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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Friday, November 18, 2005

Hay, Hay it's Donna Day


If you're not Australian you're most likely not to get that direct reference to a very popular, long-running, now defunct Saturday night tv show. In any case, it's a clever pun thought up by Barbara, who's organised the inaugural Donna Hay day. If you don't know who Donna Hay is, check out Nic's description. Even though Nic's not Australian, she's a major fan of Donna Hay, as are quite a lot of international foodbloggers. Ms Hay really has become quite a success in Australia; in fact it was only fairly recently I discovered she was Australian. "Oh, somebody that successful must be from the UK or USA" I would think. Oops - Cultural Cringe strikes again.

Only yesterday I received my Christmas edition, full of beautiful, clean, bright photos of holiday biscuits and treats I'd love to make, but for this first Donna Day extravaganza, the wildy popular swirly self-frosting cupcakes have been chosen. It's true that I have already
made and posted about these before, as have quite a list of other foodbloggers (they were indeed flavour of the month), but in light of their obvious popularity, the idea to choose them is a good one. Those who have made them know how easy and attractive they look, and for those who don't - what more gentle way to be introduced to the Donna world?

Last time I used the new Kraft dark chocolate peanut butter spread: Nuts About Chocolate; mmmmm. Just like a Snickers bar - and I used it again for half of this batch (shown in the top photo). I was inspired after that about all the possible toppings I could use for the swirly features, and one in particular stood out; the thick, dark apple paste from Holland: Appelstroop. This stuff has the colour and texture of engine grease, but tastes fabbo. It's basically apple juice and sugar boiled down for ages until it turns thick and gooey. Yes, it's very sweet but it also has a tongue-tingling tang from the apples and a hint of smoky bitterness like treacle or molasses. Don't know about elsewhere, but it's pretty easily available from lots of supermarkets

So, you can see my effort using the apple paste. Not quite as successful with the swirling technique there. I've come to the realisation that has put a dampener on my wild list of possible toppings. Peanut butter and Nutella etc. work well because they have a similar texture to the raw cake batter; therefore the swirling and subsequent cooking amalgamates the two components well. However, using apple syrup or honey or raspbery jam....not so good. The texture is too runny, and they don't swirl too well. They also tend to bubble over and coat your muffin pans with a thick, baked-on syrupy mess which is a nightmare to clean.
But, oh yeah; they taste pretty damn good. And that baked in frosting makes them perfect to transport - just as I'm doing this afternoon as I take off for a long weekend at a friend's beach house on the Great Ocean Road. No phones, no internet - just lots of books and walk on the beach. Cheers!
I'm looking forward to seeing how many people around the world make this recipe this weekend, and who wins the prize for the prettiest swirls.

If you want the recipe for the swirly self-frosting cupcakes, it can be found in this post.


Appelstroop swirly cupcake I was enjoying...

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