A Baby Shower for Peanut
My good friends Monina & Glenn are expecting a little boy in June. In the early weeks of their pregnancy they nicknamed him Peanut, and though he’s certainly much bigger now than his namesake, the name stuck. So Peanut it is… for now
As amazing role models to hundreds of youths and young adults in our church community, Monina and Glenn are also beloved godparents to over 20 children. Though they have been surrogate parents to so many young people, Peanut will be their firstborn child. After several years of patient waiting, there were many tears of joy when they found out they were finally pregnant. There couldn’t possibly be more happier, nor more deserving parents than Monina and Glenn.
Subsequently, Peanut’s baby shower was cause for great celebration. Held at a local community hall, all of Monina’s family, friends, and workmates pulled out all the stops to make this a memorable party.
The theme was Peanut & Elephant, with shades of turquoise, muted red and cream. The tables and walls were strewn with decorative fans, in various patterns, colours and sizes. And with a glorious candy bar as a centrepiece, the stage was set, as all the women gathered to eagerly celebrate Peanut’s impending arrival.
For the occasion, I was inspired to make classic dark chocolate cupcakes. I discovered a recipe posted on Cake on the Brain – it claimed to be the best chocolate cupcakes ever. The verdict? the recipe delivered an intensely rich chocolate flavour that wasn’t too sweet. the cupcakes rose gently when baked, producing a flat top perfect for decorative icing swirls. Though at first they looked like mini mudcakes, the crumb became pleasantly dry as the mixture baked. I imagine any buttery icing would be a perfect match for this cupcake.
Peanut’s cupcakes were topped with either peanut butter icing or Swiss Meringue butter cream. The peanut butter icing was promising. Though it was a soft and collapsed a little after piping, the buttery melt-in-your-mouth goodness was irresistible. After topping all the cupcakes I had a bit of icing left over… so naturally I polished it off and licked the bowl clean. But sadly, on this particular cupcake, the peanut butter icing was overpowered by the cupcake’s dark chocolate, I could hardly taste any peanut butter. Next time, I’ll try it again with vanilla cupcakes instead.
On the other hand, the Swiss Meringue was amazing. It was silky smooth and fluffy, and was delicious without being too sickly sweet. Even better, the icing piped beautifully. The simplicity of the vanilla flavour is a perfect match with the intense, dark chocolate. My new favourite icing!
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes
The original recipe is by Cooks Illustrated American Classics 2009
Makes 12 cupcakes
This recipe is not suitable for doubling (something about the raising agents), and can only be made in this batch of 12. I made 48 cupcakes, so did 4 different batches. And please be careful with your ingredients – weigh it out accurately, otherwise it will become horribly dry.
- 115g unsalted butter
- 60g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 45g Dutch-processed cocoa (I used Bourneville Cocoa and it turned out perfectly)
- 110g unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- 150g sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 115g sour cream
- Place oven rack to lower-middle position, and pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Line muffin pan with baking-cup liners.
- Combine butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water. Stir over heat until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
- Add cocoa, flour, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Sift about one-third of flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and using a wooden spoon, stir until combined. Stir in sour cream until incorporated, then sift in remaining flour mixture and stir batter until it is homogenous and thick.
- Divide batter evenly between muffin pan cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until skewer inserted into centre of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack to cool completely.
Whisk eggs in second medium bowl, then add sugar, vanilla and salt, whisking until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined.
Recipe: Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing
The original recipe is in Cupcakes by Martha Stewart
Will generously ice 30 cupcakes
- 5 large egg whites
- 2/3 cup caster sugar
- pinch of salt
- 500g unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a heatproof bowl of a standing mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).
- Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, whisk until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
- With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Don’t be alarmed if the mixture seems to curdle at first. Keep going, it will come together beautifully.
- Once all butter has been added, whisk in vanilla. Switch to the paddle attachment, and continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula, and continue beating until the frosting is completely smooth.
- Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.