Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

cupcakeSaturday was Jan’s birthday, and on Sunday I felt like baking… perfect timing for Jan to be able to take something in for his colleagues today. I didn’t want to make a full on cake, so I decided on chocolate cupcakes using a recipe that I’ve had for ages and is really easy to follow. I found the original recipe on BBC Food years ago, but I can’t provide you with a link because it doesn’t seem to be on there any more. Buuut I’ve adapted the recipe to suit my own purposes over the years, which means it’s mine now and posting it here without a link won’t be breaking any copyright laws, right? Right? Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:
220g butter
220 g caster sugar
220g self-raising flour OR 220g plain flour plus 1.5 teaspoons baking powder (plus half a tsp of bicarbonate of soda, if you have it)
4 eggs, beaten (mine were medium, but I’ve used large before)
15g cocoa powder
30g chocolate chips
A few drops of vanilla extract

For the frosting:
125g soft butter
210g icing sugar, sifted (the sifting is important or the frosting will have lumps of icing sugar in)
125g plain chocolate
1 tsp cocoa powder

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the cocoa powder and blend it into the other ingredients, then stir in the chocolate chips and vanilla extract.

3. Add the eggs and stir well (don’t worry if it looks a bit lumpy at this stage).

4. Gradually fold in the flour until you’re left with a thick paste that looks a bit like chocolate mousse.

5. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture into cupcake cases in a bun tray and bake for around 15 minutes until risen and bouncy when touched. The mixture makes around 24-26 cupcakes, depending on how much of the mixture you eat before it makes it to the oven (what? I know I’m not the only one that does that…). Once the cupcakes are baked, leave then to cool while you make your frosting.

Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it's the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)
Fresh out of the oven (if they look flat in this picture, it’s the camera angle. I swear they had actually risen!)

6. Melt the plain chocolate in a bowl over a pan of water (or in the microwave if you have such a thing…)

7. While the chocolate is melting, cream together the butter and icing sugar.

8. Add the melted chocolate the sugar and butter and stir everything together well.

9. Add a teaspoon of cocoa powder and stir until all the powder is properly blended in.

10. Place a teaspoon of the frosting on each cupcake and spread it with a knife (or pipe it on if you want your icing to end up looking better than mine… I preferred the less washing up option!).

Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting
Chocolate cupcakes and chocolate frosting

11. You can either leave the cupcakes as they are now or decorate them as you see fit. Apparantly, I saw fit to sprinkle stars on mine in an incredibly haphazard manner. I could claim it’s supposed to be artistic but we all know it was sheer laziness…

Seeing stars...
Seeing stars…

12. Leave the frosting to cool/set for a bit then enjoy your cupcakes!

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Frog’s legs, football and snow all in one week

You know it’s been too long since your last post when you go to WordPress only to find you’ve been logged out! (I have mine set up to keep me logged in).
In my defence though it has been a busy, busy week.

On Monday it was Jan’s birthday. He turned 30 (causing a friend of mine to say “Wow, you have an old boyfriend” when I told her. She thought he was only a year or two older than me, not 3 and a half). Thirty being a special birthday I obviously wasn’t going to let him ignore it – like he has pretty much every year since I met him! So I started asking him what he wanted to do at the end of January, and finally managed to persuade him to let me take him out for a meal. We went to a slightly more expensive than usual restaurant which we had both seen from the outside but never been in. Actually, the prices were slightly better than I thought they would be, but the total still ended up being over €100. That did include an apertif each, a bottle of wine, starter, soup, two main courses and a dessert though, so not too bad. And we tried frog’s legs. In case you were wondering no, they don’t taste like chicken! They were nice and I wouldn’t object to eating them again but it’s not something I need to do every day.
Jan has decided he’ll be having a proper party once the two of us have found a flat, so there’s still that to look forward to as well. (We are officially looking now… exciting, yes?)

On Tuesday I went out for dinner with a friend. I hadn’t seen her since before Christmas and it was sooo good to meet up. This time we went for a slightly cheaper option – a bar/restaurant type place that mostly students go to. I think it was the first place I ever went for a drink in Karlsruhe, way back in my Erasmus days. That was the same year I met my friend, so we spent some time talking about homw time has flown since then… my year abroad was 2003/2004 and now we’re three months into 2010. Unbelievable!

Wednesday was the day of the long awaited Germany-Argentina match and I was right there in the stadium! A friend of Jan’s got tickets ages ago, and since I had 2 days holiday from last year that had to be taken before the end of March I decided I would go along. Some things just have to be done at least once in a life time. The match was in Munich, so Jan hired a car and we left the house at 7:30 am to drive down there. I still can’t believe I was up that early on my day off! It took us until nearly 12pm to get to Munich (damn traffic! Damn roadworks!) so the first thing we did was go and get something to eat. I had the biggest burger I’ve ever seen! That alone would have been enough for me, but it came served with homemade potato wedges (with the skin left on. Mmmm) and salad. The best thing about it though was that the gherkins and tomatoes had been left on the side of the plate, so I didn’t have to pick them out before I could start eating. It also came with three types of sauce – ketchup, mayonaise and something that may have been mustard (I didn’t try it) all of which came in proper little jars. Excellent! We then went for a wander around town, did a bit of shopping (I got a new coat) took some photos and finally headed for the stadium. Those who watched the match on TV thought it was boring and that Germany were week, but from where I was sitting it was pretty good. Germany at least seemed to try for once (number 24 played excellently!) and I enjoyed myself, despite freezing to death the whole way throguh – the Allianz Arena is completely open and unheatable! Germany lost 1-0, which is a shame, but the goal was so pathetic that they almost deserved it. We left Munich after the match and drove back to Karlsruhe, finally arriving at just after 3 am. I’m very glad I didn’t have to work on Thursday!

Last night we were invitied to a friend’s place for a DVD evening, to celebrate Jan’s birthday. We watched Office Space, which is funny if a little strange in places. By the time we left (at just after 2am) it had started to snow. Not the nice kind of snow either, horrible little flakes that are basically just freezing rain… and all blown about by a nasty cold wind. We missed the tram as well, but luckily our friend has a car so he gave us a lift home. We went straight to bed when we got in, then woke up this morning to find it was still snowing (at least I did, it’s now 1:20 pm and Jan’s still in bed!). Snow in March is unheard of for Karlsruhe, and it’s meant to continue for the rest of the weekend. And there was me thinking Spring was on its way.

That was my week. Very enjoyable, but now it’s time to get back to the boring stuff. Housework and my dissertation are calling…

Extracts from my life

Alternative title: Can’t be bothered to write a proper post so here’s a list of whatever randomness comes into my head. With bullet points.

  • Yesterday was the boyfriend’s birthday. I can’t believe I forgot to mention that! He is now 29 (nearly 30! Next year I am sooo going to take the mick!). I didn’t get to celebrate with him though – his “company”, for want of a better word (a research centre is not exactly a company really) is involved in some trade fair in Hannover and because the project he’s working on is being presented he’s gone up there to help set up. Then he’s going to his parents for a few days so I’m all alone until Thursday. He’s been away so much lately I’m starting to feel think we might as well still be in a long distance relationship!
  • I feel a little better today. At least my sore throat has gone. Instead I just have a head that feels like it’s stuffed with wet cotton wool (you know, like too heavy and too light at the same time). And a blocked nose. But at least the sore throat has gone…
  • I made a mistake a work this morning – I forgot to send our translation memory file to a translator (don’t worry, I don’t expect you to know what that is). The mistake is fairly minor but if it hadn’t been discovered in time (which it was) and sorted out it would have meant more work for the bosses wife when the translation comes back, so obviously she was not impressed. Later my colleague and I had some training on making offers for some of the more complicated jobs we get. I ended up completely confused and now feel like an incompetent idiot. Yay!
  • Jan bought me some perfume on Saturday. It was a belated Valentine’s present, because he wasn’t here on the day itself and hasn’t had time to buy it since. I’ve wanted this perfume for ages and ages, ever since I spotted it at Newcastle airport when I went on holiday with the family, and now I have it. This makes me very happy! In case anyone was wondering, the perfume is Liberte by Cacherel.
  • I actually managed to get most of my practice portfolio done for uni – I wrote the commentary and translation difficulties section on my tram journey home. Now I just have to type them up then I can hand the thing in and get started on the scary part – the portfolio that is actually going to be assessed.
  • I was supposed to call the bank today to make an appointment for getting some forms signed. I forgot to take the card with the number on it to work with me though, and by the time I got home they were already closed. Cue more of the feeling like an incompetent idiot (I’m sensing a pattern here…)

That will do I think. I’ve managed to get a laundry slot in 20 minutes time and need to sort out what I actually want to wash. Then there’s food to cook, more stuff to pack and practice coursework to be typed up.
Am I starting to sound like a stuck record yet I wonder?…