July 29, 2010

Cardamom Tea Recipe-Cardamom Tea with Milk {Recipe}

As she wrapped her fingers around the warm cup of cardamom tea on the way to the living room couch, she couldn't help wondering what they would be doing back home now. She glanced at the clock and realised its 2pm back home. Hmm.. nap time for everyone except her mom, who would just lie down on the living room sofa, book in hand, nodding off now and then.

Looking down at the mug in her hand, she was taken back to all those cups of tea she has shared with her family. Promptly at 4, their long-time maid would bring the steaming cups, each one of a different shape and size. Her dad liked his clear glass mug that could just about hold one cup of tea. Her mom liked bigger portions of tea so her mug was significantly bigger, easily holding about 2 cups of tea. Her grandmom, however, would not hear of using a ceramic mug, or re-heating her tea for that matter. Hers was a worn out, thick, and heavy stainless steel tumbler that was slightly dented at the bottom so it would always clang against the other mugs as it made its way to her.

Her mug, now that was a story in itself. Hers was a plain white melamin mug that she had tried to customize at various stages in her life. When she was 13, she tried to use fabric paint and draw hearts all over it. The paint washed off leaving faint stains of pink. Clearly, fabric paint was only meant for fabrics! At 16, she came across some particular type of goo in tubes that supposedly stuck to wood, ceramic and glass. Those squiggly lines and leaves peeled off in time too, now leaving faint smudges of bronze and grey over the pink stains from before.

With a start, she realised she was sitting alone and smiling to herself, in this house that they had painstakingly saved up for and finally owned, each and every article carefully chosen and coordinated. Even the deep blue mug in her hand matched the rest of her kitchen utensils and the shade of their living room walls. As she looked at the last dregs of her tea and idly rotated it watching the small tea leaves swirling around the cardamom peels, she realised that she hated being alone for long.

The doorbell rang and she set down her mug and briskly walked to the door. As he came in grinning, hair still damp from his swim, she smiled again. His share of tea was waiting in the kitchen, still hot and giving out a heady fragrance. As she poured it out into his favourite black mug, she realised that there was enough to fill her mug halfway too. Mugs in hand, she walked back to the couch and sat beside him. "We should probably call your folks now, its been a while right?" he asked, vigorously toweling his head.

She nodded, smiled, and took another sip of her tea before reaching out for the phone.

Rainy day and tea

How to make Cardamom Tea:

Bring 1/2 a cup of water to boil. Add black tea leaves (unflavoured) and 3 pods of crushed cardamom, and simmer until the flavour seeps in. To this, add 1.5 cups of low fat milk and bring to boil, stirring gently. Top up with 2 tsp of sugar. Stir well. Strain into your favourite mugs and drink hot.

Serves her, him and then some more for her.

I understand that my entry to last month's Of Chalks and Chopsticks was less than satisfactory. Hope this makes up for that. Sending this off to Sra who is hosting this month's Of Chalks and Chopsticks, an event kick-started by Aqua.

July 28, 2010

Food Photography in Portrait Mode

The first few rules you may keep hearing about taking food photographs is probably -

- Don't use a flash (yes, please don't)
- Use your macro setting
- Click in good, natural light

These are all good and valid points, definitely. But your camera, even if its a point and shoot, has a lot more capability than you give it credit for.

So here's an experiment I did clicking with my macro setting off *gasp* and in the portrait setting. You should still leave your flash off and click in good, natural light because we are not going to break all the rules in one go. That will just be rude.

A bit about the portrait mode that's in pretty much every camera out there. Its a very basic setting, but what does the portrait mode do to your camera?

The camera is going to try to isolate the subject, so it gives you a wide lens opening or a wide aperture to blur the background and give you little depth of field, thereby, isolating the subject so the subject stands out from the background, because the background is blurry and the subject is supposed to be clear. - Source

If you are wondering what the heck aperture and depth of field are, check out my article on Aperture, F-stops and DOF. Its confusing but very very useful.

Ok, now check out this picture of spinach thoran.

Spinach Edited

I perched the plate with the spinach on the hand of my couch and used the treetops outside my window to give it a green, blurry backdrop. Well, that actually sounded like I devised a master plan to make my picture look good but it was all spontaneous. I actually rested the plate there thinking I will go get my white table but then decided to shoot it then and there.

How I took the shot:

I turned the camera setting to Portrait (marked by the image of a head on that dial on your camera). I was sitting a bit away from the plate that was on the couch hand. I zoomed in (quite a bit) until I felt I was framing the plate pretty well. The background got beautifully blurred because the Portrait setting was doing its job. That's it!

You can later edit the picture, crop it, sharpen it, etc. This technique will give you a good set of pictures to start with and choose from.

A few important things to remember:

- Make sure there's enough natural light to give the picture clarity.

- Place the camera at least one feet away from the subject and zoom in. That's the key!

- Keep the camera as parallel to the subject as possible. So if you feel the backdrop is your living room and its too dirty, switch the plate around until you find a satisfactory background for the picture. If you try this in a top-down shot, it may not work.

- Use a tripod if you have one. I didn't for this shot but then I am stubborn and lazy sometimes but don't be like me. If you don't have a tripod, just use a stack of books, a shelf, a stool, anything that can give the base of your camera and your arms some support. When you zoom in, your camera becomes that much more sensitive (I will spare you the technical explanation for this) so using a tripod or some sort of support is very important.

Here's another shot I took using the same technique.


So, that's it folks! So go ahead and experiment with your portrait settings and don't be afraid to turn your macro off and zoom right in until you like what you see. Click 20-30 pics and pick out your favourites once you upload.

I'd love to hear from you if you try this out. You can also check out my other articles on Food Photography for Food Bloggers.

July 26, 2010

Meal Maker Cutlets | Soya Chunks Cutlets Recipe | Step by Step

This Soya Chunks Cutlet Recipe is almost entirely flicked from my sister. She has always been better with her hands than me, so my cutlets look more rugged as compared to her chubby, smooth ones. I am guessing it tasted as good though because these cutlets did taste pretty great.

Meal Maker Cutlets | Soya Chunks Cutlets Recipe
Soya Chunks Cutlets

If you are looking for a good vegetarian cutlet recipe, then this is the one, because soya chunks give a nice meatiness to the cutlets which is hard for vegetarians to come by. Even if you are not a huge fan of soya chunks, these may just turn you around because the infamous smell associated with soya chunks is absent in these cutlets and overall, these are healthier than meat / fish cutlets.

July 22, 2010

Top 5 Easy Rice Recipes on Edible Garden

Its all about eating less carbs or no carbs now, I get it. So I want to apologize for shoving these 5 rice recipes in your face but these are the most popular (pageviews popularity from Google Analytics) on Edible Garden and I wanted to list them out for you, just in case.

3. Coriander Rice / Kothamalli Sadam (I have received 17 emails to date from people who tried and loved this recipe)

4. Mint Rice / Pudina Pulao (great way to use up some pudina leaves lying around)

5. Ellu Sadam (I love the flavour 'cuz I love sesame seeds!)

What's your favourite rice recipe? Do you like it plain or spiced up?

July 21, 2010

Aloo Capsicum Pulao | Potato Capsicum Pulao Recipe

This is a quick capsicum aloo pulao recipe from Mallika Badrinath's 100 Rice Delights. The addition of capsicum gives the potato pulao a very different flavour. You can use any kind of potatoes for this potato pulao, even sweet potatoes, for a different flavour. Make sure that the rice is not cooked too mushy since that takes away from the look and flavour of the potato pulao. You can add capsicum in any colour although I have added green capsicum to this Potato Cauliflower Pulao Recipe. 

Aloo Capsicum Pulao | Potato Capsicum Pulao Recipe

Top 5 Essential Indian Utensils / Equipment to Carry Abroad

Quite a few of you wrote me asking what are the essential appliances and kitchen tools you need when setting up a kitchen, especially outside India?. What are the things you should carry from India and what are the things you should just buy from your host country or try to substitute.

I was one of you two years back so here's a quick guide that hopefully helps you.

1. Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers are most commonly used in India which means you get a large variety and the cheapest options here. There are lots to choose from but unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to check them out because I got 3 pressure cookers as a gift for the wedding, of which 2 I carried with me to Singapore.

If you are single or just married, you will only need a small one, probably 3-5 litres. However, I would recommend getting one of those with tiered racks inside where you can keep multiple things at the same time - like rice, dal, and some vegetable. That would save a lot of time. Otherwise, its a good idea to carry 2 small pressure cookers, one for rice and one for dal or any vegetable you may want to cook up.

Hawkins and Prestige are brands you can trust.

2. Mixie

Indian cooking involves a fair bit of grinding and nothing does a job as good as an Indian mixer grinder can. It takes up some space for sure but I highly recommend lugging a mixie across the shores, you will definitely not regret it.

Sumeet is the most popular and best brand of mixie available. Mine is almost 16 years old, my aunt used it before me, and it still works better than a new model from any other brand would. Having said that, my family is heavily biased towards Sumeet and we haven't tried anything else. Also, apparently the company has gone through a major rehaul in recent years and they don't make them like they used to. Preethi is also supposedly good so check it out.

A big jar and a spice grinding jar should be enough but if your mixie comes with 3 jars, pack them all in.

A good substitute for the small spice mixer is the coffee grinders you get abroad. This is hearsay and I haven't tried it out myself. You can also get a food processor as a substitute for a mixie but consider yourself warned, it may not work as well.

3. Tawa, Dosa / Chapathi Griddle

This is probably something you can get abroad and you definitely do in Singapore. But, its considerably more expensive and you get only one kind. Since a tawa is relatively less heavy, you could easily pick up one from India. Take your pick from non-stick, hard anodised, iron, or aluminium. I would personally recommend the non-stick, if you are not entirely against the concept. It's the easiest to use and maintain. This is for rotis, by the way. You do need separate tawa for roti and dosa since dosas will stick mercilessly to a tawa that's used for rotis no matter how much onion you rub on it or how much oil you pour on. I use a cast iron tawa for dosa and a non-stick (hard anodised as well) one for rotis and I am very happy with these.

4. Kadai / Karai / Cheena Chatti

A kadai is something I didn't expect to have to bring from home, but interestingly, it was tough to find one in Singapore (unless you get one from a really expensive brand). The only kind I found here were the wide pans that came with no lids so I was super grateful for the non-stick Prestige kadai that I packed as an after-thought. I use it to make pretty much all sabzis and dry curries since any other material you use would require a lot more oil. Nowadays you get ceramic coated ones which apparently require just 2 drops of oil. I am yet to try this but will update this post if and when I do.

Carry a kadai with you, just in case. You may end up using this the most in your kitchen.

5. Steel Plates and Tumblers  

These are optional, of course, but having grown up in a household where we primarily used stainless steel utensils and plates, I packed 2 plates, 6 tumblers and a few small plates (for snacks, to use as spoon rests, to cover bowls, etc) and have never regretted the decision. They are light, easy to clean, non-destructible and cheapest in India.

Anything else you feel is absolutely essential in your kitchen and you would recommend carrying abroad from India, in case of relocation?

July 19, 2010

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

If ever I was obsessed (well, almost) about a baking book, this is it. A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. Its nothing short of brilliant. I am basing this out of the 4 recipes I tried from it - Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce, Toblerone Candy Bar Shortbreads, and 2 more I am yet to post - and all came out superb.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Ah, here's the Toblerone Candy Bar Shortbreads. I actually decided to borrow the book from the library so that I can try this.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Remember this? Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce, received so much good feedback and a couple of people have tried it already, with rave reviews. The good thing about this book is, the recipe comes out exactly like in the pictures and the measurements are spot on.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

I am eyeing you Apricot squares, oh yes I am.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

These doughnuts shall be made soon too. And to think I don't even like doughnuts much. Even to my Indian tastebuds, they are too sweet! But these, these look promising. I think that chocolate glaze did it.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Cheesecake is my weakness, my vice, my waist-expander of choice. And I know that if I try this recipe, it will look exactly like that picture. Oh goodness.

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

Ok this is it. A souffle and torte rolled into one? This does it!

A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman

 I am officially declaring this book evil and going to get my own copy, even if it means buying it through Flipkart, shipping it home in India and then bothering someone to lug it all the way to me. (Before you ask, the book costs a bomb in Singapore, so I am going to monopolize the library copy until I get my own).

The only thing I wish was different about it is the bread recipes. There are a few, and they look good. I know bread falls under baking category but I wish she had dedicated the book to sweet bakes (desserts) rather than have those handful of breads in there. But then, that's just me. I guess it actually makes it a well rounded baking book.

If you are in the US (sometimes I am so jealous of you guys, but only sometimes) or in India (always jealous of you guys, always), you can buy it online of course.

Malabar Egg Curry / Egg Curry in Coconut Milk

Whenever I make egg curry, its usually the Kerala-Style Egg Roast. Its easy and goes with rotis, rice or even dosa. Recently when I made appam, I had the craving to have egg curry with coconut milk, the sweet and spicy curry of my childhood. Using store-bought coconut milk significantly alters the taste of this so use freshly squeezed coconut milk if you have time in hand.

This recipe is my own version of the popular Malabar Egg Curry. Don't be mean if it doesn't go with what you have in mind. Also, this post on homemade coconut milk may come handy before making this egg curry.

Malabar Egg Curry in Coconut Milk Recipe

Malabar-Style Egg Curry Recipe
Serves: 2

3 eggs, boiled, shelled and cut into halves
2 large onions, sliced
1 cup thick coconut milk (onnaam paal)
1 cup thin coconut milk (rendaam paal or 1/2 cup store-bought coconut milk + 1/2 cup water)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
A pinch of turmeric
1 tsp garam masala (or pound/grind together 2 cloves, 1 small piece cinnamon and 1 cardamom)
Salt to taste
To temper:
2 tsp coconut oil (or any oil)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp jeera / jeerakam
A few curry leaves

How to Make Malabar Egg Curry

1. Boil eggs, shell them, cut into halves and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add the ingredients to temper. When the mustard seeds pop, add the sliced onions and fry until they turn golden brown.

3. Then add the chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala (or masala mix) and turmeric and fry for 30 seconds. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for another minute or so.

4. Add the thin coconut milk and reduce flame to flow. Bring to boil and let it cook for about 2-3 mins, stirring occasionally.

5. Keeping fire on low, add the thick coconut milk and the eggs. Add salt, bring to just one boil and remove from fire. If you boil too much, the coconut milk will curdle so be careful.

Enjoy warm with rotis, rice, Kerala appam or puttu.

July 16, 2010

Kailash Parbat, Serangoon Road, Singapore

I don't know how many of you have heard of Kailash Parbat before this. I did for the first time earlier this week and learnt its a pretty popular vegetarian chain in India, specialising in Sindhi food.. Since we have a formidable number of desis in the Singapore office now, and because Kailash Parbat newly opened in Singapore, all the desi Googlers decided to head there.

The address says: Kailash Parbat, 3 Belilios Road, Singapore but its actually on the main road itself - which is Serangoon Road, next to the Sri Veerammakaliamman kovil (opposite Khansama restaurant, which has amazing tandoori food, btw).


The menu is quite extensive and since they are known for their chaat, we decided to start with that.


The Aloo Tikki Chaat. It was okay, I wouldn't rave about it.


The pani puri was quite good. It came in a pretty platter and the sweet chutney and paani came separate. There are 8 puris in a platter and was quite good for sharing.

*Excuse the dirty table, that's what happens when 18 Indians see pani puri after weeks and one of them wants to take a picture. Note that 2 puris are missing!)


This is what everyone loved! The Ragdi Patties. They were heart-shaped, very cute, just the right consistency and came with channa gravy. This plate was fought over and lots more ordered during the course of lunch.


My order: The Ragda Sev Puri - wasn't half as good as the ragda patties, but ok. The sev was fresh, got to admit.


Pav Bhaji. I didn't try this but those who did, said its quite good as far as 'too clean' chaat goes.


The samosa chaat was surprisingly good. More aloo, more power!


The Aloo Mutter with literally 3 pieces of aloo (potatoes). The gravy was very good though. I heard nan was ordered but didn't get a chance to see any since I took 2 mins out to click this picture.


Sindhi Aloo Took (Tuk). It looked crispy but was soft and spiced just right. They was also rice and khadi but I didn't even see it, let alone take pics ;)

A lot of people ordered the channa batoora and said it was so-so. I tried the pindi channa but it wasn't up to the mark.


I was pretty kicked that they have kulfi but it was disappointing. Not sweet at all. Meh.


The rabdi was better. Not great, but better. We poured some over the kulfi to make it more edible.

Overall, I would go there for the chaat, the lassi (which was very nice) and usual Indian fare like nan and subzi (curry - side dish). They had a good variety of Sindi food which I'd love to try.

Stay away from the corn chaat, masala tea, channa batoora, and kulfi.

We were 18 people in all and the bill came to SGD 23 per person.

Kailash Parbat
3 Belilios Road
Opp. Khansama Restaurant (Serangoon Road)

July 14, 2010

Dal Makhani / Creamy Black Lentils (but) No-Cream Recipe

I have posted my original dal makhani recipe before. The problem with that recipe was, it lacked colour although the flavour was just fine. Also, that recipe has cream in it. Why use cream when you can get lovely, creamy Dal Makhani without the cream. I've been 'hooked' to this Dal Makhani recipe since coming across the recipe in Hooked on Heat.

Dal Makhani II

Admittedly, dal makhani is not my favourite Indian dal recipe and I tend to lean towards the simple dal tadka, methi dal, or the fabulous panchratan dal when eating out, but since this creamy dal dish is so popular, I make it now and then, especially when we have guests and I need a good side dish for my tawa naan recipe.

Dal Makhani Recipe
Serves 2


1/2 cup whole black lentils / whole urad dal
1 onion, minced
1 tomato, finely chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp tomato paste (or 1 large tomato, pureed)
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
water, 1 to 2 cups
salt to taste


1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker and saute onions till lightly browned. Stir in salt, chilli powder, coriander powder, ginger-garlic paste, and tomato paste and fry for a few seconds.

2. Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to combine well. Add dal and enough water to cover them (about 2 cups). Pressure cook for 4-5 whistles minutes till lentils are soft and done. Stir in milk and let it come to a boil.

3. In a separate pan, heat butter and add whole garlic cloves slit in the middle. Stir the tempering into the lentils and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

Serve with warm rotis or a simple pressure cooker vegetable pulao.

July 12, 2010

Sticky Date Tofee Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce Recipe

This sticky date cake is by far the best cake I have ever baked with no chocolate in it. Chocolate cakes are my weakness and specialty but now I must add dates to the list. I always seem to have luck while cooking or baking with them.

sticky date toffee cake

The recipe is adapted from the brilliant book 'A Passion for Baking' by Marcy Goldman from where I baked the Toblerone Shortbread, which many of you loved for its simplicity. This cake is not as straightforward but it was yummy with such little effort.

I took step by step pictures and then realised there are way too many pictures. I put them in collages, although I am not a fan of posting steps like this. Hope its easy enough to understand, do leave your thoughts.

Sticky Date Toffee Cake with Hot Toffee Sauce
Makes one medium-sized cake - 8 big slices
Adapted from: 'A Passion for Baking' by Marcy Goldman

3/4 cups pitted dates
3/4 cups water
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (room temp)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 eggs
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt

For Hot Toffee Sauce:
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened (room temp)
2 drops of vanilla extract

Step One
Pre-heat oven to 350F / 180C. Grease a springform cake pan or a normal round cake tin with butter.

Step Two 
Preparing dates for sticky date cake

In a saucepan, simmer dates in water and vanilla until they are soft and almost mushy (about 3-4 mins). Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. The mixture will foam a bit. Mix well and set aside to cool completely.

Step Three
Sticky Date Toffee Cake Recipe
In a bowl, cream butter with both sugars and orange zest until fluffy. Blend in eggs and then fold in flour, baking powder and salt. Then add the dates and mix until well combined.

Step Four
Sticky Date Toffee Cake Recipe
 Blend in eggs and then fold in flour, baking powder and salt.

Step Five
Sticky Date Toffee Cake Recipe
Then add the dates and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Step Six
Sticky Date Toffee Cake Recipe

Bake for 40-50 mins, until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. If the cake has crowned, cut off the top until the cake is level.

To Make Hot Toffee Sauce
Toffee Sauce for Sticky Date Toffee Cake Recipe
Bring brown sugar, cream and butter to a gentle boil and let simmer for 5-7 mins until the mixture thickens. Remove from fire and stir in vanilla. Set aside.

Sticky Date Cake with Toffee Cream Sauce

Once the cake is done, when its still warm, poke holes with a skewer and pour the sauce over, allowing the cake to absorb it. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Do yourself a favour and bake this date cake NOW. Don't miss out the toffee sauce, the cake will definitely not taste as good without it.

July 7, 2010

Devil's Food Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Filling Recipe

Here's a picture of one of the softest cupcakes I have ever made - Devil's Food Cupcakes with a Vanilla Cream Filling. It's every bit as delicious as it sounds.

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Filled cupcakes were new to me so I actually made these in a hurry on the day I was leaving for India. The cupcakes were so soft that I couldn't do the filling process easily.

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

The colour was deep and the best part is, these cupcakes bake very quickly, in about 15-20 mins!

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

The recipe is below but a few notes from me:

- Like I mentioned, the cupcakes were very very soft so it they were hard to handle but a dream to eat. I may try adding lesser baking soda in my next batch.
- There are 2 frostings but I made only one - the filling. The frosting you see on the cupcake above is a readymade one from Pillsburry
- I used sour cream as the recipe requires but want to try with yogurt the next time, as that's a more easily available ingredient. 
- The recipe method seems slightly confusing - I wasn't sure when to add the sour cream, whether I should add it to the beaten butter-sugar mixture or alternate with dry ingredients, but I did the latter and the results were beautiful. 
- I halved the recipe and got about 14 cupcakes. The original recipe requires 3 large eggs and I added 2 normal sized ones. All other ingredients were accurately halved. 

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream filling

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Recipe Source - Baking Bites
Makes about 24 cupcakes

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream (low fat or full) - can be substituted with yogurt or cream mixed with a tsp of yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2-oz dark chocolate
1 cup water, boiling

How to Make Devil Food Cupcakes

Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly grease two 12-cup muffin tins.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light.
Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by sour cream and vanilla extract.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Add half of flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by the sour cream and vanilla extract, followed by the addition of the rest of the flour mix.
Stir well between each addition and mix until no streaks of flour remain.
Stir the cocoa powder and the dark chocolate into the boiling water (easiest in a large measuring cup).
Pour chocolate water into the rest of the batter and stir until uniform.
Evenly distribute batter into prepared baking cups. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. (It’s fine if you can’t fit both trays into the oven at the same time, just wait until one batch finishes before putting in the second pan)
Turn cupcakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

Vanilla Cream Filling
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (low fat is fine)
1/2 cup butter (or trans fat-free shortening)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 scraped vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the flour and milk and cook in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick. This will only take a few minutes.
Stir continuously to prevent the mixture from clumping and do not bring all the way to a boil.
When thickened (consistency will be that of a thin pudding or custard), strain with a mesh strainer into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool completely to room temperature.
When the milk mixture is cool, cream the butter (or shortening) and sugar together in a medium bowl until lightl. Add in the milk/flour mixture and the scraped vanilla bean seeds (or vanilla extract) and beat at high speed with an electrick mixer for 7 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, or a large ziplock bag with the corner cut off, and set aside until ready to fill your cupcakes.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (I didn't make this)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat, with an electric mixer, until frosting is creamy, 3-5 minutes. Add additional powdered sugar as needed to achieve a thick, but not stiff, frosting that is easy to spread. Add additional milk, if necessary, to thin the frosting if it gets too thick.


Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Take a cooled cupcake and, using a small pairing knife, cut a cone of cake (1-inch across by 1-inch deep) out of the top. Trim off the pointy end of the cone, leaving a flat circle of cake. Set aside and repeat this process for all the cupcakes. Take the cream filling and squeeze a tablespoon or so into each cupcake cavity, filling the hole up to the top with filling.

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes

Top off with a flat circle of cake to plug the hole and keep the filling in place.

Filled Chocolate Cupcakes