Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello Lovelies, 

How are you going? I hope you are all hanging in there with the continued lockdown. It’s been a bit of a topsy turvy ride for this mama bear, as it has for many others I imagine, but with amazing support from the school, realising and accepting my own limitations and taking some time out alone, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I think we might just make it through this with all of our sanity in tact!

One highlight over the past few weeks was finally doing this photo shoot. I have been playing around with this recipe for months. A lot of trial and error and more than a few cupcakes ended up in the bin, but that’s the name of the game. However, I am here to tell you that I have finally nailed the recipe and I am sure you will love it. 

This is essentially a moist chocolate cupcake with homemade red wine strawberry compote in the centre. To top it off, I have made a boozy red wine ganache and strawberry infused buttercream. Let me tell you, it is as delicious as it sounds. Eaten alone or with a dollop of cream, this would be the perfect lockdown dessert to lift your spirits. 

I am not really a drinker, but when I was approached by Gomersal wines, asking if I wanted a few bottles of wine to use in my cupcakes, I delightfully obliged. Their fortified vintage Shiraz was perfect for the ganache and gave an extra note to the strawberry compote. The recipe requires a few steps, but none of them are difficult.  Don’t be put off by the fancy piping. I just do that to make my little works of art look more dramatic! My advice would be to grab an open star tip and just pipe a swirl on top of the cupcakes. You don’t even need to use both the ganache and the strawberry buttercream if you don’t want to, but I highly recommend you do. The combination of flavours is insane.

Red Wine Chocolate and Strawberry Cupcakes

A delicious, moist chocolate cupcake with homemade red wine and strawberry compote centre, red wine ganacehe and strawberry buttercream on top.
Cook Time 18 minutes



  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 shot hot coffee mix coffee with water to make 1 cup
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup 100% pure cocoa Woolies has pure cocoa


  • Pre heat oven to 180C
  • Line two muffin trays with 18 cupcake liners
  • In a medium bowl, use a hand whisk to beat eggs, vanilla, sour cream and oil
  • Add coffee mixture, whisk until combined
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, sugar and cocoa
  • Carefully pour wet mixture into dry mixture. If it looks too thick, add dashes of cream
  • Using a hand whisk, beat until well combined
  • Use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners until each is 2/3 full.
  • Bake in moderate oven for 17 minutes or until firm to touch. Leave on wire wrack to cool
  • When cool, use an apple corer to remove centre of cupcakes. Fill carefully with starwberry compote. Top with red wine ganache and buttercream

Strawberry Compote

  • Rinse a punnet of stawberries, hull and chop.
  • Put strawberries into a medium saucepan on low heat and splash with red wine. Do not put too much in, as you don't want to cover the strawberries. Keep an eye on it and let simmer for about half an hour. Add more wine if it looks too dry. Set aside to cool. (It will smell delicious!)

Red wine Ganache

  • Pour 1 cup of Shiraz into a small saucepan. Simmer on low for about half an hour or until liquid reduces and you have 1/2 cup. Measure to make sure it's accurate.
  • Finely chop one 200g block of dark chocolate. Put in heatproof bowl.
  • Ensure wine reduction is simmering. Pour carefully over chocolate and stir slowly with rubber spatua until smooth. If lumps remain, gently reheat ganache over a saucepan of water or double boiler. Leave at room temperature until firm enough to pipe onto cupcakes. You want it to be the consistency of peanut butter.

Strawberry Buttercream

  • Wash and hull one punnet of strawberries. Put into blender and pulse until smooth.
  • Put strawberry liquid into a small saucepan and simmer until reduced to about half. Mixture should thicken slightly. Set aside until cool.
  • In an electric mixer, beat 125g butter until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Turn mixer onto low and add approx 2 cups icing mixture (pink bag) a little at a time. When mixture gets too thick, add spoonfuls of the strawberry puree. Keep alternating icing mixture and puree until you have the desired consistency. You will use most or all of the puree. Add a few drops of pink food colour gel if desired. Pipe icing onto cupcakes.

These photos came alive in my mind months before I finally had the opportunity to breathe them into reality. Have you ever had an idea burning in your imagination waiting patiently to come to fruition? Like a diligent bowerbird I was slowly gathering bits and pieces from my prop collection and piling them up into a vintage vignette on the table. (Not a very practical thing to do mind you.) I had such a clear vision of what I wanted the shoot to look like…olde world, romantic, victorian, rich in colour, with a hint of Marie Antoinette opulence. Exquisite dried blooms, rich red velvet, crochet doilies and an old floral print were key elements in bringing the look together.

I confess I felt a bit like Michelangelo when I set it all up…well…in my own small way. Ha Ha! The sense of achievement was grand indeed. Mothers, you know what I’m talking about! The thrilling sense of accomplishment when you have actually done something creative that doesn’t have anything to do with cleaning up mess. Even though I have been mothering for 26 years so far, in some ways I still feel caught in the whirlwind of life with not so wee babes. Constant interruptions, foggy brain, not knowing whether I am Arthur or Martha half the time. In my world, to actually get this photo shoot done was akin to painting my own Sistine Chapel I assure you! Ha ha!

So sisters, these little photos, these pieces of me express far more that just pretty pictures. They are tangible visions of the life that exists in the secret places of my heart and imagination. Sometimes I feel like Mary Lennox alone in her secret garden of the mind. A place where I run free in the beauty of my own ideas and creations. On those occasions when I can bring them to life my heart soars. The joy is real. 

Next week I am going to share one of my staple biscuit recipes. Chock full of freshly roasted nuts, toasted coconut, dates and other goodies, it’s the ultimate bushwalker snack. There is rarely a week where I don’t make these for my family. But the best part is that I recently found the coolest old rusty piece of tin (a food photographer’s dream) and it makes the perrrrfect backdrop for photographing my biscuits! Ha ha! I am sooo excited about it! (cheap thrills I know. ) 

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Don’t forget to leave a comment and share some of the creative dreams that swirl around in your mind!

Lots of love,

Anna xx



  • Love your photos so much. Definitely want you to shoot a dark & moody old rose kind of pic for that book cover one day ?This richness is exactly what I have in mind?

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Yay! Im definitely up for that Barb! Thanks for your comment xx

  • Loving your creations, your adventures, your reality of the motherhood journey and life in general! Thanks for the beauty and sharing your incredible gift of creativity with me today. Love the dark and moody vibe. I don’t know how you keep coming up with these themes but you never cease to amaze me. Bless you Anna. You are a gem!

    • A
      Anna Hogbin

      Thank you so much precious Katie. Your words are such an encouragement! xx

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