I know that Valentine’s day calls for chocolate but I could not help sharing these cute red velvet cupcakes from The Recipe Critic. With a generous swirl of cream cheese frosting, they match perfectly with the red coloured theme of the day. While its popularity is gaining momentum in our chic and ridiculously expensive coffee shops, the red velvet cupcake is an easy 2-bowl recipe to make and enjoy at home. Its beautiful red colour comes from the reaction between the small amount of cocoa powder, buttermilk and vinegar, though it is now being enhanced with natural dyes or synthetic food colouring.

RED VELVET CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

For the Red Velvet Cupcakes

3 1/3 cups cake flour, sifted

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/4 cups white caster sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 tablespoons. liquid red food coloring

3 tablespoons. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and spray with cooking spray.

  • In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and mix until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  • Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Whisk coloring, cocoa and vanilla together.

  • Add to butter-sugar mixture and mix well. Stir salt into buttermilk and add to batter in 3 parts.

  • Alternate with the flour, starting and ending with flour. In a bowl, stir vinegar and baking soda.

  • Add to batter and mix well. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter and bake in preheated oven.

  • Bake for 17 to 18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of cupcakes comes out clean.

  • For the cream cheese frosting, mix together butter, cream cheese, salt and vanilla until smooth.

  • Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Pipe a swirl on top of each cupcake.

  • Cool the cupcakes completely and top with cream cheese frosting. Makes 3 1 /2 dozen cupcakes.

Happy Valentine’s!

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From the number of times I have been posting mango flavored cakes and desserts this summer, it must be plainly obvious that they are by far my favorite seasonal fruit. Well, come on, who can resist a chilled mango lassi in this heat? The balance between the sweetness of overripe mangoes and the tangy flavour of freshly made yogurt is what gives this Indian beverage it uniqueness. A pinch of crushed cardamom is all you need to add to this childishly simple recipe from SimplyRecipes before serving. Though it mentions two servings, I think that you should double the recipe to be on the safe side; a single glass might not be enough for foodies like me.

MANGO LASSI

Ingredients:

1 cup homemade yogurt

1/2 cup full cream milk

1 cup very ripe mango, diced

1 tablespoon mango syrup

3 teaspoons honey or sugar

A dash of ground cardamom

Crushed ice cubes, to serve

Method

  • Put mango, yogurt, milk, sugar, syrup and cardamom into blender, blend for 2 minutes.

  • If you want a milkshake-like consistency, blend in crushed ice or serve it over ice cubes.

  • Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cardamom before serving. Makes 2 cups of mango lassi.

  • Lassi can made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 24 hours but are best served fresh.

Mango Lassi

Though I have had several rewarding experiences making my own ice cream from scratch in my small SEB machine, I had yet to try making blueberry ice cream at home. After browsing through a myriad of recipes online, this unusual combination of brown sugar and fresh blueberries, from Dinner with Julie, caught my eye. The basic technique remains that of making a custard based mixture into which the macerated berries are folded before going through the chilling process. Make sure you select berries that are ripe and firm; a good option would be to use frozen berries that get harvested when they are at the season’s peak. You may want to give a gentle swirl as you combine ice cream and berries together to create a marbled effect or you may be unable to resist turning the whole thing into a uniform shade ranging from delicate lilac to deep purple. Both ways, you are going to enjoy some seriously good stuff, best served scooped into wafer cones, with a dash of blueberry sauce left at the bottom of your saucepan.

BLUEBERRY ICE CREAM

Ingredients:

1 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup full cream milk

3 large egg yolks

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

Pinch of kitchen salt

1-2 tablespoons bourbon

1-2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons sugar

Squeeze of lemon juice

Method:

  • In a saucepan, heat cream and milk until steaming. In a bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar and salt.

  • Pour some of the hot cream into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to pan.

  • Whisk constantly until it bubbles and thickens. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the bourbon.

  • Scrape into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Heat blueberries, sugar and lemon juice.

  • Cook berries in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until the berries soften and burst.

  • When fruit is soft and jam-like, remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.

  • Freeze the custard in an ice cream machine. When ice cream is frozen but still soft, fold in the berries.

  • Transfer the ice cream into a loaf pan and freeze until firm. Makes about 3 cups blueberry ice cream.

Blueberry Ice Cream

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