Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bloody Halloween Cupcakes

To get you in the mood for Halloween, these spookily decorated bloody cupcakes should do the trick...or treat! (Sorry, couldn't help myself!)

Spider, witch's hat, mummy, ghost, bat, tombstone, broom, skull, pumpkin, Frankenstein's monster, bloody fangs and a bone... All in a day's work! 

I made simple sponge cupcakes but before baking dribbled some strawberry jam on top and quickly buried the jam under batter so it would bake nicely.

The toppers are all handmade out of fondant, I didn't follow any designs or stencils I just fiddled around with sugarpaste until I got a shape I liked. I was too lazy to whip up buttercream so I used a glass tumbler to cut out circles of sugarpaste and used these as a base on the cupcakes. FYI, all the materials I used were featured here as well as an oh-so-fancy cocktail stick, and I painted yellow fondant with red food colouring to get a pumpkin orange colour! I also used an edible black felt tip pen which I found in Brussels for writing/pupils.

Ingredients for a dozen cupcakes:
6oz self-raising flour
4oz caster sugar
4oz margarine
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 jar of jam (strawberry or raspberry)
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius, and line a cupcake tray.
  2. Beat margarine and sugar together on a medium speed until combined.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined.
  4. Add vanilla extract.
  5. Sieve in flour and beat until combined.
  6. Divide batter between cases.
  7. Add a teaspoon of jam to each case (trail along), cover this over with batter.
  8. Bake for 20mins or until springy to touch.
  9. Allow cupcakes to cool before applying a thin layer of jam on top. Place fondant circle atop.
  10. Brush fondant with clear alcohol to give shine and allow toppers to stick.
  11. Enjoy!

If you're looking for more spooky treats check out last year's post which features a podcast with great ideas from other bloggers!

Looking for costume inspiration? Last year I wrote this article for the UCC Express but I also love Urban Outfitters range! Whatever you get up to, have a great night!

 Happy Halloween, and stay spooky! x

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Áras an Uachtaráin

Apologies for the major hiatus this month. You would think that finishing my Master's thesis (and college altogether) would bring some serenity but every day this month has been jam-packed! I've been to Northern Ireland for a residential camp, I've had job interviews, presented a paper based on my thesis at the International Committee of the Red Cross annual conference, and oh, I just visited the President, as you do... 

Since I was a member of Team Ireland at the First Aid Convention of Europe last summer, I was invited to attend a reception at Áras an Uachtaráin. (This also entailed wearing a not-so-flattering uniform, you've been warned!)

What exactly do you eat at the Áras? Well to start with a mini-pint of Guinness, a glass of wine, or orange juice cleanses the palette before aperitifs. The savoury nibbles were delicately assembled from bruscetta to miniature cones filled with pesto and olives to curry marinaded chicken on skewers. Everything was painstakingly arranged and presented on an artist's easel (very cute!)

I'll be honest, I didn't have many aperitifs- there were desserts to be had!Miniature scones were stuffed with clotted cream and a sheath of raspberry- afternoon tea at it's best!

Wafer-thin vanilla pod speckled shortbread was cut into leaf shapes. Wow! Definitely the best shortbread I have ever tasted!! It was so delicate but packed a serious punch- sublime!

My personal favourite had to be the teeny chocolate cups, piped full of chocoalte mousse, sprinkled with glittered lustre dust. So intricate and decadent!

Obviously tea was had (it is Ireland after all) in pristine fine bone China cups with the Irish Harp gilt on the edge, also emblazoned upon the napkins.

Here's a great shot with my sister and President Michael D. Higgins!