Cottage Pie Cupcakes

I absolutely adore making and decorating cupcakes, but having them all the time can be too much of a sugar-overload. The aspect I find most appealing about cupcakes is how they are tiny individual cupcakes, all on their own. From their cupcake liner to the icing on top, they look so delicate and perfect. Why should such yummy beauty be confined to cupcakes?

Cottage Pie Cupcakes
These cottage pies look and taste fantastic. They can also be picked up and eaten by hand, making them the perfect finger-food for parties or buffets. They are really easy to make and don’t take much extra effort than normal cottage pies. I think the visual appeal of these pies makes the additional effort more than worth it.
This recipe makes around ten cottage pie cupcakes
100g flour
Pinch of salt
25g lard
25g butter
2 tbsp butter
250g mince
½ onion
1 clove of garlic
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp parsley
2 tbsp tomato puree
200ml beef stock
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
2 medium potatoes
Milk and butter to taste
For the pastry
1. Preheat the oven to 180C, grease a muffin pan with 10 molds and mix together the flour and salt. Chop the lard and butter into small cubes and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Slowly add small amounts of water until you have a solid dough.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out until it is really thin – about 1cm thick. Cut out circles large enough to fill the muffin tin and line the molds. Place in the oven until fully cooked and golden brown – around 20 minutes.
For the filling
1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and brown in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mince and cook for around 10 minutes.
2. At the salt, pepper, stock, tomato puree and stir well. Leave cooking on a low-medium heat for around 10 minutes, before adding the herbs and Worcester sauce. Cook until the sauce has thickened.
For the topping
1. Wash and peel the potatoes before chopping into quarters and boiling in a pan of boiling water until a knife can easily be inserted in the centre – around 20 minutes.
2. Drain and mash the potatoes, adding butter and milk to taste. Make sure the potato has absolutely no lumps, but still remains thick so it can be piped.
To assemble
1. Warm the pastry cups in a hot oven for a few minutes then remove from the molds and place on serving plates.
2. Fill each cup with the mince filling – feel free to pile it above the cup, I did.
3. Spoon the potato topping into a large piping bag and pipe the potato as you would icing on a cupcake.

English Muffins

English muffins are one of the very first types of bread that I ever attempted, which is why I always have a soft spot for them. For years I adored English muffins – whether they came from the supermarket out of a packet or in the form of a McMuffin from McDonalds, but it wasn’t until I made my own that I fell completely head over heels in love with them.

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Mummy Cupcakes

Halloween provides the perfect time to take some favourite recipes and really have fun with them. By just piping icing in straight lines and adding a couple of eyes, these ordinary chocolate cupcakes become something much more exciting.
Mummy Cupcakes
I used the recipe from JoyofBaking with a few personal alterations to make these cupcakes. I am still learning when it comes to icing, which is why my mummy bandages are a little messy – but this just adds to the spooky, decaying effect…Right?
This recipe makes eight moist chocolate muffins with a chocolate ganache centre, marshmallow icing and Smarties for eyes.
25g cocoa powder
120ml boiling water
70g flour
1tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
55g butter
100g sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
Ganache filling
100g chocolate
80ml double cream
15g butter
Marshmallow icing
1tsp vanilla extract
200g icing sugar
50ml milk
7 medium white marshmallows
16 Smarties for the eyes
1. Preheat the oven to 190C and line eight muffin cups with cupcake cases.
2. Place the cocoa powder in a bowl and add the boiling water. Stir until it’s smooth, then leave to one side to cool.
3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Beat the butter and sugar together in another bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well before pouring in the vanilla extract. Add the cooled cocoa mix into the bowl and gently stir until smooth.
5. Fill each cupcake case 2/3 full and bake for around 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
6. To make the chocolate ganache filling, simply boil the cream and butter together in a pan over a medium heat. When it begins to bubble, place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the cream on top. Leave for around five minutes, before mixing together. Let the filling to cool before coring the cupcakes and filling them evenly. Don’t forget to replace the lids.
7. To make the icing, warm the marshmallows and milk in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When the marshmallows have soaked up the milk, remove from the heat and add the vanilla extract. Add around 100g of icing sugar and continue to add more until you have a suitable piping consistency.
8. Pipe lines of bandages on your mummy cupcakes, making sure you leave a small gap for the eyes. Place a small amount of icing on the back of each Smartie and stick it on the cupcake.

How to Not Make Molten Chocolate Cakes

Pictures of molten chocolate cakes are always gorgeous. A rich, warm sponge which encases a gooey chocolate sauce that oozes out over the plate. I’ve tried to make these fabulous creations twice now and always come across the same problem – all the recipes I find make enough mixture for at least four portions. Boyfriend and I live alone, so I always try and reduce the recipe so there are only two portions – this is never successful.
How Not to Make Molten Lava Cakes
If you want to make overflowing warm mousse with a blackened soufflé top, follow these tips very carefully.
Use far too many eggs
Don’t use enough chocolate or sugar
Fill the molds too high
Make sure the oven is too hot
If you follow those tips correctly, you should be left with a horrible Yorkshire pudding-tasting undercooked soufflé/mousse, as well as a very disappointed boyfriend.
How Not to Make Molten Lava Cakes
Hopefully the next time I try to make these, I get to update my blog with a successful post and show off tempting photos of what these gorgeous treats really should look like.

Halloween Jam Tarts

Last week I decided to make a start on my Halloween baking. I know it’s only September, but October 31st will be here before we know it. I played it safely and used a favourite recipe of mine which I’ve made many times and jazzed it up with Halloween decorations.
Halloween Jam Tarts
I was so worried that my oven was going to completely destroy my works of art that I took a picture of the raw pastry before I put them in the oven, just in case. Fortunately, the tarts and the decorations kept their shapes really well – even though one unlucky ghost drowned in jam and a spider received a few broken legs.
Halloween Jam Tarts
I fashioned spiders, ghosts, ovals with ‘BOO’ written in them and witches hats and broomsticks out of the same pastry used for the rest of the tarts. The spiders definitely took the longest and were the most fiddly, but I think it was definitely worth it.
Halloween Jam Tarts
The spiders were made by rolling a ball of pastry, attaching pastry legs, a cocktail stick to carve a mouth, and poppy seeds for the eyes and fangs. For the ghosts, I rolled out an oval of pastry and dragged my fingers down it so the bottom thinned out – the eyes were simply holes. I carved the word ‘BOO’ by dotting with a cocktail stick and the witch tarts were made just by rolling pastry into the desired shapes.
This recipe makes 12 jam tarts.
200g flour
70g lard
50g butter
Pinch of salt
50g sugar
2 tbsp water
Various jams
1. Heat the oven to 180C and grease a very shallow muffin tin.
2. Combine the flour, salt and sugar.
3. Chop the butter and lard into small cubes and add to the flour. Rub the fats into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.
4. Add a few drops of water at a time until the mixture forms a good dough. You should need somewhere between 1tbsp and 2tbsp.
5. Knead the dough before rolling it out and use a cutter to cut out circles and place in the muffin tins. Tidy the edges of the pastry so they’re neat. Put the remaining pastry to one side.
6. Place very small amounts – between a teaspoon and tablespoon – of your chosen jam, curd or marmalade in each tart.
7. Make decorations out of the remaining pastry and place on top of the tarts.
8. Place in the oven until golden brown – about 20 minutes.