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Flourless Melting-Middle PB, Chocolate & Caramel Mini-Cakes

Thursday December 13 2012

I ate an amazing flourless chocolate cake at the fabulous Cocomaya in London recently, & I loved it so much that I decided to make my own version at home.  A co-worker, Rob Douglas (sales manager extraordinaire!) gave me his (or his wife or mum’s?) recipe for flourless chocolate cake years ago & I’ve kept it & tweaked it a bit… but it’s how I first learned how easy & delicious flourless chocolate cake can be!  This only took about half an hour & the recipe yields about 12 mini-cakes.

So here’s my revised recipe:

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius. You’ll be using the lower half of the oven.

& here are the instructions & pictures

Be sure to coat your muffin/cupcake/or other special tin in cake release spray.

Melt your chocolate over low heat in a bain marie.

Once your chocolate has melted, remove from the heat & add your butter & sifted cocoa powde (though I actually didn’t sift mine). Stir until completely incorporated & smooth.  Allow to cool.

The secret to my melty PB middle: Lindt Lindor dark chocolate balls “wrapped” with a bit of crunch peanut butter. This is a fun but messy step. Pop in the fridge to “set.”

While your chocolate is cooling & your PB-choc balls are chilling, whip up your egg whites on medium-high until foamy. Then, gradually add the caster sugar & beat on high until you achieve a medium-peak.

Fold your medium-peak egg whites into your chocolate, about a half at first – fold, then fold in the 2nd half.

Once your egg whites are fully folded into your chocolate, put the whole mixture into a large piping bag. Cut off about a half-inch hole to pipe out of.

Pipe some of the batter into your pan, about 1/3 full. Then add in your PB-chocolate balls. Add more batter until about 3/4 full. (Oops, mine went all the way to the top – don’t worry)…

Put your pan into the oven, and bake for about 8-9 minutes. They will rise & you can touch the cake part to see if it’s cooked.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. then invert the pan on a cooling rack to release the cakes.

You can also use a mini-cupcake pan to make bite-sized versions. I did not add PB to these, but a few callets into the middle of the batter instead. These only need about 5 minutes in the oven. These are dusted with a bit of sifted cocoa powder.

This is totally optional, but this is the best caramel sauce I’ve made to date. I used Tesco’s salted caramel whiskey double cream. My easy recipe is here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=512518465424829&set=a.475488115794531.110363.270072873002724&type=3&theater

Once it’s cooled & thickened, drizzle (or pour!) your caramel onto your cakes.

AND ENJOY!

Royal Icing Run-outs: Flowers à la Jo Mitchell

Thursday November 29 2012

My lovely friend, Jo, taught me how to make these gorgeous royal icing run-out flowers earlier this year, and with her permission, I’m finally publishing the photos I snapped of Jo teaching me how to make these.

Well, all you need is royal icing, some clear cellophane, lightly wiped down with vegetable oil so your creations don’t stick to it.

So you have to start with royal icing…Here are Jo’s specific instructions: one packet ofeggwhite, mix first with 3 spoons warm water to a paste. Then add 7 teaspoons of water. Add 330g icing sugar and just a squeeze of lemon. Mix for 5 minutes before thinning with water. Have fun! xx

You will need 1 big bowl to mix up the royal icing, and other, smaller bowls to mix the colours. For these flowers, we used 3 shades of pink + 3 shades of green, but obviously you can use as few or as many colours as you wish.

Make 5-6 piping cones, or for however many colours of royal icing you want to use. One version of instructions can be found here: http://allrecipes.com/howto/making-a-parchment-paper-cone/

The first batch of royal icing should be quite stiff, for outlining, so be careful not to thin your icing with water too much to start with. The image below shows the consistency you should be aiming for. Colour a few tablespoons with a dark pink food colour to outline the petals in one bowl.  Colour a few tablespoons with a deep green food colour to outline the leaves in another bowl.  ** Be sure to keep your main bowl of royal icing covered with cling film to ensure it doesn’t dry out whilst you’re working.

Put your coloured royal icing into your piping bag

Place your image outline underneath your cellophane and use your thick royal icing to pipe around the outlines.

You can freehand your designs, or you can use an outline template for what you want to create. Here is an example of one you can find online: http://www.printfree.com/coloring_pages/Plants/ColoringPage21.htm

Here is what your outline should look like

Colour your next batch of royal icing a lighter shade of pink, and thin it out a bit with water so it is easy to blend.

This is what the lighter colour being piped in looks like

This is what the flower petals should look like. Remember, this is the “underneath” of the flower.

You can also do an even lighter shade of pink for additional accents. The consistency of your royal icing should remain the same.

Repeat the outlining, colouring, and shading with the leaves

It is important that you let your royal icing dry out completely, which may vary from 1 – 2 days.  Do a test flower that you can keep testing.  Once they’re completely dry, carefully peel the cellophane away from the flowers from underneath with one hand, whilst carefully holding the flower with another.

This is what the finished flowers should look like

OK, so here’s a close-up of the ones I made myself. They were not as “smooth” as Jo’s, and with a few air bubbles, but still, just goes to show even a novice like me can do them!

You can then adhere the finished royal icing run-out flowers into your cake with more royal icing. I have tried this onto sugarpaste/fondant covered cakes, as well as with buttercream covered cakes.

And, once you get the hang of royal icing run-outs, you can create other designs, or even fun letters.  Here are a few other ways that I have used this process.  THANKS, JO!!

Christmas Cracker Cookies à la Jen

Tuesday November 27 2012

I’m gonna see if it’s possible to just show a process with just pictures.  Just start with your own, fave sugar cookie recipe (preferably one that does not “puff up”).  You’ll need some food colour, too + a rolling pin + a Christmas cracker cookie cutter – got mine from Lindy’s Cakes + some fondant/sugarpaste + some royal icing.

You can actually skip the fondant part if you opt for the coloured/patterned cookie dough.

Here goes…

this is regular sugarpaste/fondant, dyed whatever colour you want

add a lil water to adhere your fondant to your cookie

use whatever stencil you want + some edible lustre spray to spray a pattern onto your fondant

You can also do a rainbow variation:

PS – the pinata cookies inspired these for me, and I hope I am giving credit to the original here: http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/958083/cinco-de-mayo-pinata-cookies

 

NAUGHTY CUPCAKES: Chocolate Hi-Hat Surprise Cupcakes

Friday November 23 2012

Naughty cupcakes: not just for the holidays, and not just if you’ve been naughty…

THE BEST “HI-HAT” cupcake recipe and information comes from Martha Stewart, so I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here.  But, if you know me, you know I have to do my own little tweaks to something I already love. So, just what makes these cupcakes so naughty? It’s a few special ingredients:

You’ll end up with a cupcake with a lovely depth of flavour, a well as layers of wonderful textures.

So I actually didn’t use Martha’s cupcake recipe; I halved my normal salted dark chocolate espresso & soured cream cake recipe.  I chopped up the chillies very fine and added them to the batter. You just want a hint of chilli instead of a hot, spicy cake. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes.

Then, this is how you create the heart-shaped cone in the middle of the cupcake:  use a sharp knife to cut out a cone shape.

Pull out the cone, then cut the top off. You will use this to cover the hole back up.

Have your caramel and popping candy ready, and be sure to remember which tops go with which cupcakes, so they fit properly.

Fill each hole with caramel – about 3/4 way full, then add your popping candy, then another layer of caramel on top.

Replace the cupcake tops.

Then, make your marshmallow frosting as per Martha Stewart’s Hi-Hat Cupcake recipe.

Now this part is fun!

Be sure you pour your melted chocolate glaze into a taller/deeper glass jug or bowl. If you use a shallow bowl, it won’t be deep enough to dip your whole hi-hat.

Then, dip, bab, DIP!

You don’t actually have to dip the entire marshmallow top in, as some of the chocolate will drip down.  Your dipped hi-hat cupcake should then look like this:

& Decorate as you wish.

You can eat it straight away, whilst the chocolate is still gooey. Yum!  Hope you enjoy your naughty cupcakes… and the special holiday season.

 

 

Edible Sprinkle Cupcake Cases by Jen’s Just Desserts

Sunday November 11 2012

As some of you know, I’ve been working on my ideas around completely edible desserts, which should mean no mess, no waste, and lots of fun!  … like these edible sprinkle cupcake cases.  

Firstly, you will need a cupcake tin. I’ve used a mini-cupcake-tin with 24 holes. I just think the mini-size make these even more fun (plus I wanted them to be perfect bite-sizes).

You will also need SPRINKLES & lots of them.  A big bowl-full should do you.  I make custom mixes of sprinkles, as in the photo below. Just be sure you don’t use any sprinkles that are too big or heavy, as it will be harder to evenly coat your edible case.  I used a selection of nonpareils, lightweight sugar pearls, sparkling sanding sugar (the bigger grains) and 2mm silver balls/dragees.

You can use any cupcake recipe you want. I used a standard victoria sponge recipe, which yields just enough for a 24-hole mini-cupcake pan.

VICTORIA SPONGE RECIPE

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 10-13 minutes until cooked through.

I have a set of “(also available through Amazon), but any mini-muffin or cupcake pan will do.

This is what they will look like in the oven…

Once cooked, if you have sprayed your tin sufficiently, the mini-cupcakes should just pop out of the pan.

I used a mini-2-pronged fork, but any fork will do, or something else just to make sure the cupcake stays in place while you dip it into the melted chocolate.

I melted white chocolate in a bain marie (glass bowl/jug over hot water) with a little vegetable oil to thin it out.  You can follow detailed instructions here. “Un-thinned” or regular melted chocolate will will take too long to dry and create too thick of a shell, in my opinion.

Allow all the extra chocolate to drip off (be patient!) and then use your fingers to sprinkle the sprinkles onto the melted chocolate.  You’ll have better control of the sprinkles, and you will avoid getting any chocolate drippings in your sprinkles.

Allow your cupcake cases to fully set by popping them into the fridge for a minimum of 15 minutes.

And then, VOILA! your cupcakes in your edible sprinkle cases are ready to frost (and eat & enjoy!)

You can also serve them alongside a matching “sprinkle cake” ;-)

 

Chequered Pumpkin Cake in Shades of Autumn (+ Salted Burnt Caramel Drizzle)

Wednesday October 24 2012

So I had some cake-xperimentation time recently & as I was planning to attend a Clandestine Cake Club meeting to which members were requested to bring cakes with “a taste of autumn” theme, I immediately thought: PUMPKIN!  But, of course I had to put a little “JJD” twist on it, so here it goes… the recipe for the cake, the frosting, the drizzle + instructions on how to achieve the chequered effect. Now, this cake isn’t perfect, as I didn’t really measure the height of each cake, didn’t tort with a spirit level, etc., but this was really fun to do! It took me 2.5 hours from start to finish (including cooling time), so please don’t let these long instructions put you off.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius & grease-line-grease 4 cake pans. (I use Wilton’s cake release spray).

CAKE INGREDIENTS (This recipe makes 4 x 7 inch layers.)

CAKE INSTRUCTIONS

The next part can be done as a “one bowl wonder,” so please read my previous information on this process.

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, or until they’re cooked through. Allow to cool, then trim the tops so they’re all level.

To create the chequered effect, I measured the diameter of the cake, divided by half, then divided by four to determine the correct widths of the “template” I made to cut concentric circles.

Use your template to create concentric circles, mixing the colours from each of the four layers. To be honest, I lost track, but you get the gist…

I made some cream-cheese-buttercream:

CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM RECIPE:

Then, I used a small piping bag with a 1/2 cm hole cut out to pipe the frosting in between each circle. I stacked each layer one on top of the other…

I should also mention that you can use Wilton’s Checkerboard Cake Set, which will achieve 3 layers…

…and then I decorated it! The caramel drizzle was very easy to make:

My SALTED BURNT CARAMEL RECIPE: RECIPE – (makes enough to fill a jam jar): 70 ml cold water + 170 g caster sugar + a few dashes of sea salt + 130 ml double cream… • Swirl around the sugar& water in a saucepan until dissolved. • Bring to the boil, without stirring, until it’s a dark brown colour (just starting to burn), which is about 10-12 mins. • Swirl around some more. • Take off the heat then whisk in cream carefully. • Allow to cool then pour into your jar (or eat/use immediately) ;-)

And then cut into your cake to reveal your checkerboard. Imagine making this with all different colours, too, though I do love how autumnal this turned out!

Eat & enjoy…

10-Minute RKT (Rice Krispies Treat) Mug

Wednesday October 3 2012

I had a few spare minutes in the “test kitchen” tonight, and I was initially going to make another RKT sugar skull. Instead, I ended up messing around with pre-made RKT (Rice Krispies Squares here in the UK).  The “correct” way I previously posted is a bit more involved, and I think you can totally see the difference in this shortcut method in terms of the lack of smoothness of this RKT, as no crushing was involved, but for those who lack time &/or want a fun project to do with children, I think this works a treat! And, hey, I’m a fan of things that look (& taste!) homemade…

How easy is this? You just need some regular-old shop-bought fondant & the Rice Krispies Squares; the original, marshmallow ones.

I used 3 of the squares…

& then smushed them into the required shapes: the circle base, the mug part, & the handle.

I smushed some more until a mug shape was achieved, then stuck it in the freezer whilst I worked on the fondant; just a few minutes…

Colour & roll your fondant…

Then cover your mug…

Attach your mug handle, fill as desired, & literally 10 minutes later you’ll have an edible mug. Enjoy!

Rice Krispie Treat (RKT) Skulls – Part 2: Pimp My RKT!

Monday October 1 2012

HI again!  If you’re reading this, I’m hoping that you’ve read up on the first part of “RKT Skulling.”  If not, please refer to my previous post on how to create the base Rice Krispie Treat skull.

I’m afraid I wasn’t able to take too many pictures during this part of the process, but hopefully my text + images below will be helpful to you as you embark on pimping out your RKT skull. LOL!  I decided on a sugar skull, as I really do love the idea of Día de los Muertos & remembering the dearly departed.

So, you start with fondant, or I guess it’s also called sugarpaste. This was some leftover Renshaw Regalice Fondant/Sugarpaste in lilac (250g), which I originally wanted to colour a dark blue. But as I started kneading in the Ice Blue Sugarflair gel paste, I kinda started diggin’ this funky pattern it created, so I decided to stop mixing in the colour & left it as-is…

You’ll see I left the fondant quite thick: about 3-4 mm, just to ensure it was thick enough to cover any lumps & bumps on the RKT skull.

Cover the RKT skull as you would any other cake. You won’t need any frosting or ganache for the fondant to stick onto the RKT.  Carefully mould the fondant around your skull, making sure you press along the eye sockets, nose, cheekbones, teeth, and beneath the chin.  Tuck the rest of the fondant underneath the skull.

You can use any point colours you wish, mixing up food colour with alcohol, but I wanted to try painting in white. You can see the instructions right on the packet of this ClassiKool Magic Ice White.  I would say start with 1/2 a teaspoon of the Magic Ice White + 5 drops of the rejuvenator spirit. I also sprinkled in a pinch of silver lustre dust for some depth.

This is one of my medium-tipped paint brushes: a no. 5 from the Little Venice Company brush set, which didn’t work too badly. I think I’d use a slightly thinner one next time.

For the pattern/design, I was inspired by a sugar skull scarf print (just acquired from Accessorize at Munich Airport- yay!) but there are some amazing sugar skulls out there to be awed and inspired by!

Paint to your heart’s content… You can even add embellishments like silver ball/dragees; just affix them with royal icing. But I decided the blue and white looked quite cool in the end, without any extra bling.  So that’s mine… Now happy skull-pimping to you!!

 

Just in Time for Halloween: Rice Krispie Treat (RKT) Skulls

Monday October 1 2012

I love me some skull cake! …and not just for Halloween.  You can check out the ones I’ve created on my Jen’s Just Desserts Facebook Page.  I’ve been lucky enough to own the “Wilton 3D Skull Pan” for a few years now, but I know how irritated peeps are by the limited quantities of these specialty pans here in the UK & Europe (& other geographies) AND how expensive they are – I’m pretty sure mine was only $25 on sale.

But everyone should be able to enjoy skull cakes, right? Especially at this time of the year with Halloween & Día de los Muertos approaching (ooh sugar skulls!!)  So I thought I’d share at least one way that I have found to make edible skulls out of Rice Krispie Treats (RKT).  It’s a bit less expensive, and these are small, about 4 x 3 inches, so they’re light enough to put on top of cakes, or even big cupcakes. You could do this in the largest skull cake pan, too, if you want to have a non-cake-filled version, if that makes sense?

I found the larger-sized one of the 3D plastic moulds here in the UK on Ebay, as well as a medium-sized one. Just do a web search on “Skull Mould.” Otherwise, the one I am using here is Wilton‘s 3D version (Wilton 2115-2164 Halloween 3D Skull Candy Mold), but their site is showing SOLD OUT.  Just search Amazon & you’ll find the metal skull pan AND this mould for sale. But even if you cannot find the moulds, with this RKT technique, you could just freehand the skull shape, as you will eventually decorate it with frosting, or fondant cover, or chocolate, right?

So, you start with the basic RKT recipe – seriously, I’ve used this a few times now when making odd-shaped cake toppers… it works a treat & I’m sure a number of you will be converts/addicts, too!

Start by crushing your cereal in a freezer bag. This will make smaller pieces that you can cram into detailed crevices.

Follow the recipe & melt your butter & marshmallows. I used my big ol’ wok, just coz it’s nice & wide for stirring.

Once your butter & marshmallows have melted together, pour in your crushed Rice Krispies and mix well. If you’ve ever made “normal” RKT, you’ll notice that this is a bit more wet & dense, but that’s what you want…

Once thoroughly mixed, pour your RKT onto a baking sheet/pan covered with parchment paper.

Let it cool for a minute or two, then use the parchment paper to squish the mix as tightly as you can.

Spray your skull mould.

Take your RKT and cram it tightly into the mould. Good thing they’re clear so you can see if you’ve reached all the nooks & crannies…  With the cake release spray, they should just pop right out.

Then, you take both halves and push them together with your fingers until the seams are no longer visible and then you have a full skull. Voila! I would pop this into the fridge for about an hour to set completely before covering with your frosting &/or fondant of choice. The fun part is the decorating!

But as I said above, you can actually just shape your skull by hand, now that you can see the shape below…

I’ll be decorating my skull later, and I can’t wait to see what you do with yours!

Enjoy!
Jen

Polka-Dot (Inside) Cake: Multi-coloured / Multi-flavoured

Thursday September 27 2012

So I finally got around to trying out a “Polka-dot Cake.”  I think most of the versions I’ve seen have been plain vanilla; white cake + various balls in different colours.  I thought to myself: “What if you could incorporate different flavours as well as colours?”  And so I did it!

Here’s the inside & outside of my ube (purple yam) & pandan (young coconut) polka-dot cake, frosted with an ombre vanilla + ube cream cheese buttercream. But, the possibilities of flavour and colour combinations are endless: lemon/lime, chocolate/caramel, chocolate/orange, peanut butter/chocolate (ok, anything with chocolate!)

 

For the “dots” or cake balls, you can really use any cake or cupcake recipe you want to. An easy one I use is equal ratios of butter/caster (superfine) sugar/self-rising flour:

These silicone cake pop moulds are from Robert Dyas (UK). I got mine for about 8 GBP.  Spray the top (the side with the holes) and bottom with cake release spray & fill a little over the bottom side’s rim.  Close the top over the bottom & secure. (These click/lock into place).

I weighted the top of the silicone mould with a small cake tin to prevent the top from raising as the cake balls bake & rise.  Cook for about the same time as you would cook cupcakes. You can use the holes at the top to insert a toothpick to see if the balls are done after about 15-20 minutes.

When the cake balls are done, they will sadly not be perfectly formed. Use a sharp knife to trim off any excess.  Any that cannot be trimmed to make perfect spheres can be eaten / taste-tested.

You should end up with lovely round-ish balls.

Then, use the same recipe you used for the cake balls – maybe try a different flavour… I doubled the recipe, which was enough to fill 2 x 8-inch cake pans.

Use some of your “main cake batter” and coat the bottom of your cake pan with it about 1 cm deep, & then “stick” your cake balls into a circular pattern, each one about 1 cm apart onto that layer of batter. Use the remaining “main cake batter” to cover the cake balls completely. You should still be able to see the tops of the balls.

Bake for about 30 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius. Use a toothpick to see if the “main cake batter” is cooked through. I also do testers simultaneously to test, as you can’t cut into the cake.

Stack the 2 layers with the “bumpy sides” down. Fill and frost as you wish. The cream cheese buttercream I used is:

For this type of buttercream effect, here’s a useful YouTube video (check at around 1:55): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oD9HFlNnlbU

Enjoy!