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Simon Holst cupcake, lolly cake, gingerbread recipes - 13 April

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes
These little cupcakes look and taste great - and they couldn't be much easier to make. All the ingredients (except the icing and decorations of course!) go in a bowl, you beat them for a couple of minutes, then they're done.

The little cupcakes are very nice in their own right, but if you add the icing they're even better!

For 12 cupcakes:
150g butter, softened
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup self raising flour*
1/4 cup cocoa powder

Butter cream Icing
75g milk chocolate
75g soft butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar

Turn the oven on to preheat to 180degC.

Measure the softened butter, brown sugar, eggs self raising flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric beater until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Line 12 muffin pans with decorative foil or paper cupcake liners, then divide the batter between these. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until firm in the middle.

Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.

To make the icing, measure the broken chocolate into a small microwave proof bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) power for 1- 1 1/2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, or until the chocolate has just melted, then stir until smooth.

Cream the softened butter and icing sugar together in a medium-sized bowl (this mixture will look very dry to start with, but should turn light and fluffy as you beat it), then add the melted chocolate and beat lightly to combine.

Spread or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes, then enjoy!

Gingerbread Men
Gingerbread men always seem popular with kids. They seem to enjoy the whole process, from mixing to rolling the dough to cutting and baking them, but especially the decoration and finally the eating - they're a great project to fill in some spare time!

For 18-20 12cm gingerbread people
125g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 egg, separated
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 1/2 cups (375g) plain flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 egg white (from above)
1 - 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Pebbles, M&Ms etc to decorate

Put the softened (but not melted) butter in a food processor with the brown sugar and process until pale and creamy looking. Add the golden syrup (use a measuring cup warmed in hot water). Separate the egg and add the yolk (reserve the white to make the icing later), then process until well mixed.

Sift the dry ingredients into the processor, then process in short bursts until the mixture looks like uniform. (The mixture should be in small crumbs which can be pressed together to form a workable dough - if it's too dry to hold together add 1-2 Tbsp milk, but take care not to make the mixture too soft.)
Press the dough into a disc, then cover in cling film and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. Turn the oven on to 180degC to preheat during this time

Halve the dough, then working on a lightly floured surface, roll the first half out until it is about 5mm thick. Cut into shapes with cutters then arrange these 1-2cm apart on a baking paper covered baking tray. Roll and cut the second half of the dough (then the scraps and off-cuts) in the same way while you bake the first tray at 180degC for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

To make the icing, whisk the reserved egg white until foamy, sift in 1/2 a cup of icing sugar, stir, then repeat until the icing will hold its shape when piped. Transfer the icing to forcing bag fitted with a fine nozzle or to a small, sturdy, plastic bag and snip off a tiny corner (literally just 1-2mm) and use it to decorate the cooled biscuits. Once the icing has dried, store in an airtight container.

Lolly Cake
We're surprised by the number of Kiwis who put 'Lolly Cake' on their list of favourite foods! When Alison made her first batch ever, and gave little packets of them to her friends, they all told her how much they had enjoyed it, so now we know for sure that it is not just a children's treat! 

For 24 squares:
125 g butter
200g sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
250g packet of malt biscuits
180-250g " Eskimos" or "fruit puffs"
coconut to coat

Melt the butter (for 1 minute on High) in a large microwave-proof bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients. Stir in half a tin of condensed milk (which may weigh a little less than 200g) and the vanilla. Mix well, warming the mixture for about 1/2 minute on High if it does not mix smoothly. 

Crumb the wine biscuits, half the packet at a time, in a food processor, using the metal chopping blade, and tip the fine crumbs into the bowl. Keep processing large pieces of biscuit until all are crumbed finely. (If preferred, put the biscuits in a large plastic bag and bang and roll them with a rolling pin until they are crumbed finely.)

Chop each "Eskimo" into 8 slices, or each "fruit puff" into three or four pieces, and mix them with everything else in the bowl.

Form the mixture into three or four cylinders, roll these in coconut, then roll them in cling film and refrigerate them for several hours or overnight OR press the mixture into one end of a rectangular slice pan which has been lightly buttered or sprayed, then coated with coconut. Press the mixture out so it is about 2cm deep. Cut the cylinders into slices 10-15 mm thick just before you serve them, or cut the mixture in the slice pan into about. 24 squares.(Do not put extra coconut over the cut surfaces or you spoil their bright appearance. )