When deciding what to cook for the first dinner I remembered that I had a stash of pizza bases in the freezer that I had made a couple of weeks earlier. They were a perfect fuss free meal which took no time to prepare and less to cook. Served with a lovely fresh green salad, it was a great relaxed and tasty meal that still impressed with homemade flair.
For the second dinner I also took to the freezer for inspiration and found there a pasta al forno I had made for Christmas. We didn’t end up eating it on Christmas Day as we had so much seafood at lunch we weren’t hungry for dinner! Served up for our friends with another lovely fresh green salad (why fix what ain’t broken, folks) we made another great impression for very little effort.
Now, I was feeling rather lazy about not making anything from scratch, so I decided I would try my hand at a big batch of cupcakes to serve for dessert at both dinners. I wanted to try something a little different but was also avoiding a trip to the supermarket, so with all the fixings for dark chocolate cupcakes in the kitchen and a big batch of limes left over from Christmas, I decided I’d put the two together and make dark chocolate and lime cupcakes. After a quick google search, I could tell dark chocolate and lime isn’t a usual combination – but it sounded tasty to me. That meant if I could make these babies work they may just cause a taste sensation… and boy did they ever!
What a wonderful combination! The cakes were made with decadent Lindt chocolate and as a result the cupcakes had a very luxurious taste. The lime was only added to the frosting (not the cake) and I added just zest to get the flavour as I didn’t want the frosting to change consistency due to the addition of an acidic liquid. I finished them off garnished with more lime zest and slices of lime I had dried in the oven.
MIDNIGHT CHOCOLATE AND LIME CUPCAKES
1/2 cup butter
100g 70% chocolate bar, in pieces
3/4 cup cake flour (in Australia, use 50% corn flour and 50% plain flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
CHOCOLATE LIME FROSTING
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoons buttermilk
Zest of 1 lime
Heat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line 12 hole muffin tin. Combine butter and chocolate over a double-boiler (pot of boiling water with a metal bowl resting on top) until melted and set aside to cool.
Combine flour, baking soda and powder in a small bowl and set aside. In a big mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt, stirring to combine. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to wet ingredients. Add a third of the flour mixture and combine. Add the buttermilk and stir, then add the rest of the flour mixture, stirring until batter is velvety.
Divide mixture evenly in the muffin tin, and bake for 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.
For the frosting, cream butter in a mixer then sift 3 cups powdered sugar and the cocoa into the mixing bowl. Then mix until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the batter. Increase speed and add vanilla extract, lime zest, salt and milk and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. Alternatively if you need to thin it out, add additional butter milk 1 tablespoon at a time.
Place frosting in a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled midnight chocolate cakes and serve with lime zest sprinkled ontop and lime wedges dried out in a low oven.