Cherry Ripe Layer Cake

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and managed to relax over the holiday season. I can’t believe the best time of the year is over already, it always goes too quickly! Usually, for me, January is a busy month for cakes, with most of my families’ birthdays. This year, however, almost my whole family were sick, and celebrations kept getting put off! So, this beauty of a cake was made for three peoples’ birthday, and delicious it was. Excuse the crappy photos, my awesome proper camera broke, and my the photos from my phone just aren’t the same 😦

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This cake is quite similar to this one I made about the same time last year, with red wine ganache. However, I omitted the red wine this year, and added toasted coconut flakes and cherry ripe bars.

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Chocolate Mud Cake Layers: (recipe by Janelle Bloom)

Makes 4 x 23cm layers

400g butter
200g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup good quality cocoa
2 tbs good quality drinking chocolate or instant coffee powder, or 1 tbs of each if you want
1 tsp vanilla bean paste/natural extract
2 cups caster (white) sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
Approximately 500g fresh cherries, stones removed and halved
Approximately 30 fresh cherries, with stems (I used a 695g bag altogether, and it was just enough)

Preheat oven to 160c. Line 23cm springform cake tins with baking paper. I had two tins, therefore had to repeat the process.

In a medium saucepan, combine butter, chocolate, water, cocoa, drinking chocolate and/or coffee powder and vanilla. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and set aside for 10 minutes or until lukewarm.

In the meantime, beat eggs and sugar together in a stand mixer, on medium speed, until pale and creamy. Stream the chocolate mixture down the side of the stand mixer to incorporate into egg mixture. Beat until well combined. Stop the mixer, and add the flour. Beat again until well combined and smooth.

Weigh mixture into four even portions (I did this with digitial scales), to ensure even layers. Pour mixture into prepared tins. Bake for 25 minutes in preheated oven, or until a skewer is inserted, and comes out clean. Repeat process, depending on how many cake tins you have.

Cool cakes for 15-20 minutes in tins, and transfer to a wire rack. If not using immediately, wrap tightly with cling film once cakes are completely cool, and refrigerate. Bring down to room temperature to assemble and eat.

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Dark chocolate ganache: (you will need to make the ganache the day before serving the cake)

· 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped, or choc bits
· 300ml thickened cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the chocolate and cream, and place over a low-medium heat, constantly stirring until melted. Place in a large bowl and let cool at room temperature. When ganache has cooled, cover with cling wrap and leave overnight at room temperature.

Assembly:

· Toasted coconut flakes or dessicated coconut
· 900g cherries, pitted and halved
· 100g whole cherries

Place one layer of mud cake on the stand/base. Place ganache in a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle. Pipe one small dob of ganache in the middle of the cake, and place halves of cherries around it. Repeat the process with ganache around the other side of the cherries, and repeat again. Sprinkle with coconut. The end result should look like this:

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Repeat the process three times, until you reach the top layer. You can really decorate the top layer however you want. I used the ganache for the middle of the top layer, and as you can, sprinkled coconut around the edges. I stuck the whole cherries in with the ganache, to ensure they weren’t going to fall off. I sliced the cherry ripes into sharp triangles, to look effective on the cake.

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Enjoy, and happy baking! X

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Top Deck Mini Cupcakes

It’s been a busy few weeks. I have been popping cupcakes out of my kitchen like no tomorrow! So, here, I present to you, Top Deck Mini Cupcakes. White Chocolate, and Dark Chocolate. It’s that simple.

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 These cupcakes are super easy to make, and are very delicious. I used the extremely trustworthy chocolate cupcake recipe that never lets me down, and my own white chocolate ganache to top them with. White Chocolate ganache is something I have always struggled to make. I find it is always runny, and I usually have to add a truckload of butter before it becomes somewhat of a pipe-able consistency. Nevertheless, it was yum!

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Chocolate Cupcakes:  (from Taste.com.au) 

Makes approx. 55 mini cupcakes

  • 100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 125g butter, chopped and softened, not melted
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa

Line trays with cupcake cases, and preheat oven to 160c, fan forced (170c regular). Place the chocolate and water together in a small saucepan, and place over a low heat, stirring with a metal spoon until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside. Beat butter and sugar together until pale and creamy, approximately 3-4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until each is well combined. Place flours and cocoa in a separate bowl, and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the butter, sugar and egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Once combined, add the melted chocolate mixture and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until mixed. If the mixture is a little runny, leave it to settle for 10 minutes or so. Spoon mixture into cupcake cases, and bake for 15-18 minutes in preheated oven until cooked, or until a skewer comes out of the cake clean. Leave in trays to cool for 5 minutes, and transfer to a wire rack.

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 White Chocolate Ganache:

As I mentioned earlier, this is certainly not a perfect recipe. It took a lot of trial and error before I was happy with the taste and consistency. I would recommend making the white chocolate and cream mixture at least a few hours before, or even the day before.

 

  • 300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup thickened cream
  • 300g butter, softened, not melted

Place the white chocolate and the cream into a small saucepan, and stir with a metal spoon, over a low heat, until melted and smooth. Pour mixture into a heat proof bowl, and place in refrigerator. Beat butter until pale and creamy. Depending on the consistency, you may need to put the white chocolate and cream mixture in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Gradually add the mixture to the butter, and beat until combined.

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Spoon the ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle of your choice. Pipe ganache onto mini cupcakes. To store, place cupcakes in an airtight container, in a cool, dry place. Cupcakes will last approximately 2-3 days. Enjoy!

Cappuccino Choc-Dip Macarons

Trust me to make macarons more difficult than they already are! I didn’t think the choc dip component of these special delights would be that tricky, but they turned out to be quite fiddly, and very messy. It was worth it though, as they were quite delicious. It’s been forever since I have made anything remotely coffee, and I tend to forget how yummy coffee flavoured desserts and sweets can be. This flavour went down really well with my family and colleagues, and even my boyfriend who loathes coffee quite enjoyed it, too. Winner! Also, apologies for the photos. I’ve been having issues with my good camera, so my iPhone had to do the job this time around.

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 The filling was super easy to make. It’s a basic buttercream with a bit of coffee thrown in. You just have to make sure to get the balance just right – not too much coffee, not too little. The flavour worked really well with the salted butter, and the dark chocolate dip. Even though it was messy, I’d totally do the choc dip again. It makes them just that little bit extra indulgent – perfect in the throes of Winter!

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

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, over a low-medium heat, until the sugar completely dissolves (if it slightly burns my tongue, it’s done!). If you do not want to burn your tongue, Zumbo suggests investing in a candy thermometer and heating the syrup until it reaches 118 degrees C (244 degrees F). If the syrup becomes thick and powdery in appearance, you will need to start again. This is because the sugar has been heated too much, too quickly, and instead of dissolving, it has cooked.

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. 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 set, most supermarkets sell plastic disposable ones with a few different nozzles. 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. Tap the bottom of the trays on the kitchen bench and let them sit for about half an hour, or until mixture is dry to the touch. Don’t rush this process – you want the shells to be completely dry. Otherwise, it is unlikely that the ‘foot’ of the macaron will be formed.  Preheat your oven to 125c or 135c, fan forced.

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Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Turn trays around, and bake for another 9 minutes. To check if shells are cooked, gently lift one off the baking paper. If it peels of easily, they are done, if not, keep checking at 2 minute intervals. Furthermore, if you notice the tops have a slightly crumpled look after you take them out of the oven, put them back in for another couple of minutes. In my experience, this means that they are slightly undercooked and/or haven’t dried out enough before cooking. Cool on trays for 5 minutes, then peel off and place on a wire rack. The mixture should make about 12 -15 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.

Cappuccino Buttercream:

  • 200g salted butter, chopped and softened
  • Approx. 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Approx. 30ml espresso (you can use coffee bags or instant powdered/granule coffee as well, just make sure it’s not too watered down)

Beat butter until pale and creamy. Add vanilla bean paste and beat until combined. Gradually add sugar and coffee to butter mixture. Please be careful with adding the coffee, as you don’t want to add too much liquid at once, otherwise the butter may split and curdle. Add it slowly and keep tasting until happy with the strength and flavour.

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For the choc dip, melt good quality dark chocolate in a small glass bowl/ramekin. Don’t use anything too deep because it will make it harder to dip the macaron in and out of the chocolate. I melted the chocolate gradually, as I needed it, as I didn’t want it to harden, because the dipping process did take a while. Overall, I ended up using about 200g of melts (small chocolate bits). Melt chocolate in 20 second increments in the microwave, and use a metal spoon to stir. Melting the chocolate in short  increments will keep it from burning and turning into that horrible lumpy, grainy consistency. Once chocolate is smooth and glossy, gently dip each macaron half way into the chocolate, using a teaspoon to remove the excess, and place on an oven tray lined with a fresh sheet of baking paper. Once chocolate has hardened, dust macarons with cocoa. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature to eat.

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 Whilst the weather here in Melbourne is pretty horrible at the moment, like, ice-all-over-your-car-in-the-morning kind of horrible (Aussie’s are not used to this!), the upside is that it’s perfect macaron making weather! No humidity, no air conditioning. Take advantage of it if you can!

 

Have a great weekend, and Happy Baking! 🙂

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Tart

All I can say is YUM! And….omnomnomnomnomnom! Omnomnomnom. Omnom. Nom. Nom. This mouthwatering tart had been a work in progress inside my head for a while, and I wanted to make it for my birthday, as I LOVE LOVE LOVE anything with peanut butter. I was pretty happy with how it looked, even though the pastry was a little rustic looking. Okay, it was completely rustic looking. Plus, I forgot to put sugar in the pastry :/ oops! But it was still pretty awesome, even if I say so myself!
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I’m sure you can already tell, but this tart was super, super rich. Especially after the amazing slab of pork belly I had for my birthday dinner, it’s safe to say I was bursting by the end of it all! This tart was heaven for me, and will be for anyone else who loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate. It was fairly simple to make, too. It just requires a bit of organising and beginning things the day before. You don’t have to make your own pastry if you don’t want to, either. There are some pretty good frozen pastries around that will still work really well 🙂 The shortcrust pastry recipe I used, I probably wouldn’t recommend. It was ok, but there are heaps of better ones out there. Have a look here to check them out.
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Peanut Butter ganache (adapted from Donna Hay):
  • 1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups of smooth peanut butter
  • 120g butter, chopped and softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste/extract
  • 2/3 cup (80ml) cream, thickened
  • Pinch of salt

Place sugar peanut butter, butter and vanilla in a bowl, and beat until light and fluffy (on high for about 5 minutes). Add the cream slowly and beat for another 2 minutes. If not using straight away, cover and refrigerate.

Pastry

Chocolate Ganache:
  • 100g dark chocolate (I used Green and Black’s 70% cocoa), chopped
  • 1/3 cup heavy thickened cream
  • 2 tbs butter
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted. Place in bowl and let cool.
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Assembly:
Once the pastry has cooled completely, you can start assembling. Spoon the peanut butter ganache over the pastry and spread it out with a spoon so it is nice and even. Pour cooled chocolate ganache over the peanut butter ganache and gently spread out with a teaspoon, being careful not to blend the peanut butter with the chocolate – you want to create two definitive layers. Ideally, it is best to refrigerate the tart overnight, but if you’re using it sooner, try and refrigerate it for the maximum amount of time possible.
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You don’t have to decorate the tart if you do not want to, it would look great with nothing on top. I had heaps of leftover peanut butter ganache hence why I did all the piping on top. It probably made it that much richer, but it certainly photographed well, I think 🙂
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