Cherry and Chocolate

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I bought a pack of really nice, juicy black cherries and I thought that I will combine it with chocolate.

Didn’t want to bake my old chocolate cake recipe for this, I was searching the net for something simpler and more important for a recipe that has a smooth texture rather than full of chocolate bits. That’s how I came across with a really old recipe, apparently. No eggs and no butter is needed for this chocolate cake, but vinegar and oil instead. Well I did use butter for the topping but that can be replaced with other frosting if you really don’t want to use any butter.

I baked it, and as it was promised it was actually very moist and delicious.

I let the cakes cool completely (well as I baked in the evening, I went to sleep and only finished it next day), then filled them with cherry-pie filling (I made sure to put 2 cherries in every hole).

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To frost these cupcakes I made a pale pink buttercream, which was a hit with my daughter, rest of the family would more likely prefer a chocolate cream or cream cheese instead.

By the way I’ve been meaning to compare the calories between a buttercream and a chocolate cream just to see if I’m right when thinking that a chocolate cream frosting is a lighter (healthyer, if you like) choice compared to buttercream. Chocolate cream is basically whipped cream and melted chocolate, no added sugar, -of course you can play with a heavy/double cream or single whipped cream which do make a difference. Buttercream is the good old French butter + lots or powder sugar, which I believe has more calories altogether. But maybe I’m wrong 🙂

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Back to my cakes, I finished my dessert with adding chocolate dipped cherries and chocolate leaves. My intention was to put twin cherries on each cupcake, but could only find 2 pairs like this. Szonja ended up eating lots of cherries that day, because she volunteered to help dipping and finally she eat them all -the ones she made 🙂

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Here comes the chocolate cake recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (brown sugar works for me)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup brewed coffee (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of espresso powder or instant coffee granules- I used decaf instant coffee)
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp oil

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1 Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until there are no visible clumps (cocoa tends to clump up).

3 In a separate bowl, mix together the coffee (or water plus coffee granules), vinegar, vanilla extract, and oil.

4 Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture should be thin and rather lumpy.

5 Devide the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about two-thirds of the way full. Place in oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

6 Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack. Once cool, you use a cake corer (or a knife) to hollow out the center of each cupcake.

7 Fill the holes with cherry-pie filling, then frost them with the buttercream.

8 I tinted my buttercream with a little cherry-pie filling that’s how it came out pale pink.

9 Melt some dark chocolate (can be done in the microwave) and let it cool just a little before you dip the cherries in it. Put the cherries to dry on a piece of baking paper.

10 The chocolate leaves I made from moulded chocolate and I used the largest rose leaf cutter.

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Think Blue :-)

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I had to use up my leftover blue chocolate cream from last week’s Wild Rose project. I also had leftover decorations, like pink and white fondant roses that I had to use before they would go bad. Would have been a waist which I can not let happen, my everyday motto being “We are not waisting any food. Ever!”

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This being said, it just happened to have in the kitchen cupboard a box of cake mix (yes, not like me at all, because I don’t like them!), so I quickly baked it and in no time at all I had 7 cupcakes on my table today. It was very convenient for what I had in mind.

I swirled the blue cream on them and decorated the cupcakes with my decorations, and VOILA!

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And, this little guy down here, has a fragile chocolate butterfly on top. I melted a little dark chocolate, put it in a piping bag, and using a small tip I made this butterfly on a piece of baking paper, then put it in the freezer to get hard again.

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Brush Embroidery

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Does anyone know the American TV show called Cake Boss? Or maybe The Next Great Baker? Buddy Valastro is the “BOSS” -he is a hell of a baker and cake decorator, I really like his shows, and guess what: we watched it together with Szonja on my computer, because she loves it too 🙂  On one of the series Buddy made a special cake for his wife, and he used a decorating technique called brush embroidery, which means that you paint with butter-cream (it might work with royal icing, but I could be wrong here) on the fondant with a paint brush. It was the first time I saw this and I instantly knew I have to try it myself! And that’s what I did! Last week I put aside few cupcakes (from the wild roses batch), and frosted them with pale green sugar-paste, let them dry a little, then painted it with butter-cream. It was easy-peasy, fun and elegant 🙂 Now I’m feeling that I’d like to decorate a big cake with this technique!

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Wild Roses

We have a few bushes of wild roses near the house, and this is what inspired me, plus I’ve seen some quite similar cupcakes once on YouTube, and there we go!

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I had some difficulties when making the fondant roses, because I don’t have the proper equipment. To shape the flowers I would have need a large paint palette, but don’t have it, therefor I used an old chocolate box I saved from Christmas. I let the flowers dry for a week before baking the cupcakes and decorating them.
I wish the cream would be more blue and not so green..ish as they look 🙂 but I don’t seem to get it right. It must be the white chocolate that has a little yellow colour, and adding the blue food colour it ends up more like green instead of blue. I’m sure that it would came out perfect in buttercream though…
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For this cake I used my favourite vanilla recipe which can be found on Laura Vitale’s cooking blog. I’m so happy ever since I’ve found it, because my vanilla cupcakes with this recipe are really delicious!
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I made a twist with these Wild Roses cupcakes, and instead of using regular milk I used coconut milk (from coconut milk powder), and I got that light coconut flavour I wanted, but my cakes were slightly dry, so next time if I want coconut flavour to my cupcakes I’ll need to do it differently 🙂

Father’s Day – Russian Cream Mini Cakes

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Russian Cream cake- this title would sound great, but truth is this is not a Russian recipe. It is Hungarian and comes from a chef named Oroszi. The cake he made has been named after him only it’s been shortened to Orosz, which translated to English means Russian. So the correct name for this cake here should be Orosz Cream Cake, since the original name is Oroszkrémtorta, but I agree that in English, Russian Cream Cake sounds more appealing 🙂

I baked this particulary cake for Father’s day, because this is my husband’s favourite cake, but instead of making one big cake, I chose to make mini cakes. I found mini cakes to be more fun somehow, they just look so pretty.

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The base is a classic sponge cake which is really easy. The filling cream is made from vanilla custard, previously boiled raisins, rum and whipped cream, and all mixed together. On the top I put a generous amount of whipped cream and decorated it with chocolate swirls (it was my very first attempt to modelling chocolate, so I tried the white chocolate, and dark chocolate and milk chocolate as well).

I made one single rose too from chocolate, just to see how does it look 🙂

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Cats. Pink. Strawberries.

These are the top 3 favourites for Szonja 🙂 She nagged me to bake some cupcakes together and when I asked her what should be the theme, the flavour and colour she came up instantly and very excited with cats, pink and strawberries. Of course, what else! 🙂
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So, I looked up for a simple recipe for strawberry cupcakes and got started.
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I had a package of strawberry flavoured chocolate buttons, so I melted it with a little cream (I think this is called ganache) then poured evenly on the cupcakes and let them cool down.
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Few weeks ago I bought silicone stamps with various cats on them from the Hobby Craft (I used them first on Szonja’s birthday cake), and now we used them on sugar-paste to imprint the little cats.
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I let Szonja do most of the work, which she enjoyed really much 🙂
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And here comes the recipe:
Strawberry cupcakes
1/3 cup butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (I usually use brown sugar unless I want the cake to have a lighter colour)
1 egg
1 cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped (I’m pretty sure we used more than that…)
Topping
100 gr pink, strawberry flavoured chocolate buttons
2 tablespoons double cream
pale pink sugar-paste for the cats
sugar sprinkles
Preheat the oven to 160 C (in my case I turn the gas on mark 7). Line your cupcake pan with the cases. In a bowl, use an electric mixer on high speed to cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well.
Add the vanilla, flour and milk, and beat with the electric mixer until combined, but be careful DO NOT OVER-MIX, because it will become dry and sort of a bread… In the end add the strawberries and stir it through.
Use an ice cream scoop -if you have, and divide the mixture evenly in your cupcake cases, but fill them only 3/4.
Bake them for around 20 minutes, half way through you can turn your tray in the oven, but NEVER open the oven in the first 10 minutes of baking, this is important!
Take them out from the oven, but leave the cupcakes in the pan for about 5 minutes before you transfer them on a wire rack.
For the topping, put the chocolate in a deep pan to melt, add the double cream and stir until completely melted, then pour the chocolate on your cupcakes. When they have cooled you can put your decoration on top.
Of course you can frost these cupcakes with only whipped cream and fresh strawberries (that would be my choice 🙂 ), but since I made them with my daughter, who specifically wanted cats on them, well another time 🙂

Laura’s New Home

Laura, a friend of mine who’s daughter is the same age as Szonja and they go to the same school too, moved to a new house with her kids. She invited her friends to a house warming last week. I couldn’t stay long as Oliver was not feeling well, but I did pop in and presented her with these cakes.

I made a rich dark chocolate cupcake and topped with white chocolate cream, and of course made some decorations from sugar-paste.

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I definitely want to share the recipe with you as it is a really delicious, moist, full of chocolate cake, but I’ll leave it to another day as at the moment I simply can’t find the time to write it down.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Cupcakes

Today was the Jubilee celebration in Szonja’s school. They had a little party, dressed up in smart clothes and shared some party food with each other. I decided to bake some themed cupcakes for this occasion and I chose a Red Velvet cake recipe which I’ve already baked before. Since for me a cupcake HAS TO HAS cream on top or at least inside of it (well for me this is an absolute MUST !) otherwise I find it too dry, I filled these cupcakes under the sugar-paste icing with cream cheese, which I made from Mascarpone and double cream with a hint of sugar. I think it came out pretty good 🙂

We took them to school this morning, but I was a bit worried because when I saw them this morning on the kitchen counter my heartbeat skipped for a second…I saw that the red decorations started to melt down! Ah, God, I just remembered that I used that red sugar-paste which has already done this to me before on a previous occasion, only that by then it melted on my cakes in just a couple of hours (and melted like flowing down! ), but now it stayed on the cakes for the night and the situation wasn’t by far so bad luckily…Well, I quickly took them out from the airtight container and put them in the cardboard cake box and hoped that the condensation stopped and there would be no more damage to the cake before someone eats them. It is the last time I’m using this red sugar-paste, that’s one thing for sure! I just couldn’t figure it out yet what is wrong with it…

Anyways, here are the Jubilee Cupcakes:

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