Monday, February 28, 2011

Frangelico Cupcakes

Last weekend I made some Frangelico cupcakes for my fiancé's sisters birthday lunch (for those of you that don't know Frangelico is a hazelnut liquor - great with coke or on it's own!) I was inspired by Natalia's recipe: and I will HAVE to try her Jaffa cupcakes one day soon!

This recipe was so quick and easy and I found the texture of the batter to be quite different from other chocolate cakes. It had a mouse like consistency and I was eager to see how they tasted.

As there were 5 of us for lunch I made one for each of us in a large purple baking cup and with the remaining batter filled pink paper cases.

In the oven they rose beautifully and I iced with Nigella's nutella buttercream frosting:

Nutella Buttercream
125g butter, room temp
75g dark chocolate, melted
2 tbsp Nutella
2 cups sifted icing sugar
Cold milk

- Cream the butter until fluffy, slowly add the melted chocolate (in a thin stream to make sure the butter doesn’t melt).
- Add the Nutella
- Slowly beat in the icing sugar, ½ cup at a time until the buttercream is fluffy and not too thick – if it thickens too much add 1 tablespoon of cold milk at a time and beat.

(Instead of milk I added Frangelico!)

I had some mini chocolate 'cigarettes' which I cut in half and stuck in the cake for decoration to resemble a chocolate sundae!

On tasting these cupcakes I think those cooked in the baking cups were a little dry - perhaps because the moisture was not trapped during cooking by a patty tin but was free to escape. But the icing was so delicious one hardly noticed the dry sponge if you got a load of icing in the bite!:-)

When I make these again I will check more frequently as I may have slightly overcooked them. And I will add an extra tbsp of Frangelico to the batter mixture to give an extra kick!:-)

Tip - add the cigarette's at the last minute as if stored in an airtight container they go soggy!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

The headache of cake decorating

Ganaching is a pain in the arse. I still haven't got the hang of it. I've discovered a new technique where one places a board, the same size as the supporting cake board, on top of the ganache and then the sides are slowly filled with ganache. The theory is that the cake shrinks in cooking by about 0.5-1cm, therefore, giving you plenty of room for adding ganache to give it structural support, even sides and sharp edges.

However, when ganaching my 6" cake last weekend, I noticed that it was only a fraction smaller then my 6" board. How was I meant to get my ganache in there?!

Actually in this case I was using buttercream. I was experimenting with Belgian White Chocolate paste - similar to fondant but made mainly of chocolate which tastes delicious, but chocolate paste and chocolate ganache is definitely a chocolate overload!

I used Toby Garret's decorators buttercream recipe which is 250g butter, 250g copha, 750g icing sugar sifted, 1.5tbsp pavlova magic, 1/4 water. The copha means it is very stable in the heat and the pavlova magic lends a stiffness which is good for setting on the cake.

I've now learnt from asking on the Planet Cake forum that it is advisable to trim away the cake to get that 0.5cm gap between the cake and the board and I will do this for next time (compensating with an extra layer of cake and more height). But this time, as it was just for FH and I to enjoy, I whacked it on another board and went ahead with the icing.

I tried and tried to get the straight edges without using a board (as the 6" was too small) and in doing so developed a rather thick layer of buttercream icing. I also found it went inwards towards the top of the cake. But here is a picture of the iced cake before the chocolate paste - I am proud of this as it's the best I've done so far. Maybe a hot knife would have been good? But I have only done this with ganache and didn't want to ruin the buttercream.

The chocolate paste was very difficult to handle, most likely due to the heat, so I haven't attached a picture as it looked very dimpled but the combination of chocolate mud cake, butter cream and white chocolate paste was sensational!

Next time - more cake then icing! It's a cake with icing, not icing with a bit of cake!:-) But each attempt I'm getting better and better - so I will just have to keep practicing!

Cake anyone?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Liquid Fondant Baby Blue Cupcakes

My friend gave birth to a beautiful baby boy last Sunday so i was inspired to make some baby blue cupcakes for the happy family.

The Dad is well known for liking fondant. However, i wanted to try something different. I discovered a technique in the Peggy Porchen book where fondant is melted to a liquid consistency and the cupcakes dipped in to decorate. This really appealed to me as eliminated the rolling, cutting and ganaching aspects of the Planet Cake method.

So, I brought a box of Orchard fondant and put 250g in a bowl in the microwave for 10 second intervals. I added a little water and stirred in-between bursts in the microwave. After some vigorous stirring the lumps disappear and you're left with some smooth liquid fondant.

I then added a little Wilton sky blue colour gel.

I had made the Planet Cake vanilla cupcakes and covered in sugar syrup to keep them moist and to prevent crumbs from falling off into the fondant.

I then dipped each cupcake one by one in the bowl of fondant. By the time i reached the last cupcake the first had dried and so i dipped for a second time. I then placed a sugar rose in the center of each cupcake.

Those cupcakes that didn't have too tall a dome shape did get fondant on the paper case. However i used the Coles paper & foil cases so, once the fondant had dried i removed the foil case to give a better presentation.

I had wanted to pipe dots of royal icing around the flower but i had never made it before and my piping is terrible so my FH pointed out that less is more and that they looked beautiful as they were.

I was very pleased with the end result and i'm sure the tired mum and dad will be too!:-)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The perfect mudcake

Ok, i've had enough! I just want to be over the testing and practicing and move on to the pile of exciting and delicious recipes that i have yet to try!

My engagement party is in april and i'm making a 2 tiered exploding hearts cake, top tier 6" choc mud and bottom 8" carrot with white chocolate ganache.

Planet Cake have a delicious choc mud recipe but it is renowned for sinking. After receiving many tips from the amazing cake decorators on the PC tea party forum - i used baking strips to keep the sides from rising to fast (resulting in the middle sinking) and covered the top of the cake to keep it moist, left it in the over for OVER 2.5hours(!?) and let it cool over night before turning out of tin.

This is a small cake and i'm amazed at how long it took to bake. Despite testing it with a skewer, i believed it was ready. However, when i came to trim off the crusty top it was incredibly gooey - yummy but too gooey to carve. Freezing it first may help but i think the 3 hours of baking will now just be used in cake pops.

So... i have to try again!

Although the PC is my favorite to taste, i have a 6" exclusively foods choc mud in the freezer so i will test that this weekend.

Once this is over i'm going to go cake crazy and make something new every weekend!

1st being using that sponge to make peanut but pops or truffles - crumble the sponge and mix with smooth peanut butter, roll into balls, stick on lollipop sticks and dip into melted milk chocolate! Mouth is watering! Will then wrap in cello wrap and give to friends or omit the lollipop stick and use as truffles and give as gifts.

I know a few people who would like fudge chocolate cake peanut butter balls!:-)