Friday, May 25, 2012

specialty cakes for young and old


It rained yesterday. The rainbow-making kind of rain. Just for a few minutes, before the sun even had enough time to sneak away. A little refreshment on a hot day.

At least, I think it was hot. With my oven on in a not-so-well-ventilated apartment, it tends to get a little warm in here. Like, really warm. But at least I have my little balcony to escape out onto for a little fresh air.


And what a sight my little garden is turning into. Cherry tomatoes, chives, basil, parsley, lavender and lots of pretty pink flowers. Oh and in my parents' backyard? Rhubarb. Yes, pretty soon I will be putting rhubarb in everything...so watch out!

I love May. Not quite summer yet but just warm enough to start wearing shorts and skirts. It's been quite the busy month for me, with a local charity event and cake orders. I've barely had any time to show you some of them. 

These are a couple of demo cakes that I designed for the event. I absolutely love the simplicity of the white flower with the gold button and leaves. And who doesn't love unicorns and bows? Too cute!


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend filled with smiles and sunshine.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

chocolate ganache cupcakes and coconut marshmallow clouds


Growing up, had I listened to every piece of advice my mother had given me, I would have been one wise girl. Clearly, this didn't happen. 

Sure I listened, but sometimes I chose to ignore her comments. What can I say? I was a teenager who thought she knew everything. 

Boy was I wrong. Turns out I didn't know all that much. I certainly made some mistakes. I still do in fact. And for some reason I still don't always listen.


But just about every time...she was right. She knew all along but she let me figure it out on my own. These days I tend to pay a little more attention. And you know what? It pays off. When it comes to life, love and even those handy little cooking tricks, she knows just what to say to make me understand.

   

My mum will always be that one person that I can talk to about my thoughts and feelings freely, without ever holding back. I always feel better when I pour out my worries onto her.

And she knows it. So she lets me. Sometimes I also tend to let out my anger at her, even though she might not be the reason why I'm angry. I know I shouldn't but she knows that I have to vent one way or another. I'm working on that though, because I know it's not fair to her. Still, she lets it happen. And that's why I love her.

Not just for the shopping trips to Ikea (we both have a serious addiction - I think I know the entire catalogue by heart), but for all the little things she does. I think to her, I'll always be her little girl, no matter how old I am. And I'll admit that it's quite nice.


So in honour of Mother's Day, I dedicate anything and everything that is moist and chocolatey to my mum. Because that's what she loves and these chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache are exactly that. But everything dark needs a bit of light, so here are a couple of super delicious coconut cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. So fragrant and fluffy. If I could taste clouds, this is what they'd taste like. 

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, perhaps with your mother or someone who means a lot to you. I'd love to take a peak at the treats you'll be making!


For the coconut cupcakes, please follow this recipe. Half the recipe will yield approximately 20 cupcakes. Line two standard muffin pans with baking cups and fill the cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 F for 18-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean and the cakes spring back to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack, about 25 minutes.

Once cool, frost with half the recipe of the marshmallow icing. I used my round Ateco 808 piping tip in a piping bag and topped each one with a pretty gumpaste hydrangea. Take a bite, then devour.

Double Chocolate Cake

Making these chocolate cupcakes was like winning a marathon (minus the physical activity). I have finally found my go-to chocolate cake recipe. And I have to say that paired with this chocolate ganache, they are the BEST chocolate cupcakes I have ever tasted. Of course, like any recipe, quality ingredients are key. I use high-quality cocoa powder and 75% chocolate. Once you make the investment, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Yields two 6" cakes or 24 cupcakes or about 30 low cupcakes
Adapted from Miette

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 oz (60 g) of 70% chocolate (bittersweet), coarsely chopped
1 cup boiling water
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar


Procedure

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two 6-by-3 inch round cake pans or line two standard muffin pans with baking cups. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and let mixture cool for 15 minutes. (Note: make sure this is the first step you take, so that by the time you've prepared all the other ingredients, your mixture will have cooled down)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on medium-high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour in the oil until combined. Raise speed to medium until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low and slowly pour in the cooled chocolate mixture, whisk, then slowly pour the buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk until the batter is smooth and liquid, about 1-2 minutes. Finally, stop the mixer and add the sifted dry ingredients (I usually only sift when cocoa powder is involved) and mix until just incorporated, either by hand or quickly with the mixer. Do not overmix once the dry ingredients are in. 

Now, you can pour the batter through a mesh sieve into another bowl to remove any lumps (but sometimes I'm too lazy for this step). Divide batter between the prepared pans. Bake about 40-50 minutes until the tops spring back to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pans about 20-30 minutes. Place in refrigerator to cool completely. When completely cooled down, carefully run an offset metal spatula or a blunt knife around the edges of the pans to loosen. Invert cakes on racks and remove pans. Decorate as you wish or freeze for up to 2 months. Wrap tightly in double plastic film if you are freezing it.

For the cupcakes:

If you want regular cupcakes, ie: same height as the coconut cupcakes, fill each cup about 2/3 full (this batter rises high). Tip: I like to use a pyrex measuring cup to pour the batter into the cups...definitely less messy. Bake at 350 F about 20-25 minutes.
For low cupcakes, fill cups no more than 1/3 of the way. Bake at 350 F about 18-25 minutes. This will yield about 30 or more cupcakes.

Chocolate ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream (35%)
8 oz (240 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped.

Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat bring the cream to a boil, turn off heat. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute for the heat to absorb the chocolate. Slowly whisk until nice and smooth. At this point it will be quite liquidy. 

Transfer part of it to a glass pyrex measuring cup and fill cupcakes almost to the edge. Once they are all filled, place in refrigerator a few hours to cool down. (Tip: have the cupcake already placed on a baking sheet for easy transfer since they will be quite wobbly.) I repeat: taste, then devour.

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