Red Velvet Stress Release

Spreading the love with my spatula

There are many joys of working in childcare – each day brings something wonderful and warms my heart. However it can also be stressful and knowing this, sometimes I bring something special for my colleagues to brighten their day. This week, it was red velvet cupcakes.

Red velvet cupcake

Indeed, making something delicious for people I care about and then sharing it with them is enough to brighten my own day in itself. If I can bring even momentary happiness to someone who’s having a crappy day, it makes me happy to know I could do that.

One of the great things about working in childcare is working with lovely people who appreciate the small things in life, as most do. Hence when I was flicking through my cookbooks looking for my next baking venture and saw these cupcakes, I thought “Why not?”

Although I’m always using Nigella’s books as reference, as it is Nigella week on MasterChef – cue extreme childlike excitement here! – I wanted to honour her as one of the reining influences in my culinary education in this post. Nigella Lawson has inspired me for years, not least because her cookbook Kitchen was the very first cookbook I ever owned. Her voice spoke to me from the pages of her books and taught me how to cook and her TV shows provided comfort for me at times when I just wanted to block out the world.

Stacked red velvet cupcakes for work!

When I decided to try making these red velvet cupcakes, I was taken aback at the specified use of a teaspoon of cider vinegar in both the sponge and the frosting. I was uncertain about this and the fact that there was buttermilk in the recipe made me wonder what on earth I was getting into.

And then, I was charmed. Do not be afraid of putting these components in your cupcakes, as they are both essential to red velvet. As is the copious amounts of red food colouring which create such a deep, red sponge.

Needless to say, my work buddies were delighted with my efforts.

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Mother’s Day Cheesecake

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

This Mother’s Day, I wanted to give my lovely mum something that she could indulge in. She’s always doing things for everyone else, me included, and I wanted to celebrate her as the woman who has supported me throughout my life and loved me with no exceptions.

Chocolate peanut butter cheesecake, deliciously sliced

So I went out and bought some ingredients which, when combined, create one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever had. Anyone who hasn’t already jumped on the peanut and chocolate bandwagon ought to get on it! To my mind, it’s the perfect balance between salty and sweet.

“Everything in moderation, including moderation… For those moments of obligatory in moderation, I have a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.” – Nigella Lawson, Kitchen TV series.

This particular cheesecake is one of my favourite cakes to make for special occasions (or just when I want to make it a special occasion). It is so easy to make as almost everything is done by combining the ingredients in a food processor – oh, what would I ever do without my handy food processor? – first for the biscuit base and then wiped out and used for the cream cheese filling.

Once this is baked for an hour, the chocolate topping is melted and spread on, set in the oven, then everything cools off and chills in the fridge overnight. You know you’ve done well when you can hear the enamel being scraped off the plate as the person you have made the cheesecake for attempts to get every smudge of chocolate onto their spoon.

Needless to say my super sweet, sweet-toothed mother loves her cake. Not going to lie, I do too…

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