Am I the only one who avoids recipes that use an electric mixer because I can’t be bothered washing up?
It’s the height of laziness, I know. And as a result, pretty much all of the sweets I bake are mixmaster-free, except for special occasions.
I have no doubt that purists would argue the “melt-and-mix” variety of baking doesn’t produce a good crumb, or texture, or aeration. Or something like that. But you know what? I reckon most of my melt-and-mix cakes taste pretty damn good, and I’m hard to please.
So here’s one of them – easy chocolate cupcakes. They’re light but full of flavour, and can be served plain or jazzed up. And the best bit is that they’re made from pantry ingredients, take less than 20 minutes to prepare, and of course, all equipment is dish-washable!
Easy Chocolate Cupcakes, adapted from Cakes by Le Cordon Bleu
- 110g butter
- 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
- 300g caster sugar
- 150g dark chocolate
- 100ml milk
- 150ml water
- 250g plain flour
- 40g cocoa powder
- 3tsp baking powder
- pinch bicarbonate of soda
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line 18 muffin tins with paper cases.
- Combine the butter, oil, sugar, chocolate, milk and water in a small saucepan over low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and then whisk in the chocolate mixture. Gradually whisk in the eggs, one at a time, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour the batter into the prepared tins and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centre of a cupcake.
- Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
This recipe makes 18 cupcakes. Feel free to jazz them up with some chocolate ganache, or carve a hole in the centre and fill with dulce de leche.
I honestly do not know where this year has gone. I feel as though I’ve spent a lot of time getting incredibly caught up in life and all of its challenges, while not really finding time to do the little things that I enjoy.
Although I haven’t been baking as much as I’d like in the past few months, I made some time recently to create a recipe for Oxfam’s rejigged Vegetarian Cookbook, which is now in its fifth edition.
I’m really quite honoured to be published in this book, alongside famous cooks and chefs such as Maggie Beer, Stephanie Alexander, Guy Grossi and Kylie Kwong.
But that’s not all. Sometimes it takes the little things to remind you that life isn’t so bad. And for me, that was slogging away in the kitchen on a warm night, getting a tiny bit (read: very) annoyed at myself and this recipe, before remembering the reason I was doing it. And that there are so many people out there who are much worse off than myself, and by doing something small, I can hopefully help out.
Below I’ve published my recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies, featuring Oxfam’s fair trade spread. And you know what? They turned out super chocolatey and fudgey, and pretty much as awesome as you’d expect a batch of brownies with a whole jar of hazelnut chocolate spread to come out. Please give them a go, and let me know what you think. And if you have the time, wander into your local Oxfam shop, or check them out online, and see what they’re up to and what you can do to give them your support. Even if it’s as small as buying a fairtrade jar of hazelnut spread.
Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
- 1 jar (400g) Oxfam fair hazelnut chocolate spread
- 50g butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- ½ cup (90g) brown sugar
- 1 cup (150g) plain flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the base and sides of a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper.
- Combine the jar of hazelnut chocolate spread and melted butter in a large bowl using a whisk.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, until a smooth paste forms. Stir in the vanilla essence and brown sugar.
- Sift over the flour and baking powder and fold to combine. Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin, spreading out the mixture evenly using a spatula.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the brownies spring back when lightly touched but a skewer inserted into the centre comes out slightly fudgy.
- Cool the brownies completely in the tin before lifting out onto a serving plate. Cut into rectangles to serve. Makes 12 brownies.