Wednesday, 25 July 2012

chocolate cupcakes...

Lately I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, baking! On Sunday I made these gorgeous chocolate cupcakes which you may have already seen on my twitter or instagram, but I thought I'd blog about them too!

I (mostly) followed a recipe from the Primrose Bakery cupcake book, which I'll pop in below with my amendments, and then I used my Wilton 1M nozzle to ice the cakes, then sprinkled on gold stars and glitter on half the cakes, then chocolate and pink hearts with silver glitter on the others. I got most of these decorations from eBay, but the pink hearts are Lakeland. My friends have been trying to convince me to open my own cupcake business which I am seriously considering at the moment... exciting times!

Primrose Bakery Chocolate Cupcakes - The Helen way!
(makes around 12 regular cupcakes, 24 fairy cakes or 48 mini cupcakes)

 115g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
85 unsalted butter
175g soft brown sugar
2 large eggs, free- range or organic, separated
185g plain flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
250ml semi- skimmed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat the oven to 170c (fan)/ 190c/ 375F/ gas mark 5 and line two twelve hole muffin trays.
2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt - you can do this either over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Stir until it is completely melted and is smooth. Leave this to cool slightly.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks for several minutes and slowly add to the butter mixture and beat well. Beat in the melted chocolate.

4. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl. Pour the milk into a jug and add the vanilla extract to it. Add a third of the flour to the chocolate mixture and beat well. Pour in a third of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk has been added.

5. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Carefully fold the egg whites into the batter. Do not beat or you will take all the air out of the mixture.

6. Carefully spoon the cupcake mixture into cupcake cases, filling them to about two thirds full. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Remove from the oven and leave them in their tins for ten minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool. Ice the cupcakes once they are completely cool.

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

   175g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
225g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon semi- skimmed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g icing sugar, sifted


1. Melt the chocolate as before, until it's a thick pouring consistency; completely melted and smooth. Leave to cool slightly.

2. Beat the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar together until smooth with an electric hand mixer. Add the chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy.

3. Frost the cupcakes and decorate!

What do you think of my cupcakes? Will you be trying this recipe out?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

fruit and nut (and pumpkin pie)...

Recently I have really been enjoying this trio of products in the shower. They were all £1 each which I think is a little bit of a bargain! I mentioned the Original Source shampoo in my May favourites post, and it has remained hands down the best shampoo I've ever used since. It kept my hair healthy and shiny whilst I was in Portugal and continues to strengthen and soften every time I use it. I never thought a shampoo could make an actual difference to my hair, I just thought they would only ever clean my locks but this one really disproves that theory! I picked it up in Bodycare but I think they are also sold in Asda.

The conditioner smells just like strawberry milkshake, and the scent lingers for quite a while which I love! It's not the best conditioner ever but after I comb this through my hair, it becomes much more manageable and lovely and smooth. I picked this up in my local pharmacy but I've seen them in pound shops and Bodycare before. I've used the coconut shampoo Alberto Balsam do as well before, and that smells gorgeous too!

Pumpkin Pie shower gel is definitely not going to be to everyone's taste; my mum and dad both looked disgusted when they first smelled it but I think it's lovely. In the bottle it smells really quite pungent but once you've showered it just leaves a light scent which is quite reminiscent of a sweet pastry but doesn't last too long! They also do a strawberries and cream version which smells incredible! This too was from my local pharmacy but I'm not sure where else you can buy them. I think they're quite obviously a rip off of Philosophy products, but for £1 I'm not going to complain!

Have you tried any of these products? Do you have any bargain shower products?

Thursday, 19 July 2012

£100 asos challenge...


It appears I took an accidental blogging break for a few weeks! I've had various commitments over the past few weeks and don't seem to have any sort of schedule to my life which is a bit detrimental to my blog. I'm back now though and have a little daily schedule worked out for the next couple of months so I do hope you will all see me posting a little more!

I've seen quite a few bloggers post about the £100 Asos challenge over at the Discount Coder blog and I was feeling in need of a little online window shopping so decided to add my look! Altogether this costs £99.50 which I think is a bit of a bargain for such a gorgeous outfit. I adore the midi dress; I am hugely into longer length skirts that flare out; perfect for a twirl on the dancefloor! I've added a little bit of a fifties twist with the back seam tights and the mid heels, and stuck to a pink theme to bring it all together. I think the butterfly headband adds a really sweet modern update to the dress; and the little bracelet type loop on the clutch bag means you won't be in danger of leaving your bag somewhere silly (not that I've ever done that...!)

What do you think of my entry? Have you entered the £100 Asos challenge?

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