Saturday, 20 December 2008

Eggless & Nutless Chocolate Cupcakes

Trust my youngest daughter to come up with a baking challenge for me. She said she needs 5 cupcakes to take to school for their Christmas party. But one of her classmates is allergic to eggs, nuts, and peas (she spelled it as 'pees' hahaha!). So I have to find a suitable cupcake recipe that is not only eggless but nutless as well (I seem to remember someone like that - hehehe!).

I remembered reading something about the celebrity chef Giorgio Locatelli concocting all sort of non-allergenic recipes for his daughter who is suffering from allergies to a number of food stuff. Thankfully Google yielded his recipe for an eggless and nutless chocolate cake. I just adapted it to cupcake sizes and reduced the baking time.

It came out quite nice actually in a non-rich cake sort of way. I baked it the night before my daughter took it to school. Come morning I took a bite of one and realised that it was not sweet enough and needed a sugar boost. So the next few minutes saw me frantically beating a chocolate icing worthy enough of this recipe. It was really hectic. My daughter was almost out of the door and I was still desperately trying to smear icing on the cupcakes!

Thank goodness the feedback from her classmates were quite positive. In fact, the teachers asked for some as well.

Eggless & Nutless Chocolate Cupcakes

450 g  plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
350 g  caster sugar
300 ml  [scant 1 1/4 cups] water
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
125 ml  [1/2 cup] vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
  2. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into another bowl.
  4. Slowly add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  5. Pour into lined cupcake/muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or a skewer poked in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely in wire racks.
  7. Add chocolate icing on top.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

1/2 cup unsalted or slightly salted butter - softened to room temperature
1 1/3 cups icing sugar (confectioner's)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Sift the icing sugar and cocoa powder onto the softened butter in a bowl. Beat until smooth.
  2. Add the double cream and vanilla. Beat until well mixed.
  3. Pipe or swirl on top of cupcakes.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Autumn Pasta

Pasta Broccoli

Tenderstem broccoli has been in supermarket shelves of my local supermarket for quite sometime now but it's only recently that I got to try it. It wasn't hard to convince me since I like the regular broccoli. This tenderstem is a cross between Chinese kale and broccoli. Its appearance is similar to the Chinese gai lan with a slender and tender stem and a darker colouring than broccoli.

October's recipe in our BBC GoodFood calendar has this pasta recipe using the tenderstem. I've been eyeing it for a full month before I organized all the ingredients. And stupid me, even when I was mixing the herbs and pine nuts, did not realise I was making a rough pesto. Duh!

This dish is a welcome change to our usual spag bol, meatballs, or baked pasta that we have week in-week out. I must say it's quite healthy, too, what with those dark green tenderstem, herbs, and pine nuts.

Autumn Pasta

1 garlic clove - finely chopped
25 g  toasted pine nuts - chopped
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
25 g  parmesan - coarsely grated
200 g  tenderstem broccoli
100 g  Chanterelle or chestnut or other wild mushrooms - sliced
2 slices Parma ham or streaky bacon - cut in long strips
175 g  spaghetti
  1. Chop finely half of the tenderstem broccoli and slice the rest in half diagonally.
  2. Drop the chopped tenderstem in a pan of boiling water, cook for 2 minutes. Drain and put into a bowl.
  3. Add in the parmesan, pine nuts, garlic and parsley into the cooked tenderstem.
  4. Drizzle 3 Tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well.
  5. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions but 3-4 minutes before the end of cooking time add in the sliced tenderstem.
  6. While the spaghetti is cooking, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan. Fry the parma ham or bacon then drain on some paper towels.
  7. Add mushrooms to the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes. Season with pepper.
  8. Drain the spaghetti and sliced tenderstem in a colander. Return to the pot and toss with tenderstem pesto and and the mushrooms.
  9. Serve onto warmed bowls topped with the crisp parma ham or bacon.