Cappuccino Naked Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache

These naked cakes seem to be on trend at the moment! I really enjoyed making this cake, and I really like the combination of the rustic buttercream around the cake, and the rosettes and pool of chocolate ganache on top. This cake was made for my Mum’s birthday, as she loves coffee and chocolate. So, this flavour was a no-brainer!

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 I used the trusted vanilla cupcake recipe for this cake, as it converts quite well into a round cake, too. I tried to get a good quality coffee flavour into the buttercream by using real espresso shots, and this worked really well. I also used dark chocolate ganache in the middle of the layers as well as on the top. It was a nice addition and it cut through the creaminess of the buttercream, and really, who doesn’t love ganache?!

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 Vanilla Cakes:

  • 200g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1 1/2 cups caster (white) sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup milk

Line two 22cm round springform cake tins with baking paper. Preheat oven to 180c. Beat butter, sugar and  vanilla bean paste until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until each is well combined. Add the flour and milk gradually, in alternating batches. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine after each addition. Ensure you begin and finish with flour. Divide mixture evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean. I had a bit of a problem with my cakes taking a while to cook in the middle, and one of them sunk quite a bit after I had taken it out of the oven. If you find this starting to happen in the few minutes after you have taken the cake/s out, place them back in, and lower the oven temperature if the edges of the cake are cooked. You don’t want dry edges and a  raw middle. Yuk! Once cakes have cooked, leave them to cool completely in tins. Release gently from tins once cool. If you are not assembling the cakes immediately, wrap them tightly in cling wrap and place in the fridge until ready to assemble. I prefer to assemble cakes cold, especially this one, because you will need to carve the tops. Always bring cake down to room temperature to serve and eat. 🙂

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  •  250g good quality chocolate chips, or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream

Combine chocolate and cream together in a medium saucepan, and cook over a low-medium heat, stirring, until melted and smooth. Pour into a heatproof bowl, and leave until set. If you are not using ganache on the same day, refrigerate, and slightly warm in the microwave to use.

Espresso Buttercream:

  • 400g butter, chopped and softened (I prefer to use salted butter when making buttercream)
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
  • 30ml espresso coffee (try to use real espresso if you can. If it is not possible, use a good instant coffee powder with 30ml boiling water

Beat butter and vanilla until pale and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and coffee and beat until well combined. With the sugar and coffee, you don’t have to stick to these quantities if they are not to your taste. Taste as you go and add what you are happy with.

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Assembly:

Place one vanilla cake on the stand or board which you will present on. Using a serrated bread knife, gently cut the top of the cake, horizontally, until you have created an even top. Using a palette knife or a spatula, generously spread approximately 2/3 cup of buttercream over the top of the first cake. Then, using a tablespoon, spoon approximately 2-3 tablespoons of dark chocolate ganache on top of the buttercream and push out toward the edges of the cake, taking care not to mix the two – you want the ganache on top of the buttercream. Place the second cake on top of the first, and again, gently cut across it to create an even top, and spread with the buttercream only. After this, using your palette knife or spatula again, gently coat the outside of the cake with buttercream, taking care to gently scrape the edges, creating a smooth, naked cake appearance. Then, place approximately 2 1/2 cups of buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a large, star nozzle. Pipe rosettes or swirls around the edges of the cake, and lightly dust with cocoa powder. Spoon 1/2 cup of dark chocolate ganache into the middle of the cake, and gently spread out to the rosettes if you need to. As mentioned earlier, always bring cake down to room temperature to eat. Serve, and enjoy!

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Happy Baking!

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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Gingerbread Buttercream

I have seen a couple of fellow bloggers make these super-cute cookies lately, and I have really wanted to try making them myself too, especially since the recipe is from the wonderful Sweetapolita! These cookies most definitely lived up to my expectation. Not only were they soooooo yummy, but they were really easy to make and even with halving the recipe, I still had 40 sandwiched cookies!
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Another thing I love about these cookies is that you can do anything with them. You can leave them plain, just decorate them or fill them. I decided on the previous two. My blogging buddy Sugabuttacream filled hers with espresso buttercream, which would be great to try as well. Gingerbread buttercream is definitely one of my favourites around Christmas time, it is so yummy and easy to make, plus it keeps really well and the flavour tends to develop over a couple of days.
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Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies: (recipe adapted from Sweetapolita – makes 40 sandwiched cookies, 80 single cookies)
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup good quality cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
Sift flour, salt and cocoa into a bowl and set aside. Place butter and sugars in bowl, and beat until pale and creamy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat well until combined. Stir in dry ingredients until mixure forms a dough.
On a floured surface, knead half of the dough until it becomes smooth. Shape into a ball. If you want to use dough straight away, refrigerate for 30 minutes. If you are using it in a few days time, freeze the dough. Remove from freezer 2-3 before use and leave it to thaw at room temperature. Repeat kneading with other half of mixture.
Preheat oven to 160c, and line 4-5 oven trays with baking paper. Place one ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper. With a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is about 1cm thick. With a cookie cutter, cut shapes out from the dough and carefully place them on baking paper. When tray is filled place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are just slightly soft. Let them cool on trays, then place on a wire rack.
Choc Sugar Cookies
Sugar Icing (for decorating):
  • Icing sugar, about 1 1/2 cups
  • Water
  • Wilton’s colouring gel, green
As per the icing I used for the Melted Snowmen, I didn’t really use exact measurements. I combined icing sugar and water until it became a thick paste, then added the green colouring. With a piping bag fitted with a very thin round nozzle, I piped around the edges of the trees, and added a few gold and silver cachous as the decorations. The icing dries really quickly, so add the cachous as you go.
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Gingerbread Buttercream:
  • 350g salted butter, chopped and softened – not melted
  • 1 1/2-2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
Beat butter until pale and creamy. Gradually add the icing sugar and other spices. If you only want a hint of the spices, you could add bit less, and if you want a strong hit of ginger, you can add more. You can just keep tasting, but these quantities, for me, are just the right balance 🙂 If you are not using the buttercream until the following the day or after, refrigerate, then take out of the fridge an hour before use. As mentioned earlier, I personally like to make it a couple of days in advance because the flavour of the spices tend to develop. Place the buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe 2 lines of buttercream down the middle of the tree biscuit, then sandwich with another. You can either refrigerate the cookies, or leave them in a cool, dry place.
Piping...
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas, I can’t believe it’s all over for another year! It’s sad but also kind of a relief at the same time. Here are some of the yummy things my family had on Christmas Day (minus the oysters – ew!!).
Christmas Day
January the 1st also marks whiskitforabiscuit’s first birthday – so thank you to everybody who has supported my baking endeavours throughout the past year by coming to visit my site! It is slowly growing in terms of views and followers, which is really exciting to see, so please feel free to comment, like and follow – it would be greatly appreciated! So thank you all so much, and I sincerely hope you come back to say hi in the new year 🙂 Xx
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Nutella and Hazelnut Macarons

I have always been a huuuuge Nutella fan. I always sometimes eat it by spoonfuls out of the jar – but who doesn’t. It really is just way too good. I have had a couple of requests for hazelnut/Nutella macarons recently, so now that Uni has finished and I now have a life again, here they are!

I had seen hazelnut macarons before which only used Nutella as the filling, but I wanted to make them special and go that extra mile so I made a ganache. I used half milk choc and half dark choc, with both cream and nutella. It was delish, how could it not be? Plus, I also roasted some whole hazelnuts, crushed them and used them in the ganache, too. If you are a Nutella fan, it is pretty obvious you are going to lurrrrrrrrve these.

For some reason the shells were slightly extra puffy this time, they were probably my best looking shells yet 😉 You know that you have made a good macaron when you pipe the filling and the shell remains sturdy and doesn’t show any signs of crumbling to the ground, and when they are crunchy on the outside, and chewy and gooey in the middle. Yummmmmm!

Macarons:

This recipe is Adriano Zumbo’s, and was published a couple of years ago in the Herald Sun. You will definitely need kitchen scales to make macarons.

  • 135g almond meal
  • 135g icing sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 45g egg whites
  • 50g egg whites
  • 40g water
  • good quality cocoa, to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 170c (160c fan forced). Spray four oven trays with cooking oil spray around the edges, and line with baking paper and set aside. Place almond meal and icing sugar in a large bowl, and sift together 3 times. Set aside, along with the 45g egg whites. Put 50g egg whites in a separate bowl. Heat caster sugar and water in a small saucepan until it is hot and syrupy (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If white, really thick, powdery bubbles begin to form around the edges, start again!

Begin beating the 50g egg whites with one hand, and with the other, stream the hot sugar syrup down the side of the bowl to create an italian meringue. Beat until stiff peaks form, the meringue should be thick and very glossy. If you want to add flavouring/colouring, now’s your moment (for these I didn’t add any colouring or cocoa in the mixture, but you could add a bit of cocoa if you wanted). Pour meringue into the almond meal, icing sugar and 45g egg whites mixture and mix roughly to combine. When combined, fold mixture together (one single stroke) until there are no air bubbles left. Make a spread across the top of the mixture, and it should disappear in about 20 seconds. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. (If you don’t have a piping bag set, most supermarkets sell plastic ones, they are Multix brand, in an orange box and contain 5 piping bags with a few different nozzles, plus they’re only about $3. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle). Lock the bag by spinning the top around 4 times. Pipe 3-4cm rounds on the oven trays prepared earlier. Gently tap the bottom of the trays and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch.

Place in oven and bake for 7 minutes. Turn tray around in the oven and bake for another 7 minutes. To test, pull a macaron off the baking paper. If it is stuck, keep cooking and checking regularly. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12-15 really large macarons, and about 25 smaller macarons. Macarons keep really well (about 5 days in the fridge) and some say that the longer they are refrigerated, the more the flavour is likely to develop. Macarons taste best when they are stored in the fridge, then brought down to room temperature to eat.

Hazelnut Ganache: (this great recipe was adapted from the great blog, Penguin Says Feed Me)

  • 110ml thickened cream (I used light thickened cream and the texture was still great)
  • 140g chocolate (I used half milk – Green and Blacks organic, half dark – Callebaut Couveture which my amazing boyfriend bought for me – it’s hugely expensive and I would never buy it myself, but it is fantastic, otherwise you could just use Green and Blacks or Old Gold/Club)
  • 2 generous tablespoons Nutella
  • 1 handful whole hazelnuts (probably about 10 nuts)

Place hazelnuts on an oven tray and roast for 10 minutes in an 150c, or 160c fan forced oven. Pour into mortar and crush with pestle, or just on a chopping board and chop them finely. Set aside. Place chocolate, cream and Nutella in a medium sized saucepan and cook over low-medium heat until melted. Pour into bowl and set aside until firm (I usually make ganache before macarons, then it is firm enough to be piped later on). You don’t need to refrigerate this ganache, but ensure you stir it every half an hour or so.

Assembly:

Pair up identical macaron shells. Spoon ganache into piping bag fitted with a round nozzle. Pipe half a teaspoon onto a shell, and top with the crushed hazelnuts, then pipe another half teaspoon, and sandwich with the other shell. Dust with cocoa.

If you are a hazelnut lover, you will be able to eat a whole bowl of this ganache, no worries! You could also top cupcakes, or make a hazelnut/chocolate layer cake, or even a tart, with this ganache. But macarons are always the best 😀

Happy Hazelnuts!