cupcakes

All posts tagged cupcakes

The Perfect Caffeine Shot: Baileys Coffee Cupcakes

Published November 2, 2013 by The Feminist

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I am a huge coffee addict. If coffee were a person, I would actually consider marrying it. I can sum up more types of special coffee flavours than I can sum up US Presidents and I am extremely judgmental of people who have never tasted a Pumpkin Spice Latte, let alone don’t drink coffee at all. (There’s clearly something wrong with them!) Sometimes I even think the guy behind the counter at my local Starbucks knows me better than my own parents…

Yes, if I were a fictional TV character I would definitely be Lorelai Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls: a woman after my heart with infinite babbling capabilities and a huge love for caffeine.

Just like her, I have strongly considered hooking myself up to an IV filled with coffee and carrying it around with me throughout the day.

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Needless to say that a coffee cupcake sounds like music to my ears, so even without the addition of Baileys I would be happy to eat an entire batch of these cuties. With the added Baileys, however, I am completely going crazy. The perfection of this cupcake is simply mindboggling: a light sponge, the intense depth of the coffee, the soothing texture of sweet frosting and a kick of boozy Baileys…

My name is Eveline and I am a coffee addict. And I just overdosed on these cupcakes.

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Ingredients (makes 6 big or 8 medium cupcakes)
• 80ml milk
• 40ml Baileys
• 10gr instant espresso powder
• 40gr butter
• 140gr caster sugar
• 120gr plain flour
• ½ tbsp baking powder
• 1 egg

For the Baileys frosting:
• 50gr butter
• 60gr icing sugar
• 2 tbsp Baileys
• 1 tbsp chocolate and hazelnut spread (type Nutella)

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C and fill a muffin tin with muffin cases.
2. Lightly warm the milk, Baileys and coffee powder in a small sauce pan.
3. Whisk the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder together until you get a breadcrumb consistency.
4. Pour in half of the coffee mixture and mix together on low speed. Add the egg and then the other half of the coffee mixture and keep beating until you get a smooth, glossy and thick batter.
5. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes.
6. For the frosting, mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy and spread generously onto the cooled cupcakes.

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Chaos, Cupcakes and Cobblestones

Published September 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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You know those weeks when all you want to do is cry, drown yourself in red wine, choke yourself in chocolate bonbons and watch Titanic over and over again? Well….

This was definitely NOT one of those weeks! In fact, it was quite the opposite.

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But it kinda was a fantastic week. Quite chaotic, but for once I didn’t mind. I think my general aversion of chaos was smothered by all that excitement and euphoria of meeting new people, discovering new places and learning new stuff. I know this may make me seem like a bit of a nerd (guilty!) but during my first classes at university this week I sort of had a revelation.

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Well, sort of anyway. Yes, Lena Dunham is still pretty cool but at least I’m not wearing monstrous dresses at red carpet events. (Did you see the dress she wore at the Emmys? It was as if she had wrapped herself in a roll of children’s wallpaper.) I’m smart (Move over Sheldon Cooper!), can cook (Move over Nigella!) and I am exuberantly mentally creative (Move over Lady Gaga!)

Okay, so before you start thinking I might be high on LSD or other illegal stimulants, I’m not. I’m just incredibly elated, and every time when I’m elated, I tend to exaggerate and declare myself the new Queen of the World. Deal with it. (The way I see it, being an epitome of awkward exaggeration is way better than drowning yourself in red wine and crying over Leonardo Dicaprio. )

Because I was so damn happy, and because I wanted to celebrate overcoming my fear of chaos, I decided to treat myself to a delicious cupcake. I live in the medieval city of Ghent, Belgium, and when you say “cupcake” in Ghent, the name “Julie’s House” is likely to echo immediately afterwards. This sugar Walhalla is the place-to-be if you are ready to succumb to the temptation of devouring delicate cupcakes, delectable pies and devilishly delicious cakes. So if you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, not going there would be considered a crime.

I opted for a “speculoos” cupcake. Speculoos is a typically Belgian biscuit, quite similar to the British gingerbread or the German Lebkuchen, only better. Heaven.

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Although this week will go down in history books as “a marvelous week to remember” there was one moment, however, on which I was fighting the urge to bang my head against the wall and shout all kinds of nasty stuff at the people walking by, staring at me with an uncomfortable expression on their faces. Like I told you, I live in Ghent. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the city, you will most likely know that the city centre is a maze of cobblestone streets. Although cobblestone streets look amazing, they are an absolute horror to walk on, especially if you’re wearing high heels. So there I was, walking through the streets with my head stuck in the clouds, overtly happy with a stupid grin on my face and silently humming a Taylor Swift song, when suddenly one of my heels got caught between the cobblestone blocks. And just like the Colossus on the Island of Rhodes, I fell down. My newly-gained confidence lay shattered on the ground. It hurt. Not just because I ended up with some bruises, but because all the people in the street were gawking at me as if I were a terribly bad street artist.

The normal reaction to a painful event like this would be: “I’m never wearing high heels again, definitely not on these streets.” But, hey, it’s me we’re talking about. I don’t do flats.

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So to conclude: it was a crazy week. Full with chaos, cupcakes and cobblestones. What more could you possibly want?

Bake the stress away with these 3 crowd-pleasing, confidence-boosting dishes

Published September 19, 2013 by The Feminist

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In exactly four days, I will start my final year at university. This would be a rather joyful thought, were it not that I had the ambitious idea of enrolling in a Master program in American Studies, which is something entirely different from what I’ve been studying –and rocking!- so far: languages. Until recently I was truly convinced that after four years of having studied the English language, I would have a solid foundation for this new American adventure, but now I am totally freaking out. What if all the other students are annoying, big-mouthed and opinionated America-loving geeks and I’m just… well… me?

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You know what I mean?

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Anyway, I think you can all imagine that my stress level is through the roof at this moment. And what better way to relief stress than to bake? Everyone finds himself in a stressful situation at some point in life and we all have different ways of coping with it, but I personally find that the rhythmical stiring of cake batter and the sweet aromas filling my kitchen are way more stress relieving than the typical workout at the gym. I’ll choose the fresh-out-of-the-oven smell over sweat-dripping armpits in a heartbeat. Who’s with me?

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So under the guise of “stress reduction” and “at least I’m being productive”, I decided to wreck the whole kitchen baking up not one but three smashing dishes. These recipes are incredibly easy to make but look fantastically impressive on the dinner table. “I can’t believe you made that!”-comments are likely to follow. Like I said, these are both crowd-pleasing and confidence-boosting bakes.

So whether you’re looking for a way to deal with your rising stress-level or whether you just want to surprise your family with a brilliant bake: these are my three show-stopping dishes!

Moroccan chicken filo pie

A magnificent filo parcel filled with North-African spices and moist chicken, it’s hard to think of anything more delicious. Add to that the incredible crunch of the filo pastry, the pretty yellow gloss of the turmeric and the dainty sprinkling of za’atar on top and you are literally in baking heaven!

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Ingredients
• Approx. ½ pack of filo pastry
• 3 carrots, finely chopped
• 2 red onions, finely chopped
• 2 chicken breasts, cut into small dices
• Juice of half an orange
• 4 dried apricots, chopped
• 4 dried dates, chopped
• ¼ tsp cinnamon
• ¼ tsp nigella seeds
• ½ tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp allspice
• 1 large chilli pepper, finely chopped
• (large) Knob of butter, melted with 1 tsp of turmeric

To decorate:
• Coriander leaves
• Za’atar

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a bundt cake tin. Arrange the pastry squares in the tin, so that they overlap slightly and cover the whole ring of the tin with lots filo left hanging over the outside edges.
2. Brush the pastry with the melted turmeric butter.
3. For the filling, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken pieces. Remove from the pan and set aside. Now add the onions, chilli and carrots to that same pan and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the orange juice and dried fruits and let it simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the chicken and all the spices back to the pan and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pack the filling inside the bundt tin. Lift up the edges of the pastry and fold over to cover the filling. Brush with some of the turmeric butter and now flip the whole lot upside down unto a baking tray. Brush the pastry all over with more turmeric butter and sprinkle on the za’atar.
5. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Just before serving sprinkle on the fresh coriander.

Sticky orange and date cupcakes

There is just something gloriously decadent about a sticky date pudding. That warmth of the spices, that palate-clinging moistness of the dates… Sigh. Can it get any better than this? Apparently it can! If you turn your date pudding into a princess-like cupcake and add orange to create an extra zingy dimension. And to top it all off, I even whacked in some cointreau! (I was – after all- trying to reduce my stress 😉 )

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Ingredients (makes 4 large or 6 smaller cupcakes)
• 1 egg
• 60gr dried dates, finely chopped
• Juice of one orange, approx. ½ dl
• ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
• ¼ tsp ground ginger
• ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
• Pinch of cardamom
• 50gr muscovado sugar
• 70gr plain flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 60gr butter
• Cointreau, 1 tbsp per cupcake
• Orange marmalade, to glaze

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Mix in the butter until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Stir in the chopped dates and whisk in the egg.
4. Add the orange juice and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
5. Pour the batter into a prepared cupcake tin and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
6. When the cupcakes are still hot and are still in the tin, pour one tablespoon of cointreau over each cupcake. (Pierce the top of each cupcake a couple of times with a toothpick to make sure the cointreau seeps through). Leave it in the tin to cool slightly before removing.
7. Once cooled, spread a generous layer of marmalade on top of each cupcake.

Courgette galette with tomato tapenade

This recipe is so ridiculously easy, it almost seems embarrassing to write about it, were it not that is so damn delicious! Crisp puff pastry… topped with a generous amount of tomato tapenade… and grilled, juicy courgette slices…with a salty parmesan crust. Mmmm. Things like that really make me salivate!

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Ingredients
• One sheet of puff pastry
• 2 small courgettes, in 0,5 cm slices
• Parmesan cheese
• 100gr tomato tapenade

For the tomato tapenade:
• 100gr sundried tomatoes, on olive oil
• 1 clove of garlic
• 2 anchovy fillets
• ½ tbsp capers

Method:
1. Make the tapenade by blitzing all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Use some of the olive oil from the tomatoes to create a more unctuous texture.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roll out your sheet of puff pastry on a baking tray and prick it with a fork.
3. Spread a good layer of tapenade on top of the pastry, leaving a boarder around the edge.
4. Meanwhile, grill your courgette slices on a searing hot grill for a couple of minutes on each side. Layer the slices on top of the tapenade, so that they overlap slightly and cover the whole sheet of puff pastry.
5. Fold the outer edges of the pastry over the filling and grate parmesan over the top of the galette.
6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

The proof of the Pudding is in the Basil… Basil and white peach cupcakes with a honey-mascarpone frosting

Published August 13, 2013 by The Feminist

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I know, the title doesn’t make any sense at all, but it certainly got your attention, right? I mean, the fact that you’re reading this could indicate that

a) You like cupcakes. (who doesn’t?)
b) You like basil. (Again, who doesn’t?)
c) You like weird flavour combos. (only me, I presume)

My guess is that it is probably (or should I say hopefully?) a combination of the three. So whatever your reason may be for visiting this post , welcome and be prepared to witness something truly spectacular!

Basil cupcakes!

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Let me say that again: basil cupcakes!

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Basil is often considered the King of Herbs when it comes to savory dishes. So much so that I truly believe our love for Italian cuisine is solely derived from Italy’s multitude of basil-flavoured dishes; pesto being the crown jewel of Italian cuisine.

However, because we all love basil in savory dishes so much, we tend to overlook how brilliant it tastes in sweet dishes.

Yes, sweet dishes! Whether it’s ice- cream, crème brulée, brownies or a dainty tart, the fragrant freshness of basil can lift all of these already lovely desserts up to a whole other level!

So forget about pesto or salad caprese! Give your basil the spotlight it truly deserves and for once use the leaves in a very summery dessert!
Like this one, for instance. I got my inspiration from one of my favourite summer salads: a fresh peach, mozzarella and basil salad sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. So in a wave of culinary brilliance I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be totally awesome if I could make a sweet version of this salad?”

And this is what I came up with: a basil and white peach cupcake!

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At this point I still wanted to find a way to include pine nuts and any Italian cheese( let’s be honest: mozzarella in a sweet cupcake would have been too weird) and after some mindboggling brain activity, I had the most wonderful epiphany: a mascarpone cream, sweetened with honey and topped with crunchy pine nuts!

Eureka! Don’t they just look delicious? They tasted delicious as well, I might add. The basil is truly the star of this dessert and its herby freshness blends so well with the juicy sweetness of the peach. Add to that the smooth and comforting mascarpone cream, the delicious hint of honey in the back of your mouth and that lovely bit of bite from the pine nuts, and what you have is the most deliciously sweet taste of summer imaginable! Even Roman Gods would descend from their clouds and make their way to my tiny Belgian kitchen to taste one of my God-almighty cupcakes!

So if you’re ready to let the sunshine in, here is the recipe

Ingredients (makes 10 cupcakes)

• 120gr plain flour
• 140gr caster sugar
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt
• 40gr unsalted butter
• 120ml whole milk
• 1 egg
• 6 tbsp fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
• 2-3 white peaches

For the mascarpone frosting
• 250gr mascarpone
• 4 tbsp honey
• Toasted pine nuts to decorate

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in a bowl and mix on low speed until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Whisk together the egg, milk and basil and gradually pour the mixture into the flour mixture. Continue beating until well incorporated.
4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cupcake tin and cut the peaches into moon- shaped wedges.
5. Layer each cupcake with 4 wedges . Try to create some kind of flower pattern. If this doesn’t really work, no biggy, just put the wedges on top any way you like.
6. Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean.
7. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
8. Meanwhile, whisk together the honey and mascarpone for the frosting. Once the cupcakes are cold, spoon a quenelle of mascarpone cream on top of each cupcake and finish with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts .
9. Optional: decorate the cupcakes with sugared basil leaves. Brush some basil leaves with a thin coating of egg white and sprinkle with caster sugar. Shake off any excess. Let them dry for at least one hour, this will make the leaves stiffen.

La douce France, the cake edition: Lavender and honey cupcakes

Published July 8, 2013 by The Feminist

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Warning: this recipe may piss off French culinary snobs
Julia Child once wrote that “In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport.” So trust me when I say that this recipe is not a take on a French classic. I do not want to piss off the entire French population. The French treasure their classic recipes and local ingredients in such a way that goes beyond my comprehension. I don’t hold on to traditions, on the contrary, I like to break them. So if your French, and for some odd reason you’re finding yourself reading my blog, I advise you to stop right now. This post may be bad for your heart.

Don’t say I haven’t warned you.

To all of you who are still here: welcome and feel free to imagine the perfumed aroma of lavender and honey! (Why oh why doesn’t smell technology exist yet?)

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Lavender is one of the most amazing scents on this planet, and one that I inevitable associate with France and especially the rolling countryside of La Provence. Should you still be under the assumption that lavender is just for soap and toilet fresheners, think again! Because lavender is amazing in cooking as well!

These cupcakes were completely transformed by adding lavender to the batter. They tasted fragrantly floral without overpowering the well-known and comforting taste of the humble cupcake. (Again, the French would probably call this heresy. Using their lavender in an Anglo-Saxon cake? How dare I? 😉 )

I used fresh home-grown lavender for this recipe. That way I can be 100% sure that there were no pesticides or other icky chemicals involved in the plant’s growing process. You can also use dried cooking lavender, but if you do so, you should know that the essence of dried lavender is much more concentrated. (You should reduce the amount of lavender by two thirds if you’re using the dried version)

To create a lovely well-balanced lavender flavour I made my very own lavender-infused sugar. Just add 1 ½ tbsp of fresh lavender to the required amount of sugar and let it sit overnight so the lavender can infuse the sugar. Before you start making the batter, sieve the sugar so that all the lavender remains behind.

What follows is the ultimate dilemma: more or less lavender? The first time I baked these cupcakes I only used the lavender-infused sugar. This resulted in a very yummy and fragrant cupcake, but although the cupcake tasted ever so slightly perfumed, you couldn’t really tell it was thanks to the magical aroma of lavender. I tried the cupcakes again a couple of days later, but this time used the infused sugar and one third of the lavender florets used to flavour the sugar (very finely chopped). The flavour was much more intense and you could tell it was lavender, but still without completely overpowering the whole thing. So it’s actually entirely up to you: will you be safe or will you be brave?

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Lavender cupcakes with honey frosting

Ingredients (4 big cupcakes or 6 regular cupcakes)
• 0,5ml whole milk
• 75gr lavender-infused caster sugar (see above)
• 60gr plain flour
• ¾ tsp baking powder
• 20gr unsalted butter
• 1 egg

Honey frosting
• 3 tbsp of honey, preferably good quality lavender honey
• 25gr unsalted butter
• 4 tbsp icing sugar

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
2. Put the flour, infused sugar, ½ tbsp finely chopped lavender (optional, see notes) , baking powder and butter in a bowl and beat on slow speed until you get a sandy consistency.
3. Mix together the milk and egg in a jug and slowly pour in the flour mixture.
4. Spoon the mixture into your prepared cupcake tray and bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
5. For the honey frosting, beat all the ingredients together until you get a smooth and somewhat fluffy frosting.
6. Spoon the frosting on top of each cupcake and decorate with a sprig of lavender.

Crazy-ass Cupcakes: Chilli-chocolate-thyme cupcakes with thyme and honey frosting

Published May 18, 2013 by The Feminist

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I know what you’re all thinking right now: Freak. Nut job. Completely bonkers.

Although I will not deny all these accusations (they are –after all- true) , the fact that you honestly believe that putting thyme and chilli in cupcakes is “not done”, frankly, says more about you than me.

Why are you so afraid to live on the crazy-side of life? Aren’t you tired of eating plain vanilla cupcakes? Wouldn’t you prefer being blown away by awesomely extravagant flavours?

If you are ready to step away from the ordinary vanillas of life and embrace your inner freaky chilli personality, this recipe is definitely something for you! The chocolate provides that reassuring comfort, whereas the chilli and thyme blow your flavour palette wide open. The fresh thyme adds a distinct flowery aroma to the sponge and the chilli creates that little tingle on your tongue, without completely overpowering all the other flavours or making your eyes water. The intriguing honey comes through in the end, composing a taste-bud tickling aftertaste drenched in heavenly sweetness…

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Chilli-chocolate-thyme cupcakes with thyme and honey frosting

Ingredients (makes 6)

For the sponge:
• 20gr unsalted butter
• 10gr cocoa powder
• 50gr plain flour
• 70gr caster sugar
• ¾ tsp baking powder
• ¼ tsp (hot!) chilli powder
• 1 tbsp of fresh thyme leaves
• 1 egg
• 50ml milk

For the frosting:
• 50gr unsalted butter
• 75gr icing sugar
• 4 tbsp runny honey
• Pinch of chilli powder
• Fresh thyme

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and chilli powder in a large bowl and mix until you get a sandy consistency.
2. Slowly pour in the milk and add the egg, mixing well until all the ingredients are combined.
3. Stir through the fresh thyme.
4. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases and bake into the oven for 20 minutes. Leave to cool completely before frosting.
5. For the frosting, mix together the butter, sugar, chilli powder and honey until it is smooth and glossy. Spread a generous amount of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle on some fresh thyme leaves.

Going nuts over Peanuts: Peanut butter-maple cupcakes and chocolate-peanut cookies

Published March 23, 2013 by The Feminist

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In one of my very first blog posts ever (God, that seems such a long time ago!), I wrote about my obsession with peanut butter. (check out the post here) Well, dear readers, I have a confession to make: over the time that has passed, my obsession for this jar of ultimate comfort food has grown even more. (I had no idea that was even remotely possible!)

I simply can’t stop using it in desserts, cakes or curries. It adds richness, is packed full of flavour and it has that very famous “je ne sais quoi”-quality to it. Even if your pantry cupboard is completely empty, you can still bake the most amazingly delicious cakes if you keep a jar of peanut butter hidden under your bed (Who doesn’t , right? 😉 ) And you know what? Desserts with peanut butter are dead easy! So what better way to beat a bad mood than to conjure up some delicious peanutty goodness!

For those among you who are in a bad mood: stop whining! Start baking!

Peanut butter-maple cupcakes (makes 12-16)

Ingredients:

For the sponge:
• 70gr butter
• 210gr plain flour
• 250gr caster sugar
• 1tbsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 210ml whole milk
• 2 eggs
• 40gr peanut butter

For the frosting:
• 100gr cream cheese
• 30gr peanut butter
• 4 tbsp maple syrup
• 100gr unsalted peanuts, caramelized in a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line the muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Mix the butter, flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together until you get a crumb-like consistency.
3. In a jug, mix together the milk and eggs and slowly pour it in the crumb mixture. Mix until the batter is smooth and combined.
4. Add the peanut butter and mix through.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases and bake for 20 minutes.
6. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Mix together the cream cheese, maple syrup and peanut butter and spoon generous amounts of the frosting on top of each cupcake.

7. Top each cupcake with a sprinkling of the chopped caramelized nuts.

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Chocolate-peanut cookies

Ingredients:

• 170gr plain flour
• 40gr cocoa powder
• ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• Pinch of salt
• 115gr unsalted butter
• 120gr peanut butter
• 120gr caster sugar, plus 40gr extra for rolling
• 90gr muscovado sugar
• 1 egg

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line baking trays with baking parchment.
2. Sift together the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
4. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a dough has formed.
5. Put the extra caster sugar in a small bowl. Roll the dough into balls (4-5cm) and roll each ball in the caster sugar to give it a sexy and sugary coating.Place on the baking trays about 4 cm apart.
6. Bake for 10-15 minutes until they have a crusty surface and have cracked.