Red Velvet Valentine

February 14th – you either love it or hate it.

However this year everyone should love it and bake these lurrrrrrvely cupcakes.

I baked a red velvet cake last year and immediately thought ‘I must make this into cupcakes’.
So when Let’s Knit magazine offered me their Valentines blog recipe I couldn’t have been happier.* Romantic red velvet sponge topped with charming cream cheese frosting and sprinkled with love (literally).
After all, isn’t Valentines all about eating cake anyway?

*check out the blog post here

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Ingredients (makes 12 large cupcakes)

75g Stork tub, at room temp
150g caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten into a jug
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
120ml buttermilk
1.4 tsp red food gel/paste (highly recommend sugarflair)
½ tsp + ¼ tsp tsp white wine vinegar
½ tsp + ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the cream cheese frosting:
70g unsalted butter, room temp
400g icing sugar
200g full-fat cream cheese, cold from the fridge
Love heart sprinkles (I found mine on Amazon)

Method

Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with romantic cupcake cases.

In a large bowl make your cake mix by first creaming together the butter and sugar until soft and fluffy. Slowly mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl and stir. In a third bowl, mix together the buttermilk and red food colouring until completely red.

Pour a third of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter and sugar and mix until just combined. Now pour in a third of the red buttermilk and mix again. Repeat this process until all ingredients are well incorporated into the creamed mixture. Try not to overbeat the mixture at this stage. Add more food colouring at the stage for a stronger red, if necessary.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda until it fizzes and bubbles. Then quickly fold it into your cake batter. Divide the cake mix evenly between the cupcake cases and bake for 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Once your cakes are completely cool, make your cream cheese frosting. In a large bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy. Next, drain of any excess liquid from the cream cheese then beat into the butter until just combined. *Be careful not to over beat as this will make the cream cheese loosen and turn into a liquid*.

Now sift in half the icing sugar and beat together, add the remaining half and beat again until frosting is smooth. If the mixture appears lumpy, don’t panic! Just use an electric whisk on a medium speed to help combine the ingredients.

Using a piping bag fitted with an open star nozzle, pipe your frosting onto your cakes and finish with a sprinkle of edible love hearts.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

Only 23 days until Halloween!!! What better way to prepare than baking up a special recipe that would be the hit of the Halloween food table at your spooky party. These beauties combine rich, fudge brownie with light, fluffy pumpkin cheesecake to give you an absolutely gorgeous bake. You can also find the recipe here on ‘Let’s Knit’ blog as I am excited to tell you that I am currently taking on the role as their monthly recipe provider until Christmas… very exciting stuff!
So yes, get into the Halloween spirit early and bake away people!
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Ingredients (makes  12 large/ 16 small brownies)
For the brownies:
150g unsalted butter (at room temp)
175g 70% dark chocolate (broken into pieces)
225g caster sugar
2 eggs (at room temp)
150g self-raising flour
For the pumpkin cheesecake:
200g full fat cream cheese (at room temp)
1 egg (at room temp)
75g caster sugar
30g self-raising flour
120ml pumpkin puree (can be bought in ‘Waitrose’ in the tinned fruits section)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C and lightly grease/base line a 23cm square tin.
First make the brownie mixture by gently melting the butter and dark chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, leave on the side to cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. Then add in the cooled chocolate and butter mixture and sift in the flour. Fold the ingredients together with a large wooden spoon until completely combined. The brownie mix should be thick, dark and glossy.
In another bowl begin to make your pumpkin cheesecake mix by first beating together the cream cheese and sugar. Add in the pumpkin puree and beat again. Finally add the vanilla, cinnamon and egg to the bowl and beat one last time until mixture is creamy and smooth.
Pour a 1/3 of the brownie mixture into your baking tin and give the tin a shake to make sure it fills all the corners and the mixture is evenly spread. Now evenly pour your pumpkin cheesecake mixture on top of the brownie mixture.  Next use a large spoon to drop the remaining brownie mix in dollops over the cheesecake mixture. Finally draw the tip of a knife or skewer through the two mixtures to form a swirly pattern.
Bake for 27-30 minutes until the top is starting to crack. (Depending on your oven they may take a bit longer, test the brownies by inserting a knife into the middle and if it comes out covered in chocolate put them back in. If the knife comes out almost clear and the top of the brownies are cracking then remove from the oven and leave to cool- brownies will continue to cook a little as they cool).

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