I haven’t posted in over a week. So much has been happening in my life. From working incredibly hard in order to finish two major articles, to a trip to the emergency room (I am fine now, thank God), to a weekend in Amsterdam for a photo shoot of which the results you’ll see in March. Today has been the first day of ‘normal’ life again.
After turning in one of those major articles this morning, I decided to call it a day, as far as work goes anyway. My garden looked like a jungle, so after lunch I spent a few hours trimming the hedges and sweeping up leaves. The weather was absolutely fabulous which made the work a lot more pleasant. I even did the French windows. Almost ashamed to say I can’t even remember the last time that happened! Anyhow, being active outdoors was quite therapeutic. It even gave me the energy I needed to clean the house and bake cupcakes.
The cupcakes are not my own. They are from a box (Duncan Hines) and the frosting is Pillsbury. I know this stuff hardly qualifies as food, but it sure brings back memories of life in New Jersey. This was the cake mixes we used at home whenever we baked. Easy and very convenient. I seem to remember banana cake was a favorite.
To be perfectly honest, the redness of these red velvet cupcakes makes me somewhat nervous, but it’s an indulgence, and they’re for Halloween, so I’m supposed to be a little scared anyway, no? I think Kirstie will love them when she comes home from school in a few hours.
I am going to try my best to get back on track next week and be here more often. It was a deal I had made with myself, so consider last week an exception. In the meantime, to those celebrating Halloween — Happy Halloween!
During the past few weeks, I have been working on a pretty big recipe production for Vriendin, the Dutch women’s weekly for which I am a regular food writer. Thirty-two appetizers for the first issue of December, featuring all sorts of verrines, crostini, amuse spoons and various other fingerfoods. In an attempt to combine work and pleasure (something that isn’t all that difficult when your job is actually your passion), I organize a nibbles party for dinner every Friday night, complete with a nice bottle of wine and good music. It’s a heck of a lot of work, but it’s been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding productions up until now. Although, come to think of it, exploring the authentic Thai kitchen for issue number 17 wasn’t half that bad either.
Making tiny little bits of food means that I am usually left with a fridge-full of half used ingredients. Which in turn means that I have to keep that in mind when planning my meals for the days that follow. This works out pretty well most of the time (today we’re having pasta with left over mascarpone, for example), but sometimes I get stuck with something I have little use for. At least in my opinion. Like theleft over cream cheese. Really, I’m not a cream cheese fan unless it’s on a bagel, and bagels are not something I frequently have.
So, what to do with the cream cheese? Frosting? Yes! For cupcakes!
It’s been ages since I made cupcakes, and because the teen is home on autumn break, the time seemed ripe. The only thing I didn’t want was to make a whole dozen. Therefore, I wrote the recipe for six, but nothing should stop you from doubling it if you’d like.
They were so good and so simple to make. Try them, and if you do, let me know what you think.
Chocolate Halloween Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
For the cupcakes:
- 120 ml milk
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 50 g fine sugar
- 2 tbsps sunflower oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 80 g flour
- 2 tbsps cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
For the frosting:
- 70 g cream cheese, soft
- 40 g butter, soft
- 40 g pure chocolate
- 120 g powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp milk
Preheat oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 6 liners. Try to use Halloween themed liners or a mix of orange and black. Pour the milk into a jug and whisk in the balsamic vinegar. Then, whisk in the sugar, sunflower oil and vanilla extract. In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches. Stir well, but do not whisk or beat. Pour the batter into the liners and bake for about 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool on a rack completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, first melt the chocolate au bain marie. Beat the cream cheese and butter on a low speed until creamy. Add in the melted chocolate, powdered sugar and milk and beat again until it forms a nice thick consistency.
Frost the cupcakes, decorate as you wish and serve!
PS: A fake spider on each cupcake also makes a fab decoration!