No better time than Valentine’s Day to bake, we say. And Penguin have kindly let us reprint an excerpt from Samantha Blears’ Love Bakery. Feel free to send us a batch at RC HQ.
Samantha says… “OK, mistakes do happen. Time has a way of drifting on when I am busy baking in the kitchen. So when I left my lovely red velvet [sponges] in a teeny bit too long they were a little drier than they should be. So it was time to IMPROVISE! After a quick scan of the fridge, out came the cream cheese frosting and, rather than letting it go to waste, my daughter and I started crumbling up the red velvet sponges and mixing them with frosting. A rummage around in the Just-in-Case Cupboard produced some lollysticks. Add to the mix a batch of melted chocolate and a lot of sprinkles and ta dah – the Love Pop was born!”
MAKES ~ 15-20 Love Pops
12-hole muffin tin
12 muffin cases
Freestanding electric mixer
Ice cream scoop, size 16
Baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper
Microwave over or heatproof bowl and saucepan
FOR THE CAKES
60g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
20g cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp red food colouring
150g plain flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
4 ½ tsp white wine vinegar
FOR THE FROSTING
20g unsalted butter, at room temperature
40g full-fat cream cheese
125g icing sugar, sifted
FOR THE LOVE
800g (coloured) Candy Melts®, or dark chocolate
Sugar-paste flowers and hearts (see pages 81 and 141)
To make the sponge
• Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line the holes of the muffin tin with muffin cases.
• Add the butter and caster sugar to the electric mixer and cream together for 7 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
• Add the egg and mix for 1 minute.
• Mixt the cocoa powder and food colouring together with a teaspoon in a separate bowl to make a paste, then add to the mixer and mix until incorporated. Add the flour and buttermilk and mix for a further 2 minutes,
• User the ice cream scoop to divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases. Bake for 25 minutes.
• Remove the baked cupcakes from the oven and immediately transfer to a wire rack. Leave to cool.
To make the frosting
• Cream the butter and cream cheese together in the mixer for 2 minutes,
• Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the Love Pops
• Break and crumble cupcakes in a bowl by hand so that you end up with fine crumbs. Add 4 round dessert spoonfuls of the frosting.
• Knead the frosting into the sponge to create a firm mixture.
• Shape the mixture into 15-20 balls using the flats of your hands. Add extra frosting if necessary, a little at a time, so that the crumbs and frosting stick together.
• Place the balls on the baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for 3 hours. Take the chilled balls out of the fridge and insert a lolly stick gently into each.
• Melt the different-coloured Candy Melts® separately, or the chocolate, in a microwave oven on High, checking and stirring with a tablespoon every 10 seconds to avoid burning. Alternatively, melt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, Dip each chilled ball into the melted candy or chocolate to coat evenly
• Roll each ball gently in a bowl of edible sprinkles an add sugar-paste flowers and hearts to decorate as you like. Leave to set on a baking sheet.
Wrap your Love Pops individually in cellophane and tie them with a pretty ribbon. If you are giving them as a gift, buy a coloured metal bucket from our local florist and ask them to fill it with oasis. Once you’re home, cover the oasis with a pretty piece of coloured netting and place your Love Pops one by one in the oasis for a really nice effect – just like a gorgeous bouquet of flowers!