February 27, 2009

Daily inspiration

1. lonely, 2. black lace, 3. {snow drops}, 4. fish tank girl IV

“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do and damned if you don't.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

February 26, 2009

A productive day spent making cupcakes and listening to metal

I made cupcakes today from a recipe that was in The Sunday Times Style magazine a couple of weeks ago. I've been meaning to do so for a while. The end result is a little piece of chocolate heaven! Recipe is below.

Hazelnut Chocolate Orange Cupcakes
Makes 12 standard cupcakes

- 110g unsalted butter
- 125g dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa solids), broken into small squares
- 135g caster sugar
- 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 heaped tbsp sour cream
- 25g chopped roasted hazelnuts
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange
- 110g self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
- Chocolate butter icing or dark-chocolate glaze (ingredients and instructions below)

- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a muffin tin with foil paper cases.
- Put the butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until just melted. Remove from the hob and stand for 2 minutes, then throw in the chocolate and leave to stand for a further 2 minutes. Stir until smooth, then add the sugar and mix in well.
- Beat in the eggs a quarter at a time, making sure each lot is well mixed in before adding the next.
- Beat in the vanilla and sour cream, nuts and orange zest, then fold in the flour and cocoa, before beating for a couple of seconds to combine.
- Divide between the cases and bake for 15-20 minutes — you want them to be only just set on top. Remove and leave to cool.
- Pile with chocolate butter icing, or glaze with a flat pool of chocolate icing: slice the top from the cake so it is below the level of the case, then pour the icing on top.
- Decorate the centre with a whole roasted hazelnut, a gold star, an M&M or Minstrel, or a piece of candied orange, or sprinkle over chopped hazelnuts. Covering M&Ms with edible gold leaf will also look pretty.

For the chocolate butter icing (which I used):
Melt 75g dark chocolate and leave to cool to room temperature.
Beat 150g unsalted butter until creamy, then beat in 300g sifted icing sugar sugar.
Vigorously mix in the chocolate, then add 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1 tbsp milk and beat until smooth. Spread onto cakes with a knife or pipe with a star nozzle.

For the chocolate glaze:
Melt 100g unsalted butter over a low heat until just melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 2 minutes. Add 150g dark chocolate, broken into small squares or pieces. Leave to stand for another 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Beat in 1 tbsp golden syrup, then either pour while still molten or leave to cool and spread over the top.

My notes:
You could replace the hazelnuts for another of your choice (I imagine almonds would be nice) or you can take them out completely. I didn't use a muffin tin, I used a standard cupcake tray with standard baking cases. (I wanted to make CUPCAKES not muffins.) I also found the cooking time to be a bit too long.

These cupcakes don't rise much so don't be afraid to fill the cases. For reference, the chocolate I used for both the cupcakes and the icing was Green & Black's 72% cook's chocolate. I found 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract in the icing to be a bit overpowering, but that's definately subjective.

February 24, 2009

I think I'm in love

Today I came across a cover of Tiger Mountain Pleasant Song (Fleet Foxes) by two sisters from Sweden who collectively go by the name 'First Aid Kit.' I'm totally in love with their voices.

You can download this cover for free here. (You can also listen to the Fleet Foxes original here on youtube.)

If you want to hear some of their own stuff, check their myspace. You can buy their EP 'Drunken Trees' from Klicktrack (320kb, DRM free) or from Amazon.

Some favourites from London Fashion Week

So it's currently London Fashion Week and although it's not quite over yet, I thought I'd share some of my favourites so far, which all happen to be from yesterday's shows.

Marios Schwab may have had a show where all the pieces only really have one use, but the pieces were gorgeous. I want all of these dresses in my wardrobe, stat. (If only, eh?)

I'm a big fan of Luella and as usual she showed some pieces I would love to wear (and kill to have). Totally unimpressed by her having Pixie Geldof walk the runway for her though, it didn't look right at all.

A final favourite was Erdem's show. Lovely dresses with great shapes, really cool boots and opaque black tights. Perfect clothing for autumn. Great styling too.

A mention also has to go to noir / bllack noir. I really dig black and neutrals, so this does it for me.

I love imagining my dream wardrobe, I hope I'm not the only one!

February 22, 2009

Sunday Six - 22nd February 2009

Sunday is such a lazy day, so spend some time and have a look at a collection of six things I like this week.

1. Tim Walker for Vogue Italia, here. My all-time favourite photographer!

2. Broken Robot Girl #1 by Rob Sheridan and Tamar Levine. This is going to be a series of photos and I'm really looking forward for what's to come. I wish I was that capable in photoshop!

3. The Maccabees have a new song out, entitled "No Kind Words" and the accompanying video is strange, but cool.

(You can download the song for free at their website.

4. So colourful! Great fashion photography.

5. Bits & Pieces is my favourite discovery of the week. "We scour the web so you don't have to" is the tagline. It's a collection of some of the various strange things found on the internet.

6. So, this isn't a new find but it's my goal to get as many people as possible to see this. This is a short film by the name of 'Validation' and it should not fail in making you smile. It has a wonderful message.


February 20, 2009

Inspiration: Elizabeth Young

I love Elizabeth Young's photography, she takes the kind of photos I wish I could take. Simple, light and refreshing.

See more at her website.

February 19, 2009

Jumping on the bandwagon

It's on my 101 things to do in 1001 days list and something I've wanted to do for a while and so this is my venture into blogging. It'll be a compilation of things in my head and things that please my senses.

What better way to start with than macaroons?

1. French Macaroons, 2. macaroons, 3. Macaroon I, 4. Laduree macaroons, 5. Rose Macaroons, 6. Pierre Herme's box of Macaroons, 7. * Macaroons., 8. Jin Patisserie, assorted macaroons, 9. Colorful Macaroons.., 10. Gerbets (mini macaroons), 11. Plate of Macarons, 12. Mac' aroons!, 13. macaroons, 14. Sweet Stack, 15. macaroons Land...

And to finish, one of my favourite songs of late; Lykke Li - Tonight.

You can download this song here and you can buy her album 'Youth Novels' from Amazon, itunes, HMV etc.