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Baking is Science for Hungry People: Triple-Chocolate Cake

Hello again baking friends!

I have become a baking fiend again in recent weeks, as I’m sure you can tell, so hope you enjoy this latest adventure I made in the kitchen!

This past weekend, my Aunt was visiting from Michigan for her 60th birthday! She doesn’t look a day over 40, though, so of course my brother found this great card that said “Happy 40th Birthday!” on it from us – she loved it!

I had asked what her favorite type of cake is, after much debate with my parents about it — and her response was “chocolate – and more chocolate!”. So I set out trying to find a good recipe to make her birthday request extra yummy. I wanted to create a Triple-Chocolate Cake for her!

Triple Chocolate Cake!

So I decided upon a recipe based from the Food Network Kitchens’ Decadent Chocolate Cake, and further plotted on making a homemade Chocolate Ganache Frosting, with a drizzle on top of Tastefully Simple’s Amazing Amaretto Chocolate Sauce (truly is amazing).

So here goes for the way I made it.

I preheated the oven to 325, and greased an 8-inch round pan, 2 mini fluted pans, and 3 mini-round pans.

Next, in a large bowl, I whisked together 2 cups flour, 1 1/3 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda (should’ve been 1/2 but it came flying out of the box!), 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon cinammon, and 3/4 teaspoon salt, until completely mixed.

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I didn’t use espresso powder),  1/2 cup boiling water and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

In another small bowl, whisk together 1 cup lowfat Greek yogurt (I used vanilla flavored), 1/2 cup lowfat milk, 1/3 cup corn oil, 1 large egg, 1 large egg white, and mix until well blended. Mix in the cocoa mixture until fully blended together.

Gradually add in the cocoa mix to the flour, mixing continuously until fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the pans, but not to the top, then place in the center of the oven (mini pans on a cookie sheet!), and bake for 42 minutes. Yes, that is a random time, but they came out perfectly! Yay!

While your cakes are baking, you can now make your ganache frosting!

First, get your chocolate melting in a double boiler (or an improvised one of 2 pans, like I use!). Put in 3 squares each bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate, and 1/3 cup of unsalted butter. Let this sit over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is completely melted and stirred together well.

While that is working, take 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1/8 cup cocoa powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and whisk together until fully incorporated. Add 1 cup milk, 3 teaspoons Amaretto Disaronno and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract and stir until fully combined. This will be more liquid then thick at this point. Which is what you want.

Once the chocolate is fully melted in the double boiler, add it to the powdered sugar mixture, and stir until fully mixed. Mix it about 3 minutes more. Trust me on this, it’s worth it. Let sit 10-15 minutes until starts to thicken.

Once your cakes are done, let them cool in the pans about 10 minutes, then put them on serving plates or wax paper to cool another 10 minutes. Once this is done, pour the ganache over top of them – or you can dip the tops if you have mini cakes, as they are small and easy to hold onto for this process! Set aside and let sit about 10 minutes until ‘frosting’ firms up. Then drizzle or drop dollops of the Amazing Amaretto Chocolate Sauce on top of the mini cakes, and across the big cake.

If you have extra Ganache, like I did, you can also dip in fruit, pretzels and other assorted goodies and let them cool on the wax paper as well!

If you’re feeling really frisky, you could add Crème Fraiche or Whipped Cream or Cool Whip on top of the cakes as well!

Voilà, ready to enjoy!

Mini cakes and ganache-dipped pretzels – mmm!

Once it’s cut open, it’s anyone’s treat!

Until next time, hope you enjoy this cake, or at least the look of it, and have a great week!

Craft you later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Banana-Ganache Cupcakes

Hi Everyone, it’s been almost a week since my last post. I have been bad, and not done much crafty or cook/bake-y in the last few days. Okay, wow, that was shades of a Catholic confession there, ha-whoops! Anyways, I was looking around my kitchen Tuesday morning for breakfast and saw I had one banana left from the bunch. That one banana was in the stage of either-make-me-into-banana-bread-or-throw-me-out mushiness, and I really didn’t want to make a loaf of banana bread. Because then I have to eat it. And while I adore banana bread, I didn’t think I’d eat an entire loaf by myself this week. Plus I am trying (emphasis on that word, please) to eat healthier. Though I will say, personally I believe if it has banana in it, and not more sugar in ounces than your personal weight in pounds, then it has to be healthy….right?!? Okay, fine, WORK with me here people, just nod and smile and let me believe it, okay?!?!

Alright, moving along from my healthy-banana delusion… Upon further review of my fridge, I saw that I had some eggs, heavy cream, and a whole bunch (and I do mean a LOT) of  chocolate ganache left over from my Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes last week. Hmmm, those ingredients plus one lonely aging banana?!? That seems obvious, does it not: BANANA-GANACHE CUPCAKES!!!! Okay, I’m chilling out, I promise. I just got super excited though. I looked up some basic cupcake recipes, just to see what all was used most commonly proportion wise. Then I pretty much used those as the thinnest-veiled-reference imagineable and made up my own recipe. I am sure you are shocked, really.

So here we go, with pictures illustrating the steps:

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Cream that butter!

1) Cream 2 sticks unsalted butter with 1 cup sugar. Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to cream them, and sometimes it helps to sing Prince’s “Cream” along with the mixer just to get your boogie on (quick soundbite here)!

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Creamed Egged Banana

2) In a small bowl (or if you want to cheat like me and use a cup, that is fine too!), beat together 2 eggs, 1 mashed banana (must be uber-ripe), 1/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tspn vanilla extract. Make sure it is smooth.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Flour Power

3) In another small bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, 1/2 tspn salt, 1 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn baking soda.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Mix It On Up

4) In the creamed butter mixture, turn the beaters back on to low, and gradually add in half of the egg mixture, then half of the flour mixture. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream to the remaining egg mixture (in the cup) and mix well. Gradually add the remaining egg mixture to the creamed butter, and then finally the remaining flour.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Make It Creamy

5) Once this is done mixing it was a bit dry-looking, so I added 1/4 cup of skim milk, just to moisten it up some. Make sure this gets mixed completely, no lumps, totally smooth. You will also smell banana strongly enough you will not believe you just used one banana!

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Pour It On Out

6) Now pour batter to about 3/4 full into your greasedcupcakes – either tin or the individual silicone cups like I used here. I also used cupcake papers because these are going to a group of people that don’t know me well enough to want my germs all over their cupcakes. Plus it keeps the frosting in better (later step, yes I’m getting ahead, but jeez hang with me!)… 🙂

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Baking Strong

7) Bake cupcakes about 20 minutes at 350 F, until tops start to lightly brown.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Fully Cooked!

8) Remove and let cool on top of oven for about 5 minutes before removing from silicone or cupcake pans.

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Top It Off!

9) Once cupcakes have cooled significantly, top with the Chocolate Ganache we made last week that has been sitting in your fridge (covered) just waiting for the next project! Microwave the ganache about 80 seconds, and stir until evenly softened. I use a normal teaspoon to spread this, but I spray it with Pam first, and that works wonders for going on smoothly! Oh and if you didn’t make ganache with me last week (shame on you, I hate to bake alone!), then I would just make a 1/3 or 1/2 batch unless you really want a surplus of ganache.But let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a surplus of ganache?!?

Banana-Ganache Cupcakes: Voilà

10) Voilà we have a lovely batch of Banana-Ganache Cupcakes to Enjoy! 🙂

So that is it for today, I hope you all enjoy these. Side Note: I also toyed with topping each cupcake with a dried banana chip, however wasn’t sure how banana-y that would make it, so left that for another attempt. I’m sure this will be something I do weekly in some variation, so I have faith my ideas will all be implemented…..eventually. 😉

Please let me know if you try these and how you like them. I love feedback – lets me know that a) I’m not just talking to the internet-ether, and b) whether I need to improve or change anything for public consumption. I also like guinea pigs, and you guys make perfect ones, muahahaha! Okay enough with the creepy self-sound-effects. Until next time!

Craft You Later,
Beth

Baking Is Science For Hungry People: Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes

Well hello again. So I have a confession to make. I altered the recipes the other night and hadn’t yet made the stuff. **blushes** I know. I know. That is so awful of me. BUT I had bought all the ingredients! Surely that has to count for something, right?!?! Okay fine, how about the fact that I made them last night, and brought them in for my victims—- I mean coworkers— to try out…? Does that redeem me in your eyes? Even just a little? Okay FINE, then how about these pictures? And don’t hate on the deliciousness, clearly I have shared the path to it with you and cannot be held accountable for any drool on your keyboard. So there. 😉

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Give Me Three Steps

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Cream 3/4 cup butter & 1 cup sugar together in a large bowl.
3) Brew 8 oz cup of cofee and mix with 1/4 cup cold milk, 1 tspn cinnamon and 1 tspn nutmeg, in a small bowl.
4) Mix together 2 1/2 cups floud, 2 tspn baking powder and 1/2 tspn salt in medium bowl.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Mix It On Up

1) Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the coffee mixture to the blender. Mix well.
2) Add 1/3 more of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the coffee mixture to the blender. Mix well.
3) Add in the last of the flour mixture and 1 1/2 tspn instant espresso powder (okay, fine, yes, I used 2 tspn instead) and mix well.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Fill

1) I used my silicone baking cups but regardless, line your cupcakes with the papers and spray with Pam.
2) Fill baking cups 3/4 full (I used a spoon to divvy the dough.) Bake for 18 minutes at 350, until just a little soft still. Remove from oven.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Prep

1) In a saucepan (I recommend NOT using a large one like I did), combine 1 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup heavy cream. I may have used an extra tablespoon of heavy cream, but SHHH! don’t tell! Have this warming over a LOW heat, gently stirring with a wooden spoon until it starts to boil (read: bubble) lightly.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Butter Makes It Better

1) Once boiling over low heat, add 3/8 cup (almost a full stick) of unsalted butter. Stir occasionally.
2) Bring caramel to a boil (read: bubble) again and let it boil (read: bubble) for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Macchiatto Cupcakes - Thumb It!

1) Once removed from oven, immediately put a ‘thumbprint’ indentation in the middle of the cupcake. Make sure it is just an indent, about 1/4″ deep should work, but don’t break it in half or anything!
2) Let cool while you finish the caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Sauce: Salt Attack!

1) Once caramel sauce is removed from heat, add in coarse sea salt, about 1 overloaded teaspoon worth. Okay, you caught me: I just shook the container 3 good times, but it’s about 1 overloaded teaspoon, I swear!!!
2) Keep stirring the caramel for about 2 minutes to ensure the salt mixes in well. If you don’t like salted caramel, just omit this whole little section aside from the last caramel step, below.

While the caramel cools, and the cupcakes continue to cool:

Whipped Cream Frosting: Before

1) In your large mixing bowl from creaming the sugar above, now cleaned out, combine 2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Okay, yes, you got me here again – I used about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar instead. Yeesh you guys are good.
2) Once soft peaks form, add in 1-2 tspon of vanilla extract. Yes, I used 2 tspn here. Keep the mixing going this entire time as well, and then it will look like this, below:

Whipped Cream Frosting: After

3) Refrigerate until ready to build your creation, and cover it with aluminum foil.

Salted Caramel Sauce: To Go Please!

1) Now that your caramel sauce has cooled to not-boiling-piping-hot status, took about 15 minutes right?!?, you can do like I did and pour it into a “decorator bottle” with a normal tip, like mine from Pampered Chef.
2) Tip: use a funnel to get the sauce into the bottle from the pan, and I highly recommend spraying said funnel with Pam spray to keep it from sticking.
3) Note: I was able to fill the bottle twice which worked out nicely – once for the next step, and again for the final steps upon creating the final vision.

Salted Caramel Lava: Before

1) Take your bottle with nifty spout, and pour caramel sauce into your cupcake indentations, just until level with top of cupcake. Do not overfill.
2) Once completed, you will have very pretty cupcakes indeed:

Salted Caramel Lava: After

And now for the Ganache, the final ‘ingredient’!

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Double Boil Me!

1) In a double boiler (or if like me you just wanted to keep reusing the same pans [cleaned of course!], you can clean out your caramel pot and fill it halfway with water, and use a small saucepan for the inner pan), combine 1 bag of semisweet chocolate chips and half a bag of bittersweet cacao chips (I used Ghiradelli for both), with 1 cup of unsalted butter.
2) Stir occasionally, and make sure the heat is set to Medium. This is key, as it will keep a) the water from boiling over into the chocolate, b) the water from using you for target practice, and c) you from having a huge mess to clean up, with a possibe ER visit from burns.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Sugar!!!!

1) While the chocolate is melting, combine 5 cups of powdered sugar with 1/4 cup instant espresso powder and 1/2 tspn of salt.
2) Whisk until evenly distributed.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache

1) In a mixing cup, combine 1 cup of milk and 2 tspn vanilla extract.
2) Add the milk mixture to the powdered sugar and whisk until mixed together (read: sticky).

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Chocolate Rules

1) Once the chocolate has melted completely in the saucepan, and no butter chunks are left anywhere, and the entire thing is nice and smooth, remove from heat and remove chocolate pan from water pan if you’re doing like I did. Let sit about 2 minutes, then brave it.
2) Pour the chocolate mixture into the sugared milk mixture, and whisk until fully blended. Then whisk it about 2 minutes more.

Chocolate Macchiatto Ganache: Now We Drool

1) Refrigerate chocolate ganache 20 minutes until slightly firm, or overnight.
2) If compiling everything the next morning/day, you will need to microwave the ganache about 2-2:30 to get it smooth and distributable.

When Ready To Make Salted Caramel Lava Macchiatto Cupcakes Come Alive:

Cupcakes Come Alive: Ganache

Top your cupcakes with a layer of Ganache.

Cupcakes Come Alive: Whipped Cream Frosting

Top your Ganache with a dollop of Whipped Cream Frosting.

Cupcakes Come Alive

Top your Whipped Cream Frosting with a drizzle or three of Caramel Sauce. **Note: If you are assembling the next day, remove the top from your bottle and microwave caramel sauce in the bottle for 20 seconds on half power to get it pourable.

Voilà the final creation!

Cupcakes Come Alive: DONE!

One final note… I had enough cupcake batter leftover that I made an 8-inch round cake of this as well. I had enough caramel that I poked about 15 holes in the cake, just like the cupcakes, after it baked, filled them with caramel sauce, and topped the same as the cupcakes for the final creation. I still had about 1 cup of whipped cream frosting and 2 cups of ganache leftover, with just about a teaspoon of caramel sauce, most of it stuck in the bottle! Here they are, all of my creations together:

Cupcakes Can Be Cakes Too

Whew, that was a big project, but according to my victi—coworkers, it was a delicious, albeit slightly heavy, coffee sweet treat! I look forward to trying these again, though, because they got a “holy delicious” from me as well! Let me know if you try these and if you like them!

Also, disclaimer: “Baking Is Science For Hungry People” is from my favorite comic Questionable Content, and is one of my all-time-favorite shirts as well.

Craft You Later,
Beth

Splish, Splash, Caramel Lava Cupcake Making A Blast!

So I was bad and took this weekend off of blogging. I know, tsk tsk on me. But I promise it won’t happen again…for awhile at least! 😉 Anyways, I was feeling like a bum this morning because it was 25 degrees out, and so I decided to work from home. The wonders of the current age of business – we have such nice options like working from home, using cell phones as main lines, and having home internet speeds that compare nicely with work internet speeds. It is a wonder, for sure! But anways, I was sitting home, and read my friends’ blog post for today, and there was a great article on DIY Pumpkin Spice Lattés, courtesy of her husband. Which then made me crave a coffee drink myself, so I drove my craving over to Rocky River Coffee Company (my closest non-chain), whom I love because of their motto: Friends don’t let friends drink corporate coffee.

The little places seem to have way better coffee selections for those of us (**ahem**) who don’t like just a plain ol’ cup o’ joe all the time. Yes I enjoy fancy schmancy coffee, and yes I enjoy trying the weird combinations that people at coffee shops imagine, and yes I enjoy paying $4 for said imagination. Okay maybe ‘enjoy’ isn’t the best word for that last part, but “accept that this is the cost and ingenuity doesn’t come cheap, so at $4 we are still in the realm of okay-I-will-pay-that-amount” is a little long, no?!? Well anyways. I got my Caramel Macchiatto (no, this did not taste like Starbucks’ version, and yes it was delicious, and yes I had it made with soy milk for extra protein) to go, and came back home to sip and work, and sip some more. Deeeeelicious! Yum. So then I started thinking that I really need to post more on my blog. And I had no idea what to post today, but I wanted to do something baking-craft.

So then it hit me. Caramel Macchiatto Cake!!! WOOHOO! We have a winner! But how to make this delicious-sounding craved treat?!? So of course – google to the rescue! I found a couple really fun blogs, that I am going to try to meld their versions into something of my own. Because let’s be honest. Following just one recipe for the entire creation just isn’t quite as entertaining as watching someone (else) attempt to meld three recipes into one master creation. Right?!? So here are the three recipes I am going to combine. Once you look them over, I will share what I am actually doing in my own recipe. Because, yes, I am going to let you all sit back, relax, and watch me be a fool in the kitchen. Because there are fewer places I am a better fool then in the kitchen! 😉 And I am a-okay with that! 😀

Cupcake Inspiration courtesy of MyButteryFingers.

Frosting Inspiration courtesy of JavaCupcake.

Additional Inspirations courtesy of WarningSugaryGoodness.

Final Production Recipe:

Caramel Macchiato Cupcakes
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour                                2 tspn baking powder             ½ tspn salt                   
¾ cup strongly (cool) brewed coffee            ¼ cup milk                                  1 tspn each, nutmeg & cinnamon
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened                     1 cup sugar                                  3 eggs                    1 ½ tspn instant espresso

  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 F.Place paper liners in muffin tin.
  2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine coffee, milk, cinnamon & nutmeg in a cup and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat eggs in one at a time.
  4. Reduce speed to low and beat in one-third of the flour mixture, then half of the liquid mixture. Scrape down sides, then beat in another third of flour mixture, then the rest of the liquid, then the remaining flour mixture. Mix in the instant espresso.
  5. Fill cupcake liners ¾ full. Sprinkle on cacao nibs if using. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  6. Let cool completely and remove from the pans.  Rather than excavate the middle out of the cupcakes to fill with caramel.  Just push the cupcake down with the bottom of a clean ice cream scoop. Fill with Caramel filling below.

Caramel filling and drizzle
1 ¼ cup light brown sugar            ¼ cup heavy cream            3/8 cup unsalted butter, softened            1 tspn salt

  1. To make the caramel, put the sugar and cream in a heavy bottom saucepan set over low heat.  Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon as it comes to a boil. Once it is boiling, add the butter and stir. Bring caramel back to a boil let it bubble gently for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Take the caramel off the heat, add the salt, and stir vigorously to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed in. Let the caramel cool and then fill cupcakes. Reserve some of the caramel to drizzle after chocolate ganache frosting layer, set this caramel aside

Chocolate Ganache Frosting infused with Espresso
4 oz bittersweet chocolate       2 oz unsweetened chocolate   10 oz semisweet chocolate
1 cup butter unsalted                 ¼ cup espresso powder             5 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt                                    2 tsp vanilla extract                     1 cup whole milk

  1. Melt chocolates and butter over double boiler.  Slowly stir constantly, until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Sift powdered sugar, espresso powder, and salt into a bowl.
  3. Combine milk and vanilla. Add milk mixture to sugar mixture. Whisk until incorporated. Add melted chocolate mixture to milk mixture. Stir until smooth.
  4. Chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, whatever it takes to get it thick enough to frost.  Frost the cupcakes once the frosting is thick enough.  Keep unused portion in the refrigerator covered tight for up to one week.

Whipped Cream Frosting
2 cups heavy cream            ½ cup powdered sugar            1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. In a standing bowl mixer whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar, to taste (not too sweet)
  3. Mix in vanilla extract.
  4. Pipe Frosting onto each cupcake & then drizzle with caramel.

Pictures to come later, but for now: g’night all!

Craft You Later,
Beth

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