[Cup]Cake Break: Birthday Cake with Champagne and Fall Fruits6

Posted by chockylit in Cheese,Citrus (Thursday September 22, 2005 at 5:00 pm)

I took a break from cupcakes with this special cake that is marking both a happy and sad occasion…

After four and half years working with the same group of people, I am moving on. Well in actuality many of us have moved on already – voluntary and not. So, much of my sadness is for something that was lost months ago. Regardless, I will miss my coworkers that have become like daytime brothers and sisters.

The occasion of my send-off party also happens to coincide with the time of year when we would celebrate the birthdays of three coworkers. For the past two years I have been baking cakes for this occasion – three very different cakes – one for each of them. I would spend all week baking the three different cake recipes, whipping up three different frostings, preparing a variety of fillings and decorations. Laborious by some standards, but mostly fun for me. Ok, I will be honest; normally by the end of it I am thinking “Why in the hell do I do this to myself!”

I am sort of off the hook this year. There is only one birthday boy left to celebrate and only one cake to make.

About the cake… I felt that grapefruit as a main ingredient might be a risk, that people might simply not like it. Overall, though, the cake was well received and people seemed to enjoy the grapefruit and orange center. The cake was moist, the tartness of the grapefruit balanced very well with the frosting and other sweet components of the cake, all in all the result was quite delicious. Oh, and if you like champagne, you will want to eat the custard with a spoon!

Champagne Filling
1 cup dry champagne or other sparkling wine
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
6 tablespoons chilled whipping cream

1. in large metal bowl, whisk the champagne, sugar, cornstarch, yolks and corn syrup to blend
2. set bowl over a bain marie
3. whisk constantly until mixture has tripled in volume and candy thermometer registers 160°F., about 15 minutes
4. transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer, beat until completely cool, about 5 minutes
5. in a clean bowl, beat cream to soft peaks
6. fold cream into cooled custard
7. cover and store in fridge until ready to use (can be prepared 1 day ahead)

Fall Fruit Filling
1 grapefruit
1 navel orange
1 blood orange

1. using a zester, remove zest from navel orange and set aside (the zest will be candied for decoration)
2. cut the fruits in half crosswise
3. working over a strainer fitted over a bowl and using a small pairing knife, cut out the segments being sure to leave behind the membrane
4. cover and store in fridge until ready to use (can be prepared 1 day ahead)

Candied Citrus Peel

1 orange
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup sugar for dusting

1. with a zester, make strips of oranges zest (if you haven’t already done this)
2. in a small pan, dissolve the 1/2 cup of sugar in the water over low heat
3. add the orange zest and simmer for 15 minutes, then cool
4. place the 1/4 cup sugar on a small plate
5. remove each strand of zest, use your thumb and first finger to remove excess sugar
6. layer on parchment paper and wrap in plastic, store in fridge until ready to use (can be prepared 1 day ahead)

Vanilla Birthday Cake
2 8″ cakes / 350 degree oven
2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. butter the inside of the cake pans then line with a circle of parchment or foil, butter that
2. spoon a bit of flour in the pan and shake to coat the inside, tap out excess
3. cream butter in an electric mixer until smooth, about 1 minute
4. while beating, drizzle in sugar
5. continue to beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes
6. add one egg at a time, beating well after each, about 20 seconds
7. in a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt
8. combine milk and vanilla
9. add flour mixture and milk mixture to the electric mixer, alternating and starting and ending with flour, beat well after each addition
10. pour batter into pans about 3/4 full
11. bake until golden and a cake tester comes out clean, about ~20 minutes

Grapefruit Cheese Frosting

2 packages of Philly cream cheese
1 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grapefruit zest, chopped
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit juice

1. bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours
2. sift powdered sugar into a bowl or onto parchment
3. beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy
4. add 4 cups of the sugar and beat until combined
5. add grapefruit juice and zest and beat until combined
6. if you want, add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like

With a wet filling like the ones in this recipe, I like to create a berm of frosting around the edge of each layer to hold the filling in while I am decorating. For that, you fill a pastry bag with a large, plain tip and pipe a simple berm around the edge. I wish I had pictures to show you! I did a simple two layer cake (I like to do 6 layer cakes, but they are a major pain and it was a weeknight). After making the berm, I added a layer of custard and a layer of fruit. Frosted the whole thing with grapefruit cream cheese frosting and voilà!

I totally planned on getting pictures of the cake decorating process, I swear! But somehow, I left my only CF card in my laptop at work. Duh. So, no pictures and the end product pictures were done at work and not as good as I had hoped!

Melt in Your Mouth Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Cream20

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate (Saturday September 17, 2005 at 8:16 pm)

I am bringing these simple and sinful cupcakes to a birthday party. They took no time at all and I barely made a mess – there are just a handful of dishes left for the dish fairy to do. I whipped these together with ingredients I had on hand as it was a last minute decision.

In fact, the birthday party we are going to is for a guy we met because of cupcakes. I have been into cupcakes for some time (I registered cupcakebakery.com ages ago even though it basically does nothing but sit there) and stumbled upon a local SF artist whose paintings have a lot of cupcakes in them (in addition to some bizarre things which I like). I purchased a painting from her and attended some of her art shows and eventually my husband and I became friends with her and her now-husband… See? cupcakes really do bring people together.

The recipe for the “melt in your mouth” chocolate cupcakes came from a fellow (and very accomplished) food blogger over at chocolate & zucchini. I threw together whatever chocolate I had which turned out to be about 2 ounces of Valrhona bittersweet, 2 ounces of Scharffen Berger bittersweet, 2 ounces of Scharffen Berger milk chocolate, and 1 ounce of Scharffen Berger unsweetened. I made this cake once before (with all Valrhona) and both times the outcome was absolutely fantastic – the perfect chocolate experience… super moist, chocolately, rich, not too sweet, and with a nice crust on top.

Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

1. whip cream on high with the whip attachment until soft peaks, about 5 minutes (I think)
2. add sugar (to taste, I like it a little on the sweet side)
3. continue to whip until stiff peaks form, try not to over beat

1. pipe a dollop of cream on each cooled cupcake
2. top with maraschino cherries that have been rinsed with cool water and dried with paper towels

Ricotta Raspberry Almond Cupcakes with Citrus Meringue Frosting11

Posted by chockylit in Berries,Cheese,Citrus,Italian-Inspired,Nuts (Sunday September 11, 2005 at 10:10 am)

I made these ricotta raspberry almond cupcakes for “ladies night”. My aunt was having a bunch of overnight guests and I wanted to make an adult-tasting dessert that matched the Italianesque meal of roasted chicken. I also wanted the cupcakes to be fun, as I knew we wouldn’t be digging into them until after many martinis.

The cupcakes were what I hoped. Moist, sweet, and subtle almond flavor, balanced with the tartness of the raspberry. The ricotta gave it moistness and heartiness that I liked. The addition of the burnt butter almonds lended a crunchy texture, but I would say that they are definitely optional. The meringue frosting had a touch of citrus and was fairly sweet. At the end of it, many of us ended up with sticky pink frosting clinging to our faces.

~18 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

7 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 stick butter, unsalted/room temp
4 eggs, large/room temp
2/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberries

1. beat almond paste at low speed to loosen up, about 30 seconds
2. gradually add sugar while beating at low speed
3. continue to beat at low speed for 1 minute or so
4. add the ricotta and beat to combine
5. while beating at low speed, add a tablespoon of butter at a time, waiting for the butter to incorporate until adding the next pat
6. stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, beat at medium for about 2 minutes until fluffy
7. crack eggs into a bowl and break up with a fork
8. at low speed gradually add eggs about a tablespoon at a time, waiting for the eggs to incorporate until adding the next bit
9. beat again at medium speed for about 2 minutes
10. measure out flour, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and whisk to combine
11. with a rubber spatula, fold flour mixture into the cake batter until combined
12. fold in raspberries
13. scoop batter into cupcake liners, fill about 1/2 inch from the top (3/4 full)
14. bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

[optional] Burnt Butter Almonds

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 cup almond slices

1. toast almond slices on a cookie sheet in a 350 degrees oven for about 10 minutes or until brown, stir almonds around occasionally, remove from oven and let cool
2. add butter to a skillet over medium heat
3. melt butter, let foam subside
4. add brown sugar and stir to combine
5. let mixture cook for about 3-5 minutes, it should be thick and sticky looking
6. add toasted almond slices and stir to coat

Citrus Meringue Frosting

1 cup egg whites (from approximately 7-8 eggs)
2 cups sugar
3 drops orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest, finely chopped

1. combine egg whites and sugar into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and set over a bain marie (water bath)
2. whisk by hand for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved or preferably until the mixture reaches 110 degrees fahrenheit
3. transfer bowl to electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 10 minutes
4. add orange juice, zest, and a drop of red gel food coloring
5. beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 2 to 5 minutes more

1. spoon some almonds onto each cooled cupcake
2. dollop a heaping tablespoon of meringue on top of that
3. using your finger pull the meringue down to cover the top of the cupcake, the frosting is very sticky and you want it to basically attach itself to the cupcake liner
4. using your finger poke the top of frosting to make a nice shape and some interesting peaks
5. using a blow torch, brown the meringue.

If I was feeling especially ambitious, which I wasn’t because I was out all day and got home kind of late, I would have made homemade almond paste and homemade ricotta cheese. I would expect that substituting homemade ingredients would provide a more delicate outcome.

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes31

Posted by chockylit in Chocolate,Experimental Recipe (Saturday September 3, 2005 at 8:48 am)

I had a friend ask me to make cupcakes in an ice cream cone about three years ago. I resisted for some reason, but stumbled across organic ice cream cones and sprinkles at Whole Foods and thought, why not.

Being my first time and all, I was expecting to learn some lessons. I imagined balancing the cones would be an issue, but in fact that wasn’t a problem at all. I was also concerned with the wet batter breaking through the cone. That did happen a little, but not too much. What I should have been careful of, however, was overflow.

I had significant overflow on all but three of the cones. I was able to scrape the cake off, but it did leave a smudge mark. My recommendation is to leave a good half inch (if not three-quarters of an inch) between the batter and the top of the cone.

makes 24 cupcake ice cream cones / 350 degree oven

2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

1. measure out everything but the eggs directly into your mixer bowl
2. mix on low speed just until incorporated
3. beat on high speed for 2 minutes
4. add eggs, beat on high speed again for 2 minutes
5. transfer batter into a container with a pour spout (like a pyrex measuring cup)
6. pour batter into ice cream cones, leave a good half inch between the batter and the top of the cone
7. bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean

Vanilla and Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter
7 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)

1. beat butter until creamy, scrape bowl
2. add 5 cups of sifted powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla, beat until combined
3. add more powdered sugar until you get to the consistency you want (not too stiff so that its hard to pipe)
4. take out half of the buttercream and reserve, this is your vanilla
5. add the cocoa powder to the remaining half and beat to combine, you might need to add a little milk if its too stiff, this is your chocolate buttercream

1. pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes with a large star tip
2. top with sprinkles

Sorry I didn’t get more pictures of the process, but I was in a bit of a rush to get these done to take to a friend. Next time…