Butterbeer cupcakes

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In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan – I got the first book from Santa back when I was nine and have been hooked ever since. I re-read the series every year, sometimes going chronologically like a normal person but often working my way through in a bizarre order – favourite to least favourite (in case you’re wondering, that means going 7-6-3-4-1-2-5).

So when we were planning our trip to America, it was a no brainer that we would head down to Florida and spend a bit of time in Orlando. Why? Because it’s the home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – a section of Universal Studios Orlando that brings the books to life. Literally. As you step through the gates it’s like entering another world – from the cobbled streets and twisted chimneys to the snow covered rooftops dotted with owls, everything looks just as you would imagine.

Kevin and I spent a day trawling through the stores, going on the rides and tasting every wizarding treat the park had to offer. But the best thing? Trying butterbeer for the first time. It was delicious – a kind of buttery tasting creaming soda… but a million times better. It’s rich, sweet and only to be drunk in moderation – as we learned the hard way after throwing back two in quick succession, then having to spend an hour sitting in the courtyard of the Three Broomsticks while the nausea passed! Here’s a glimpse of my first taste of butterbeer, perched on a windowsill outside Honeydukes:

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Since returning from our trip, both Kevin and I have been dreaming of having butterbeer again – unfortunately, getting the real deal means another trip to the other side of the world. So this weekend I decided to try and bring a little bit of Harry Potter magic to Auckland by making a batch of rich butterbeer cupcakes, washed down with a homemade version of the wizarding drink itself.

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Banana split cupcakes

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Have you noticed how as the weather cools down, your preference in food totally changes? While just a week or so ago I was happy having salads for lunch and wraps for dinner, the though now makes me cringe – bring on soup and casseroles! The same goes for desserts. While ice cream sounds great in the summer months, I have no interest in it come autumn and winter.

Take an ice cream sundae for example. While I love the flavours of a good banana split, I can’t bear the thought of eating one at the moment – cold banana, freezing ice cream… no thanks! But what if you could make a warmer version of a banana split? That would make a great winter treat, right?

Well, that’s exactly what today’s cupcake is – a banana split in cupcake form! I deconstructed the flavours of a banana split and rebuilt it as a cupcake without a scoop of ice cream in sight.

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Russian fudge cupcakes

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I’m pretty convinced that I’ve come up with the best way to enjoy your Russian fudge – in a cupcake!

While I’ve seen everything from Russian fudge flavoured yoghurt to milkshakes over the years, I’d never seen a Russian fudge cupcake. This didn’t make sense to me – the fudge has such a sweet, smooth flavour it would be great combined with cake.

I assumed someone in the big online world would agree and have already concocted a cupcake version of this sweet treat, so I started searching around. After 30 minutes or so of fruitless trawling of (what felt like) every corner of the web I came to the conclusion that such a recipe simply didn’t exist – or at least not that I would ever be able to find.

So I took it upon myself to bring this marvellous creation to life. So what exactly is a Russian fudge cupcake? It’s a fluffy, moist and light golden syrup cake, topped with ground Russian fudge icing and topped with Russian fudge crumbs. That’s right, there’s homemade Russian fudge in the icing.

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Vanilla cupcakes (Magnolia Bakery)

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I realised something this afternoon – it’s been almost three months since we got back from America and I am yet to try out some of the baking gadgets and recipe books I collected throughout the journey. What a waste! So I decide to set things straight and try something from the only recipe book I picked up during the trip – The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.

Since they’re famous for their cupcakes, it wasn’t hard to pick what I would be making – while the cookbook is packed with cake, biscuits, slice and pie recipes I just had to try a cupcake recipe first. I’ve already told you about the wonderful cupcakes we picked up from Magnolia Bakery in New York, but here’s a recap: they were light, fluffy, flavoursome and delicious. Exactly what you want in a cupcake, right?

Apparently, Magnolia Bakery’s most popular cupcakes are their classic vanilla with pink buttercream icing and sprinkles – sounds good to me! I dug out some bright pink cupcake liners, pink food colouring and confetti sprinkles and got to work.

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Hot cross suprise cupcakes

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! I hope you’re having a wonderful long weekend and that you got totally spoilt by the Easter bunny (I certainly did!)

One of my favourite things about blogging is the people you meet – whether it’s other bloggers or readers, I always love finding a note in my inbox from someone new. There are some wonderful bloggers out there, and I was lucky enough to become friends with one of them through a mutual love (read: obsession) of baking – the lovely Lydia of Lydia Bakes.

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of working with Lydia on something a bit special – an Easter collaboration post! After coming up with the idea of doing a cupcake version of the classic hot cross bun, we worked together on every part of the process – from conception and design to baking and decorating. And if you ask me, the result is pretty spectacular.

We came up with Hot Cross Surprise cupcakes – a fluffy, spiced cupcake (packed with chocolate chips instead of raisins), topped with a smear of buttercream icing and half a hollow Easter egg iced with a royal icing cross.

The special part? When you crack open the egg treats tumble out, just like the old fashioned Easter eggs!

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Creme Egg cupcakes

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Easter’s such a great time of year – despite it being autumn the weather’s still great, chocolate tastes even better when it’s shaped like an egg and a decent break from work is on the horizon. Now it’s only two weeks until Easter Sunday it’s officially time to get some seasonal baking underway!

One of my very favourite things about Easter is Creme Eggs – they’re spectacular, gooey little orbs of happiness. I totally buy into their seasonality and indulge in quite a few over the months leading up to Easter and despite this they don’t taste any less amazing on Easter weekend than they did several weeks earlier.

So I wanted my first piece of Easter baking to reflect my love of all things Creme Egg – both the chocolate and filling. With this in mind I decided to make a batch of Creme Egg cupcakes!

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