Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Chocolate Orange Cupcake

Ok, I don't know what has come over me. It isn't healthy in the slightest. I've caught the recipe bug. I've tried another from scratch cake recipe. This one turned out a lot denser and would lend itself to cake sculpting much easier than some of my other recipes. Which is a good thing. This recipe has a light orange flavor to it, but my favorite part is the orange infused chocolate icing. OH MY GOODNESS!!

I like chocolate oranges at Christmas time and that is exactly what the icing tastes like. I seriously could have stuck my head inside the bowl to lick it clean! Unfortunately, my husband doesn't like any flavors added to his chocolate. So, I had to spread these little delights around to some of my neighbors. Don't you wish you lived close to me?

Cake Ingredients:
* 3 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (either from real oranges or buy 100% juice)
* 3 cups flour (if you want a lighter fluffier cake try using just 2 cups flour)
* 1/2 cup powdered sugar
* zest of 1 orange (1/2 for the cake, 1/2 for the frosting)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9inch cake pans or cupcake pans.

2. Place the eggs and sugar in a mixer and beat for about a minute. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and beat until everything is well incorporated and it looks smooth. Stop the beater to scrape down the sides when needed.

3. Divide batter into the desired pans and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed. Mine didn't really get brown on top, but the sides and bottom were lightly browned. My cupcakes took about 25 minutes and a cake would be around to 35 minutes.Orange Infused Chocolate Frosting:
* 1 1/2 cups (about 11 ounces) of bittersweet or dark chocolate--60% cacao (you could try it with milk chocolate, I just like my dark!)
* 1 pint heavy cream
* 1/2 cup butter softened, not melted
* 4 cups powdered sugar

My favorite dark chocolate, just 1 block left!

1. Place the cream and chocolate in a sauce pan and melt together. When it is melted and nice and creamy, take it off the heat and let it cool. I let it cool for about an hour.

2. Place in the mixer. Start it up and add the softened butter, mix well and then slowly add the powdered sugar. I probably should have put the chocolate in the fridge because it was still too soft to use as icing, so I put the whole mixture in the fridge to let it firm up. When it was "icing" consistency I stirred it up and started spreading. Mmmm, it was soooo good!

It turned out so nice that I am also entering this cup cake in the Gourmet Girl Magazine's Cup Cake Crawl. For rules and details go HERE.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Nathan and I decided to have a bake off tonight. I don't know if we were bored, desperate for some dessert, or if we just watch too much Food Network. We love to watch shows like Chopped and Dinner Impossible where chef's are challenged to make a meal out of surprise ingredients or without much notice. We felt like we were in one of the shows, or a combination of them. For some reason I have not been paying much attention to the status of our pantry and we were low or out of a lot of basic things. For instance, the last of the oil was used last night, the last of the milk this morning for breakfast, and I only had about 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.

So, our challenge was to see who could pull off the best dessert with ingredient substitutions. As I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make, I only knew one thing for certain. It would be in cupcake form. I was invited to participate in the Gourmet Girl Magazine's Cup Cake Crawl. For rules and details go HERE. The deadline for that is the 19th so I didn't think I was going to be able to pull it off, but Nathan's challenge got me moving. Nothing like a little spousal competition to motivate you.

I'm afraid I didn't take pictures of each step, but here is the recipe.

* 4 eggs
* 2 cups sugar
* 3/4 cup melted butter
* 3/4 cup peanut butter
* 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
* 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk (the yogurt and evap milk were my substitutions for buttermilk and it turned out quite yummy, but feel free to do 1 cup buttermilk instead of the yogurt and evap milk)
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup cocoa powder
*2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (higher elevations may not need as much--this is for my Utah friends--I'd try 1 1/2 teaspoons and see what happens)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1. I preheated my oven to 350 degrees and put my baking cups in the muffin pan. I hate them, but I didn't want to clean up afterward!

2. I put the eggs in my stand up mixer and beat them until they were starting to get a little frothy (about 1 minute on medium) then I added the melted butter, peanut butter, and sugar and continued to mix. Scrape down the sides as needed. I remembered how my last from scratch cake fell, so I let it mix a good 2 minutes to get a lot of good air whipped in. Then I added my yogurt and milk and beat for another minute.

3. My batter was looking good and I could see the air bubbles in it so I slowly added the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and soda. Once those were well incorporated I added my flour last. And guess what? I let it mix for another 2 minutes on med-high. I wasn't taking any chances (I forgot I was just doing cupcakes, so I don't even know if a 9 inch cake would have fallen or not!)

4. I filled my cupcake pans 2/3 full (The batter still looked a little thin, but not too thin, does that make sense? Sometimes my cake batters are really thick like pudding, don't know why) and baked them for 23 minutes. They came out a lovely shade of lighter chocolate. I should have cut one open for you to see. It was like dark brown sugar and the texture was almost more muffin like than cake like. They had a very light peanut butter flavor and the chocolate was light as well. I kept thinking they would be yummy for breakfast without the frosting. Maybe that is where the last dozen will end up!5. I then made a quick cocoa butter cream frosting and sprinkled some shaved chocolate on them.

Here is my NEW favorite icing recipe, from Conversations With a Cupcake

"Bittercream Frosting

1 pint heavy cream
11.5 oz. 60% Bittersweet cacao chips
½ c. butter
4-5 c. powdered sugar

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate chips and heavy cream until a thick, smooth ganache forms, to keep the mixture from burning, stir constantly. Put in fridge until chilled. Remove from fridge and beat in butter & powdered sugar until frosting is a spreadable consistency. Frost. Chill cake. To serve, remove from fridge 10-15 minutes before serving."

Of course I didn't have heavy cream or enough powdered sugar. So my frosting was not nice and thick and creamy, but it still tasted good. I used a little more of the Belgium chocolate from Easter. I only have 2 lbs left! What will I do when I run out?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

NieNie's Heavenly Chocolate Cake

Ok, so a few weeks ago, this genius of a woman created the perfect chocolate cake for Stephanie Nielsen of the NieNie Dialogues. I don't even know her name, but her website is called Conversations with a Cupcake so what is not to love?! Anyway, I was reading the recipe and my mouth was watering. I haven't tried to make a completely from scratch cake for years because mine never turn out. (I make what I call hybrid cakes--part mix, part homemade by doing my own things to the mix) Anyway, I decided to give this cake a try for a cook out that I was invited to for the 4th of July. All I can say is WOW! Mine didn't even turn out perfect but it was good enough to need a gallon of milk to wash it down. It was so rich and chocolaty that you just couldn't resist another bite.

Here is my journey with this cake. For the full recipe and story you can go HERE.

Melting some of that yummy Belgium bittersweet chocolate that was left over from the Easter Egg adventure, with oil for for the cake batter.

This is what it looked like after it was all melted.

After adding the eggs, sugars, cocoa, flour, buttermilk and other ingredients, I put them in the oven in pans dusted with cocoa instead of flour.

They smelled heavenly, but for some reason they sunk in the middle. They seemed more like a brownie than cake. I don't know what went wrong. I've contacted the recipe maker to see if she can guess.

So, I decided to mix something up to fill the holes in with. I wanted to make a no bake cheesecake mixture out of cream cheese and whipping cream, but I didn't have any cream cheese. Are you surprised? I had already been to the store twice to get items for this cake and I was not going back again. So, after learning that none of my neighbors had cream cheese either, I mixed up some vanilla yogurt, whipped cream and crushed oreos. Hey, I figured it was worth a try and somehow it all worked in the end! The only problem with this was that it didn't get firm enough to spread the Mascarpone Mousse over it, and there was enough mousse that I could have just filled it with that, but I didn't know.
Then I melted more bittersweet chocolate to mix with mascarpone cheese for a mousse to put under the Bittercream frosting still to come. I needed to put this in the fridge to cool before adding the butter and sugar. I don't think I quite left it long enough, but it was still spreadable.Finally, more melting chocolate for the frosting. Everything was so yummy that I could totally see someone dieing of chocolate overload! yeah, this cake does not fit in with the "healthy living" part of my blog, but sometimes you just have to enjoy life!

Well, this is the bottom of the cake, so maybe not the best photo, but can you smell the chocolate?