Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nutella Cake Balls's been quite awhile. But I'm back with something that isn't really new, but I tweaked a bit and has been incredibly successful so far. I'm talking about cake balls.

You may have seen them before at places like Starbucks as 'cake pops'. Tasty little balls of chocolate covered fudgey cake goodness. They can be made in almost any conceivable cake/frosting combination. I was going to try to make them with yellow cake and chocolate frosting, but then, as sometimes happens, I had a thought. What if, instead of chocolate frosting, I used Nutella?

Well what happens is you get little bits of ingest-able awesome.

Here's how it goes down.

You will need:
1 box of standard yellow cake mix (I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme, but you can use whatever)
1 jar of nutella (I think its about 14oz, or thereabouts)
2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips (dark chocolate would likely also work)
colorful sugar sprinkley things (optional...what, I like sparklies).

To start, make the box of cake mix according to directions.

After your cakes are completely cooled, rip them up into teeny pieces-it can be very cathartic! (I sort of stole a chunk of cake to eat while I worked both times, reasoning that a standard container of frosting is bigger than a jar of Nutella, and therefore it had to be compensated for. By removing part of the cake and eating it, obviously.)

 Once your cake is ripped up into teeny cake bits, its time to add the Nutella! (yay!) I had to split mine into two bowls because I wouldn't have had room to smoosh everything together at the start. But the main idea is you scoop out your Nutella, and plop it into the bowl. I mixed everything by hand, which while messy, works just fine. If you have something like a Kitchen Aid mixer,  you can use that, but your hands won't end up smelling deliciously of Nutella after (your loss).

 Once everything is smooshed together, stick your bowl(s) into the fridge to chill for a few minutes. I washed my dishes while I waited. You want to let it chill enough that it can be worked with. When its ready, take out and have a cookie sheet lined with wax paper, or use a silicone sheet (its what I used, and it rocks). Your goal at this point is to make little balls out of the mixture you've got. I used a melon-baller to get uniform sizes, but you can also just use a teaspoon and roll it with your hands.When you've got a tray full, stick those back in the fridge to chill. We want to keep our cake balls nice and together until we can dip them.

 While your cake balls are chilling, you can start melting your chocolate. I used a double boiler, which made things much easier, but you can do something similar with a bowl set in a hot water bath. You just need to be REALLY careful not to let any of the moisture into the chocolate, or you will end up with a hot mess- literally (head to to find out the science of why!).

Once your chocolate is melted and happy, bring your cake balls back out. The first time I made these, I tried controlling them with a spoon and a toothpick, and let me tell you, that was no fun. If you can, get what I bought for the second try, a set of  these things. They make it so much easier to work with the cake balls->

The idea is that you plop a ball in, roll it around until its covered in melted chocolate, then scoop it back up again, getting the excess chocolate off, then dropping it back onto the cookie sheet. Once all the balls on the sheet have been dipped, you have the option while the chocolate is still soft to add things. I sprinkled on blue sugar crystals, but you could likely use whatever sort of cake decoration strikes your fancy. Then pop them back in the fridge to set for a final time.

I gave mine overnight to set, but usually a few hours is sufficient. And when you're done, you have a delicious, decadent dessert that will look incredibly fancy, but was actually really easy to make! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Irish Carbomb Cupcakes

It's been awhile since I posted, I know, but I think its been worth it with what I'm about to show you.

For those of you who haven't heard of Irish Carbombs, its a drink (of sorts) comprised of a shot made of half whiskey and half Baileys Irish Cream dropped into a half pint of Guinness. The idea is to drink the whole mess before the Bailey's curdles.

Well, a week ago, someone sent me a recipe for Irish Carbomb cupcakes. And since an awesome manager from my store is leaving, I thought I would make them for her. And now, the recipe for Irish Carbomb cupcakes!

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes (though mine made closer to 38)

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

1 cup stout (such as Guinness, or Young's Double Chocolate Stout)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache Filling
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (optional)

Baileys Frosting (see Recipe Notes)
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Special equipment: 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer and a piping bag (though a plastic bag with the corner snipped off will also work)

Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back if your oven bakes unevenly, about 17 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

Make the filling: Chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. (If this has not sufficiently melted the chocolate, you can return it to a double-boiler to gently melt what remains. 20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will also work.) Add the butter and whiskey (if you’re using it) and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Meanwhile, using your 1-inch round cookie cutter or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. You want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. A slim spoon or grapefruit knife will help you get the center out (though my cupcakes were moist enough that I didn't need the help- the middles stuck to the apple corer). Those are your “tasters”. Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time.

Keep adding powdered sugar until you reach an acceptable sweetness. When you hit this point, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes.

Do ahead: You can bake the cupcakes a week or two in advance and store them, well wrapped, in the freezer. You can also fill them before you freeze them. They also keep filled — or filled and frosted — in the fridge for a day. (Longer, they will start to get stale.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

January Daring Bakers Challenge

And now for the January 2010 Daring Baker's Challenge!

Nanaimo Bars!

These were surpisingly easy to make, and incredibly delicicous, almost like a Canadian version of a magic cookie bar.

And now for the recipe (the original challenge was for gluten free graham crackers, but I used wheat flour since I didn't think I'd be using the non-wheat flours again. Also, To save space, I ommitted the recipe for the graham crackers. If you want it, let me know, and I'll post it seperately.)

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

I found that when getting to the last stage, of putting the chocolate on top, it would sometimes smear the middle layer. I would suggest freezing the bottom two layers before applying the chocolate on top, for a cleaner finish. :)


Monday, November 30, 2009

Scalloped deliciousness

"I raised to my lips a spoonful of the cake . . . a shudder ran through my whole body and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place."- Marcel Proust, Swann's Way

You've maybe seen them in local pastry shops, or even in little celophaned packets at Starbucks. The small, yellow, scalloped cookies. They have a nice buttery crisp at the edges, and often a hint of lemon when you bite into the spongy goodness. These are madeleines.

Madeleines are very simple, and therefore are very versatile. You can leave them plain, and have a small cookie akin to pound cake, or you can add lemon zest or even orange zest for a small burst of flavor. They also work well dipped in either dark or milk chocolate, adding something a little extra to the already wonderful flavor.

And now on to the recipe!

For these delightful treats, you will need:

2 large eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon peel (or orange peel)
1 pinch of salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
powdered sugar (optional)
1 madeleine baking pan*

*A note on the baking pan: In all likelihood, you don't have one yet. I didn't have one either until I decided to try to make these. If you have a kitchen supply store near you, they should have them, and if they don't, check online. It's relatively easy to find them.

To start, preheat your oven to 375F. Take your madeleine pan and generously smear butter into each of the little forms (I used a paper towel to do this, although you could likely use a basting brush as well if the butter is soft enough). Sprinkle flour on top of the butter. The butter will help the cookies brown, and the flour makes it easier to pop them out of the forms after baking.

Beat the eggs and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl, just to blend. Add in the vanilla, lemon (or orange) peel, and salt. Once blended, add in the flour (be careful to add slowly, or you'll end up with flour all over the place). Once these ingredients are blended, add the cooled melted butter until blended (when I make these, the butter doesn't always blend in at first. I have found that if you let it set for about 10 minutes, the batter will soak the butter up, and you'll be good to go).

Once all your ingredients are mixed, spoon a small amount into each of the indentations. Make sure not to put too much batter in each indentation, this batter does sort of poof up a bit. Bake in the preheated oven until the visible parts of the cookies are a light golden brown, around 10-16 minutes, depending on what sized madeleine pan you're using (I used a small one, and it took about 13 minutes). Set the madeleine pan aside to cool for around 5 minutes, then gently pop the cookies out of the pan. Repeat the buttering and flouring of the cookie pan between each batch.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can sprinkle powdered sugar on them to garnish, or dip the ends in melted chocolate. If you're going to dip in chocolate, wait til the next day, since this will let some of the excess moisture evaporate from the cookie, and keeps them from getting too soggy once the chocolate is on.

In an airtight container, these should last at least a week before getting stale (if you can keep from eating them that long, that is.)


And it begins...

As of late, I've started baking. Baking wonderful, delicious, marvelous things.

I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't share such wonderful things with the world. And so, I have created this blog, in the hopes of showing firstly the awesome things I've made, posting the recipes so *others* can make similarly awesome things, and also for working some of the kinks out of the recipes as I find them (pistachio buttercream? I'm looking at you).

And with my next post, I'll begin!