Friday, July 22, 2011

Dense Chocolate Cupcakes

I was originally going to include this recipe with the time I made themed cupcakes for Jason's 21st but then decided that they were so spectacular that they deserved their own post. The recipe is actually a modified version of Nigella Lawson's "Desnse Chocolate Loaf Cake" designed to make 12.

Here is a PvZ themed cupcake
I wanted to make something truly special for the chocolate lover but also something that would please his 50 other guests so I turned to the best. I make it sound like a hard task, but all of them are actually quite easy to please.. 
I also added chocolate chips because they are yummy and you can't stop me!
These are actually the best cupcakes I've ever made and the best thing is, they're really easy to make! If you want non-stop compliments, this is the recipe to use -I tripled the recipe to cater for the party and it still wasn't enough! I now have friends making up events just so they can have another taste of these delicious cupcakes.

Next steps: cook and then eat
This is kind of short because I was going to include these in another post. But they really deserve to have this all to themselves. Go and make these when you next have time to spare. Please. I implore you. MAKE time for these. And then maybe invite me over for tea.

Dense Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12)
Adapted from Nigella Lawson's recipe for Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

110g unsalted butter
200g dark brown sugar (or muscovado)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted
100g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125ml boiling water
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
2. Cream the butter and sugar 
3. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating in as well
4. Next, fold in the melted chocolate, taking care to blend well but being careful not to overbeat
5. Sift the flour and bicarb in a seperate bowl
6. Add the flour/bicarb into the mixture alternatively with the boiling water until you have a smooth batter
7. Add your chocolate chips and fold through
8. Line your cupcake pan with cute cases and fill
9. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
10. Cool and ice (see below for the cream cheese icing that I used)

Cream Cheese Icing (my favourite kind)  

1/4 cup cream cheese
1 cup icing sugar
2 Tbs butter, softened (I cannot stress how important that your butter is softened, it's absolutely horrible when it doesn't combine properly and you end up with lumps of butter. Gross.)

1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until nice and smooth 
2. Slowly add the icing sugar and mix until well combined
3. Feel free to add a little bit of lemon rind 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ban Mien

Today is the last day of the exam period and I've just handed in one of the largest projects of my life.

2 minutes before the time it was due.

 Am I relieved? Yes. Was it good? Lets not go there. How do I feel now? Lets just say that I'm waiting around for my friends to finish their exams so we can head to the bar.

What I want to share with you today is nice and short -it is one of the fondest memories I have of spending time with my Poppa and also what's been keeping Jason and me well fed through the exam study period.

I have a very bad memory and, as a result, I really cherish every little bit I DO remember. In mandarin, "Ban Mien" literally means noodles mixed with sauce and is so easy to make. Due to the fact that it had minimal ingredients, it was cheaply sold (along with a big bowl of wonton soup) at every little street stall near my Nana and Poppa's house. This was also a dish frequently made by my (not very good at cooking) father when we first came to New Zealand as a cheap and simple meal and even he could make this taste good -it's very hard to mess up, you see.

This is actually all you need. Well, this and the egg noodles
Nowadays ban mien is kind of looked down upon as a meal for the lower class and not even the smallest of stalls would offer it on their menus as I discovered a few years ago when a stall owner asked me what era I was from -forgive me for trying to relive a great memory!

Takes about a minute to stir together
What I didn't understand at the time was why they couldn't have just pretended to have it on the menu and charge me for it -it only needs soy sauce, peanut butter and sesame oil! Everyone has that!

Plunging hot noodles into cold water so they don't go all sticky
 So anyway, enough outrage. The best thing about this dish is its simplicity -you can choose to go with the basics or to add anything you want to it and today, I chose shredded roast chicken and lots of chili! The measurements for the ingredients are a kind of a guestimate and changes a little every time I make it because all good dishes should be catered to your own tastes, not somebody elses. 

Ban Mien feat. Wonton Soup
Remember to serve with wonton soup. Enjoy =)

Ban Mien -As Lucy likes it

Core Ingredients (remember to taste as you go, your tastes will be a little different to mine)

340g dried egg noodles
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 heaped tablespoons peanut butter 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or 1 tablespoon balsamic)
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup spring onions, finelly sliced

Optional Ingredients (feel free to omit and add -don't worry, I won't get angry)

2 teaspoon chilli (I recommend masterfoods, it comes freshly chopped in a jar)
Shredded roast chicken
Bamboo shoots

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook as per packet directions.
2. Once the noodles are cooked, plunge into a bowl of cold water so they don't all stick together later.
3. In a seperate bowl, combine everything else except spring onions and mix. If you're having trouble getting it to mix, add a little boiling water to help it along.
4. Thoroughly mix the sauce through the noodles. Taste and adjust.
5. Serve using spring onions as garnish.

Note: If you're quick about it, you can miss out the cold water bit and mix the sauce directly through the hot noodles. It's actually how they do it in the food stalls!

See how easy it is?