Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Gluten-free Orange Cupcakes with Melt in the Middle Lindor Truffles

Orange chocolate is a little like Marmite, you either love it or hate it! I happen to love it, so I was really excited when I was sent some of these new orange Lindor truffles to try and they didn't disappoint. The orange is a beautiful subtle flavour that melts in the mouth. It really is a moment of bliss. I decided that instead of eating them all in one glorious gluttony act of selfishness I would experiment with a bake I could share with you and my family. Nice aren't I? (Insert grinning emoji here).

I don't know about you but oranges always remind me of autumn, maybe it's the fantastic vibrant orange colour or memories of bonfire night with hot mulled wine or Winter Pimms topped off with slices of fresh oranges. Sadly for me Pimms is a little out of the question but a cheeky cupcake or two is very much allowed! This recipe really is a celebration of the mighty orange. It's a gluten free vanilla sponge (can be made with normal flour) with an orange Lindor Truffle tucked inside for a delicious melted suprise, topped with an orange cream-cheese frosting and a slice of candied orange. Sounds yummy right? Well it is and it's actually pretty easy to make. The longest part is making the candied orange, which you might want to do the night before, but it's really easy. If you're short on time they also look great without, you could add a little curl of orange peel, or a fresh segment of orange or how about a second truffle?!

 For 15 cupcakes you will need

300g gluten free flour
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
110g butter 
200g unrefined caster sugar 
25g demerara sugar
250ml buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean pasta
Zest of one unwaxed orange
A box of orange Lindor Truffles by Lindt

Firstly put the truffles in the freezer for a few hours before you start baking.

Preheat the oven to 170 fan

Mix the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl use an electric whisk to mix together the butter, sugar, egg, buttermilk and vanilla bean paste. 
Add the dry mix a little at a time until combined.

Add half the mix to cupcake cases before adding a truffle into each and topping off with the rest of the mixture.
Cook for 15-17 minutes. Cool in the tin. 

For the orange cream cheese frosting you will need

50g butter
125g cream cheese
140g icing sugar
Zest of a large orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Cream the butter and cream cheese together and add the sugar and orange zest. Top the cakes and add a candied orange slice.

For the candied oranges you will need 

2 cups of water
1/2 cup sugar 
Two navel oranges 
70% dark chocolate 

Slice the oranges to 1/4 of an inch and then cut in half. In a large pan add the boiling water and sugar. Bring to boil and add oranges in a single layer. Turn over a few times and keep it boiling for 7-10 minutes. Then simmer on a lower heat for half an hour turning every now and then. Wait a few minutes for them to cool and add to a sheet of baking parchment. Leave for 6-7 hours or over night. 
Heat the chocolate in a bain Marie or microwave. Dip one end of the candied orange into the chocolate and let it set on baking paper.

Now bring it all together starting with a layer of cream cheese frosting followed by a candied orange slice and enjoy!

I'm entering this recipe in to The Great Denby Cake Off competition because I think this recipe is a great celebration of autumnal colours and flavours. More details (here) for anyone else who wants to enter.

Emma Xx

Friday, 4 September 2015

Last of the Summer Blooms

While a lot of my Instagram feed is filling up with people's delight at autumn I'm still holding onto summer. It may be September but only just. Where I live I'm surrounded by green trees, plants and flowers, so it seems funny talking about golden leaves! 
This week my mum and I went over to a friend's allotment, under instructions to help ourselves to anything. It was a welcome outing for me as I've not been able to get out much this summer. As a second thought, I decided to quickly grab my camera before heading out. I'm so glad I did! While my mum picked raspberries and runner beans, I found lots of beautiful flowers to take photos of, including a stunning tall sunflower plant full of busy bees buzzing around. Then came the flower picking, there were so many colourful blooms, we went away with a car boot full which are all now in vases scattered around the house. 
One sunny afternoon this week I took my last opportunity to take some photos of this amazing paper flower crown in my garden before autumn well and truly arrives. It was made for me by Helen Windram of Windram Design, all the flowers are hand made out of paper, which must have taken hours and hours to make. Helen makes custom made crowns in any theme and colour required which can be found here in her etsy shop. I feel like a flower fairy wearing this crown and that can only be a good thing! I've been wanting to share it with you for months but the weather and my health have both been so bad that I've not been able to share my intended outfit which hopefully I will get to do in the spring. 

The last photo is of some of the flowers we brought home. I love all the colours together and couldn't resist taking them out of their vases to create an artistic photograph to celebrate the last blooms of summer.
Happy weekend.

Emma Xx

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Life is too short, drink tea and eat cake

A few months ago it dawned on me that my birthday is coming up. And not just any birthday, I'm going to be twenty-five. How? Why? Where did the years go? The panic and sadness about getting older and still being chronically ill is hard to deal with. My future is very sketchy. Friends my age and younger are all getting settled in their careers, moving out, traveling and having a great time being independent, while I depend on my family even more than ever. It's mile stones like this that make me feel even more trapped in time while everyone else moves on. I was nineteen when I became ill, I couldn't have imagined that I would be in the same situation almost 6 years on. I think anyone who is ill for a long period of time can relate to this sadness, especially if they're young. 

My dispair at my up coming birthday was panicking me so much, I said to a friend that I can't even relate to that age. No, I want to cancel it. Let me stay the same age, at least until I get better. A sentiment expressed every year since being ill. I always say I should be nineteen again as these years don't count. I'm not ready, I've not progressed.
But are we ever ready? Bad health or good? I sat down and started writing this post fuelled by my outrage at getting older when I happened to open a message from a friend that completely changed my view on the whole quarter of a century status I'm about to come by. My friend was about to set out to a memorial service for her friends son, Joe, who died a few days ago in a car accident, he was nineteen. Joe will forever be that magic number I wanted to stay. He will be remembered as a fun loving adventurous boy that looked like Huckleberry Finn. Joe's story snapped me out of my self pity. Wanting to be nineteen forever is wishing away my life. I'm not going to lie and say I'm not scared of getting older, I am. I'm scared of missing out and of a future I can't plan for. I'm still sad that I can't live life to the full, or as I want, but I am alive and I am grateful for every breath in my body and every year I am given. Growing older is a privallage not a curse. So in honor of Joe, who I never knew and many others, including people I have loved, who have left this world before their time, I will embrace my twenty-fifth year. 

Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop and appreciate our lives. Life doesn't always go the way we plan, but there is so much joy to be found even in the smallest of things. 
So on the third of October, I will take inspiration from my own illustration and 'love it all'. I will celebrate and welcome. I will buy extra good anti-wrinkle creams and I will eat cake and drink cup after cup of tea. I will do my best to smile through those quarter of a century jokes. After all, illness or not, being alive is something to celebrate.

Emma Xx