Aundria Clare

Loving everything beauty and cuisine.

Brownie Cupcakes

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With my finals approaching, I took to the kitchen to figure out my next baking creation. I will do anything to procrastinate my studies. At least baking is more rewarding than mindless daytime television.

I wanted to make something a little special, and recently my boyfriend and I have become obsessed with these silly (sometimes dry) Starbucks Cheesecake brownies, so I thought, I must make brownies. Instead of going all the way to a cheesecake brownie, I decided to work on perfecting my brownie base, and this is what I came up with!
They are succulent, and just the right mix of sweet and chocolatey mmm.

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup oil
1/2 tsp maple syrup
3 eggs
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup chocolate chips*
* I used a mix of dark and milk chocolate, any kind will work but I love dark chocolate the best ( Plus added anti-oxidants, not that it matters in a decadent recipe like this one)

First off, combine your wet ingredients (sugar, butter, syrup and oil) until smooth and then add eggs mixing after each addition

In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt).

Gradually add dry ingredients to the sugar/butter/egg mix and once incorporated add your chocolate chips.

Brownie Batter

Preheat oven to 325F

Prepare muffin tin with butter and a coat of flour, or you can always use muffin liners and simply coat with some cooking spray to help the cupcake from sticking. I prefer the first alternative, as I find cupcake liners fussy.

Baking Sheet

Messy but effective, muffin tin prep.

Fill the 12 muffin cups and bake for 24 minutes at 350F and once ready let them cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes.

To remove the cupcakes I simply flipped the muffin tray upside down, and after a couple of taps they all came out with easy. If there are a couple stubborn cupcakes, gently trace the contour of the cupcakes with a knife and try the flip trick once more.*
*These cupcakes, as they are brownie cupcakes, have flat tops! But I find they look very cute, especially decorated with a sprinkle of icing sugar.

Hope you enjoy these treats, I know my boyfriend and friends did. They recommend a cup of milk, haha enjoy!

Vegan Maple Walnut Brownie Cookies

ImageLast night, in the midst of studying, I decided to try my very first batch of vegan cookies. Although I have lots of experience with cooking vegan meals, vegan baking is a chemistry formula I wasn’t so certain I could crack.

But, nevertheless, I set off to try and come up with a skeleton vegan cookie that I could then adapt. If only I was as passionate about tax studies as I am about cookies…

After a bit of googling and a few glances through one of my favourite vegan cookbooks (reFresh by Ruth Tal), I was ready to go.

The ingredients:

1/3 cup soy milk
2 tbs Flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup Brown cane sugar*
1.5 tbs maple syrup

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup oats, ground
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup walnuts

*I was surprised to hear how many companies use animal char in the refining process, I chose Redpath sugar as they do not use any animal products in their processes (http://dev.redpathsugar.com/faqs/)

Preheat oven to 350F

To get started, I combined my ground flax seeds with the soy milk and allowed them to sit for a few minutes. This helps bind the cookies as the flax becomes very gelatinous once mixed with the liquid. Next I added the sugar, oil, and maple syrup, then mixed the wet ingredients together by hand.

In a separate mixing bowl, I sifted the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Then I began to slowly add the flower mixture into the bowl of prepared wet ingredients. Once incorporated I folded in the oat flour, followed by the walnuts.

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To bake the cookies, I lined a cookie sheet with parchment paper and rolled the dough by hand into 1″ balls. The cookies flatten out to be about 1.5″ in diameter so ensure you have enough space between your raw cookies.

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The cookies take ten minutes to bake and will begin to crack on the top once baked thoroughly. They will be soft once they are removed from the oven but I left them on the baking sheet for ten minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

This recipe made 20 cookies, and I baked them in two batches using two cookie sheets (to ensure I wasn’t placing the raw cookie dough on a hot sheet).

ImageFor my first batch of vegan cookies these came out incredible. As you can tell from the photo I couldn’t restrain myself from eating one before the photo was taken.

Enjoy 🙂

Vanilla Cupcakes with Floral Accents

Vanilla Cupcakes with Floral Accents

I came up with these cupcakes for my best friend’s baby shower. They turned out so beautiful and were a hit at the party.

To make your own floral cupcakes you will need lots of icing sugar, eggs and butter! That is 6 cups of icing sugar, 7 eggs and 1.75 cups of butter to be exact.

Flowers (Royal Icing):
– Pipping Tool with leaf and open star tips*
– 3 cups Confectioner's (Icing) Sugar
– 2 Large Egg Whites
– 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
– Red & Green food colouring
* I used the Wilton

Note: This recipe will make lots of royal icing, but extra flowers can be stored in an air tight container for another baking project.

Details:
To make the royal icing, you will need an electric mixer (Unfortunately, I have yet to realize my dream of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer so I used a simple hand held mixer). First off place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and add the lemon juice while beating the egg whites on the medium-low setting. Once the egg white/lemon juice mixer starts to form soft peaks you can begin to add the icing sugar. Change the mixer to a lower speed and continue to beat until the sugar has been completely incorporated.

Divide the mixture into two bowls to begin colouring the icing. You will probably want to reserve more icing for the main flower color and then dye the smaller batch green for the petals. The amount of food colouring you use will depend on your desired shade for the flowers! I like to add a couple of drops at a time until I achieve the shade I want.

The next step will be to make the flower shape! To prepare your working space, line a baking sheet with waxed paper so that you can easily remove the dried flowers. Begin with the main flower (use the star tip), starting from the center make a swirl shape in the form of a rose. Once you reach your desired size, close off the swirl by relieving pressure on your tool and gently pressing the end of the icing into a circular shape.

To make the petals, clean out your pipping tool and apply the petal tip. Ensuring the tip is perpendicular to your working surface begin to pipe the icing in a line to form the pedal shape and relieve pressure once you reach the desired length. To add a bit more glitter, I used green coloured sugar to give my pedals an extra umph!

Vanilla Cupcakes:
3/4 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs (room temperature)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (room temperature)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line approximately 2 muffin tins with large cupcake liners. (I like to fill my cups above the 3/4 line so I only made 18 cupcakes, but using normal tins and amounts this should yield 24 cupcakes) Also, make sure your oven rack is in the middle position 😉

Using the electric mixer (or by hand), combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Once smooth begin to add the eggs, one at a time, and mixing after each addition. In a separate bowl combine the salt, baking powder and flour. The next step will be to alternate between adding the flour and the milk, into the sugar, butter, and egg mixture. Continue to mix until no lumps remain in the batter.

Fill your cupcake tins with the prepared batter and bake for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. The finished cupcakes will rise quite significantly and will be a lovely golden colour!

Vanilla Buttercream Icing
1 cup unsalted butter
3 cups of confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Using your electric mixer combine butter and vanilla, then begin to gradually incorporate the icing sugar until you reach your desired texture. For my cupcakes I chose to not dye the main cupcake icing but if you wish you can add any food colouring at this point in the buttercream recipe.

To achieve the “perfect swirl” icing look, I used the largest open star tip on my icing tool. Once the cupcakes cooled (about 1 hour) I began to pipe the buttercream icing onto the cupcakes starting from the outside edge, and in a swirling motion reached a peak at the center of the cupcake.
[This step took me a bit of practice, and note that this technique can often use a lot of icing so prepare to make a bit extra if needed]

To decorate the cupcakes I added the flowers and pedals to the tops of the cupcakes then carefully added silver balls along the swirls of the buttercream.

Hope you have fun making these cupcakes. Once you start decorating the possibilities are endless 🙂