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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Swirly self-frosting cupcakes

Apparently the bloke was big and burly and used power tools. Apparently he commented on the swirls.
'Nice swirls' he said.
Not quite what you'd expect.
But when it's an employee of your boyfriend's new workplace, somehow it seems less mysterious. See, A. began a new work contract recently and one of the first questions the others in the team asked was:
"So, do you cook?"
To which he replied, "erm.....yes"
"But do you bake? We have morning teas here and we bring things we've baked."
"Well, I don't do that stuff much. However, my girlfriend is right into all that!"
So, that's how I was lured into baking cupcakes for people I've never met. Including burly men with power tools. Yet, I see this as a win-win situation: I have a long list on this computer of 'baking recipes to try', to which I add when I see something interesting. Which is pretty often. But I have not so many opportunities to make baked goods and it's really not a good idea to have yummy cakes and muffins sitting around at home, ready for snacking as I walk past the kitchen. I thought I had a willing recipient with A. but when he recently said "I can't eat as much cake as you give me!" I guessed I had to slow down a bit. That left me with a sudden dearth of blogging opportunities too; usually I have a backlog! So, when A. told me that he had a team of willing guinea pigs to try my baking recipes, suddenly I had a good excuse to get friendly with the butter and sugar again. Just nothing with too many expensive ingredients...especially if I don't get to eat it!

These were my first offerings to the mystery workplace, and they're something that caught my eye on Nic's website. In turn, Nic got them from a fellow Australia, Donna Hay! They are a simple, very buttery vanilla cake swirled with a topping. The original recipe used peanut butter, which Nic substituted for Nutella (yum!!!). I didn't have Nutella, but I do have a jar of the most wonderful stuff - dark chocolate peanut butter. Now, peanut butter is not something I like. Sure, I enjoy the flavour when it's cooked in things, but I hate it on its own. I can't abide that horrible pasty, gummy texture that sticks to the roof of your mouth. It definitely not something I would spread on toast. However, the first time I tasted this Kraft Nuts About Chocolate I was transported. This is some top stuff. And it's DARK chocolate and dairy-free. Seriously, people, go out and buy some of this stuff. I actually think it's not been selling too well and might be withdrawn from distribution, so I double my plea. Try it!

This recipe is extremely quick to make. I only had a small window of time between getting home from work and going out to rehearsal, and these are great for when you're time pressed. I walked in the door at 5.30 and had these in the oven by 5.50 -that's some quick recipe! I actually found swirling the peanut butter a bit difficult, even after I'd warmed the jar a bit. Even though Mr Power Tools complimented my swirls, I thought I could do better.

The taste of these is excellent. The cake is very buttery and soft, and the chocolate peanut butter rippled gooeily through, giving a real peanutty flavour. Very moreish. It made me think that you could use all kinds of different spreads for the 'frosting': jam...golden syrup...Milo...Appelstroop (that one'd be brilliant!)
So, apparently these were a big hit at A's workplace and they've passed on the message that they'd be happy to receive any baked goods from me in the future, even if they're not photo perfect. :-) Maybe next week I'll try some biscuits.....
Read on for the recipe:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosted Cupcakes
Adapted from a post on Baking Sheet, and Donna Hay.

140 grams butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
200 grams sifted plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
~1/3 cup Kraft Nuts About Chocolate (or other chocolate peanut butter spread), slightly warmed

Preheat oven to 165C.
Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.
Cream together butter and sugar until light, 2 minutes.
Add in eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Don't worry if the batter doesn't look smooth. Add vanilla.
Stir in flour, salt and baking powder until batter is uniform and no flour remains.You may need a few splashes of milk here to loosen the batter very slightly.
Fill each muffin liner with batter. They should be 3/4 full.
Top each cake with 1 1/2 tsp chocolate spread. Swirl the spread in with a toothpick or knife point, making sure to fold a bit of batter up over the spread.
Top with some crushed peanuts, if desired.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 12.


  • Yeah, swirling these guys is not the easiest thing. I'd glad they were a hit! I'm also very jealous that you have a whole new audience to bake for. If only I could be so lucky....

    By Blogger Nic, at 9/01/2005 01:59:00 am  

  • I'm a new audience. Bloody bake for me - all I need is the photos to imagine the taste and texture. You're a great shutterbug, pal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/01/2005 03:16:00 am  

  • I think your swirls do nicely! :-) I know what a great (yummy AND easy) recipe this is...I also found it on Nic's blog and posted about my attempt too...it's getting popular, hehe :-) Your dark-choco peanut spread sounds heavenly!

    BTW, consider yourself lucky. My boyfriend doesn't even eat dessert, and when he does he will only have Three Musketeers bars! Nice that you have a shiny new audience :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/01/2005 03:31:00 am  

  • Hi Niki, these look delicious! How exciting to have a new appreciative crowd of eaters!

    When I read your comment about "not too many expensive ingredients" I knew exactly what you were talking about! (The bloody almond meal again, hey?)

    By Blogger Kelly, at 9/01/2005 09:30:00 am  

  • Hi Nic - I think I can work on my swirling technique. It means many more batches of yummy cupcakes in my life. Who gets to eat all of your goodies??

    Sticky - Thanks so much. It means a lot to me that the photos come across well, and that people enjoy them. I'm constantly surprising myself by taking some good ones; I've never been much of a photographer, but this digital lark is pretty easy in comparison!

    Joey - I'm going to check out your post right now. Yes, I reckon this is a great recipe. So easy, and so effective. Dark choc peanut spread is YUM! (And it's vegetarian too, if people are looking for an alternative to Nutella).
    Yep, I'm pretty lucky with A. There are very few men who enjoy sweets (my family!), so I love the fact that he's willing to try what I make.

    Kelly - Damn right! No friands or flourless orange cakes in their future. Mine mine mine! Actually, after reading all those comments I made, my mum went out and bought a big bag of ground almonds from the market. In a fit a stupidity I thought it was parmesan cheese and poured it into the half full container...creating an 'interesting' smelly mix of almonds and cheese. Hmmmmm. So she went out the next day to buy me some more. Any recipe tips for cheese-scented ground almonds?????

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/01/2005 09:57:00 am  

  • These look delicious Niki. Sometimes, when I bake, which is not that often, I can take my stuff to work and my colleagues will polish them off, within reason, of course. Believe it or not, even the men are worried about putting on weight.

    By Blogger Ana, at 9/01/2005 10:47:00 am  

  • Oh no! Niki, that is too funny :) Maybe you can make some savoury cheese and herb friand/muffin type things. Combining those two ingredients is quite the culinary challenge!

    By Blogger Kelly, at 9/01/2005 12:59:00 pm  

  • I'm making these right NOW! They sound delicious.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/01/2005 01:32:00 pm  

  • Made them, cooked them and just burnt my tongue on them! Great recipe. I'll post the pics on my blog tomorrow .

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/01/2005 02:34:00 pm  

  • My workplace is my testing ground for baked goods too, I bring it in and they lap it up and I get to try a little and not alot as I too don't like it lying around the house and going to waste. Unfortunately I am limited only by the amount of time it takes to finish a product in one evening and whether it is still as good the next day. These cupcakes look fabulous.

    By Blogger Amanda, at 9/01/2005 05:51:00 pm  

  • Oh I LOVE that chocolate peanut butter. And I didn't even realise that it was dairy free!

    I've seen these cupcakes swirl their way around the blogosphere and it looks like I'll definitely have to try them out now!

    These look great, and I thought your swirling efforts were great. And ps. I had to laugh at the parmesan cheese almond meal! =) Maybe some kind of spinach cannoli with a parmesan almond topping?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/02/2005 12:16:00 pm  

  • Ana - Work is a great place for offloading goods, and people seem to think you're some higher type of human being for doing some simple baking! Yes, the men in our team are also worried about putting on weight....but that seems to fly out the window when the 3.30pm chocolate craving kicks in for them!

    Kelly - Savoury friands...I really like the sound of that. Do you have a recipe or some guidelines? Do you think I should just follow your basic friand recipe and leave out the sugar. Hmmm...I like the sound of this!

    Barbara - I love the swirls on yours!

    Lushlife - Yes, even though it's nice to make things for the workplace, you're restricted by the types of things you can quickly whip up after work, cooking dinner, cleaning, paperwork, blogging etc. So, it tends to be simple muffins, biscuits and cakes...

    AG -I think you'll really enjoy these. And thanks for the compliment. I do like the idea of the spinach/parmesan/almond combination!

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/03/2005 11:02:00 pm  

  • haha, I tried this recipe too, and mine was more like a glob than a swirl! I've seen the Kraft chocolate spread but resisted getting because 1. A loves Nutella and 2. it's made with peanuts. For some reason, I didn't think peanuts were on the same level as hazelnuts, but now you've convinced me to try it! I bought some 'Bio-Kao' (?) from Passionfoods, an organic food store, the other day - don't bother ;-p

    By Blogger cin, at 9/04/2005 12:19:00 am  

  • Hmm, nope I've never actually seen a savoury friand recipe. I would probably follow a savoury muffin recipe and replace some of the flour with your cheesy almond meal...

    But...just because that's what I'd do isn't any indication at all of whether it would actually work! ;)

    By Blogger Kelly, at 9/07/2005 09:41:00 am  

  • hello niki,
    great website! so many yummy things to try. i was hoping you would be able to give me the conversion for the butter and flour as they are in grams... would you know what the measurement would be in cups or oz?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/08/2005 08:06:00 am  

  • Hi Kacona - if you click on the link to 'Baking Sheet' just under the title of the cupcakes, you'll be taken to the original post where I found this recipe; the ingredients there are in both cups and grams, which will help you! :-)

    By Blogger Niki, at 9/08/2005 08:05:00 pm  

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