Monday, April 30, 2012

Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake

3 layers of chocolaty goodness:

Bottom: Flour-less Chocolate Cake
Middle: Dark Chocolate Mousse
Top: White Chocolate Mousse

I made this cake for my boyfriend's mom's b-day. Since I usually don't have the opportunity to make a non-cupcake dessert I was excited to be able to make a cake! She (like me) loves chocolate, so this recipe was perfect!

It originally called for a 9.5 inch spring-form pan and said it served 12-16. Since there were only 4 of us, I cut the recipe in half and used an 8" pan, which I got from Williams-Sonoma while picking up a gift card. I never leave that store empty handed. : )

After using my brand-new $48 spring-form pan, I decided that I wish ALL my baking supplies came from Williams-Sonoma.....if only I could afford that!

All finished in the pan

Bottom Layer - Flour-less Chocolate Cake:
This was the first time I have ever tried to make a flour-less chocolate cake. The recipe said that it would fall after baking, and boy did it! It came out of the oven about 3-4 inches high and shrunk down to about an inch tall after cooling. Had the recipe not warned me, I would have freaked out a bit!

Now, this cake almost didn't make it into the it was pre-heating all the way up to 425, Sean was enjoying the left-over batter. Maybe enjoying it a little too much, as he knocked the cake pan off of the counter while trying to lick the bowl clean! Lucky for me, he has quick reflexes and caught the pan just before it splattered onto the floor! Phew!
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1/3 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs , separated
  • Pinch table salt
  • 2.5 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar, crumbled with fingers to remove lumps
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. 
  2. Butter bottom and sides of 8-inch spring-form pan. 
  3. Melt butter, chocolate, and espresso powder in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool mixture slightly, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Whisk in vanilla and egg yolks; set aside.
  5. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites and salt at medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. 
  6. Add half of brown sugar and beat until combined, about 15 seconds. 
  7. Add remaining brown sugar and beat at high speed until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer, scraping down sides halfway through. 
  8. Using whisk, fold one-third of beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten. 
  9. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining egg whites until no white streaks remain. 
  10. Carefully transfer batter to prepared springform pan, gently smoothing top with offset spatula.
  11. Bake until cake has risen, is firm around edges, and center has just set but is still soft (center of cake will spring back after pressing gently with finger), 13 to 18 minutes. 
  12. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour. (Cake will collapse as it cools.) Do not remove cake from pan.
Yummy cake, just waiting to be cut and devoured!

Middle Layer - Dark Chocolate Mousse
This part was so yummy! Could eat it plain with a spoon!
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 2.5 tablespoons hot water
  • 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 cups cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • pinch of table salt
  1. Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. 
  2. Melt chocolate in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.
  4. Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. 
  5. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. 
  6. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. 
  7. Spoon mousse into spring-form pan over cooled cake and gently tap pan on counter 3 times to remove any large air bubbles; gently smooth top with offset spatula. Wipe inside edge of pan with damp cloth to remove any drips. Refrigerate cake at least 15 minutes while preparing top layer.
We ended up eating exactly half of the cake

Top Layer - White Chocolate Mousse
  • 1/3 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3 ounces white chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Chips)
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • Grated bittersweet chocolate (used as garnish)
  1. In small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water; let stand at least 5 minutes. 
  2. Place white chocolate in medium bowl. 
  3. Bring ½ cup cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium-high heat. 
  4. Remove from heat; add gelatin mixture and stir until fully dissolved. 
  5. Pour cream mixture over white chocolate and whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds. 
  6. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, 5 to 8 minutes (mixture will thicken slightly).
  7. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip remaining cup cream at medium speed until it begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted, 15 to 60 seconds. 
  8. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to lighten. 
  9. Using rubber spatula, fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until no white streaks remain. 
  10. Spoon white chocolate mousse into pan over middle layer. Smooth top with offset spatula. 
  11. Return cake to refrigerator and chill until set, at least 2½ hours.
  12. Garnish with grated chocolate just before serving. 
You can see the 3 layers in this pic!
Now, my cuts are messy because I didn't follow the instructions. I was supposed to cut this with a cheese wire, but who has one of those!?!

This dessert would go perfectly at a restaurant, very elegant! (minus the rough cuts)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Cupcakes

So, these are really muffins by everyone else's definition.... but I like the sound of breakfast cupcakes better!

I got a giant cupcake tin for Christmas, and because its usually impractical to make giant sweet cupcakes, I use it for muffins. It actually makes a really good sized muffin, not too small that you want more, and not too big that you can't finish it.

This is the second time I have made these...and my boyfriend LOVED them so much that the thought of trying a different muffin recipe is almost out of the question. 

Well, this weekend I am driving with my boyfriend and one of his 'car buddies' up to Hannibal, MO (about 1.5 hours drive) and decided to make us some muffins for breakfast before we leave. They are both have rally cars that they race, and his buddy is purchasing a used ambulance to tow his race car with.....yes, I said ambulance! It's the funniest thing, and I didn't even know you could buy old ambulances!

This time around, by request, I made the cubes of apples bigger, and it worked out well. These cupcakes make the house smell amazing!

I settled on this recipe from My Baking Addiction, after looking at dozens of recipes for apple muffins. I think what peaked my interest was the mini cinnamon chips, and they really work well with the apples. 

Apple Cinnamon Chip Muffins
(Makes 6 giant muffins)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped apples (I used golden delicious, and needed 2 apples. I cut them into about 1/4 inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup miniature cinnamon chips
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray cooking spray in a 6 cup giant muffin tin. (or you could use a 12 cup standard muffin tin)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. 
  4. Mix in vanilla and applesauce. 
  5. Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture. 
  6. Fold in the cinnamon chips. 
  7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
  8. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.
  9. Bake 25-30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. (if you are making standard size, bake for about 20 mins)
  10. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack.
  11. Wrap individually in plastic wrap after completely cool. Place in cute basket : )
Basket of Cupcakes!

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Ship Cupcakes? ... Attempt #2

My second attempt to safely ship cupcakes across the country from St. Louis, MO to Lubbock, TX.

Last October, I set out to make and send cupcakes to my brother, who is away at college at Texas Tech. Unfortunately, what I thought was a great idea failed miserably. But I won't give up trying!

(See attempt #1 here: How to Ship Cupcakes?)

Well, this time, I have a new plan and its time to test it out. I have new cupcake containers that are like the ones you buy cupcakes in at the grocery store, with individual spaces for the cupcakes. I figured it would keep them from sliding around and mushing together like last time.

I made a simple vanilla cupcake, (recipe is posted here, I left the filling out this time). I decided to try this 2 ways, with a normal icing swirl piped on, and with sprinkles covering the top to hopefully protect the icing from squishing.

I also decided to try FedEx this time, hoping that they would take better care of my package than the USPS.

After baking, I put them in the freezer overnight. The next day, I sent them both off to Texas.

The Results: FAIL....AGAIN! I really thought it would work this time! :(

I don't know what went wrong... Maybe I should have taped up the plastic container instead of just snapping it together? Or maybe I should have packed the box tighter?

But the good news is: this is progress! They actually still resemble cupcakes this time, just a little squished.

So, all I have to do is figure out how to keep them in the package and I'm golden!

The box ended up somewhat coated in frosting!

The 3rd times the Charm!...I'm hoping. 

Samoa's Cupcakes

Based on the Samoa's Girl Scout Cookie:
Chocolate Coconut Cupcake, with a Salted Caramel Buttercream, Topped with Chocolate Drizzle and Toasted Coconut. 

When I was little (and actually a Girl Scout) I hated coconut with a passion. Therefore, I never ever ate any of the Samoa's Girl Scout cookies. I was always a sucker for Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos...hmm, next cupcake? But as I grew up and my tastes expanded, I found coconut to be tolerable and OK in certain situations.

I had my first Samoa a couple of years ago....the first Girl Scout season that Sean and I were dating. He loves them, and I found myself actually liking them too.

I made these for him to take to work with him. I wasn't that impressed with these, but that may because I still am not too fond of the texture of coconut. But Sean like them, so that's all that mattered as these were for him.

I came across this recipe from Spice is Nice, but I don't like thin batters, so I searched for another Samoa's recipe and decided on the cupcake from Damn Delicious. But the frosting looked like it involved too much I decided to combine the two recipes.

Chocolate-Coconut Cupcakes (from Damn Delicious)
(makes 24)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweeted cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature (I never get eggs to room temp, not sure what that does for the recipe, as my cupcakes always come out great)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (I had never bought coconut before, so it took me forever to find it in the grocery store!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined.
  5. Beat in vanilla until well combined.
  6. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.
  7. Stir in the coconut flakes.
  8. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray.
  9. Place into oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lots of Coconut
Salted Caramel Buttercream (From Spice is Nice)
(made just enough to frost 24 is rare that you have just enough icing. It seems I mostly either get way too much, or not enough)
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (the recipe originally called for a whole teaspoon, but I don't like my salted caramel to be so I halved it)
  1. Cream butter until fluffy.
  2. Add in vanilla extract and caramel topping. 
  3. Add powdered sugar and salt and mix until smooth.
To toast coconut for garnishment: Place coconut on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 stirring frequently until it looks brown, This took 6-8 minutes for me. 

Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish with toasted coconut. Drizzle melted milk chocolate chips on top. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Peeps Cupcakes

Chocolate & Vanilla Cupcakes with Green Piped "Grass" and a Peep on Top

For Easter this year, I decided to make some cute peeps cupcakes. I made a simple batch of chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and used a vanilla bean buttercream.

I tinted the buttercream green and used Wilton tip #233 to pipe grass onto the cupcakes. I made nearly 50 cupcakes, to bring to both family gatherings.... I definitely underestimated the time it would take to pipe grass onto 50 cupcakes!!! My hand was cramping up pretty bad near the end, but it was worth it!

I stuck a toothpick into the bunnies to make them stand up straight.

I actually got some chick peeps, but they are bigger than the bunnies, and didn't look quite right on the cupcakes. I wish I would have gotten some sanding sugar to touch up the marshmallow bunnies. When I pulled them apart from each other, it exposed some of the inner marshmallow. But they still turned out cute!

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