8 September 2013

Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Icing

I know what I want to be when I grow up. A professional baking-batter-eater. It may not be a thing yet, but I'll make darn sure it is by the time I'm a real adult. 

I was going to call this future job of mine a cake-spoon licker but that seemed too restrictive. I would be missing out on all the cookie doughs and brownie batters of the world, and that just wouldn't do now, would it?

In an endeavor to make this future job as achievable as possible, I'm getting in as much practice as I can. That's where today's bake comes in. My-oh-my this batter is a good'un. It starts out pretty similar to a good staple cookie dough (feel free to put in a little practice and lick a spoon at this stage, my fellow budding batter-eaters). With the addition of buttermilk, cocoa powder and melted chocolate the mixture suddenly transforms into a delightfully soft and much thinner cake batter. After baking it produces richly flavoured and seriously moist cupcakes. Before baking it's a scrap-the-bowl clean kind of batter. 

At this point I also feel the need to point out that "spoon-licker" is also too restrictive a title - I employed many utensils to make sure I got every last bit of this batter (don't pretend like you've never done that either). 

Cupcake Ingredients:
75g dark chocolate, melted
50g butter
120g soft light brown sugar
1 large egg
120g plain flour
1.5tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
100ml buttermilk
4 heaped tsp cocoa powder
0.5tsp coffee granules
1tsp vanilla extract

Start by preheating the oven to fan 160 and lining a 12-hole cupcake tin.
Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or a bain-marie and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl beat together the butter, sugar and egg until evenly combined. Fold in the flour, baking powder and salt, being careful not to overmix. Carefully add the buttermilk and vanilla (it will splash if you beat too energetically, learn from my mistakes). Sift in the cocoa powder and fold in. 
In a small bowl, whisk the coffee granules with just a splash of water to make them dissolve. Add this to the large mixing bowl in mix a few times to incorporate.
Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners (leaving sufficient for good taste test). Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and springy to touch.
Remove from the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack.

I cut out the middle of these beauts and filled them with a really tasty and much healthier yogurt truffle mix. They were then topped off with the remaining of the truffle mixed with salted caramel. Yum. 

Filling and Icing Ingredients:
150g chocolate, dark or milk - whatever your preference
150ml natural yogurt
caramel sauce
fleur de sel (or any other rock salt)

Melt the chocolate either in a bain marie or a microwave. Whisk in the yogurt and stir until fully combined. 
Allow this mixture to cool in the fridge for about ten minutes to firm up slightly.
Meanwhile, cut the middle out of each cupcake, making sure not to cut all the way to bottom. (Feel free to eat the middles - chef's perks).
Fill each of the holes with the light and tangy truffle mix. You will probably need just under half of the mixture.

With the remainder, mix in some of the caramel sauce. I'll admit, I was lazy and used store bought but Waitrose's caramel sauce is gooooood. I mean, sneak a spoon in whenever no one else is around kind of good. Add as much or as little of this as you like. I mixed in about 2 tbsp. 
Swirl this all over the top of each cupcake.
Then drizzle with more caramel sauce and sprinkle on your sea salt. Now eat...lots.

2 September 2013

Birthday Cake

On Wednesday it was my birthday and, yes, I made my own cake. It was one of the highlights of my day. I'm that much of baking nerd (is there even such thing as baking nerds?)

This year I decided on a chocolate malt cake. I love maltesers, they are by far my favourite chocolate, so I decided to try and replicate the flavour in cake form. I went all out and threw a hefty helping of malt powder into both the cake and the buttercream icing. 

I asked for a new camera for my birthday since I've been having to borrow my brother's to take photos for this blog. It's a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30EB-K and whilst I'm only just getting to grips with it and learning how to use it properly, I'm already in love with it.

Back to the cake;

Cake Ingredients:
250ml buttermilk
60ml sunflower oil
2 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
220g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
150g soft light brown sugar
95g cocoa powder
1tsp baking powder
3tbsp malt powder (I used horlicks)
100ml freshly brewed coffee

Preheat the oven to fan 160 and grease and line 2 9-inch cake tins.
Whisk together the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.
Sift together the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking powder and malt powder until lump-free. 
Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until everything is evenly combined.
Pour in the coffee and mix again. It will be a very wet batter but don't panic, it's meant to be.
Divide between the two tins and bake for between 20 and 30 minutes, until the edges are just beginning to shrink away from the tin and the top springs back when touched, but the cakes are still moist and fudgy. 
Leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Buttercream ingredients:
250g butter
500g icing sugar
5tbsp malt powder
2tbsp cocoa powder 
100g dark chocolate, melted

Cut the butter into smallish chunks and drop into a food processor. Blitz for about 30 seconds until well softened.
Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and malt powder in batches of roughly thirds, blitzing each time until fully incorporated.
Lastly, pour in the melted chocolate and blend again.
At this point, the buttercream will be quite soft so you might want to put it in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up a little before spreading on the cake.

Once the cakes are completely cool, it's time to ice. Place one of the cake layers on your serving plate and spread about one third of the icing on top, going all the way to the edges. Put the other cake layer on top and spread another third of the icing on that. Use the last third of the icing to cover the sides.
If at any point your icing is getting too soft, bung both the cake and icing in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up a little. It might also help to build the icing up in thinner layers, rather than spreading it all on at once.

For the chocolate shards around the edge, I followed these instructions.