Vanilla Mocha Cupcakes

The sponge is chocolatey and malty and fluffy as soft clouds. The buttercream is a duo of vanilla and mocha that complements the sponge beautifully.  The silver balls are crispy silver shells from Tesco, filled with chocolate so lots of complementing going on… ‘Ooh, you’re nice’ ‘So are you!’ 🙂

I used an  868 Open Star nozzle and played around for different effects:

I’m quite besotted with this star nozzle:

I had a bowl of egg whites in the fridge from the day I made lemon curd so used them up making Italian meringue.

I had 5 egg whites and poured them directly into my stand mixer.

I put 400g of sugar (granulated) with 100ml of water into a saucepan and put it on the heat after an initial quick stir – no stirring at all after this first swizzle round. Leave the sugar to dissolve and reach a temperature of 110º (you MUST use a sugar thermometer).

As soon as it gets to 110º, switch the stand mixer on a medium speed to start whisking the whites to break down the proteins in the albumen.

Meanwhile, keep a close eye and check on the temperature of the sugar. As soon as it reaches 118º, take it off the hob and bring it over to the mixer and gently pour it down the side of the mixing bowl.

Take care not to pour it into the centre as the whisk will fling it around and you could get scalded/burned.

The sugar cooks the egg whites while the mixer whisks it to a smooth, glossy, peaks. Leave it whisking until the bowl is cool. You can add a teaspoon or so of vanilla flavouring at this point and whisk that in.

Finally, pop the meringue mix into a piping bag with the nozzle of your choice and pipe onto parchment paper on baking trays.

Place in the oven on a very low heat, around 80º, for 45 mins to maybe an hour.

When done, they should lift off the parchment easily.

They should be crispy on the outside but still have squidgy, gooey softness on the inside.

I love the elegant ‘swan’s neck’ the nozzle produced as it was pulled away.

Just love the 868 – it’s my nozzle star!