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Chocolate M&M Cookies

This past week Winter finally arrived with a vengeance…we’ve been treated to a very mild Autumn so far, with well below the average rainfall and very moderate temperatures, but we were advised to brace ourselves for a storm with “cyclone-strength winds” which, it turns out, gusted up to 170km/hr along the peninsula where we live. And believe me when I tell you I was very, very nervous. Thankfully it arrived overnight and lasted about 8 – 10 hours, so we were all safely at home and together. I have renewed faith in our little wooden home.

Chocolate M&M Cookies

We were woken around 1.30am, and I honestly wondered whether the roof was going to lift off or whether the windows might last the night. The house shook and rattled, but it remained sturdy. The trees seemed to be doing an hysterical dance and it was hard to believe that they remained rooted, although as dawn broke, it was obvious that small branches and other minor debris littered our garden. One of our beautiful native palm trees is leaning slightly onto a fence so we’re hoping that we won’t lose it, but Hubby is planning a full-scale inspection this weekend. The nice thing about such stormy weather, though, is the feeling of genuine fear that one begins to feel, and, in turn, how absolutely miniscule we are and how some of our daily troubles are put into perspective. A good bout of Humility occasionally is very good medicine for the soul. And a few hours without electricity isn’t actually the end of the world. It was fun making our lunches the following morning by candle light, definitely something I haven’t tried before. But as the hours stretched to almost two days without hot water, it began to ruffle feathers and we realise how easily we miss our first world comforts.

Thankfully, though, we had a  stash of chocolate cookies I’d baked a few days earlier to keep us company. The idea came to me while at my son’s swimming lessons. I had promised him a Gingerbread Man from the café on our way out, as obviously one has to walk past a strategically placed café with all sorts of yummy treats to catch the attention of littlies hungry after swimming lessons. I’m one of those Mums who prefers to pack a snack from home, with home baked treats, fresh fruit and perhaps a few crackers or cheese, but as I’d been harranged for weeks by one particular gorgeous little person, I finally caved and promised him a gingerbread man. On this particular day, however, on arriving at the counter, they were all out of gingerbread men. Seems my little man wasn’t the only one with that idea. So his next choice was a chocolate cookie with M&Ms placed on top. It was oversized, as most of these purchased cookies are and as I muttered away about how a single cookie could cost $3, I convinced him it was big enough, and expensive enough, for us to share it. I really just wanted to sink my teeth into it as it looked delicious! And I wasn’t disappointed. As soon as we arrived home, I began planning and plotting my own version – eventually settling on the Edmonds recipe.

Turns out it is a fairly simple chocolate cookie, as these taste almost the same, except probably not as sweet. And as a friend jokingly noted, it’s probably all the preservatives and E numbers added to the professionally made ones that makes the difference. But I’m quite prepared to sacrifice a little of whatever it is they add in the interests of a home baked version which contains lots of Motherly Love and Kisses. My son actually asks me if I add kisses to the food when I make it with love – awwww! Of course – don’t most Moms?

Anyway, easy peasy and all that so give them a try. Any lollies can be added on top, but I lurrrvveee M&Ms and these cookies carry on the festiveness of June being Chocolate Goose’s first birthday anniversary.

ingredients:
125 g unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar (I used castor sugar, but want to try a soft brown next time)
1 tsp vanilla essence (or go for Gold and use Extract instead)
1 egg
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp dark cocoa
a large bag of M&Ms – you’ll need to snack on some throughout the preparation process 🙂

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and line an oven tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg, beating well to combine.
  4. Sift the baking powder, cocoa and flour together and add to the creamed mixture.
  5. Using your hands, roll handfuls of the mixture into balls and flatten on the prepared oven tray.
  6. Press a few M&Ms into each cookie and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes.
  7. The recipe says you should get about 35, but I made them a little larger than normal, so about 30 is realistic.

Enjoy!
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Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

No birthday party is complete without a cake, and as June is Chocolate Goose’s 1st birthday, it seemed appropriate to bring out the big guns and celebrate with this deliciously smooth Chocolate Cake. I have to admit, I was in a desperate chocolate mood and this recipe will soothe even the most ardent lover of Chocolate’s taste buds.

Chocolate Cake

I use the word “smoothe” to describe the taste which might seem a bit odd as one would normally use that word to describe texture, but somehow the sour cream ingredient balances the chocolatiness very well and combined with this particular icing, also containing sour cream, you can eat an enormous slice (or two) without the experience being overly chocolatey, rich or sweet. In fact, if I had to describe it in one word, I’d probably go so far as to say: Perfect!

This is definitely one of my favourite Chocolate Cake recipes and isn’t a very fussy recipe, so is great for those who aren’t adept at creaming butter and sugar, or tend to overbeat mixtures. All ingredients can be thrown together in a food processor, in order of course, and if you end up with a fairly stiff batter that you really have to spread around the prepared baking tin, you’ve done it just right. If you don’t have a food processor, then sorry for you (and me) and will have to do the more traditional route of creaming the butter until very light in colour and texture, then adding the sugar and creaming a little more to combine the sugar crystals properly. Thereafter adding the eggs one at a time and beating well to incorporate, but taking care to not overbeat the mixture which will cause tunnels to form in the cooked cake and cause it to be harder. This cake should have a very light, fluffy look and feel.

Depending on my level of chocolate desire at the time, and the age of the taste testers, I toy with the recipe and use either milk or dark chocolate, but ideally, a cocoa content of about 45 – 55% works well. And here I’m talking about the icing as there is only cocoa in the cake batter, so a dark Dutch processed cocoa not only delivers the perfect slice of heaven, but it has the beautiful dark colour too. I’ve also used a 60% cocoa content in this particular icing on a previous occasion and it makes it truly decadent, but can be a little “strong” for younger kiddies.

The next time I serve this, I’ll probably add a dollop of freshly whipped cream to each serving too as it seems to sing out for it, but it isn’t necessary if you prefer not to. It’s just that I’ve had two “older” individuals, on separate occasions, comment that the cream would round it off nicely and as I’m very happy to take suggestions – and I happen to agree with this one – I think they’re right.

ingredients:

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
200 g plain flour
200 g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
40 g best-quality cocoa
175 g soft unsalted butter
2 large eggs
2 tsp real vanilla extract
150 ml sour cream

  1. Make sure all ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter and line two 20 cm round cake tins.
  3. If using a food processor, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream and process until you have a smooth, thick batter.
  4. If you don’t have a food processor, cream the butter until light and fluffy, add the sugar and beat some more. Whisk the eggs in one at a time. Add the vanilla essence and sour cream and beat until just combined. In a separate bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, cocoa and bicarb. Add to the wet mixture and gently mix together until combined.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared baking tins and place in the centre of the oven. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Mine are always ready at the 25 minute mark, so please check with a clean skewer. If it comes out clean then the cakes are ready.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to stand, in the tins, on a wire rack for about 10 minutes before turning them out of the tins to allow them to cool properly.

Chocolate Sour Cream Icing
75 g unsalted butter
175 g best quality dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
300 g icing sugar
1 Tbsp golden syrup
125 ml sour cream
1 tsp real vanilla extract
decorations / cake toppers of your choice

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or on the stove-top in a double boiler. Be careful as you don’t want to seize the chocolate as it will be ruined and you’ll have to throw it out and start again. Once melted and combined, set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  2. Sieve the icing sugar and set aside.
  3. Add the golden syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture (it doesn’t have to be cold, just not hot directly after melting), followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  4. Whisk in the sieved icing sugar, adding a little (and I do mean “little”) hot water if necessary, until you have the perfect spreading consistency but if you add too much and it is too runny, just add a little more icing sugar.
  5. Spread a generous layer between the cooled cake tiers and stick them together. Lather the rest over the top and sides of the cake. I like to blob it on top and allow it to plop over the sides, but you need to work quickly to spread it around as it does begin to set. You can spend the time smoothing it out beautifully, but there is something to be said about the swirly textured look which is very enticing.
  6. Decorate with your preferred cake toppers, or leave it as it is. Today I opted for white chocolate drops.

Enjoy!

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