Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

creme filled chocolate cupcakes

It is Choclette’s We Should Cocoa time again, hosted this May by the lovely Karen of Lavender and Lovage! I totally know Karen. Ok, not really, but I do feel like I do, as I “met” her on Recipezaar (ah, memories!) years ago and have followed her cooking adventures online ever since. (Her blog also convinced me to try the 5:2 diet, which is the only bloody diet I have ever been able to stick to with any consistency. Yay! But no more talk of diets, for it is time to talk sweet sugar: ) The theme for this month’s challenge is a classic: vanilla. Chocolate & vanilla. It’s a wonderful combo that tastes good, smells good, and looks good.

For my chocolate and vanilla combo recipe, I decided to fill dark chocolate cupcakes with a creamy, fluffy filling. I used vanilla paste in lieu of extract. The exotic reason for this was that I was out of extract but had paste. Ta-dah! The paste I use is equal in strength to extract (apparently they can vary), so you can substitute vanilla extract in equal measure.

Also, I near-completely failed at the ganache. I forgot to cover the bowl so most of the heat evaporated before all the chocolate had melted. I tried to salvage it the best I could (I had used the last of my chocolate and cream), but the end result was a little lumpy, as you can see from the photo (still delicious, though!). Thou shalt not make my mistake, but produce beautifully smooth and satiny ganache instead, so thou shalt!

This recipe makes 6 cupcakes – as always, it’s a small batch as there’s only TLSO and me, and we’re trying to stay human-shaped! The recipe should, however, double without problems to make 12 cupcakes.

Creme Filled Chocolate Cupcakes



50 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

100 ml hot, brewed coffee

100 ml light brown sugar, packed

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste

100 ml cake flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt



25 g butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

125 ml marshmallow fluff

1 tablespoon heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla paste

pinch of salt


Chocolate ganache:

50 g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

50 ml heavy cream


white icing or white chocolate for decorating


To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 175 C. Line six cups of a 12-cup muffin/cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Place chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a bowl; pour the hot coffee over them. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and allow to cool to room temperature.

Add light brown sugar, oil, egg, vinegar, and vanilla paste to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

Divide the batter between the lined cups. Bake in the preheated oven until just done, about 15 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

To make filling: Using a hand-held mixer, beat butter and powdered sugar for a few minutes to thoroughly combined. Add marshmallow fluff, cream, vanilla paste, and salt, and continue beating for several minutes until smooth. (I find it takes surprisingly long for the graininess of the powdered sugar to dissolve so that you get a smooth mouth-feel!)

Cut the centres out of the cupcakes (about 2/3 of the way down) using a cupcake corer, or any instrument that you can think of that makes a hole about 2 cm across.

Make a cup of tea and eat the cupcake cores.

Pipe the filling into the holes of each cupcake – you can simply use two teaspoons too. Scrape off overspills so the tops remain smooth.

To make ganache: Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Gently heat the cream in a small saucepan over low medium heat. As soon as the cream starts to boil, pour it over the chocolate, cover the bowl, and let sit for a few minutes. Whisk until smooth, and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

Drizzle or spread the ganache on top of each cupcake – dipping each cupcake top into the ganache will, of course, give the neatest result, but will be challenging as there’s not a whole lot of ganache in which to dip! As long as you manage to transfer the ganache onto the cupcake tops, you’re golden.

Transfer the cupcakes into the fridge to set the ganache.

Once the ganache has set, decorate with a simple white icing (100 ml powdered sugar + 1 tablespoon water) or melted white chocolate.


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Lemon Curd Bakewell Cake

I seem to have an endless supply of ground almonds in my cupboard – I feel like I search for recipes using ground almonds at least every other month because a bag of the stuff is nearing its best-by date. (Who, then, keeps buying more ground almonds? It’s a mystery, but all clues do point to me. There could be an “if I have to bake in order to use up something that I’d otherwise have to bin, then taking time off article writing to bake is ok” factor to it, but I confess nothing.)


I was very happy to discover the bakewell cake! It’s moist and luscious and rich and wonderful, easy to make, and uses almost a bag and a half of the ever-present ground almond! I also had about half a jar of lemon curd left over from my Easter baking extravaganza, and I figured almonds and lemons should get along swimmingly. They did. V. good.


Lemon Curd Bakewell Cake


140 g butter, softened
140 g light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
140 g ground almonds
140 g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

150 ml lemon curd

2 tablespoons almond flakes

powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 180 C. Line and butter a 15 cm x 20 cm cake tin (or alternatively, a round 20 cm cake tin). A loose-bottomed tin is easiest as this is not a cake you turn over, but I did manage to lift the cake using my carefully applied parchment paper lining!

In a bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add eggs and the extracts, mix well.

Combine ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix well.

Spread half of the batter in the tin and smooth the top. Spread the lemon curd over the batter, and then top the curd with the remaining batter. Scatter with almond flakes.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and done.

Allow to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin, dust with powdered sugar, and serve.

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Lemon Mousse Cake

Lemon Mousse CakeWell well. When I signed up for a book project last autumn, I never imagined it would simply take over my life and make sure I never had time to do anything ever ever again ever. Well ok, maybe not ever, but for months and months anyway! Luckily the deadline for the project is now looming, so I’m hopeful I’ll get my life back at some point in May. You know what I’ll do in May? Bake. Also read fiction. Heck, I might even get around to deep-conditioning my hair.


I quite daringly took some time off for Easter and managed to bake two things. Yes sirree! This lovely, light-as-a-cloud mousse cake was one of them. Wonderfully fluffy, lemony and spring-y! It’s a small cake – made in a 18cm springform pan – but I can’t see why you couldn’t double the recipe for a 24cm pan. Mind you, the cake is lovely and high, and you don’t need a huge piece, so even this small version should serve 6-8 people. Not that TLSO and I wanted to share this with anyone. We ate the whole thing between the two of us.


Note that the cake contains uncooked egg whites.


Lemon Mousse Cake (6-8 pieces)



appr. 100 g shortbread cookies

40 g butter



4 gelatine leaves (+ water)

250 ml lemon curd

3 egg whites

75 ml white sugar

175 ml heavy cream



100-150 ml lemon curd

(1 gelatine leaf, if preferred)


To make crust:

Preheat oven to 175C. Line the bottom of a 18cm springform pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the paper and sides of the pan.

Crush cookies in a food processor. Melt the butter and pour over the cookie crumbs: blend well. (If the biscuits are very buttery, you probably won’t need all the butter – mine were pretty dry and crumbly!) Press the mixture onto bottom of pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.


To make mousse:

Soften the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes. Bring a small amount of water close to a boil in a small saucepan. Squeeze out the leaves, add to the hot water and stir until dissolved. (Gelatine leaves can come in different “strengths”: the ones I use say 1 leaf per 100 ml of liquid for firm set (can be unmolded/cut neatly) – so check your gelatine leaf package to make sure)

Place the lemon curd in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the gelatine mixture.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold egg whites in the lemon curd in three additions.

In another medium bowl (but you can use the same beaters!), whip cream until peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the egg white & lemon curd mixture in three additions.

Line the sides of the cake pan with parchment paper. Pour the mousse over cooled crust. Cover and chill the cake overnight.

Remove the pan sides and parchment paper. Gently spread lemon curd over cake (you can add another leaf of gelatine to the curd too, if you want it to set and cut neatly). Chill until ready to serve.


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Brownies For Two

brownies for twoI found time to bake this week! I’m so happy! Life is better when you bake.

So, it is a brownie recipe for this month’s We Should CocoaChoclette‘s baby, hosted this time by Katie at Recipe for Perfection. The theme is – you guessed it – brownies! This recipe is in keeping with my continuing mission to come up with recipes for just two (TLSO and miself), so Brownies For Two it is! (Note that the picture shows a Brownie For One. You both get your own!)

This is not a brownie-in-a-mug-in-a-microwave recipe. I have used those recipes, too, on occasion, when I’ve needed something sweet, toot sweet, but for me, the texture of microwaved mug goodies always leave a little something to be desired. Also, I like baking (you’re shocked, I can tell). I like the whole process of measuring and whisking and sieving and stirring, and then waiting for oven magic to turn batters and doughs into baked goods. So, into the oven these go!

Brownies For Two

50 g butter

10 g semi-sweet chocolate

5 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 egg yolk

a few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

a tiny pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 160 C. Lightly butter two ramekins (8cm in diameter).

Combine all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.

Place butter and chocolate in a small saucepan and melt over low-medium heat.

Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the sugar. Whisk in egg yolk and vanilla.

Stir in the flour mixture.

Divide batter between the two ramekins.

Bake for about 22 minutes. As always with brownies, do not overbake! The toothpick should come out pretty dirty. :-)

Allow to cool; top with whipped cream or ice cream if you prefer; dig in with a spoon or a fork.


After dividing the batter between the ramekins, drop two teaspoons of peanut butter in the middle of each ramekin for a peanut butter brownie.

Or add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne to the flour mixture to make a Mexican brownie.

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Chilli Chocolate Toddy

Chilli chocolate toddyI thought I’d start this post by moaning about how work gets seriously in the way of play these days, but then I remembered I won’t have this job come January and thought better of it. ;-) (I will have a grant instead: will look good in my CV, will mean borderline poverty for six months!) Anyway! I haven’t had the time to bake much in what seems like forever. A few batches of cinnamon rolls, and that’s it really. But, as this month’s We Should Cocoa features one of my very favourite combinations, chilli and chocolate, I just had to find the time to take part! This challenge is hosted by Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen, and the entire We Should Cocoa goodness was created by Choclette and Michelle of Chocolate Teapot fame – but her blog address invariably takes me to Google sign-in page? Hmm. I hope it’s just a temporary glitch!


On to the recipe! It’s getting cold and snowy and wintery and we need something to warm us up, right? It’s hot (in more ways than one), it’s sweet, it’s spicy, it’s chocolate, and it’s alcohol – what more could you ask for really? – it’s Chilli Chocolate Toddy!


Chilli Chocolate Toddy (4 servings)


600 ml full milk

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

90 g bittersweet chocolate

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1 fresh red chilli pepper

75 ml rum

75ml brandy


Trim, halve and deseed the red chilli.

In a saucepan, combine milk, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, allspice and chilli pepper halves. Heat gently over low-medium heat, stirring often, until the ingredients have completely blended (well, save for the chilli pepper halves!) and the mixture is close to boiling point.

Remove chilli pepper halves. (Stop here and you have a wonderful hot chocolate to enjoy!  Or continue to give it an adult twist:) Whisk in rum and brandy. Pour into mugs: garnish with chocolate shavings or sprinkle with cinnamon, if preferred. Serve hot.




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Kronstadt Apple Pie

Meet the delectable Kronstadt Apple Pie, for adults! I’ve posted this recipe on Zaar some years back. I know it isn’t my original but I couldn’t remember where I got it from when I posted it on Zaar, and I still can’t remember where I got it from. If you know where I got it from, let me know!


Note that the filling needs to macerate overnight (or during the day, of course!), so plan ahead.


Kronstadt Apple Pie



100 g butter, softened

300 ml all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50 ml sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
75 ml cream

500 -700 g apples
2 tablespoons raisins
4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons rum or whisky

1 tablespoon pearl sugar


30 g butter, softened
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
a splash of rum or whisky


To make filling: Peel and core apples, cut into thin slices and put in a bowl. Add raisins, sugar and alcohol, mix well. Cover and let marinate overnight (the longer the better). Mix occasionally (so, yes, marinating during the day is more convenient!).

To make crust: Add flour, baking powder, sugar and vanilla sugar to a bowl with softened butter, mix until crumbly. Add cream and quickly mix into smooth dough. Press dough onto the bottom and sides of a buttered 24 cm pie dish. Transfer to the fridge and let cool for about 30 minutes. Drain apples (the alcohol will now be divinely sweet and appley – drink it!).

Preheat oven to 200°C. Arrange drained apple slices and raisins on the crust. Sprinkle pearl sugar on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

To make topping: Whip butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and a splash of whisky/rum, and whip until airy and slightly thickened. Pour the topping on top of the almost-baked pie and continue baking for further 10 minutes.


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Chocolate Marshmallow Trifle

Chocolate marshmallow trifleWell well, that was a break and a half! July was filled with visitors and visiting, and while many a recipe was made, none were photographed prior to eating (and certainly not after). Hence, no blogging.


Thankfully Choclette‘s chocolate challenge, We Should Cocoa, has kicked me back into gear. This time the challenge is hosted by Rebecca of BakeNQuilt, and the theme ingredient is marshmallows. Ah, marshmallows. Dreamy sugar with just a bit of something to hold the sugar in shape! I like sugar. I like marshmallows. However, I decided to go with marshmallow fluff this time, as I haven’t used it much before – I also wanted to use fresh berries from our garden, and lo, these single-serving trifles were born.


You can of course use any chocolate pudding recipe in the trifle (or even ready-made pudding for speed and convenience!), but do give this pudding recipe a try sometime! It’s simple to make, silky, rich and totally decadent. I also list the the ingredient amounts I used for the trifle itself, but the proportions are entirely up to the person assembling the trifle. I do encourage you not to skimp on the berries though: the pudding is very rich and the marshmallow fluff is very sweet, so you need freshness and a touch of tartness for the perfect balance of flavours (I used a combination of raspberries and blackcurrants – lovely!).


Dark Chocolate Pudding


2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 ml milk
200 ml light cream
30 g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
50 g semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Whisk in the milk and cream.

Place saucepan over medium-low heat and whisk occasionally, paying particular attention to the bottom and sides.

After 10 minutes or so, before it starts to simmer, the mixture should begin to thicken, enough that it will coat the back of a spoon. Add the chocolate, and continue cooking and stirring for another 2-4 minutes, until the chocolate has fully melted and the mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Chill until pudding is cool and set, about 2 to 3 hours.


Chocolate Marshmallow Trifle


for one trifle I used

2 Digestive biscuits, coarsely crumbled

2 heaping tablespoons of chocolate pudding

6 tablespoons of berries (raspberries and blackcurrants)

2 heaping tablespoons of marshmallow fluff


Place crumbled biscuit on the bottom of a glass. Top with a tablespoon of chocolate pudding; add 3 tablespoons of berries and top with a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff. Repeat layers. Top with biscuit crumbles.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.





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Chocolate Truffle Cake With Chocolate Truffle Frosting

Chocolate Truffle CakeIn this month’s We Should Cocoa Choclette hands the reigns over to Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families, and the theme is gluten free. I’m actually somewhat familiar with gluten free baking, as my brother’s wife has coeliac disease. She’s also a master baker, and the stuff she makes is always so utterly delicious I’m amazed at the pale and dry gluten free options you often see at cafes, reportedly made by professionals. Inspired by her baking skills, I’ve vowed not to disappoint her when she comes ’round for dinner and coffee, and I’m pleased to announce that she went home with this recipe! (Incidentally, this cake became my brother’s firm favourite – his wife still prefers strawberry cake over chocolate. ;-) )


This cake doesn’t use any gluten free flour substitutes: it’s completely flourless and naturally gluten free (you will want to check your powdered sugar though to make sure it’s gluten free; some brands contain a glutenous starch). The rich and fudgey cake is topped with plenty of rich and fluffy frosting – you get pretty much equal layers of the two! The cake is a dark chocolate lover’s dream, intensely chocolatey; if you prefer something a little less hardcore, just use a semisweet chocolate (~40% cocoa solids) in place of the bittersweet. This time I flavoured the cake with orange (Cointreau liqueur and zest), but cognac and whisky would work well too – or coffee!


Chocolate Truffle Cake



225 g good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

120 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces & at room temperature

5 eggs (1 whole, 4 separated)

225 ml caster sugar (divided use)

2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)

1 organic orange, zest of


Chocolate truffle frosting:

100 ml heavy cream

175 g good quality bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)

50 g unsalted butter, cut into pieces & at room temperature

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)

(cocoa powder for dusting, optional)


To make cake:

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line the bottom of a 9” springform cake tin with parchment paper. Do not butter the sides.

Melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler. Add butter and let it melt in the warm chocolate. Stir until smooth.

In a bowl, whisk the 1 whole egg and 4 egg yolks with 100 ml of the caster sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, the liqueur and orange zest and stir to combine.

In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining 125 ml of sugar. Beat until the whites hold their shape, but are not quite stiff.

Stir in a dollop of the egg whites to lighten the chocolate mixture, and then fold in the rest of the whites.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin (I leave a little mountain in the middle) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the cake is risen, the top cracked and the centre no longer wobbly. Do not overbake!

Cool the cake in its tin on a wire rack. The middle of the cake will sink as it cools. Do not worry: it’s supposed to happen. It’s why I put the cake in the oven as a little mountain, but even so, there will be a crater which will promptly get filled with chocolate truffle frosting.


To make frosting:

In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. (You thought the cream would go on top of a double boiler with the chocolate, didn’t you? ;-) )

Melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler. Add butter and let it melt in the warm chocolate. Stir until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool for a while (if it’s too warm, it deflates the whipped cream).

Add the chocolate mixture to the whipped cream and fold in. Add powdered sugar and orange liqueur, stir gently to combine.

Frost the cake. Dust the frosted cake lightly with cocoa powder for a velvety finish. Transfer to the fridge to set the frosting.

Bring to room temperature before serving – the taste is absolutely at its best when the cake is not cold, and the rich and sturdy cake a lot easier to cut (although you’ll still want to use a sharp knife rinsed in hot water to cut it neatly!).



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Banana Muffins For Two

Banana MuffinsThere was a time when I made a lot of banana recipes. I like to eat bananas when the skin is just yellow (a bit of green is ok too), and consider them totes over-the-hill once the first brown spots appear. At that point, I declared them inedible and waited for them to get overripe and black, and used them for baking. Now I share my fruit bowl with the TLSO; he likes to eat very ripe, brown-skinned bananas, so very few bananas ever make it to the overripe stage. This week, however, one banana did (it had been hiding under some apples). Get out a fork, it’s time to smash a banana!


Banana Muffins For Two


1 very ripe banana

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

¼ cup plain yogurt

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

a pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 180 C. Line two holes of a muffin pan.

In a small bowl, mash the banana. Add brown sugar, oil, yogurt and vanilla extract and mix well.

In another bowl, combine all-purpose & whole wheat flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

Divide the batter between the two muffin cups and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins test done.


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Berry Muffins For Two

Berry Muffins For TwoMy recipes-for-two saga continues! This time I wanted to make berry muffins – we still have plenty of berries in the freezer, and we better start putting them to good use before the new harvest is here! I used redcurrants, as that’s what we have the most, but any berries will work.


Berry Muffins For Two


½ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

a pinch of salt

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon beaten egg (crack an egg, beat with a fork until the yolk and the white are combined, and measure 1 tablespoon)

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon vanilla

4 tablespoons redcurrants (or other berries)


Preheat oven to 180 C. Line two holes of a muffin pan.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a measuring cup, combine egg, milk, oil and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Fold in berries.

Divide the batter between the two muffin cups and bake in the preheated oven for 17-22 minutes, or until the muffins test done.


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