Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes & Organised Birthdays (vegan, egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

People assume that if you have four children, you must be very organised. Very with it, always on the ball. I am not one of those people. However, on rare occasions I pull it out of the bag and it all comes together.

My eldest daughter’s recent birthday was one such occasion. For her party, we organised a civilised sleepover for four of her friends and her six year old sister. At some point in the planning I had an organisational brainwave. I persuaded my husband he should take our two other little ones away for the weekend, leaving me to focus on the Birthday Queen and entourage.

On the day of the party we waved them off, and with guests due at 4pm, I shooed my girls off to get dolled up. With 10 minutes to go, my second daughter came down,
‘Will you do my hair Mum?’
As I scooped her lovely blonde hair into a pony tail, I saw an enormous lump bulging out from under her ear. I blinked a little; I’d never seen anything like it.

At moments like this, my inner voice wakes up, sticks its fingers in its ears and sings, . LA LA LAAA. LA LA LAAA. LA LA LA LAAAAAAAA. It’s quite good really because it gives me a few minutes to think. It gave me a few minutes to think that here I was with a child that might need to see a doctor, no husband, no car and no babysitter for the 6 children – four of them other people’s - that I was about to have in my care. How very clever. How very ORGANISED.

Saved by the bell, the children were arriving. We ushered them in and the Mums stopped to chat. Putting on the bright, shiny voice that adults use when they’re pretending everything is ok and they don’t want to alarm their children, I said,
‘Jane, have a look at L’s neck’.
Oh!’ said Jane in a gleaming, perfectly polished voice. ‘That’s rather big’.
Above L’s head she was gesticulating and mouthing and only just stopped short of running her finger across her throat.
‘Ha HA!’ I shrilled, ‘Yes it IS isn’t it? Run along darling and play with the others’.
Jane and I gazed at each other in horror, ‘Cancel’ said Jane, ‘send them all to my house, she needs to see a doctor’. St Peter, please make a note her saintliness, she deserves a large reward in Heaven.

I can be a stubborn arse sometimes, and I wanted my big girl to have her first sleepover, and I wanted it to go well. I stood my ground, said I’d monitor it, and reluctantly the other parents left. The girls ran off and rampaged around. Soon Britney’s voice was belting out and there were some hot moves being choreographed in the bedroom. My ailing daughter wafted down occasionally and amidst the din and post-tea mayhem, she drooped her way up to my bed.

All the while the other girls were very happy. My eldest was beaming, fingernails were being painted, and they barely seemed to notice the on-call doctor arriving. He diagnosed tonsillitis, dosed her up and went on his way. Meanwhile the sleepover was going like a dream, all five girls in PJ’s watching ‘Happy Feet’, I even had time to do a little blogging. Like a perfect, organised mother, I had everyone in bed and quiet by 10pm.

At around 10.30pm, my poorly girl got up complaining of a stiff neck. She couldn’t look up and couldn’t look down.

Now Meningitis has knocked at my door before. He’s a rather nasty foe, and I really didn’t feel like letting him in for the sleepover. When the on-call doctor heard the symptoms, he offered to take me to the hospital himself, but wonderful Jane and her husband came instead. Whilst Nigel babysat, Jane and I drove in silent worry to the hospital.

In spite of a vomiting, lethargic daughter with a stiff neck, I was treated to some supremely gallic disdain, ‘Didn’t you know a symptom of tonsillitis is a stiff neck?’ I begged to differ having suffered repeatedly as a child, but they were hustling me out the door faster than they could say, ‘Tous les rosbifs sont nuls et on va vous massacrer dans la Coupe du Monde’.
I got home consumed with the expat fear of being in a foreign country and not believing what the foreign doctor is telling me. I stayed up roaming medical websites. An hour later I’d turned up one site that - in a sub paragraph - mentioned a stiff neck as a symptom of severe tonsillitis.

I finally crawled into bed at 2am, cursing the French, tonsillitis, meningitis and my idiotitis that thought I should host a sleepover on my own.

At 0545 I was woken by the rhythmic thud, thud, thud, of a well-rested sleepover guest playing basketball in the lounge. In the lounge with the hard, noisy 'let's wake everyone up' wooden floor.
I figured I deserved the leftover cupcakes that I ate for breakfast that morning.
Organised Birthday Chocolate Cupcakes (makes about 14 cakes)
Reader, I have a confession. You may think I am an accomplished, glamorous chefess who churns out delicious recipes on a whim. (don't you?) Let me tell you I have lost count of the batches of gluten-free cupcakes I have tried to perfect. I think this was about batch 17, I'm really not exaggerating. It was such a Carmina Burana moment when they finally came good and the children polished off the lot!
To make these with wheat flour, use 175g of wholewheat flour and omit the xanthan gum.
In another life I have made this mix with wheat flour and eggs; use one egg instead of the 'No egg' and linseeds. I have not yet made it gluten free and with eggs, but I suspect if you replace the 'no egg' and linseed mix with an egg, it should work.  
110g sugar
110g golden syrup
0.5tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g cocoa powder
1 heaped tbsp ground linseeds (put linseeds into a blender and blend, brown or golden, doesn't matter)
3 tbsps rice milk
140ml rice milk (slightly warmed)
For the icing:
100g gluten free, dairy free dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
65-70g dairy free spread
2-3 tbsp icing sugar
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees celsius
  • Put your cupcake cases into the cupcake cake tin (what are those tins called?)
  • Put the tsp of Orgran egg replacer and the tbsp of ground linseeds into a small bowl. Add the 3 tbsps of rice milk, mix and set aside
  • Put the dairy free spread, sugar and golden syrup into a saucepan and on a very low heat, stir until they have just melted together. Remove from heat and add the egg replacer and linseed mixture
  • Seive the flours, bicarb, baking powder, xanthan gum and cocoa powder into the saucepan and mix until smooth. It will be quite stiff. If you are using wheat flour, seive in the flour, but omit the xanthan gum
  • Add the warmed rice milk to the pan and mix until everything is smooth
  • Put dollops into each cake case. Go for about half full, you don't want them to rise too high
  • Place in the oven for 10-20 minutes. They will rise and be springy when they're done, check by inserting a very thin skewer or knife
  • Set aside to cool slightly
Now to the icing. This was a punt, I thought I'd give it a whirl and was amazed at the results! Because you ice right up to the edge of the case, when the icing has set, you peel back the case and it's like one of those Mr Kipling Chocolate Cupcakes with a great thick layer of icing showing the indentation of the cupcake case! It was all very exciting.
  • Put a small amount of water into a small saucepan, and heat it up. Set a large pyrex bowl on the top. Break the dark chocolate into pieces and put into the bowl. Stir as the chocolate melts
  • When it has just melted, remove from the heat. Add the dairy free spread and beat
  • Add the icing sugar and mix in. You might want to put it back on the heat to melt the dairy free spread and make it all smooth and glossy
  • Allow to cool a little, but not much. It should fall slowly off the wooden spoon
  • Dollop some icing into the middle of each cupcake and spread it to the edges using a knife, don't worry if you end up with a really thick layer of icing, your kids will love you forever
  • If you want to do 'swirly' icing like in the picture, you'll have to catch the icing just right; not too runny, not too stiff.  It needs to be at the point where it will hold its shape.  Put the icing into a piping bag and using a thin(ish) nozzle, ice around and around and up, like in the picture. This video shows the technique for swirly icing
  • Allow the icing to set; it goes quite firm, but not really hard, a lovely soft, fatty mixture
  • You could decorate with decorations they can eat, or grate over some dark chocolate, or just leave them plain as I did
  • Hand to your children and feel rather gleeful and proud
  • And if these are for a sleepover, do make sure you get a grown up to help you

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007

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lady macleod said...

Oh love, my stomach got all tensed up just reading this! A happy ending indeed. Organization is another word for 'how do you make God laugh?'.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Lady M, it is such folly to attempt to be organized, I have learnt my lesson! Thanks for stopping by.

lady thinker said...

Mouthwatering recipes - if you can come up with any that are zero calories do give me a very big shout - please.
Just popped over from Rilly's place - I'm wondering whether we should hold a seance? she seems to have disppeared without trace....

Potty Mummy said...

God, those look delicious PITK. Am not foolhardy enough to allow them house-room whilst on chocolate-avoidance month, but will be making them come November (please November, come quickly!).
Sorry to hear about the tonsilitis - I was plagued by it as a child. I would imagine that the worst thing for her was not being able to eat the cupcakes...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Lady thinker, how lovely to have another Lady visit me! If i do succeed with the zero calorie recipe, I shall take my retirement in style! It is indeed a grave worry that Rilly has gone silent. I'm thinking a seance is a good plan...will you shuffle and deal the seance cards? (is that how it's done??!)

Potty, I am sorry to tempt you, and I send you coping vibes for your chocolate avoidance month, is that like a belated lent? If you do get around to making them, you could almost dispense with the cake bit and just drink the icing.

Akelamalu said...

Stiff neck? I'd have had that down as meningitis as well - you can't be too careful. Thankfully it wasn't that but tonsilitis is bad enough. I think you coped admirably.

elizabethm said...

How terrifying. you seem to have held it all together amazingly. hope the birthday girl appreciated it all and so glad it was ok.

Frog in the Field said...

The fingers in the ears, La La La! Done that, heart murmer? LA ALALLA!!
We have the hardest job in the world Pig!!
I do love it though,
I say, You took my last post far too seriously, you have to laugh at it all, it's meant to be funny.
I hate sleepovers, they scare me, I wasn't allowed them as a child and for once I can see why!!

Anonymous said...

Hello you,
As a silent fan/observer/admirer for many a month now I have alwyas wished to leave a comment on one of your posts but, being something of a luddite, I was always a little éffrayée. However, such is the splendour of this latest installment that I feel moved to overcome my inadequacies to put finger to keyboard. Mind you, the Cinese Rice fest was a blinder too!
To all PITK's other avid readers, you need to know that this wee sow is truly a model mother, a great friend and waif like enough to give Kate Moss a run for her money. Not that she'd ever to look twice a Pete Doherty, thank heavens.....
Hope your 'revision technique' was hassle-free and I look forward to seeing you, bright-eyed & bushy-tailed at 09h45 tomorrow ;0)

Anonymous said...

p.s. Please forgive spelling mistakes in previous post; new lap-top great, old fingers not so great!

Stay at home dad said...

I'm mighty glad to hear your daughter has tonsilitis, Pig/waif. If you see what I mean. Great stff as ever.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Akelamalu, hello. In fact it wasn't tonsillitis (sp?) either. Over the next week she developed an allergic itchy rash that covered her body, complete with swollen face and lips. By then I was in England and spent another day in hospital! After I've finished being a Mother, I shall qualify as a Paramedic. I shall wear a tight green suit, carry an important backpack and work with marvellously muscled sexy male paramedics. I'm sure my husband won't mind.

ElizabethM, I do tend to go a bit numb in scary situations, just plod along like a zoned out half was when it was all over I felt worried! Birthday girl had a fine time, she and companions didn't bat an eyelid at the long-haired on call doctor wandering in and out. He was horrified at me being alone with six children!

FITF, so glad you do it too! And heart murmur, that's VERY worrying. Oh no, sorry i took your last post seriously, here's me thinking you were scarred by your childhood! Bizarrely I have not been put off sleepovers, but will make sure husband is to hand next time!

Chere anonyme, I am moved by your comments, thank you for dropping by! I'm rather horrified that you think I am a model mother, try turning up a few minutes early one day and you'll hear me screaming at my children...
And as for the waif comment, I blushingly accept although i've always suspected that it is not glasses you are wearing, but beer goggles. Not to worry about the errors, probably something to do with said beer goggles. ;-)

Hello SAHD/Bard, yes, whatever she had (see above) it was better than meningitis. Now, I'm coming over to see your latest offering...please?! Pig / Waif ;-)

Alisa said...

I hope your daughter is feeling better! I became very distressed reading this.

Lovely cupcakes btw.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Alisa, so sorry to upset you! But it's all finished now.

Marianne said...

Meningitis always casts a shadow when children are ill. Glad she finally recovered, but how difficult for you to be so alone when she became ill.

Glad the sleepover went well despite the problems.

Lucy said...

Hope she's all better now... I know that rising panic feeling... cakes look amazing as always :)

Mrs Steinway said...

Poor old piglet no. 2 - she has had more than her fair share of illnesses. Hope all the little piggies are thriving and glad you survived piglet no. 3's recent birthday bash. Cup cakes look yummy - will be trying them out.....
Hope you all continue to keep well!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Marianne, I foolishly brought it on myself though didn't i? The being alone bit I mean. Still, lessons learned and all that, and she's fine now...

Lucy, rising panic is a good way to describe it. The cakes are indeed yummy!

Mrs S, Poor no. 2 is right, at least she's feisty enough to survive what is thrown at her. No 3's bash all done with, I have a break now until the next round starts! You should definitely try the cakes, o baking queen, the icing is just deelish! Have you got a passport yet?!

mutterings and meanderings said...

Glad to hear all is well now.

I think you deserve to eat all of the divine chocolate cupcakes after such trauma!

Brom said...

"You may think I am an accomplished, glamorous chefess who churns out delicious recipes on a whim. (don't you?)"

Of course!, and that's just the start of it!! :-)

Krista said...

Oh my. That is scary. My husband's niece had a run-in with meningitis at the age of about 10 months that left her completely mentally and physically handicapped. Not something to mess around with. You did the right thing in checking it out just to be sure.

I'm happy to hear it wasn't meningitis and that the cupcakes were good to boot.

dulwichmum said...

Poor, poor you! And how is the little one now? I am sorry I have not been keeping up with your news lately - I am snowed under and will be back to my blogging self as soon as possible. I cannot believe how calm and organised you seem. If my children have a sleepover - I hope it will be at your house! I am far too highly strung to have one at mine...

Pig in the Kitchen said...

M&M, such a good point, I may make a batch just for me! Sorry for slurring comment the other day, I'm coming back sober!

Brom, well! I'm blushing!

Krista, that sounds awful, Meningitis scares the hell out of me. Thanks for dropping by

Dulwich Mum, she's fine now. And please don't apologise for absence, you are far too busy being published! If my house were as beautiful as yours, I may well have sent the children elsewhere for a sleepover!

rhubarb and custard said...

A quick q, at what stage do you put the linseeds/egg replacer/milk in?

Looking forward to making!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Rhubarb and Custard, grovelling apologies for missing out that key stage, I've now amended the recipe. thanks for pointing it out to me. I think I might be having a bit of a brainstorm, that's the second time in a week that i've messed up with a recipe. Thanks for visiting.

SWESTON said...

I love this recipe but am confused, the link for the Dairy Free chocolate takes me to a bar that clearly states it contains milk - it has whey and milk solid derivatives in it? Please can you advise?? BTW - just found your website and loving it - THANKYOU x

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Sweet SWESTON, thank-you so much for drawing that to my attention, I've now changed the link.

Green & Blacks (the brand of chocolate that the link went to) in all their infinite wisdom have decided to include dairy products in their chocolate, only recently i think. I used to love that I could give their 'Maya gold' orangey bar to my girlie, but now it contains some milk derivative in it. Grrrr.

In fact you've got me so riled up (well, not you, Green and Blacks), I'm going to fire off an indignant email (which i will no doubt regret later on...)

Thanks for visiting and glad that you are loving the love on my blog!