Celebrate the coming year...



With cupcakes of course!

It is New Years Eve and tonight, instead of wine (I'm sure there will be plenty of that too!) I will be taking some celebratory cupcakes over to my friend's flat to start the evening with!

I received no less than three cupcake recipe books for Christmas, so will definitely be baking my way to perfection in 2010. I was thrilled with how these turned out! Especially using my new silicone cases, I don't think I have have ever made cakes that rose so effortlessly and evenly!

Coconut Cupcakes with Pink Vanilla Buttercream
Taken from the book: Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery.

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes-
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
125g sifted self-raising flour
120g sifted plain flour
125ml coconut milk
25g desiccated coconut

For the Vanilla Buttercream-
110g unsalted butter at room temperature
60ml semi-skimmed milk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
500g sifted icing sugar
A few drops of food colouring (optional)


1) Preheat the oven to 160C (fan)/180C/350F or gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases (or use silicone cases like I did!)

2) In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth which should take about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a few minutes after adding each one and add the vanilla and almond (if used) essence at the end.

3) Combine the two flours in a separate bowl. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-third of the coconut milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added. Fold in the desiccated coconut using a metal spoon.


4) Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them to about two-thirds full. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes until slightly raised and golden brown. To check they are cooked, insert a skewer into the centre of one of the cakes- it should come out clean.

5) Remove from the oven and leave the cakes in their tins for about 10 minutes before carefully placing them on a wire rack to cool.

6) Once they are completely cool, ice the cupcakes with pink-tinted vanilla buttercream and decorate as desired!

Pink Vanilla Buttercream

1) In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, milk, vanilla extract and half the icing sugar until smooth- this can take several minutes with an electric hand mixer (so a little longer by hand!) Gradually add the remainder of the icing sugar and beat again until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

2) If you want to colour your buttercream, always start with one drop of colouring and beat thoroughly. This will be all you need to achieve a very pale pastel hue. Add carefully, drop by drop, and beat after each addition to build up to your desired shade.

YUM!

I must say, they weren't as light and fluffy in the middle as I had hoped but were still delicious! Makes a change to taking over a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers! And cheaper too!


And just one more thing before I leave you all to have what I hope will be a fantastic night for everyone-



HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

2010 is YOUR year!



It's not Christmas. It's not New Year. It is SALES.



Christmas was great this year- I did nothing but read, eat, sleep and watch TV which I know is what most of the country were doing.

I tried not to feel even a tiny bit guilty about it and just let myself drift into living-at-home-with parents mode, which entails being fed regular, hot meals and generally being spoiled and looked-after. Mum/Dad- thank you!

Now I'm back in London, faced with the reality of work tomorrow and early mornings and tube jostling and Costa-queues. So to delay this ever-so-slightly, I share with you my Christmas haul!


Beautiful teacup and saucer from my best friend Amy.



The ASOS mega-necklace from my Aunty!

Topshop tee and (seen in the previous post) Stag jumper from mother!



Topshop socks from my boyfriend's excellent mother.
Cath Kidston lot no.1 (you will see what I mean about this below, I think I need shares in the company) from Boyfriend/friends.



Mmmmm. David Duchovny and Cupcakes. Couldn't be more perfect. Can't wait to try some of these Hummingbird recipes out, even if I have heard some differing reviews.
Embroidery book and The Fall DVD from my brother.
Californication Series 1/ Hummingbird cookbook from the boy.


Cath Kidston threads tin from the boy.

Amazing Tala icing syringe set from my mother. I am so excited dto try this out and see how effective this is! Stay tuned for the results!

Cath Kidston lot no.2. Now you see don't you? You see that I have an OBSESSION. If I had my own way, my whole flat would have no plain walls or fabric. It would be a floral nightmare!



A million and one Silicone cupcakes cases from my parents and best friend Hannah- these I will be reviewing soon as I now have three different brands and styles!



YSL Parisienne from my parents. Definitely my new favourite. For now.
And the obligatory yearly feast that is Bodyshop Cranberry moisturiser which really is the most yummy scented delight for your skin!

I also got a new digital camera, which is beautiful and which I will be trailing soon on this blog!

SALES!

Ok, today is bank holiday Monday. Today is Salesday. I usually try and avoid them like the plague and stick to the online variety but today I braved it. I went to Oxford Street. I'm still recovering. Anyway...

I've heard so many good things about the Lush sale. 'Free things!' they said. Free! I couldn't pass this up so traipsed to Covent Garden (also a touristy-sardine nightmare) and spent £42 on the following!



So for every £20 you spend you get a free gift set.
I spent £42 on:

2x big bottles of Snow Fairy.
1x medium sized Snow Fairy.
1x moisturiser
3x ballistics
= 2 free gift sets!

The two gift sets that were free had a total worth of £28! Great bargain and now I'm set for probably the next 3 years. Hahaha. Ok maybe I went slightly overboard but I love it.

The Topshop sale was manic. I spent less than half an hour in there and most of that was spent queuing. I managed to grab the following-

£15-

£20- 100% silk dress-

And online I bought some plain leather black brogues for £30! Will post photos when they arrive, tomorrow hopefully!

I hope you all had some great salesday success!

Icing Sugar & Snow


The Grove, Watford (location of work Christmas party and country house to-die-for)

So, it snowed! Not too much here in North London, but Haverstock Hill, down which I have to walk to get to the tube, is an icy death trap. I am dreading having to bambi-slide down it tomorrow morning.

Only 3.5 days of work left before I get to go home to Luton and open presents, watch Doctor Who and Hamlet (major Tennant adoration at the minute) and never want it all to end.


Inspired by Miss Daisy Chain's yummy cookie exploits, I decided to try out Nigella Lawson's/ The Joy of Cooking 's Snickerdoodles- or Sugar Cookies as they're often called.



Ingredients
250g plain flour

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

125g butter, at room temperature
100g plus 2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 baking sheets, lined or greased

Method

  • Preheat oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  • Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder and salt, and set aside for a moment.
  • In a large bowl, cream the butter with the 100g of sugar until light in texture and pale in colour, then beat in the egg and vanilla.

  • Now stir in the dry ingredients until you have a smooth, coherent mixture.
  • Spoon out the remaining sugar and the cinnamon onto a plate, mix well.
  • Then, with your fingers, squidge out pieces of dough and roll between the palms of your hands into walnut-sized balls.
  • Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and arrange on your prepared baking sheets.


  • Bake for about 15 minutes, by which time they should be turning golden-brown.



  • Take out of the oven and leave to rest on the baking sheets for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  • I sprinkled mine with icing sugar to decorate!

This recipe makes about 30 and they will keep well for about 4/5 days in a tin.
They make the perfect cheap, easy-bake gift to take round on Christmas day to accompany after-dinner coffees!


Merry Christmas you pretty things!

P.S- Thank you for your cute comments on my last post, the work Christmas do turned out to be amazing (they had hired faux paparazzi to snap us as we arrived! Hilarity ensued.) As you can see in the photo below, I ended up a little worse for wear, but definitely worth it!


To lace or not to lace

So we're almost 1 week until Christmas and 'tis the season for the jolly boozing orgy that is the Work Christmas Party. Mine is this Friday, and whilst most of my beautiful, Cheryl-Cole-look-a-likey colleagues are wearing tiny River Island masterpieces of dresses, all carefully folded satin, 4-inch heels and gems like rocks, I struggled and trudged round Oxford Street desperately trying to find something that -

a) didn't make me look horrendously mumsy and overly BORING. I'm looking at you Monsoon. What happened to your wonderous Fusion range?

b) was flattering on my size 16 figure- so nothing that caused bulging, squeezing, busting or required hideous spanx pants.

c) was cute, individual, somehow allowing me to stand out from the sea of traditional Christmas party dresses that go on sale year after year, whilst still being black-tie enough that I didn't look like the only girl who 'hadn't bothered'

Eventually I settled (and I mean settled, I think I could have done better, but to be honest, I just really couldn't be bothered) for this Topshop lace dress. I actually adore the dress, but I'm just not sure its right for this sort of occasion! Too bridal? Too prom? Not dressy enough?



Teamed with- sash from eBay, Primark flower clip, Primark mary janes and a plain black blazer for the to and from journey.



So have you decided on your Christmas outfit yet? How could I up my game with mine? Help would be joyously welcomed!