Chocolate Heaven Cupcakes

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I  know,  you’re  probably  looking  at  this  post  and  thinking  what’s  it  got  to  do  with  my  writing  considering  that’s  what  I  generally  post  about  on  here.  But,  before  I  became  an  author  I  had  my  own  cake  business,  making  lots  of  tasty  treats  like  the  picture  above.

Late  last  night  I’d  been  asked  to  make  these  beauties,  and  after  uploading  this  photo  to  social  media,  requests  for  the  recipe  came  filtering  in.  So  I’m  sharing  my  secrets  to  a  chocoholics  dream.

This  recipe  makes  12  cupcakes,  16  if  you’re  lucky.

Ingredients
Cake Batter:                                                                                           Buttercream:
200g  Margarine                                                                                   100g  Unsalted  Butter
200g  Caster  Sugar                                                                              100g  Dark  Chocolate
4  Eggs                                                                                                   1tsp Vanilla Extract
1tsp Vanilla Extract                                                                               350g  Icing  Sugar
100g  Dark  Chocolate                                                                          Pinch  of  Salt
50g  Cocoa  Powder                                                                              Milk
160g  Self-Raising  Flour
1tsp  Baking  Powder
100g  Dark  Chocolate  Chips

 
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.

Place the margarine and caster sugar into a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix well, adding the vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, melt the dark chocolate and add to the egg mixture. At this point, you’ll want to bathe in the chocolate river. Please try to resist. Sift in the self-raising flour, baking powder, and  cocoa, leaving a little of the flour behind. Slightly mix it together – you don’t need to go crazy here. Over-mixing flour makes the batter dense once it’s cooked, and we haven’t finished adding our ingredients. Go easy! Put the dark chocolate chips in with the leftover flour (it only needs to be a tablespoon or two) and make sure those chips are covered in the flour mix. This stops the chocolate chips from sinking to the bottom of the cake when they cook. Handy little tip! Mix the batter until there’s no more dry ingredients (do this with as little mixing as you can, remember dense cakes are heavy!) Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter into the cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until cooked.

For the buttercream, add the butter into a bowl and mix until softened. Sift in the icing sugar and combine. It might look like breadcrumbs here, but don’t worry – it’s not ruined! Melt the chocolate and add to the icing sugar mixture. Now, it might look like chocolate breadcrumbs. That’s okay. Don’t panic! Add the vanilla extract and milk a teaspoon at a time until it all comes together. The amount of milk you use depends on the consistency you’re looking for. I generally add around 3-5 tsps. depending on how much the icing sugar soaks up. Add a pinch of salt to offset the sweetness. Beat until smooth. Place in a piping bag with your favourite tip and pipe onto cupcakes when they’re cooled! Or, you know, just use a knife and spread it on. It’s your creation after all!

And Voila. Chocolate Heaven.

P.S. You can totally add whatever toppings you fancy – supermarkets have a wide variety of decorations nowadays.

Winters’ Wonder & Woes

The  soft  jingle  of  bells  echoed  throughout  the   house  as  another  cheesy  Christmas  song  came  on.  The  dulcet   tones  and  happy  bass  spread  cheer  across  the  sleek  sound  system,  gifted  by  Santa  last  year.

Flour  coated  the  kitchen  side,  and  pastry  rolled  into  neat  shells  lay  waiting  for  its  delicious  mincemeat  filling.  The  oven  timer  beeped  signalling  the  first  batch  of  mince  pies  were  ready,  and  as  I  opened  the  door  the  heat  greeted  my  face  with  the  delightful  scent  of  Christmas  spice.

The  happy  sounds  of  laughter  travelled  from  the  living  room,  and  my  curiosity  peaked.  I  ventured  into  the  room  and  gasped  at  the  beauty  it  held.

Pines  scattered  across  the  floor   which  left  a  trail  directly  to  the  tree.   It  was  adorned  with  red  and  gold  tinsel  that  had  baubles  to  match.  The  colourful  lights  twinkled  elegantly,  beaming  like  a  beacon  to  the  man  in  red.

The  joy  that  came  with  the  countdown  to  Christmas  ignited  the  spirit  that  roamed  about  the  house.  Invisible  to  the  eye  like  specks  of  dust,  it  brought  smiles  instead  of  sneezes.

Dusk  gave  way  to  night  and  the  stars  partnered  with  the  moon  for  light.  Serenity  washed  over  me,  as  the  simple  pleasures  in  life  completed  me.

I  sat  on  the  windowsill  with  my  chin  resting  on  my  knees.  I  stared  out  the  window  and  watched  the  nights’  sky.  Two  stars  sparkled  brighter  than  the  rest  and  it  brought  tears  to  my  eyes.

The  evil  of  life  that  succumbed  us  all,  was  the  death  that  robbed  us  of   this  world.  Two  great  humanitarians,  though  different  in  their  nature,  shared  a   tremendous  commonality  in  helping  others.  They  lost  their  lives,  and  joined  the  sky  as  the  shiniest  of  stars.  It  left  an  empty  space  beside  my  heart  to  think  of  sorrow  at  such  a  merry  time  of  year.  I  didn’t  need  to  believe  in  the  same  faith  as  everyone  else  to  have  compassion  run  deep  in  my  veins.

As  the  night  continued,  the  silent  whisper  of  the  wind  danced  about  the  leaves  that  had  gathered  on  the  ground.  I  closed  my  eyes,  and  sent  a  wish  to  the  beautiful  stars  that  glistened  like  diamonds.

I  hoped  they’d  find  peace.

NaNoWriMo – Exciting Adventure or Dauntingly Pressurised Task?

It’s  that  time  of  year  where  writers  stock  up  their  cupboards,  dig  out  their  cosy  pyjamas,  and  litter  the  house  in  post-it  notes.  That’s  right  folks,  National  Novel  Writing  Month  is  upon  us.

Though  I  already  feel  like  I’ve  competed  in  this  form  once  already  this  year  I’m   contemplating  par  taking  again.  Why?  Because   I’m  clearly  crazy!  As  some  of  you  may  know  from  reading  my  previous  posts,  I’ve  just  finished  writing  my  first  novel  which  I  spent  the  month  of  August  doing.  I’m  deep  in  the  stages  of  editing  now,  but  I  can’t  shut  my  mind  away  from  the  lurking,  I  mean  tempting,  month  of  November.

I  have   quite  a  busy  life  at  the   moment,  which  by  the  way,  I’m  willing  to  trade  with  anyone  who  has  free  time.  Go  on,  you  know  you  want  to.  Wink,  wink!  Between  my  bakery  course,  business,  writing  course  and  current  novel  I  have  extremely  limited  time  left.   So  my  question  is:

Do  I  NaNoWriMo  via  the  website?  Or  do  I  do  the  sensible  thing   and  join  in  when  I  can   without  signing  up?

I  have  a  few  ideas  as  to  what  will  happen  in  the  sequel  to  my  novel,  Nature’s  Destiny,  but  I  want  to  invest  the  appropriate  time  it  deserves  in  it.  You  can  understand  that  right?

After  all  this  deliberation  I  still  haven’t  reached  my  decision.  Perhaps  I’ll  leave  that  down  to  you.  What  are  your  thoughts?

To  be,  or  not  to  be  involved  with  NaNoWriMo?  That  is  the  question.