These two pics are from the magnolia tree I pass twice a day.
For months it was an intriguing canopy of closely woven, intersecting branches. Stark bare and knobbled twigs that looked like lace against a cold blue sky.
Now the lace has disappeared; exploded into this mauve and white brilliance.
Magnolia trees are in flower all over our neighbourhood at the moment. This one is easily the best one I've ever seen.
Some of the other trees are already sprouting bright leaves which will last through spring and summer. But this brief late-winter window where there is just this floral show, no leaves, is just glorious.
But a feast for the eyes does nothing for hunger. When we got back home I got my two youngest to work in the kitchen on that block of chocolate which has been calling to me from the cupboard for ages.
I figured making cupcakes with it was better than just eating it all by myself.
For a change.
My all-pink-clad three-year old daughter wanted pink icing on them. I used an easy friand recipe by Bill Granger and they are divine.
I used about half the recommended sugar and they are still very sweet, chocolatey, fudgy and extremely moreish. I must triple the recipe next time.
I wish I could say the icing is messy because my daughter did that bit - but I can't!
Bill Granger's easy baby chocolate cakes (published in the Aug 17 Woman's Day)
225 unsalted butter
180g dark chocolate
1+1/3 cup caster sugar
2/3 cup plain flour
2 tbls cornflour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 180 celcius and grease the friand moulds.
2. Melt butter gently in small saucepan over medium heat. Place chocolate in a large bowl and pour hot butter over it. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.
3. Sift flour, cornflour and salt together, add sugar and add to melted chocolate in two batches, stirring until just combined.
4. Add eggs gradually, beat until smooth.
5. Divide mixture into moulds and bake 15-20 mins until skewer inserted into centre comes out clean.
6. All to cool, turn out onto wire rack, and add icing or drizzle with melted chocolate.