double chocolate cupcakes with chai buttercream frosting.


I love to make cupcakes, as my friends have all found out, and this double chocolate cupcake recipe is my very favourite – the only difficult thing is finding new and creative ways to ice it or fill it. It’s incredibly easy and is billed as a “one-pot mixture”, and it would be if I wasn’t surgically attached to my stand mixer. And, it makes 24 cupcakes – a tailor-made double batch recipe!

It comes from Annabel Langbein’s new book, Free Range in the City. I love her, just like everyone else in New Zealand at the moment, and what I really love about her recipes is that I almost never change them – they’re perfect as is.

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coming soon … christmas cake.


That’s my 1kg of mixed fruit, soaking in 2 cups of orange juice. Tomorrow, I will bring you Christmas cake! Would you believe, it only takes one other ingredient?!

I wasn’t going to make a cake this year, but today at work a customer gave me this incredibly easy recipe and I just had to try it. You can never have too much cake, right?!

And, just because they’re so darned pretty:


Double chocolate boysenberry cupcakes with blackcurrant cream cheese frosting. One of these days I’ll get some new cupcake recipes, I swear! (Seriously though, would it be ridiculous to make sticky date cupcakes and ice them with toffee frosting?)

miss cookie’s cupcakes.

So I just recently got a stand mixer for making my beautiful cakes, and all I’ve made with it so far is cupcakes – though I am fully intending to make some shortbread tonight or tomorrow night.

So, here are my pretties:


Double chocolate boysenberry, with boysenberry buttercream frosting.

lemon cream cheese 1-1

Lemon yoghurt, with lemony cream cheese frosting.


Spiced carrot cupcakes, iced with cream cheese frosting and garnished with chopped walnuts.


As usual, if anybody wants some recipes, flick me a tweet! They’re all based on cookbook recipes, but they’ve all been altered to (in my opinion) improve them.


Note: I also use an icing gun, not a piping bag. Hate the damned things (read: I am terrible at using them).

exciting things from the kitchen (picture clear out).


Yum … potato flatbread. Does not keep well, but makes for the most awesome picnic snack with dip and salami and chicken and whatnot.

I love how well used our pizza stone is. They’re like wooden spoons, they only become legit when they get nice and used looking.


Also yum … cupcakes. I’ve made so many cupcakes recently. All the same flavour – double chocolate and boysenberry. And, try not to judge my fridge. I know it’s very full. But, mainly of cupcakes, and the rest is pretty much stuff to make cupcakes. Except maybe the garlic.


Because I’m awesome – a cupcake carrier. It comes with a second tray that sits on top and carries another dozen cupcakes. So cool! Used it for a picnic in the domain today. It was lovely. (Our friends who we picnicked with brought homemade tortillas and we wrapped hot roast chicken in them. Mmmm!)


And the fresh batch, cooling under my super snazzy $4 food cover. Isn’t it just gorgeous? Red polkadots and lace! Could it be more me? No.


Caketin stack! And, a tonne of books (but not our whole collection by a long shot).

new cookware

Colourful cookware! Flan, casserole, teapot, ramekins. And yes, all of my cookware is brightly coloured. The jug, which can be seen in the background, lights up when you boil it … it’s the whole reason we bought it.


Spice jars: cumin, turmeric and paprika. We’ve since added chili, coriander, cinnamon and ginger (don’t fear, my cooking repertoire was not devoid of these spices, we just bought them in much more normal quantities, i.e. tiny little 40g boxes).

creme brulee

Regular creme brulee …

strawberry creme brulee 2

And creme brulee with strawberries trapped below the surface. DELICIOUS.


Well … that ought to keep you going until I make something more interesting. Enjoy! If you want a recipe for anything, comment and let me know, I’ll be glad to share.

breville scraper mixer pro (with planetary action).

Recently I have been researching stand mixers. They’re kickass, and anyone who has ever watched anything on the food channel wants one – I guarantee it.

I decided I wanted one as a result of watching Annabel Langbein’s show (The Free Range Cook, I think it’s called).


On Tuesday morning, we went out to get my boyfriend a multimeter (his laptop just had a cry and stopped charging, and being the electrical geek that he is, he figured out where the problem was using a multimeter) and I thought hell, why not stop into a few shops and scope out some mixers. I just wanted to see what was around, really. I’ve done a fair bit of research, and worked out what the good brands to be looking into are.

Anyway. At the first shop, I found the BEM800, in red, for $510. Not bad, seeing as it’s standard retail is around $750. It was around this point that thoughts started to creep in like, ‘I’m going to do so much baking this summer’, ‘It’s such a good deal,’ ‘I did just graduate and get a payrise’, and ‘I’ve made so much extra money from tutoring’.

At shop 2, $498, but only in silver.

At shop 3, $443, but they only had the shelf model left! However, they are a chain store (Briscoes, for kiwis) and we figured what the hell, we’d head to the next nearest store. It was at this point that buying a mixer became especially urgent – they were $443 reduced from $740, and the sale ended at midnight!

At shop 4, we found about a dozen of them in black, red, and silver. Obviously I got red.

This is me opening it … I don’t think I have ever looked so joyous. Seriously, like a kid on Christmas day.


And this is what it looks like. It has one dial, which controls power and mixing speed. It comes with four attachments – mixer, scraper mixer, whisk and dough hook. It has a timer, which can count up (to figure out how long a recipe takes to mix) and down (for those ‘beat for 3 minutes’ type of instructions – and the motor switches off then as well).


So, what was the first thing I made?

… cupcakes, of course. Double chocolate boysenberry (those are hiding in the middle) with boysenberry buttercream frosting.


Beautiful, right?

And, just for fun: me being a pirate with a dough hook (a dough pirate!).


huia recipe book.

So, since last time I’ve posted there has actually been quite a big development in my life. I got a sweet job for next year!

I’m pretty sure everyone knows of the existence of RAs in university halls of residence, and next year I’m going to be one. When the applications were going in, it occurred to me that it could be a bit of fun (and the salary covers the rent) and so I filled out the form and threw it in on the last possible morning.

There were three stages of application – the form application was first, followed by group interviews, followed by one-on-one, or rather three-on-one interviews. Somehow, I made it as far as the three-on-one and they seemed to like me (amazingly. I thought the interview was terrible and I had to run to it from a lab which I was desperately trying to finish early). Because they gave me a job for 2010!

This year I’ve lived at International House (I will post pictures of my lovely halls of residence at some stage) but next year I’ll be an RA at Huia Residence, which is just over a bridge from here, next to the medical school (very handy for me) and involves cooking your own food (darn). O, and it’s alcohol free. It’s very different to I. House, but I am looking forward to it.

Anyway. I have started collecting recipes for my year of doing my own food, and the first thing I did was to grab a pretty notebook to write them all in. I started it with nine cupcake recipes (good effort, huh?). And here it is.

My Huia recipe book.


(Huia, for any non-New Zealanders, is a type of bird. It’s black, iridescent, rather small, and very extinct.)

DSCF7128 DSCF7129

500 cupcakes.

When I bought my excellent recipe book (see the post for the 18th of October) I noted, of course, that it had some lovely cupcakes on it. Naturally, the first ting I thought of was: the first recipe should be a cupcake recipe.

There’s a girl who lives in my hall of residence who seems to be forever borrowing the dining hall kitchen to make cupcakes, so I thought, who better to ask? I facebooked Alli – can you recommend me a cupcake recipe? – and she did me one better. She lent me her cupcake bible.

I really must return it to her … but I just keep copying them out. In fact, I shall copy one here, in case any of the [few] readers of this blog feel the need to make themselves some cupcakes.

Carrot and Walnut Cupcakes


225g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

4 eggs

1 tsp mixed spice

100g (3.5oz) chopped walnuts

150g (5oz) freshly grated carrots

2 tbsp sultanas


200g (7oz) cream cheese, softened

175g (6 oz) icing sugar, sieved

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla essence

2 tbsp chopped walnuts


Preheat your oven to 175C (350F/gas mark 4). Place 18 baking cases in muffin tins. Combine the butter, sugar, flour and eggs in a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon the batter into the cases. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove tins from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the cupcakes and cool on a rack. To make the icing, slowly beat the cream cheese and icing sugar in a large bowl with an electric whisk until creamy and soft. Add the lemon juice and vanilla and beat briskly until well combined. Spread the icing liberally onto the cooled cupcakes and garnish with the chopped walnuts.

Store without icing for up to 3 days in an airtight container, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Makes 18.


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