Sunday, 6 Nov 2011


Posted in Yummies at 2:35 pm by betherino

Emboldened by my recent success with dessert tarts (a chocolate salted caramel tart and a peach cream cheese tart), I decided to move on to muffins. Sadly though I’ve tried a few recipes that looked awesome in pictures, I didn’t quite have the same success with the muffins. Here are the recipes I tried and the outcomes! Just a tip – for my muffins (though I actually own two muffin tins – one metal and one silicon) I used souffle cups rather than muffin cases. I find that when making muffins in large batches I prefer to use souffle cases because they hold their shape and are waxed on the inside. Also it negates the need for muffin tins, because muffin cases need to be placed in tins, and so if I’m making a large batch, I’m not limited to baking only six muffins at a time.

Click on the recipe names for the links to the original recipes!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

cream cheese pumpkin muffins
picture from The Girl Who Ate Everything

It’s fall, isn’t it? Even if our leaves are stubbornly green here in the tropics. It’s practically winter now, really, but with Halloween just over and Thanksgiving coming up, I insist that it’s the right time to eat pumpkin treats! And these cream cheese muffins were perfect (since I had leftover cheese from the peach tart). Apparently they’re a Starbucks knockoff and the recipes carried such glowing reviews that I just had to try these.

Unfortunately, because we don’t get tinned pumpkin puree here, or pumpkin pie spice, I pretty much had to roast my pumpkin from scratch and make my own spice mix. This recipe took me almost 3 hours to complete and for the results, I didn’t think it was quite worth it. They were good, don’t get me wrong, but they weren’t so mindbogglingly good that I would willingly go through three hours of toil to make them again. It was lovely though to have the smell of autumn floating through the house, but I can easily recreate that effect with a pot of orange peel, clove and cinnamon simmering on the stove.

I didn’t manage to get any pictures of this though – I forgot. Blush.

French Breakfast Muffins

Velvet Lava's French Breakfast Muffins
from Velvet Lava

These were really easy to make with ingredients that any baker worth his or her salt would have lying around the kitchen on any given day, and only took less than an hour to whip up. Makes a small batch too of about six 4cm cupcakes, perfect for a small family. The cupcakes are alarmingly blonde though – I expected a browned muffin top but they came out really light, though with a really lovely dome.

As you can see from my picture, instead of topping them with melted butter and sugar as the recipe suggests, I decided to make a cinnamon honey buttercream frosting instead. I added a couple of tablespoons of thickened cream to the mixture, wiping it over the muffins with a palette knife. It came out a little too sweet for me but I later realized when you’re eating it with the muffin the sweetness is distributed so it’s just right. I would caution you though to make sure you’re using a decent quality honey – I used a cheap Huiji one and the honey taste was a little too harsh for me.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Isabella's Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
from kokken69

If you watched Junior Masterchef as religiously as I did and fell in love with the twins, Isabella and Sofia, you’ll be thrilled to know that this recipe belongs to their family. Izzie baked these cupcakes for a Mystery Box round, and had the judges practically oozing over the table along with the lemon curd inside them! How could I resist this recipe then?

Putting the dough together

The batter was really simple, again the sort of recipe you can whip up anytime with ingredients you should always have in your pantry. Silly me though – I’d happily distributed most of the batter into my souffle cups, then realized I’d neglected to add the lemon zest. BAH. Had to pour them all back into my mixing bowl to fold in the zest. Grumps!!

Cutting holes in the muffin hearts

AS you can see these muffins turned out very blonde too. Is it just me? Is it my oven? They tasted fine though. I had to cut out the centers of the muffins for the lemon curd. Happily I got to eat all the centers too. It’s awesome being the chef.

When life gives you lemons...make lemon curd!

I need to grouse about lemons. On the telly, when you watch cooking shows, especially Nigella or Jamie, whenever they squeeze their lemons, BUCKETS of juice pour out, their lemons are soft and infinitely squeezable! WHY. WHY ARE OUR LEMONS SO HARD AND JUICELESS. And yes, I did roll my lemons energetically before cutting them in half. Plus I don’t have a juicer so I had to use a spoon to squish and press the insides of the lemons to get juice out. I ended up squeezing about three lemons to get half a cup of juice. It was some arm exercise I tell ya.

lemon curd

Just look at this beautiful sunny lemon curd. A warning though – in the recipe, they say to use a saucepan. Luckily through my many years of experience (watching cooking shows on telly, ahaha) I knew that lemon curd has to be made with a bain marie, like melting chocolate. So I put the ingredients in a bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisked it madly. When adding the eggs, which is the tricky part, I whisked them in a separate bowl first, then poured the beaten egg into the hot butter mixture very slowly and in a thin stream, whisking all the while. Otherwise you’ll end up getting cooked egg bits in your lemon curd, which is a big no no. I must have licked up more than a few spoonfuls of this lemon curd while I was making it…

Whisking egg white

The meringue part gave me a little trouble. In the recipe it calls for only 60-90 seconds under a heated grill. I gave it a good two minutes and it browned nicely, but when I tasted some of it (I’d put my extra meringue mixture into another souffle cup to test, clever me!) to my dismay it still had that yucky raw egg white smell and taste. After some frantic googling, I decided to put it in the oven a little while longer (about three minutes) under a lower heat setting of about 100°C, until I couldn’t bear to let the cupcake dry out anymore. As a result, the meringue was drier and lost the raw taste. Much better.

browning in the oven

I had to keep it for about two hours before we could eat it after cell group though, so the meringue did start to sweat large caramel colored drops of sugar, but it didn’t take away from the taste. The lemon curd oozed out nicely, though I thought it could do with a bit more of the sunshiny stuff. I did end up with a full 185g bottle of left over lemon curd so I’m going to be using it as a base for the peach tart I’m making on Friday.

happy birthday Alicia!

I printed out Alicia’s name in bright rainbow colors. Made it mirror-reflected so that I could fold over the tops and just double-sided taped the bottoms shut with the toothpicks in the middle. I also melted the bottoms of the candles a bit and stuck toothpicks up them as well. It made a happy happy birthday picture!