Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello friends,

Thanks for joining me today. This week I’m writing  from my adorable vintage caravan, parked in a delightfully shady spot by our local lake. My beautiful mother has been visiting and through an unexpected twist of circumstances, we find ourselves alone having a mini three day retreat. Oh what bliss.

Although we both have very different personalities, we are like peas in a pod with our love of solitude, reading and air-conditioning. I packed a month’s supply of books, pens and journals into my vintage leather Mary Poppins – esq carpet bag and have been enjoying uninterrupted time thinking, reading, writing, praying and processing. Exactly what every introvert needs to refuel. And yes, I am feeling a bit spoiled. And grateful.

I am currently working through three brilliant books for creatives.

 The Artist Way , by Julia Cameron, who encourages the practice of writing daily ‘morning pages’ to unlock creative block. 

Unlocking the Heart of the Artist by Matt Tommey, who has inspired me to pursue my God given creativity more than anyone else, and  

Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson, who started the worldwide KIKKI K stationary empire. She asks brilliant questions to unclog the creative heart and dream big. 

‘What would you do if you had all the time, money, resources and support you needed and you could not fail?’ 

Of course all of these books require their own journals for dreaming and processing, so in addition to my regular journal, I have quite the collection of  private diaries. I have always loved writing and having a few days without the kids to complete entire thoughts and (gosh!) even write them down, has been marvellously indulgent.

I find people’s life stories so inspiring. In my vinty bag I also brought along an autobiography I am reading by the one and only Bono, of U2 fame, who incidentally picked up his infamous nickname from the local hearing aid shop in Dublin called Bono Vox. Classic. 

Along for the ride I threw in a couple of inspirational recipe books. I love to pour over every styled cake photo, fuelling my dream to one day publish my own cupcake and vintage styled dessert table book. 

You may have picked up that my ideal retreat involves, or rather does not involve a lot of activity. While I did bring my swimmers, and Mum and I talked bout dipping into the beautiful tea tree lake within eye sight of our little glamp, I highly doubt I will be inspired enough to actually do it. Walking up to the local surf club for my morning coffee and occasional gourmet bacon and egg burger is about the extent of my interest in doing. I would much rather be alone with my books. 

And now, Ho Ho Ho. Let’s get onto these Christmas cupcakes. Let me tell you something, they are so easy to make it’s ridiculous. Nothing complicated here. Using half flour and half almond meal, with added coconut cream, they have an authentic, all natural flavour punch without being too sweet. Topped with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of coconut, these little cuppies really are delicious. If you love rafaello chocolates, you will definitely want to whip up a batch for your next Christmas party. 

Rafaello Almond & Coconut Cupcakes


Based on the addictively delicious Rafaello chocolates, this light cupcake is made with flour and almond meal, coconut cream and a delicious vanilla cream cheese buttercream.
Servings 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Vanilla Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 125 grams butter, cubed
  • 125 grams cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 cups icing mixture, sifted This is an approximate amount, you may need more or less, depending on consistency of frosting
  • 1/4 cup cream, to add to frosting if it gets too stiff.
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, extra
  • 14 rafaello chocolates

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 16 cupcake liners
  • In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, beat together eggs, oil, coconut cream, water and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, sugar, bicarb soda and baking powder. Add coconut and mix with a spatula until well combined.
  • Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix and whisk until well combined.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners until each is 2/3 full.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes or until firm to touch.
  • Leave on a wire rack to cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with coconut and place a rafaello chocolate on top.

Vanilla cream cheese frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese on med to high for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Turn mixer to lowest setting and carefully add icing mixture a few tablespoons at a time until the frosting is thick and pip able You may need to add dashes of cream if it gets too thick..
  • Add vanilla bean paste and mix together for 30 seconds.
  • Pipe onto cool cupcakes. Sprinkle with extra coconut. Add rafaello chocolate.

Next week I’m hoping to do a little Christmas table shoot. Ideally I’d love to find a Christmas tree farm or at least some small pine trees to use for my location, but unfortunately they aren’t really a sub tropical thing and banana trees just don’t cut it for the Christmas vibe. Never mind, I’m sure I will find something.

I also have a lovely red velvet cupcake to get us right into the festive mood, so over the next few weeks I will bring you all you need for your Christmas cupcake baking. 

For now though, excuse me while I make the most of my last day of reality denial. I think I have time for one more chapter of the dream journal and a pot of tea before we pack up and head home. 

Until next week,

Love Anna xx

Rafaello Almond & Coconut Cupcakes


Based on the addictively delicious Rafaello chocolates, this light cupcake is made with flour and almond meal, coconut cream and a delicious vanilla cream cheese buttercream.
Servings 16 cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup plain flour, sifted
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

Vanilla Cream Cheese Buttercream

  • 125 grams butter, cubed
  • 125 grams cream cheese
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 3 cups icing mixture, sifted This is an approximate amount, you may need more or less, depending on consistency of frosting
  • 1/4 cup cream, to add to frosting if it gets too stiff.
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, extra
  • 14 rafaello chocolates

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 16 cupcake liners
  • In a medium bowl, using a hand whisk, beat together eggs, oil, coconut cream, water and vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, almond meal, sugar, bicarb soda and baking powder. Add coconut and mix with a spatula until well combined.
  • Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mix and whisk until well combined.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners until each is 2/3 full.
  • Bake in a moderate oven for 18 minutes or until firm to touch.
  • Leave on a wire rack to cool. Frost with cream cheese frosting, sprinkle with coconut and place a rafaello chocolate on top.

Vanilla cream cheese frosting

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, using a paddle attachment, beat together butter and cream cheese on med to high for a few minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Turn mixer to lowest setting and carefully add icing mixture a few tablespoons at a time until the frosting is thick and pip able You may need to add dashes of cream if it gets too thick..
  • Add vanilla bean paste and mix together for 30 seconds.
  • Pipe onto cool cupcakes. Sprinkle with extra coconut. Add rafaello chocolate.

3 comments

  • Love to see your vintage van glamping set up. A reason to do it again for a photo ????
    These definitely look like my cup of tea!
    Just caught up on reading your last handful of blogposts. What a feast!
    Love your quirky writing my friend. Keep practicing for that book idea ????

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thanks so much dear friend. So happy you have been enjoying the read xx

  • Oh Yum Anna. These look great! The icing looks so good with the Rafaello’s!!! Your mini getaway sounds delightful! Enjoy!!!xo

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