Friday, 24 February 2012

Gardening Dreams

Yesterday was a really beautifully warm day. I've designed my garden plan, ordered my seeds and a brand new windowsill propagator, and I couldn't wait to get started. Except... my seeds haven't arrived yet.

Nevertheless, there were still signs of Spring all around.

The chives were springing up, and the parsley has miraculously survived the winter!

Crocuses were opening in the flower bed and tulips were pushing up their green spikes.

Another winter miracle, my Romanescue broccoli, seems to be producing a flower head. It did nothing all last Summer, and I was too lazy to dig it up. Do I dare home my laziness might reward me?

 The Swiss Chard is coming back to life after the frost.
 And the rhubarb is pushing through! I had to search hard for this one!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Cookie Monster Cupcakes

It was my husband's birthday yesterday. Last week, he sent me an email, with a birthday request: Please could I have these for my birthday? He'd found a photo of cookie monster cupcakes on the Internet, and thought they were the coolest cakes ever.

It so happens that his birthday coincided with my half term, so I have had some extra baking time this week. So I spent some of this time making the requested cupcakes.

The recipe starts, confusingly, with the decoration. I melted white chocolate and dropped it onto parchment paper to make the eyes. When these were set, I then melted dark chocolate and dripped it onto the eyes. I then dyed some coconut (approximately 200g at a guess) blue with food colouring. I spread this out onto a tray on greaseproof paper to dry.

For the sponge cupcakes, I used the recipe here:, which uses natural yoghurt. I'm not sure about the science of it, but they taste really good, although I omitted the poppyseed. I didn't think they would work with the coconut.

When the cakes had cooked and cooled, I used more blue food dye (to make 12 cupcakes, I used 3/4 of a bottle) to dye some buttercream icing.

The comes the tricky bit: the assembly. You spread the icing onto the cupcakes, quite thickly. Then, working quickly, you turn each cupcake over and dip it in a bowl of the blue coconut, so that it sticks to the icing. When I had done this, I put them into the fridge to cool and set a bit. Then you need to cut a mouth out - and I needed to actually remove a chunk of cake. I halved some smallish chocolate chip cookie biscuits, trimming off the edges to get them into the mouths, and stuffed these into the cookie monster mouth. Finally, I placed the eyes on, making sure they were suitably wonky.