Strawberry Milkshake and White Chocolate Cupcakes

Gosh doesn’t everyone love milkshake, as a child I was so spoilt, with thick shakes made with fresh strawberries, just picked, washed and hulled, scoops of ice cream and a splash or two of full fat, gold top milk? They were so thick you could barely suck them up the straw. Even now I’m quite partial when we are out to a froth, ice cold milkshake, although they are made with syrup or powder. So, when I saw a Strawberry Milkshake cupcake in a magazine, well, I just had to have a try myself.

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Cupcakes are a phenomenon, they have become so popular, and are fun and versatile and very easy to make. Next week I will be baking lots of Halloween themed cupcakes topped with sugar pumpkins, ghosts, and witches’ hats. The secret of this recipe to use Nesquik milkshake powder which gives a real milkshake flavour to both the cake and the topping and I added another childhood favourite some white chocolate buttons to give it my own little twist.

Strawberry and White Chocolate Milkshake Cupcakes    makes 18

For the Cupcakes

210 ml Full fat Milk

210 gr Plain Flour

220 gr Caster Sugar

120 gr White Chocolate Buttons

70g soft Unsalted Butter

75 gr Strawberry Milkshake Powder

2 large free-range Eggs

1 scant tablespoon of Baking Powder

A good pinch of Salt

For the Icing

500 gr Icing Sugar

160 gr soft Unsalted Butter

100 gr Strawberry Milkshake Powder

50 ml Full Fat Milk

Red Gel Food Colouring

Cupcake or deep Muffin Tins

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 3 / 170°C / 330 °F and line the baking trays with large paper cases. Using an electric mixer or food processor mix the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together until they form a sandy, crumb-like texture. In a bowl, whisk the milk, eggs and strawberry milkshake powder together. With the mixer on a slow speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture and mix thoroughly until combined and the batter is smooth and thick. Once all the lumps are gone gradually pour in the remaining liquid and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in half of the white chocolate buttons.

Evenly divide the cake batter between the prepared cases and bake in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before removing them from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl and add the butter, beat together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. In a jug, mix together the milk and strawberry milkshake powder, then gradually pour the liquid into the icing while mixing on a slow speed. Add a little red food colouring to colour the icing pink. Turn the mixer up to a high speed and beat the icing until light and fluffy. Scoop the whipped-up icing into a piping bag with a star nozzle, ready to ice the completely cool cupcakes. To get the two-tone effect I diluted a little more food colouring with a little water and brushed around the inside of the piping bag before piping the frosting onto the cakes.

Decorate with the remaining white chocolate buttons, some fresh or freeze-dried strawberries and a dust of icing sugar.

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Valentines Ruby Red Velvet Cake

Ruby Red Velvet cake is an American classic but easily adapted for a special Valentines treat. A traditional velvet cake has layers of moist deep red crumb cake with white vanilla buttercream or frosting. In the recipe below I have included a cream cheese frosting recipe. Ruby Red Velvet cake was made famous at  New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and in fact was named Waldorf-Astoria cake*, it is, however, a Southern recipe and is popular at restaurants such as the soul food based Amy Ruth’s in Harlem**. If you have ever seen the film Steel Magnolias the Armadillo shaped groom’s cake is a red velvet cake.

The Science Bit

Most modern recipes use red colouring but the traditionally the acids in the vinegar and buttermilk reacted with red anthocyanin in the cocoa and developed its colour. The buttermilk also helped keep the cake moist, light, and fluffy. Modern chocolate has often undergone Dutch processing, which prevents the colour change of the anthocyanins.  When foods were rationed during World War II, bakers used boiled beetroot juices to enhance the colour of their cakes. Sugarbeets are still found in some red velvet cake recipes, where they also add sweetness and help to retain moisture, rather like the carrot in carrot cake. Adams Extract, a Texas company, is credited with bringing the red velvet cake to kitchens across America during the Great Depression era, by being one of the first to promote the use and sales of red food colouring use of point-of-sale posters and tear-off recipe cards.

I like this cake because if you follow the recipe it is light and moist and tastes delicious. The frosting is very rich but addictive, all in all, this is a real heart pleaser.

*Rather like the illustrious Savoy hotel in London the Waldorf-Astoria had a tradition of the Chef’s creating dishes for their guests, Thousand Island Dressing is another creation from the hotel’s kitchens that we still use today. At the Savoy the famous hotelier César Ritz and his Maitre de Cuisine  Auguste Escoffier created dishes like Pavlova and Omelette Arnold Bennett for their illustrious clients and for the famous Australian opera singer Nellie Melba both Peach Melba and Melba Toast.

**So Harlem is about as far from the deep south as physically and politically possible but it is where I first tried Velvet cake it’s on the menu as Inez Bass, named after the founder’s Mother. 

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Ruby Red Velvet Cake

For the Cake

250 gr Plain Flour

60 gr Cocoa Powder

150 gr soft Unsalted Butter

260 gr Caster Sugar

2 large free-range Eggs

200 ml Buttermilk

1 tablespoon Red Food Colouring ( approximately )

1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

1 teaspoon Distilled Vinegar

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

¼ teaspoon Salt

 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

250 gr soft full fat Cream Cheese

250 gr Mascarpone Cheese

100 gr Icing Sugar

1 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract

175 ml Double Cream

For the Cake

Preheat your oven to 350F / 175C / Gas mark 3, then butter and line two twenty-centimetre cake tins with baking parchment. Into a large mixing bowl sift the flour and salt. In a second large bowl beat the butter until very soft, add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and aerated. Whisk the eggs together and slowly add to the butter and sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Should the mix start to separate and curdle, beat in a little flour before adding more egg, when finished beat in the vanilla extract.

Whisk the buttermilk together with the red food colouring, you may need a little extra depending on the depth of colour. Fold in the buttermilk and flour to the creamed eggs, sugar and butter in three batches using the edge of a large metal spoon. In a small cup combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to begin to fizz up and then fold into the cake batter. Quickly divide the batter evenly between the two prepared tins and tap to remove any large air bubbles.

Bake in the oven for around twenty-five minutes until a metal skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tins for a few minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool totally. At this stage, you can freeze the cakes or wrap in cling film to store overnight.

For the Frosting

In a large mixing bowl beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth. Sieve in the icing sugar and add the vanilla, whisk until thoroughly combined. Slowly add the cream, whisking until a thick but spreadable consistency is achieved.

Using a large serrated knife carefully cut each cake layer in half. Spread three cake layers with a layer of frosting. Place all four layers of the cake on top of each other and frost the top and sides of the cake. The cake is traditionally garnished with fresh or desiccated coconut.