Friday, January 1, 2010

Merry Christmas and a happy new oven!

PLEASE forgive my long silence. The last few months of 2009 passed in a whirl of renovating, moving and swearing - the last item, obviously, caused by the first and second items!

Part of the move, however, was having a whiz-bang new cooktop and oven installed. I cannot describe the hours I lay awake at night agonising about the cooktop and oven: what if I'd measured the holes wrong? What if the new appliances arrived and were the wrong size, the wrong shape, the wrong voltage? What if I just picked the wrong ones? My God, the stress!

But they arrived, and they fit (with a bit of tweaking) and for two weeks I was too scared to do anything more difficult than boil the kettle on the cooktop and toast a sandwich in the oven (which, might I point out, has a special setting for grilling small things like sandwiches or a single chop; I love my oven). I would sit for minutes on end gazing lovingly at the stainless-steel wondrousness of the business end of the kitchen, but I couldn't quite work up the courage to use any of it.

Luckily, Christmas came along.

Every year I take some sort of dessert to my family Christmas, whether I've been asked to or not. I'm not sure whether that makes me a fabulous guest or a really annoying one. This year I was determined to make cupcakes, to give me a chance to use my brilliant cupcake carrier, and in keeping with the Christmas theme I settled on rocky road cupcakes.

To test out both the cupcakes and the oven, I did a test run the week before Christmas, obsessively reading the oven instruction manual to make sure I had the cakes on the right shelf, the right tray, so on and so forth (attentive readers may have noticed that "she'll be right, mate" isn't really part of my vocabulary).

And lo and behold, the cakes (carefully placed on the middle shelf, on a wire rack) rose perfectly evenly, perfectly brown and perfectly cooked. New oven, welcome to the family.

Rocky road cupcakes

Makes about 20

To make the cupcakes

2 tbs cocoa powder

(The recipe says one quantity makes 12 cupcakes. I found it only made 10, or 11 slightly smaller ones, but I do use a Texas cupcake tin, so that probably explains it.)

Once you've made your cupcake batter according to Nigella's recipe, spoon half of it into 10 patty-lined cupcake holes. Put those in an oven pre-heated to 200C, and to the remainder of the batter add the cocoa powder and beat well.

Spoon the chocolate cupcake batter into the patty pans and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until a skewer stuck in the middle comes out clean.

To make the milk chocolate rocky road

150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
150g marshmallows, quartered
100g glace cherries, quartered
a healthy sprinkling of desiccated coconut

Melt the chocolates together and mix in the marshmallows, glace cherries and coconut. Go by eye - if the chocolate looks too runny, toss in a few more marshmallows, cherries, nuts or whatever.

Do the same for the white chocolate rocky road, but with 300g of white chocolate.

To assemble

Using a sharp, pointed knife, cut a circle in the middle of each cupcake and scoop out the inside, as if you are making butterfly cakes. The cake innards can be frozen to make a trifle, or just left in the pantry and eaten over the next few days if you're anything like me.

Use two teaspoons to pile a generous scoop or two of rocky road into each cupcake - white chocolate rocky road for the chocolate cupcakes, milk chocolate rocky road for the vanilla cupcakes.

Dust with sprinkles or other decorations if desired and allow to set at room temperature.