Bonfire Cupcakes

I have seen lots of people make a version of these on Pinterest and always wanted to have a go myself as they are really fun, but also delicious to eat.

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Keeping with the bonfire theme, I have used dark brown sugar in the moist chocolate cakes and a little cinnamon too, giving a toasty, warm flavour.

To make these extra decadent, I have used a rich cream cheese frosting which is really delicious with the chocolate cakes.  It will crust a little once piped onto the cakes, so they shouldn’t be too messy to eat!

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The firewood sticks are made from Mikado and the flames leaping into the air are melted boiled sweets.  To make these extra kitsch, I have added a toasted marshmallow on a stick too.

These were very popular with the children and very simple to make – a perfect Bonfire Night treat.

Ingredients:
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g light brown sugar
110g dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp coffee extract
375ml sour cream
250g plain/all-purpose flour
90g cocoa powder
2tsp cinnamon
1.5tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt

Cream cheese frosting:
1 x 280g pack of room temperature cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
125g room temperature butter
2tsp vanilla extract
425g sieved icing sugar
red, orange and yellow food colouring – I used blossom dust

Flames, firewood and toasted marshmallows:
Red, orange and yellow boiled sweets – I used Fox’s Glacier Fruits
1 -2 70g boxes of Mikado biscuits – I used the ones with Daim
12 cocktail sticks and mini marshmallows
Autumn leaf sprinkles – optional

Bonfire Cupcakes

Method:
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/356°F and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases

In a large bowl, sieve together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, salt and baking soda and set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using an electric whisk – cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time.

While still mixing, add the eggs one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporating before adding the next one.  Beat in the vanilla and coffee extracts.

With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour, followed by one third of the sour cream and so on until just combined.  If you add the sour cream all at once, the mixture will curdle.  It will come back when you add the flour, but you will lose some of the lightness.

Using an ice cream scoop to ensure all the cakes are the same size, plop the mixture into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cocktail stick comes out clean.  Leave to cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese, vanilla and sieved icing sugar together until smooth.  Split the frosting into three and add the food colouring to colour each third yellow, red and orange.  Just add a little at a time until you get the colour you want,  I used edible blossom dust, but the gel colours you can get work well too.

Pile the frosting into a piping bag, keeping the colours as separate as you can.  You are wanting a marbled effect, so a little mixing of the colours is fine.  You can use a special piping bag with chambers if you wish.  Leave the piping bag in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.

To make the flames, put the oven on at around 200°C/400°F

Place the different coloured sweets into plastic bags and bash them into crumbs with a mallet or rolling pin.  Place little piles of them onto a lined baking sheet – red at the bottom, then orange and yellow at the top – see below:

Candy flames

Place in a hot oven for around 5 minutes, or until the pieces melt – just keep an eye on them.  When they have melted, take them out and using a cocktail stick, swirl the colours up to create flames.  Work quickly as they cool down in minutes.

To assemble, pipe a swirl of the orange, red and yellow frosting onto each cake, break up the Mikado sticks for firewood and stud each cake with flames, breaking them for different heights.

Bonfire Cupcake

Finally, skewer cocktail sticks with one or two mini marshmallows and using a firelighter or lighted match, scorch the marshmallows to toast them, before placing onto each cake.  I also added a few autumn leaf sprinkles too.

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Just the thing for a bonfire party.

Gin and Tonic Friands

When I purchased the black cherry flavoured icing sugar from The Vanilla Valley recently, I couldn’t resist adding some gin and tonic flavoured icing sugar to my order.  The obvious recipe of choice for me was friands as icing sugar is one of the main ingredients.

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These are alcohol free, so would be good to take to work for a bake sale, but I did try adding real gin to the glaze with great results.

In reality, these friands are lemon friands and would be just as good with ordinary icing sugar. The tart lemon curd in the middle cuts through the sweetness and I couldn’t resist topping with a little candied lemon slice for a bit of kitsch.

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I think it’s important to use a decent quality lemon curd here too, some of the very cheap versions taste like washing up liquid.  I chose Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference which wasn’t the most expensive one, but I did avoid the cheapest.  Of course home made is always best if you can get hold of some.

G&T Friands

Ingredients:
250ml egg whites – I use Two Chicks pasteurised egg whites
250g Sugar and Crumbs Gin and Tonic flavoured icing sugar
130g ground almonds
100g plain/all-purpose flour
Zest of one small lemon
165g butter – melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing the tin
1/2 jar of good quality lemon curd

To decorate:
1 cup of gin and tonic flavoured icing sugar, sieved
Water (or gin!)
Candied lemon slices

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Method:
Pre heat the oven to 180°C/350°F and brush the friand pan with melted butter

Whisk the egg whites until broken down and frothy.

Fold in the almonds, flour and zest until just incorporated and stir in the cooled, melted butter.

Divide the mixture equally between the cups in the tin.

I used a piping bag to squeeze a little lemon curd into each cake, but you could easily do this with two teaspoons.  You only need a small amount – around a teaspoon.

Bake the friands for around 25-30 minutes.  They will rise up a little and become golden. Leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes in order to firm up a little, before leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.

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To decorate, mix the icing sugar with a small amount of water (or gin if using) to make a fairly thick, but still runny, glaze. Drizzle over the little cakes and stud each one with a candied lemon slice.

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Definitely an unusual alternative to afternoon tea, but a welcome one.

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