Mango sticky rice

It’s been a while, but I am back!

Six and a half months of travelling are now sadly over, and it’s back to reality in the UK.

I’m not quite ready to forget my exotic adventures though, and so I have a super summery recipe from my time in Asia to share with you.

As I mentioned in my previous post, while I was in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, I took part in an all day cooking course at an organic farm.

(This photo is skinny me – I’ve come home a good stone heavier and now am on a serious diet and exercise kick to lose it again!)

After a starter of coconut soup with shrimps, delectable mains of sweet and sour stir fry and a green chicken curry, plus pad Thai to take home, we set to making a traditional Thai dessert – perhaps the most well known of all – mango sticky rice.

You can find it on the dessert menu of any restaurant in Thailand, and it’s as simple as it sounds, just fresh mango with coconut sticky rice.

I don’t actually like sticky rice, it’s far too chewy and dense, but when the texture is loosened a little by the coconut milk, sweetened with palm sugar balanced with a pinch of salt, and paired with the mango, it’s sort of ok.

What I like most about it though is the presentation. You can do it how ever you like, but with a little natural blue colouring in the rice, sesame seeds scattered on top and a flower to decorate, I was more than pleased with how mine turned out.

The recipe below is from the cookbook I got to take home, and if you happen to be in Chiang Mai I would highly recommend the school I went to, which was Thai Farm Cookery School.

Mango Sticky Rice

  •  1 cup steamed sticky rice (there are some good instructions for cooking here)
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) coconut milk
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp palm or brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp roasted mung beans
  • 1 pandan leaf (this might be tricky to get outside of Asia, so you could substitute with a vanilla pod)

Put the coconut milk and pandan leaf or vanilla pod in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Remove from the heat, take the leaf out, and add the sugar and salt to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and add the steamed sticky rice, mix well. You can add some food colouring if you like, we had a blue flower for ours, but it isn’t essential.

Put the rice on a plate and sprinkle with the mung beans. Add the sliced mango and arrange to look pretty, using flower or leaf garnishes if you have them.

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Lemon, white chocolate and coconut blondies

Does anything say summer is coming more than delicious zesty lemon curd? Nope, thought not!

I was feeling the joys of spring the other day and, with a small jar of lemon curd to use up, decided to have a look back through Pinterest to find a suitable recipe to use it in.

As soon as I saw these lemon-vanilla dream bars from Mainly Baking, which I pinned a year and a half ago, I knew they were ‘the one’.

I did a bit of googling to see if I could find the original recipe, and although I didn’t manage that I did find a variation which used a coconut flavoured white chocolate, which then led to me adding desiccated coconut into the mix.

Although the flavour of the coconut wasn’t especially strong, it was noticeable and I thought it added a nice bite to the blondes. The lemon curd is swirled in so you get little pockets of zesty deliciousness, and the chunks of white chocolate add a nice texture contrast.

I was a fan of these, and so were all my taste testers at work – my boss even gave them a ‘wow’, and he’s not the biggest cake fan.

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

These bars are summery and lovely, and I would highly recommend you make them. They’re also perfect for March’s We Should Cocoa challenge, hosted by I’d Much Bake Than… who chose coconut as the theme.

Enjoy!

Lemon, white chocolate and coconut blondies (adapted from Mainly Baking)

  • 225g white chocolate, chopped
  • 85g butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 80g plain flour
  • 75g white chocolate
  • 165g lemon curd

Start by heating the 225g white chocolate and butter in a bowl of a saucepan of barely simmering water. White chocolate needs to be melted slowly over a low heat, so don’t rush this bit! Once melted, remove from the heat and beat in the sugar, eggs and vanilla bean paste. Fold in the coconut, then sift in the flour and fold again. Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips and then spread the mixture into an 8×8″ square tin, lined with baking paper.

Spoon the lemon curd in little dollops over the top of the cake batter, then gently swirl with a butter knife or skewer, making sure not to over-mix – you want there to be little pockets of lemon curd in the baked blondies. Bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is turning golden and the blondies are just firm to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin, then slice into squares and serve.

Tropical desert island cake

Sometimes I have an idea for a cake that in my head is completely and utterly amazing, but I don’t quite have the skills to turn my vision into reality and I’m left feeling a little deflated.

Luckily, this cake was one of the rare occasions when the finished bake turned out EXACTLY as I had imagined, and I was very pleased indeed!

It was made for my first Clandestine Cake Club of the year, which took place at the gorgeous St Michael’s Hotel in Falmouth. The theme was ‘ship shape’, and my thought process was basically ships – sea – shells – island = tropical dessert island cake.

I knew what I wanted it to look like before I had decided what flavour it was going to be, but it had to be tropical in both taste and appearance, and a nautical cake has to include some form of rum…

So, I decided to use a Dan Lepard rum-soaked coconut sponge recipe, which I’d previously used for a coconut and chocolate cake, paired with a white chocolate mousse filling and buttercream icing both flavoured with a homemade mango and lime curd.

The ‘sand’ was made by throwing all the scraps of cake leftover after levelling the layers into a food processor and blitzing into crumbs, which were both the perfect texture and colour.

Blue icing flecked with desiccated coconut for the waves and white chocolate shells with a slightly marbled yellow effect completed the desert island look, and I think it ended up being a pretty attractive cake!

I got great comments from the people who tried it cake club, and from my housemates, so I think I can safely say it was a success. The cake itself was light and managed not to be too sweet even with the mousse and buttercream, and the flavours worked really well together.

Now all I need is an excuse to make it again!

Tropical desert island cake (loosely based on Dan Lepard’s coconut cake)

  • 150ml coconut milk
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 50ml white rum
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 225g butter
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • juice of one lime and 2 tbsp rum to drizzle

Start by heating the coconut milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the desiccated coconut and stir in the rum and vanilla bean paste, then leave for at least half an hour to soften the coconut (I actually left it overnight).

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time. Sift together the flour and baking powder, then fold a third of it into the batter. Stir in half the coconut mixture, fold in another third of the flour, the remaining coconut mixture and then finally the last third of the flour.

Divide between three 7″ round baking tins and bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) for 25-30 minute, or until golden and springy. Leave to cool completely, then level off the tops, keeping the offcuts for the sand. Squeeze the lime over the tops of the sponges, and then drizzle with the rum.

For filling and icing:

  • 200g (ish) mango and lime curd (I used this recipe but used less sugar)
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • 100g butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • blue food colouring
  • desiccated coconut to sprinkle

To make the mousse, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Whisk the cream until soft-medium peaks form. To try and avoid the chocolate seizing when it’s added to the cream, I start by adding a spoonful of cream into the chocolate bowl to loosen it, then add that back to the cream and fold in. Add about 4 tbsp of the mango curd and give it a quick whisk – not too much or it will start to thin. Chill in the fridge for half an hour, then divide into two to sandwich the sponge layers, and put the whole cake back in the fridge to stop the mousse spilling out the sides.

To make the buttercream, beat the butter to soften then sift in half the icing sugar and beat until well combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and beat again, then finally add the mango curd – I think I used about 4 tbsp again, but you’ll need to use your judgement of the consistency of the buttercream – too much curd and it will be too runny to ice with.

Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake to crumb coat, then chill for half an hour. Spread about 3/4 of the remaining buttercream all over the top and sides so there’s a good layer of icing all over. Use a cocktail stick to draw out the pattern of the waves all around the sides of the cake.

Throw the cake offcuts you saved into the food processor and blitz to make crumbs, then gently press these into the icing on top of the cake and down the sides as far as the top of the waves. Add a little blue food colouring (I used Sugarflair gel in Ice Blue) to the remaining icing and beat until fully mixed in, then use this to spread or pipe onto bottom half of the cake to fill in the waves. Finish by sprinkling a little desiccated coconut on top of each wave to look like the foam.

Finally, decorate the top of the cake with shell-shaped chocolates – I made my own using a cheap mould from Hobbycraft, but you could definitely use some of the Guylian-style praline filled chocolates if you want.

And there you have it, a tropical desert island cake, that tastes as good as it looks!

Caramelised rum and coconut pina asadas, and a big dose of guilt

As what I would consider a truly amateur food blogger, it’s always a lovely surprise when I’m contacted by anyone asking me if I would like to review their product/book/restaurant, and as long as it fits in with the content of my blog I’m happy to do it.

The only problem is, sometimes I end up with just too many things to post about and not enough time, which means it can take a little longer than I’d like to write up the posts.

I have what I think of as a guilt chest – all the things I know I should do, and feel terrible about not doing, but just haven’t quite go around to doing.

The biggest dose of guilt in it is for a cookbook I was sent months and months ago – and actually love – but until now hadn’t blogged about.

World Food Cafe: Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey has been written by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott, who run the World Food Cafe in London’s Covent Garden.

World Food Cafe Quick & Easy

The book contains more than one hundred veggie recipes, literally from all around the world. It’s split into sections by country – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki & Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam – each with the story of Chris and Carolyn’s travels in that country, and lots of notes about the traditional dishes accompanying the recipes themselves.

Part of the reason it’s taken me so long to write this up is that I made loads of the savoury recipes straight away, but wanted to wait until I’d baked something sweet to post the recipe for. I couldn’t let it drag into the new year though, so now is the time to get rid of the guilt!

I love South American food so immediately gravitated towards Cuba to make the Huevos Habaneros (eggs from Havana) and the Sweetcorn and Caramelised Onion Tortilla de Papa, both of which were delicious.

After cooking my way around some of the other countries, I returned to Cuba to make these Caramelised Rum and Coconut Pina Asadas. I have to say, I think they would taste a million times better sat on a beach on a sunny evening in Cuba than they did in my kitchen on a cold December evening, but regardless it was a delicious dessert that I will definitely make again.

A big part of the reason I loved this recipe is the generous glug of dark rum involved – I love rum in general, but paired with pineapple, coconut, cinnamon and lime, it really is like tropical heaven.

My photos absolutely don’t do this dish justice, it was so good and I will definitely make it again. I also plan to keep trying new recipes from the World Food Cafe cookbook, as there are so may that sound amazing – the only slight downside is that a lot of them use ingredients I suspect most people don’t already have in their store cupboards, but if the ones I’ve tried so far are anything to go by it’s worth stocking up.

Caramelised rum and coconut pina asadas

  • 1/2 medium pineapples, sliced into 4 rings
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 tsp demerara sugar
  • grated coconut
  • vanilla ice cream to serve

Melt the butter over a low heat, then add the rum, lime, cinnamon and sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the pineapple and leave to marinade for half an hour.

Heat a griddle pan and lay the pineapple slices in it. Sprinkle the coconut on top, and baste with the leftover butter mixture. Once the underneath has caramelised, flip over to cook the other side and sprinkle with more coconut and baste with more butter.

Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – and a perhaps a side of rum if you have any going spare…

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting

The intention when I started to make this cake was a simple vanilla sponge, with sweet chocolate buttercream that I could feed to my visiting family and their children.

My plans started to change when I realised I had half a tin of coconut milk in the fridge and less than a quarter of a pack of desiccated coconut in the cupboard – it seemed like fate that vanilla would be turned into coconut, and I thought with a chocolate buttercream it would be almost Bounty-esque.

A bit of Googling for a coconut milk cake recipe led me to this recipe from Dan Lepard, which scaled down to a two-layer 7″ cake required almost exactly the amount of excess coconut products I had to hand.

The only slight downside was that the recipe called for white rum, meaning it would no longer be the child-friendly cake I set out to make.

I say downside – lets be honest, my recent posts are probably a good indication of the fact that I am in no way averse to the inclusion of alcohol in my baking, and white rum and coconut are just perfect partners.

I skipped the step of soaking the sponges in lime juice and more rum as I wasn’t sure how well it would go with the chocolate icing, but the cake was still beautifully moist with a nice bite from the desiccated coconut, and a subtle but definitely noticeable hint of the rum added to the cake batter. If anyone tries telling you the alcohol evaporates during baking, they’re wrong!

I finished the cake with a simple chocolate buttercream with just a little coconut milk added instead of regular milk, and a few Cadbury’s Flake bars crumbled up on top – because what cake isn’t improved by adding more chocolate?

I really liked this cake, and so did all of my testers. Whether you like alcohol in cakes or not, I would highly recommend you give it a go!

Coconut rum cake with chocolate frosting (adapted from Dan Lepard)

  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 35g desiccated coconut
  • 35ml white rum
  • 150g butter
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the icing:

  • 130g butter
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp coconut milk
  • 2 Cadbury’s Flake bars

Start by heating the coconut milk until boiling, then take off the heat and add the desiccated coconut and rum. Leave to soak  for half an hour, while you start the sponge. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, for me with an electric beater it takes 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then sift together the flour and baking powder.

Fold in 1/3 of the flour mix, followed by half of the coconut milk, another 1/3 of flour, the rest of the coconut milk and then finish with the last 1/3 of flour. Divide between two greased and lined 7″ sandwich tins, and bake at 160 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until risen and golden.

To make the icing, beat the butter to soften then add the cocoa powder and half the icing sugar. Beat until well combined, then add 1 tbsp coconut milk and the rest of the icing sugar and beat again, until it’s really light and smooth textured. If it seems a bit thick, add a little more coconut milk to get it to the right consistency.

Spread 1/3 of the icing on top of one of the cake layers, then place the other cake on top. Spread the rest of the icing all over the top and sides, then crumble up the Flake bars and sprinkle all over the top before serving.

Tibits chocolate and coconut macaroons (GF)

chocolate and coconut macaroons

Before anyone says ‘they’re the worst looking macarons I’ve ever seen’ I should make it clear that these are definitely meant to be macaroons – the simple, coconutty treat; NOT macarons, the perfectly round, brightly coloured, dainty French delicacies.

I have to admit though, even going up against other macaroons these aren’t going to be winning any beauty prizes. What were supposed to be lovely little pointed mounds completely spread as soon as they went into the oven, and left me with the flat, cracked, sort-of-macaroons you see here.

The recipe for these comes from tibits at home, a new cookbook from the chefs at tibits, a vegetarian (and largely vegan) restaurant in London.

The lovely people at Tibits very kindly offered me the chance to visit the restaurant for a review, but as it’s in London and I’m in Cornwall it seemed a little far to venture for dinner, so I settled for a copy of the cookbook so I could try and knock up some restaurant-quality vegetarian delights at home (in theory…)

The book is split into seasons, which I think is a great approach and definitely helpful in choosing recipes that suit the time of year. Each season has a wide variety of recipes, from soups and salads to main meals and desserts, with some interesting hot and cold drinks thrown in as well.

Pretty much every recipe has a picture of the finished dish, which is a big plus for me – I like to at least have an idea of what I’m aiming for! The instructions are clear and simple to follow, and considering these are all restaurant dishes for the most part they don’t use any tricky techniques or fancy equipment, so they are definitely achievable for the home cook.

Tibits lasagne – mine wasn’t quite so pretty….

The two negatives I found were that some of the recipes don’t state how many portions it will make – in some cases common sense will give you an idea, but in others I could end up making a meal for two or a meal for 10 and I wouldn’t know which until it came out of the oven.

*EDIT – Tibits have kindly pointed out that it states in the intro that recipes serve 4 so this was my mistake!*

The other slight downside is that some of the recipes call for ingredients that aren’t too readily available if you live out in the sticks like I do. I can’t say I’ve seen sambal oelek, dried string beans or blanc battu in my local Tesco recently…

When it came to deciding which dishes to try, I know I should have gone to the Spring section, but it’s been so hideously cold recently that instead I chose two from Winter.

Firstly I made a spinach and feta lasagne (pic of their version above), which I was very impressed with – looking at the ingredients list it sounds like it could be a bit plain, but the flavours are all fresh and complement each other perfectly.

Obviously the second recipe had to be a cake or bake, and that leads me back to the chocolate and coconut macaroons.

Taste and texture wise they turned out exactly as I had hoped – sweet and chewy with bite from the coconut and a richness from the chocolate. I think it’s more likely to be baker error that lead to the slightly dodgy appearance than any fault with the recipe so I may have to try again and pipe them into shape to see if that helps.

Thanks again to Tibits for sending me the book to review – there are lots more recipes I’m looking forward to trying so it’s a very gratefully received gift, and I hope I get to visit the restaurant at some point in the future, to see how the recipes are done professionally.

Chocolate and coconut macaroons (slightly adapted from tibits at home)

  • 1 medium egg white
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 80g desiccated coconut
  • optional – 25g dark chocolate to drizzle

Melt the dark chocolate in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Whisk the egg white with an electric mixer, gradually adding the sugar as you go until the mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold in the coconut and melted chocolate, then either pipe onto a baking tray or spoon the mixture on into 12-15 small rounds. Bake at 150 degrees for 15-20 minutes, then leave to cool on the baking tray. Melt the remaining chocolate and spoon into a small piping bag, then drizzle over the top of the macaroons and leave to set.

Banana and coconut loaf cake (GF)

When one of my colleagues recently went on maternity leave, naturally I wanted to see her off with a cake, as you do.

Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan – she ended up being a bit too pregnant to travel to the office, and apparently is allergic to bananas anyway (how I have known her two years without finding that out I have no idea!)

Anyway, with the pony on hand cake never goes to waste, and a few other people at work had a slice too, including my colleague who can’t eat wheat flour and always appreciates a wheat free bake.

 

This banana and coconut cake combines two of my favourite flavours with a delicious texture and the cream cheese icing finishes it off nicely as the cake itself isn’t too sweet.

The original recipe came from Tart to Heart, a blog which, if you haven’t already seen it, is amazing – I highly recommend you go look and drool immediately!

Banana and coconut loaf cake (GF) (Recipe adapted from Tart to Heart)

  • 120g gluten free plain flour
  • 100g oat flour
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 35g sunflower oil
  • 45g greek yoghurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and nutmeg into a bowl with the coconut and stir in. In a separate bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, coconut milk, sugar, oil, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla, then add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well until just combined.

Pour into a lined 2lb loaf tin (I think mine is about 9×5″) and bake at 180 degrees for about an hour, or until risen and a skewer comes out clean.

Cream cheese icing

  • 100g cream cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 100g icing sugar

Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese and all of the sugar and beat until no lumps remain. Add the remaining cream cheese and beat until just combined. Chill in the fridge to firm up, then spread on top of the cooled cake.

Scottish Tablet

Once again I am cutting it rather fine, but I really love the idea of the Best of British blogging challenge, so I really wanted to make something for this month’s region – it’s just taken a while to find the time to do it!

Sponsored by New World Appliances and hosted this month by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen, the region is Scotland – a place I’ve only visited once, so a bit more of a challenge for me than Cornwall was!

I did quite a bit of research for traditional recipes, but in the end settled on a recipe from one of my newest cookbooks, Home Made Sweet Shop, for a traditional Scottish Tablet.

The book describes tablet as being a cross between fudge and toffee, with the same grainy texture as fudge but a bit harder.

It was supposed to be a plain vanilla tablet, but that phrase ‘gilding the lily’ was apparently made for me so I made a last minute decision to press some freshly picked raspberries into it and sprinkle desiccated coconut on top – which looks very pretty, but now means that I can’t give it as a gift as I was planning too because the raspberries won’t keep long enough – oops!

Luckily the pony is on a mission at the minute to put on weight (the total opposite to my life goal), so the 2,500+ calories in this will hopefully help him out a bit…

The other problem it caused was less easily fixed however; the lovely, fresh, juicy raspberries actually released their lovely juice into the tablet, stopping it from setting properly. So now I know, fresh fruit and tablet/fudge do not mix!

I halved the original recipe, and it was a good job I did as even with these quantities it nearly filled my largest saucepan when it was at its peak of bubbling – so be warned if you do make the full amount! The recipe below omits the fruit but if you really want to repeat my mistake, feel free to throw some in!

Scottish Tablet (adapted from Home Made Sweet Shop)

  • 450g caster sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 75ml full-fat milk
  • 75ml water
  • 130g condensed milk
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Put the sugar, butter, water and milk into a LARGE pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat a little and bring to a boil – not stirring at all – until it reaches 114 degrees on a sugar thermometer. Remove from the heat, stir in the condensed milk, then return to the heat and boil again, until it reaches 116 degrees, then pour into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool for 5 minutes.

When cooled a little, whisk with an electric whisk for 2-3 minutes, until it lightens and thickens quite a bit. You can beat it with a wooden spoon, but I find the whisk method a lot quicker and more effective. Spread into a 9″ loaf tin, lined with baking paper (if you’re making double quantities, use an 8×8″ square tin).

Leave for 4-5 hours to set before removing from the tin and cutting into squares. Store in an airtight container.

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes

These crown cupcakes are the first of my two ‘fit for a queen‘ competition entries (which won me third place, in case I hadn’t mentioned!)

They’re kind of a royal-ed up version of my coconut and strawberry cupcakes, based on the same sponge recipe but with a raspberry curd filling and blackberry and raspberry cream cheese icing, and of course the golden crowns on top.

I think the corgi tarts seemed more popular at the competition, but I actually preferred these as I’m all about the fruit in the summer, and I love the coconut and berry combination.

I’m also especially proud of these because I seem to finally be getting the hang of piping icing onto cupcakes in a bit of a fancy pattern!

I won’t lie, these are pretty time consuming and do use some slightly hard to find ingredients, but I think they are well worth the effort for a special occasion!

Coconut, blackberry and raspberry crown cupcakes (based on this recipe):

Makes 9 cupcakes

  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 105g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 85g butter
  • 135g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 90ml coconut milk

For the filling, icing and decoration

  • 2 tbsp raspberry curd (recipe here)
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 100g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 10g freeze-dried blackberries
  • 10g freeze-dried raspberries
  • 30g white candy melts
  • edible gold paint

To make the cupcakes, follow the method here (the ingredients listed above are half the quantities of the original recipe but that’s the only difference).

To fill the cupcakes, use an apple corer to make holes in the centre of each, then spoon in a little raspberry curd before replacing the bits of sponge you removed.

To make the icing, grind the freeze-dried berries in a food processor into dust, then add to the icing sugar. I had to order them in at a local health food shop, so if you can’t find any I think fresh berries would probably work too, but I really wanted to use freeze-dried for the amazing colour and also so they wouldn’t affect the consistency of the icing.

Beat the butter to soften, then add in half the cream cheese and sift in the icing sugar and berries. Beat until well mixed and no lumps remain, then add in the second half of the cream cheese and quickly beat again, just enough to combine everything. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then pipe on top of the cupcakes – I used a Wilton star nozzle but any would be fine.

To make the crowns, I used an ingredient that’s completely new to me, but that may be down to a sheltered life – candy melts.

They’re essentially like chocolate buttons, except they set harder and don’t require any tempering – perfect for chocolate decorations. I’m not sure how widely available they are but I got mine at a specialist kitchen and bakeware shop. I used a roll of baking paper to pipe the crown shapes on to, then slid them off once they were completely set. They were quite fragile and some did break, but you can use a some more of the white melts as a glue to fix them up.

I then painted the crowns gold with an edible paint, giving them two coats for a really nice colour. You can buy edible paints online and in baking shops, but I found mine at a local pannier market for a bargain £2.75!  Pop the crowns on top of the cupcakes, and there you have it – coconut, blackberry and raspberry cupcakes, fit for a queen!

Coconut cupcakes with strawberry jam hearts (GF)

Coconut cupcakes have been on my mind for ages now.

Originally I planned to make pina colada cupcakes with a pineapple curd filling, but the curd recipe didn’t turn out great so I put them on hold; then it was going to be coconut and Nutella, but I didn’t have any; then a white chocolate coconut ganache filling, but that didn’t work, so FINALLY I settled on simple coconut cupcakes with strawberry jam filling and coconut cream cheese icing!

I wanted to make these to take into work so they had to be wheat and gluten free, so I adapted the recipe for the cupcakes from this one at Cooking Classy, and subbed regular plain flour for gluten free.

The only other change I made was slightly altering the egg quantities, so I was really pleased when these baked with a nice, light but not dry texture, as I know sometimes GF flours can be a bit tricky to work with.

The cupcakes went down really well with everyone who tried one, and the cream cheese icing, adapted from a Dan Lepard recipe was a revelation – it’s the first one I’ve made that didn’t need half a box of icing sugar but was the perfect consistency, not at all runny!

Oh, and I almost forgot – I think I’m finally starting to get the hang of fancy piping techniques! Although the sprinkling of coconut on top can hide all manner of sins…

Coconut cupcakes with strawberry jam hearts (adapted from Cooking Classy)

Makes 16-18 cupcakes

  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 210g gf plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 170g butter
  • 270g caster sugar
  • 3 whole eggs, one egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 185ml coconut milk

For filling and icing

  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 200g butter
  • 200g icing cugar
  • 400g cream cheese
  • 50g desiccated coconut, plus extra for decoration

Start by grinding the desiccated coconut in a food processor to get it as fine as you can. Add it to the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs a little at a time, followed by the vanilla. Fold in 1/3 of the flour/coconut mix, then 1/3 of the coconut milk, then repeat, folding in alternately until all the ingredients have been used.

Line a cupcake tin with cases and spoon the mixture into them, about 2/3 full. Bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until risen, golden and a skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.

To fill with the jam, I use an apple corer which cuts really need holes in the cakes (dodgy picture below as it was getting dark) – you could use a knife to cut holes if you want though. Heat the jam a little to make it easier to pour, then add a little into the hole of each cupcake and place the tops back on.

For the icing, beat the butter to soften, then add in the icing sugar and half the cream cheese. Using an electric mixer, beat until no lumps remain and it looks light and creamy. Add the remaining cream cheese and coconut, beat quickly until just combined, then leave in the fridge for half an hour to firm up a bit before piping or spooning on to the cupcakes. Sprinkle a little more coconut on top and you’re done!