Let’s Be Pen Pals

Good morning Lovelies,

How was your week? What a treat to see the sun poke his shy head out of the clouds, after so many months of constant rain. It was quite novel hanging the washing out on the line and being able to bring it back in again fully dry.  I even managed to get to the bottom of my extra large washing baskets for the first time in an embarrassingly long while. The joy is in the small achievements folks, or so they say.

I was busy running around doing the usual Mama Bear things this week and totally forgot about the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. I adore our beloved monarch and was quite gutted to discover I’d missed the Trooping of the Colour on Thursday night. I admire Her Majesty and believe she deserves every honour given to her.

Can you imagine staying in the same job for seventy years, a job which encompasses almost every facet of your life, and dictates what you can and can’t do. There is little to no room for personal expression, following your own dreams and passions, or any option to walk away if it all gets too much. Actually, now that I think about it, that sounds an awful lot like motherhood. 

The major difference of course, is that the Queen lives in a palace, never has to cook her own meals or wash up, has servants for absolutely everything and is the only human being on the planet who looks fabulous in every single bright colour. Oh, and she is the most important person in the room all the time. Can you imagine!?

Our Queen knows what it’s like to do the same thing day in and day out, year after year. She never wavers in her responsibilities. She constantly puts the needs of the Commonwealth before her own, despite the personal cost. She gives her best, when the world is watching and also, I imagine, even when it’s not. Her life is one of sacrifice and duty for the good of others. There is no other option for her, and ironically, this was never a life she chose. This was not meant to be her destiny. How nobly she has embraced it all.

What a woman.

This weekend I hope to catch up on all of the Jubilee glitz and glamour. If I’d had my wits about me earlier in the week I would have baked my favourite London Fog cake. I have been wanting to share this recipe for years, so, in honour of Her Majesty, I think I will still do it, even if it is a week late. 

Meanwhile, let me encourage you to whip up a batch of these decadent cupcakes. This is a subtle coffee cupcake, with creamy dulche de Leche caramel filling,  topped with smooth chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. It’s super easy to make your own caramel, but if you want to buy it, I recommend Bon Maman . Always eat your cupcakes at room temperature for maximum ooh ahhh factor. 

Choc Caramel Cupcakes


Bringing together two of the most delicious flavour combos, chocolate and caramel, these cupcakes are a marriage made in heaven. Silky smooth caramel filling inside a subtle coffee infused cupcake, topped with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. You're welcome.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup very strong hot coffee Make this first and leave to cool slightly while making the rest of the mixture.
  • 2 cups plain flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar

Dulche de Leche

  • 1 can condensed milk or 1 jar of store bought caramel sauce To make your own dulche de leche, remove the label from the condensed milk and place the can in a pot full of simmering water, ensuring it is always fully emersed. Simmer for 3 hours.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • 1 200g block dark chocolate Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in microwave. Set aside.
  • 6 eggs, separated You will only need the whites.
  • 1 1/4 cups castor sugar
  • 1 1/4 blocks (300g) salted butter, cubed and at room temp.
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake papers
  • In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, mix together eggs, oil, sour cream and vanilla.
  • Add slighlty cooled cup of coffee. Whisk until well combined. Sit aside.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, bicarb, baking powder and sugar. whisk until combined.
  • Gently pour wet mixture into dry ingredients. Whisk until well combined.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake papers until each is 3/4 full.
  • Bake in moderae oven for 18 minutes or until cupcakes are slightly brown on top and firm to touch. Cool in pans on a wire wrack.
  • When cupcakes are cold, use a small sharp knife to cut a large triangle out of each cupcake. Discard (you know I mean eat!) scraps.
  • Put dulche de leche caramel into a piping bag and cut the tip about 2cm from the tip. You can add a piping tip if you want to be a fancy pants, otherwise the bag will be fine. Fill each cupcake generously with caramel.

Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

  • Put 2cm (ish) into a medium saucepan and simmer.
  • Separate eggs and put egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Discard yolks or make lemon curd!
  • Add sugar to egg whites. Whisk by hand until well combined. Put bowl over simmering water. Leave until sugar has dissolved and you can't feel the grains between your fingers. It will feel like gross snot, and this is what youy want!!
  • Put of bowl egg white/ sugar mixture onto stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on high until soft peaks form, about 5 - 8 minutes.
  • Turn mixer onto low. Add butter 2 or 3 pieces at a time. Do this until all pieces are fully incorporated into the mixture. This will take up to ten minutes, so be patient.
    *Note: SMBC takes a good while to make and goes through some weird stages, including turning from divine meringue peaks to soupy slop, then curdled scrambled eggs. This is all completely normal and you just need to persevere until it magically becomes silky smooth buttercream and your life will never be the same again.
  • When your SMBC is firm and delicious, keep the speed of the mixer on low and slowly scrape the melted chocolate into the bowl. Try not to eat it all at this point. It is crazy delicious. Pipe onto cupcakes and top with a dollop of caramel. Eat at room temp. Enjoy.x

Notes

SMBC troubleshooting:
  • If your buttercream is taking foreverrrr...like over half an hour to come together, it is most likely affected by the weather. It hates humidity almost as much as I do, and wayyy prefers a cool environment. Pop the bowl of buttercream into the fridge for ten minutes and then try again. It should come together now that it's happily chilled. 

Whatever you have planned this weekend, I hope you spare a few minutes to check in on some of the Jubilee celebrations. The Queen’s life may seem a world away from us mums giving our all for our families, but the more I think about it, the more I start to see the shimmer of jewels on our own heads. Stand tall precious mama, and know that you are in great company when you give your life in the service of others. I think we actually have it better than the Queen, because at the end of the day we get to hug our people, and she doesn’t, unless of course they are teenagers.

Until next week,

Love Anna xx 

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