Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Mulled wine cupcakes

Mulled wine cupcakes with spiced mascarpone frosting

Makes 12

For the cupcakes:

150g self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
 teaspoons cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
120g butter. softened
100g caster sugar
grated zest of an orange
3 eggs, lightly beaten
75 ml red wine
60g dark melted chocolate

Pre-heat the oven to 165 degrees C/Gas Mark 3. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cupcake cases.

Using a sieve, sift the flour, spices and cocoa powder together and set aside

Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar together with the orange zest until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs a little at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of flour mix. Add the red wine in the same way, alternating with the flour mix. Mix in the melted chocolate.

Divide the mixture equally between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the frosting:

75g butter, softened
75g icing sugar
150g mascarpone cheese
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Add a splash of water to the butter, icing sugar and spices. Mix with a spatula until it comes together, then beat with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the mascarpone cheese a tablespoon at a time.

Monday, 8 December 2014

In Bruges

I spent this weekend In Bruges with Petra. We had a hitlist: Belgian chocolate, speculoos, beer, frites, moules, waffles and hot chocolate.

Chocolate was easy to take out as every other shop looked like this

and there was even a chocolate squirrel in the bread basket at breakfast.

The shops that weren't selling chocolate sold other essentials like biscuits, lace and Christmas decorations. I'm looking forward to hanging this Bosch-inspired monstrosity on someone else's tree.

Speculoos is a particular love of mine and I went to town in Juliette's Bakery, buying Sinterklaas biscuits and - a surprise favourite - wholemeal biscuits all with the signature blend of winter spices.

I even bought a recipe book and a wooden cookie stamper with a cat on it.

Petra refused the Speculoos on account of the name sounding too much like speculum, so she tackled moules instead.

We also took care of frites and beer in the same attack and particularly enjoyed this 11% house beer at De Garre.

Waffles was a botched job: Petra claims I simply dropped mine face down onto the pavement, witnesses say it was an unprovoked assault by her rucksack. Luckily the nice men at the stall gave me a fresh one and it was excellent. We also took out hot chocolate at the same time.

We left postcard-pretty Bruges for the larger but equally beautiful city of Gent where the only thing left on our hitlist was seeing some Brueghel and learning how to spell it, which we did at the Museum of Fine Arts. Ralph Fiennes would be well pleased with us.