If I was to imagine my favourite holiday, it would be somewhere cool so I could rug up and possible have a fire going in the evening. Somewhere with delicious food and plenty of wine. And somewhere I feel like I can learn something and experience the diversity and excitement of the area. Last weekend I got to do just that!
For those not familiar with the Granite Belt, do yourself a favour and get acquainted! It is a sumptuous region in south east Queensland where the temperature is just right to grow and produce grapes for wine (especially red wine, my favourite) and an amazing variety of fresh produce. Last week I was spoilt to a few days away in Stanthorpe. Living so close to the Granite Belt and all the fresh, amazing food it offers, I wonder why I don't go more often (it's only 2.5hrs from Brisbane). I was really taken by all the fresh food, but even more so the almost unlimited number of wineries and cellar doors. It really is my heaven! Funnily, I bought more port than I did wine, however I did sample a lot of wine.
This post is dedicated to my weekend away and features some of the lovely things I bought.
Makes approx 24 cupcakes
240g plain flour
80g cocoa powder
280g caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
80g butter, at room temperature
240 ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. In a bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter. Mix using an electric beater until you get a sandy consistency. On a low speed, beat in half the milk until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining milk with the eggs and vanilla. Add to batter mix on a medium speed until smooth. Don't over beat, but make sure it is smooth and not lumpy.
Pour the mixture into individual cupcake holders about 2/3's the way. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When ready, remove from oven and allow to completely cool before icing.
1/2 punnet cherries
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup port
1 tbp water
50g dark chocolate, chopped
Pit and halve the cherries and put them into a large saucepan. Add the sugar, port and water and cook over a medium heat. When the mixture starts to simmer, reduce heat to low and allow the fruit to stew for about 15 minutes (or until the mixture becomes thick and jammy). When thick, add the dark chocolate and stir until combined. Set aside to cool until the cupcakes are ready to assemble.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
142g butter, cubed and at room temp
2 tbs choc-cherry jam
In the base of a double boiler, bring water to a simmer. In the top bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar and whisk constantly until the mixture is hot to the touch, about five minutes depending on the original temperature of the eggs. When the mixture has warmed sufficiently, pour it into the bowl and whip on high speed until the bottom of the bowl is room temperature, ten to fifteen minutes. When the bowl is no longer warm, turn the mixer to medium-low and begin adding the butter piece by piece. Let each chunk incorporate completely before adding the next and don't rush the process!
After all of the butter has been added, add the choc-cheery jam and turn the speed back to high. Whip for about 3 minutes or until the buttercream comes together.
3/4 cup shredded coconut
Chocolate for shaving
24 x cherries with stem
Stir the coconut through the remaining choc-cherry jam. Cut a small hole from the top of each cupcake and fill with the jam. Using a piping bag, swirl buttercream onto the top of each cupcake. Finish with a sprinkling of shaved chocolate and a cheery.