Monday, November 5, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Here in Galway it is still the 5th of November and my 25th birthday, though in New Zealand it is already the 6th so technically I think my birthday is over. It's cold here and already pitch black outside even though it's not even 6 pm and I may have celebrated a little too much yesterday (I was celebrating my birthday on New Zealand time). Today I am left feeling tired and a little hungover from too many yummy cocktails, so I couldn't even appreciate the cupcakes that I made for myself. Though that might not just be the cocktail hangover - two cakes were brought along last night from two different friends so I think I'm having a bit of a chocolate hangover too. We neglected to take photos last night but here is this morning's remnants of my gorgeous candy-coated cake:

I figured I'd start with a picture of something successful because my own baking story for the day is full of disasters. I wanted to make Chocolate Mudslide cupcakes. The cupcakes themselves were fine, but the frosting was not. I decided to try something new - a swiss meringue buttercream. It starts with heating egg-whites and sugar over a pot of simmering water, which was fine. Then the egg whites and sugar had to be whipped into a meringue. That didn't go quite so easily - my electric hand mixer was not really up to the task and my meringue was perhaps not so thick and glossy as it should have been. But it was still good. Next it was time to add butter, bit by bit, which at first was fine and the frosting got thick and fluffy and tasted good. But then as the last of the butter was added the frosting separated and began to look curdled. I looked it up on the internet and apparently that's normal, you just need to keep beating it. Again, my electric mixer was just not up to the task. I think trying this again will have to wait until I have a proper cake mixer. It was not all bad - the chocolate kahlua buttercream was perfect. Somehow the addition of the melted chocolate made the frosting turn smooth and satiny immediately. But the baileys buttercream just would not come together. So instead of stressing about it I put it all in the fridge to try again in the morning.

Well, morning came along and I tried to beat the baileys buttercream some more but it would still just not come together at all. So in the end I figured I'd just mix the two together instead of having two-tone frosting. Only the chocolate buttercream was still very hard from being in the fridge. I stupidly try to beat it anyway and next thing I knew my mixer just stopped. It wouldn't start again and then I noticed a burning smell in the air - I think I must have blew a fuse or bust the motor or something. Luckily it didn't cost much in the first place; it was about 10 euro and has lasted me over two years. I guess until I leave Ireland I will have to stick to cookies and muffins and other things that don't need to be beaten or creamed.

To finish my little story of woe, I gave the frosting a quick spin in the microwave to soften it and beat it by hand with a big spoon. But adding the lumpy baileys frosting to the lovely chocolate kahlua frosting resulted in a slightly greasy, lumpy looking frosting that was not the smooth, satiny goodness that a swill meringue buttercream is supposed to be. It still tasted good, but they just weren't perfect. In a way, that should teach me for being impatient. And it makes me wish a had a good Kenwood cake mixer. I took the cupcakes to work and gave them to all my friends so now I don't have to see my failed cupcakes anymore. One day I will try it again and hopefully it will turn out perfectly. At which point I will add photos. For now, you will have to settle for just words.

Kahlua Chocolate Cupcakes

125 grams butter (room temperature)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (100 grams)
1/4 cup kahlua

The cupcakes are easy and you make them just like any other cupcakes. Begin by turning the oven on to 180 degrees celsius and lining a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners.

Place the butter in a large bowl, add the sugar and beat until creamy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Sift in the cocoa, flour and cocoa powder. Add the kahlua (or milk or coffee for non-alcoholic cupcakes) and beat until smooth. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes, then allow the cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

Mudslide Swiss Meringue Buttercream
From Baker Becky
For a really good tutorial with pictures see Sweetapolita 

3 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
250 grams butter, room temperature
3 tablespoon baileys
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
100 grams melted bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons kahlua

Place a medium sized saucepan on the stove and fill halfway with water. Bring it to the boil and then let it simmer. Place a large bowl over the saucepan, making sure it doesn't touch the water.

Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl and whisk until the mixture is warm; check using a candy thermometer, it should be about 70 degrees celsius. Then remove the bowl from the heat.

Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your cake mixer (you don't want to do this with a hand mixer, believe me). Beat for about 10 minutes with the whisk attachment, until the mixture is thick and shiny - like meringue.

Cut the butter into small cubes and begin to add them a few at a time, beating well after each. After it has all be included continue beating for another 5 or 10 minutes, until it is smooth and glossy (which didn't happen for me this time around).

Bring your saucepan of water back to a simmer and place a small bowl over it. Break the chocolate into it and stir it until it is all melted and smooth.

To keep it simple, add the choclate, cocoa powder, baileys and kahlua and beat well, then pipe onto the cupcakes. But if you want to be technical, check out the blog that I got this from to see her awesome two-tone frosting.

Sorry about the lack of photos, one day I will remedy that.


  1. Happy birthday. I think you should celebrate twice - on NZ time and then local time:) All the baking disasters already happened on one day, the rest of the year should be fine!

  2. Hi, Happy belated birthday. Your cupcake recipe look excellent, I'm sure it's very tasty with kahlua and chocolate chips. Great combination.

    Have a nice day.


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