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.
During our stay in Madrid, Boyfriend and I visited Cupcake Madrid – the first cupcakery I’ve ever been in!
As soon as we walked through the door, we were greeted with the intoxicating aroma of butter, flour, sugar and vanilla as cupcakes cooked in the back of the shop.
As it was late October, we chose to Halloween-themed cuppies – one spider and one bat. Both of the cupcakes were chocolate flavoured – the spider was coated in a delicious chocolate buttercream and coated in chocolate sprinkles with liquorice legs and jellybean eyes, whereas the bat was topped with vanilla buttercream and topped with a cute bat decoration.
Unfortunately, the bat cupcake didn’t make it back to the hotel room intact. Boyfriend made me run through the station with only one shoe on for a train we missed anyway. During this mad process the cupcake bag was swinging from side to side with my precious cupcakes getting bashed about inside the box.
Time for more Halloween fun! These cookies take a basic butter biscuit recipe to a whole new level to create scary bloodshot eyes which burst and spurt out ‘blood’ when you bite into them. These are perfect for a Halloween party, or even just to impress your friends.
Be careful when spooning on the jam – if you add to little, you will lose the gory blood-spurting effect and if you add to much, the jam will break through the cookie dough in the oven and you won’t be able to top with the icing.
This recipe yields around 12 cookies
1tsp vanilla extract
Strawberry or raspberry jam
Blue/green/brown and red food colouring
Something round and black – I used raisins which weren’t ideal, but all I had
1. Heat the oven to 175C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add ¾ of it to the butter mixture, as well as the vanilla extract and mix well. Keep the rest of the whisked egg to one side.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the cream mixture and beat until just incorporated.
3. Roll the cookie dough out onto a lightly floured surface so it is around 1cm thick. Cut out as many circles as you can with a cutter about 5cm wide – ideally, cut out an even number of circles. Place the cookies on a baking sheet.
4. Place around 1tbsp of your preferred jam in the middle of half of the cookies. With a small brush, coat the edges of the cookies topped with jam with the remaining egg. Place each empty cookie on top of each filled cookie and press down gently so that they stick together, but no obvious finger marks are visible. Place in the oven for around 20 minutes, until the edges of the cookies just begin to brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
5. When cooled, mix icing sugar and water together until you have quite a thick paste. With the back of a spoon cover most of the raised side of the cookie with the white icing. Make sure you leave a tiny bit to one side.
6. To create the iris, add a few drops of blue/green/brown colouring to some icing sugar and a couple of drops of water until you have a dry, thick dough-like substance you can roll. Separate the icing into 6 even balls. Flatten them until you have roughly round circles and stick in the middle of the icing whilst still dry.
Take the item you have chosen to be the pupil, dip the back of it into the white icing you set to one side and stick on the middle of the iris.
7. Dip a toothpick into some red food colouring and decorate the whites of the eyes with wobbly lines to create veins for the bloodshot effect.
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?
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
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp butter
1 clove of garlic
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.
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.
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.
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
1tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1tsp vanilla extract
80ml double cream
1tsp vanilla extract
200g icing sugar
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.