Happy nearly-Halloween to anyone reading! The picture above is the view from my garage window hence the frankly terrifying cobwebs in the corner. The red vine there is always beautiful in the autumn but this year it is more eye-catching then ever and with the early-morning sunshine coming through, just stunning.
It’s been an excitable sort of a week. I mentioned last week that I was working with the press office at the OU to get something out about my research – and lo and behold, on Monday afternoon I was having a nice chat to a BBC journalist about scary films, distorted faces and zombie eyes. The next morning, this lovely piece appeared! I can’t put into words how strange and surreal it felt to see an article all about my research on a website that I use daily. All credit to Kath in the press office for making it happen, she’s been terrific. I really don’t have a clue what I’m doing here but she’s been great with advice and help and just generally brilliant. When I eventually have something of more interest to the world (a book perhaps?) she’ll be the person I’ll want to handle any announcements.
I have to say, seeing my name in pixels did leave me feeling a bit overwhelmed and shaky yesterday, so what did I do? Bake. Of course. It’s not only perfect for getting perspective and solving tricky phrasing problems, it’s incredibly calming.
Now, I have made these before, but this is a slightly different variant – a gentler chocolate flavour compared to the full-on, grown up version I made in August. I would say these are more child-friendly, but seeing as I baked them for a group of role-players and my lovely officemates, that premise hasn’t been tested. The substitution of dairy milk for the original dark-and-spooky chocolate meant the flavour was much milder but the texture was definitely lighter as well. The dark chocolate version is probably ‘better’ but it’s all relative, isn’t it?
Chocolate custard muffins
Makes 12, original recipe here.
- 50g cornflour
- 3 level tbsp cocoa
- 100g dark soft brown sugar
- 225ml cold water
- 75g unsalted butter, cubed
- 125g Dairy Milk, broken small
- 75ml sunflower oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 125g caster sugar
- 125g plain flour
- 2½ tsp baking powder
For the light chocolate buttercream topping
- 125g unsalted butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 3 tsp cocoa powder
- 2-3 tsp cold milk
- First make the custard: put the cornflour, cocoa, brown sugar and water into a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until boiling, very thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, beat in the butter and chocolate until melted and absorbed, then add the oil, vanilla and one of the eggs, and beat again until combined. Add the remaining egg and the caster sugar, and beat again until smooth and thick.
- Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir together, then sift directly on to the custard and beat through until combined. Spoon into a dozen paper muffin cases sitting in the pockets of a muffin tray; heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and bake for 25 minutes.
- Leave to cool.
For the buttercream – you know this, don’t you? Just mix everything together until it’s decently spreadable. Consider using a piping bag but then decide life doesn’t need to get any scarier than it already is!
Here’s the finished result, adorned with some spooky sprinkles…