Posts Tagged With: filling

The Speculatoor

I feel like that's a jaunty pretzel. IMG_9576

With the close of the month of May comes the beginning of every student’s favorite season: summer.  I neglected my blog through second semester (whoops) due to far too many other preoccupations (such as essays, readings, homework, and those dratted friends I love so much…) but scratchbatch is back in action for the summer !  🙂  As I’m bidding farewell to my school work for a small window of time (trading it in for francophone whippersnappers – oui, je suis “prof” en été), I figured a cupcake would be a nice transition piece.

As many of my fellow library-goers know, when I’m studying late at night…my weakness is chocolate covered pretzels and Speculoos spread. (If you don’t know what Speculoos is, you might want to check it out…this cupcake might as well be called the “Belgian Wonder” as it uses two ingredients Belgium seems to understand best: chocolate, and this spread made from spice cookies).  Sometimes together, sometimes apart.  But truly, those are my go-to nibble foods.  With a cappuccino.  Naturally, crunching away helps my productivity.  It does.  Really.  Kat knows exactly what I’m talking about. Meow.

In any case, what does this have to do with cupcakes ?  Given my love for this combination, I had the notion that perhaps these flavors would make a nice cupcake. (Baked and Wired, this is where you start paying attention – this cupcake is for YOU.  It says “Sell me !  I would be best friends with the Tessita and you know it !”  Cupcakes are rarely wrong about these things, so I suggest you listen up).  The Speculatoor consists of a moist vanilla cupcake filled with speculoos and pretzel topped with a thick, chocolate satin ganache. Yes, it tastes just like the real mccoy from this fabulous bakery.  No, I didn’t have to bribe the bakers…I just sort of made it up.  Every once in awhile you get lucky.

An easy cupcake to craft, it takes a bit of patience, but the end result is really quite decadent and delicious – worthy of D.C.

Vanilla Cupcakes:

1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Dash of nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon

Directions : Preheat the oven to 350F and line one muffin tin – this recipe will make twelve cupcakes.  Double it for 24.

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In a small container, mix together the yogurt, milk and vanilla.  Whisk together to incorporate and set aside.  This will be added in tandem with the flour a little later.  Why ?  Because we want the milk to react with the baking powder at the right moment in time – just before heading into the oven for the optimum rising reaction.

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In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, spices, and baking powder.  Stir well to evenly incorporate the leavening agent.  Set aside.

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In yet another container, cream the butter until nice and light.  Add the sugar slowly, again beating until fluffy. From here, add the eggs and mix until smooth.  I might add that bringing all the ingredients to room temperature make the mixing process easier BUT FEAR NOT if you didn’t realize this was helpful: you can always wrap a warm towel around the mixing bowl and all will incorporate sans problème.

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To the butter mixture, add the flour and the yogurt combinations; start with the dry and alternate between the two.  Mix until uniform and then pour into cupcake pan, being careful not to overfill the tray.

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Cook for about 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed.  Let cool before moving on to the next step.

Speculoos filling

3 heaping tablespoons of Trader Joe’s cookie butter
2 tbsp butter, softened
Some pretzels, crushed
A few turns of coarse salt
2 tbsp cream or milk
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Directions : Place the speculoos and butter into a small container and whip.  The mixture should lighten slightly in color.

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Add the cream and the confectioners’ sugar, whipping again.  Add the salt. Take about 2/3 of the smooth mixture and transfer to another container.

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Into this, stir in the crumbled pretzel bits.  I like to taste along the way – I was looking for a center that would be sweet at the start, but upon chewing would yield a little burst of salt.  If you prefer just smooth and sweet, skip the pretzel step.

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When the cupcakes are cool, use your finger (or a 1/2 tsp) to create a little hole in the center of each cupcake.  Spoon in the crunchy speculoos-pretzel mixture.  Top with a little covering of the smooth speculoos concoction and set aside.

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Chocolate Satin Ganache

1/2 cup light cream (or half and half)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (I would use less but I like VERY.DARK.CHOCOLATE.)
3 tbsp butter, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla

I think this is the best chocolate frosting I’ve ever made.  It is really easy to make and will definitely become a staple in my cookbook.

Directions : Pour the cream into a small saucepan and let come to a light boil. In another bowl, place the chopped chocolate.  I used Bakers unsweetened chocolate squares, 4 of them, but I think using a higher quality chocolate would yield an even better product.  That said, I wasn’t disappointed by my pantry’s standby.  The hot cream will melt the chocolate; whisk to combine.  Add the butter and mix together.  Again, the combined heat should be enough to melt the butter.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and vanilla last, stirring until just combined.  Let cool.  I placed mine in the freezer to cool faster…impatient little cook that I am.

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When cooled and thickened, break out your hand mixer (I have a trusty old Sunbeam) and whip until nice and spreadable.  The mixer might groan a bit but this step is crucial.

Spoon into a pastry bag and swirl onto the cupcakes !  I topped mine with chocolate drizzled pretzels, but there’s no need to be fancy about it.

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Enjoy with a cup of tea (or hot milk) !  Bon appétit 🙂

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Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Filling and Spiced Chocolate Buttercream

Yes, you read the title right.

Vegan chocolate cake.  Vegan buttercream.  Vegan dessert.

I think I am probably the most omnivorous person around – I really love all types of food.  Meat, milk, fish, vegetables, sugar (obviously)…the list goes on.  Baking with limitations, therefore, is not my forte.  However, one of my closest friends is vegan, choosing to eliminate all sorts of ingredients commonly found in sweet delights from her diet (which totally amazes me.  I could never do it, so PROPS TO YOU, Miss Bailey !).  When her birthday rolled around, I was DETERMINED to concoct a vegan-friendly dessert…for what is a birthday without cake ??  Though it was definitely an adventure for me (the ingredients list is more exotic than normal…did you know vegan butter exists ?!  Super cool !), the end result was pretty tasty – I would definitely make the cake again.  While I’ll admit that it feels strange to make a cake without eggs, the texture is exactly the same as any chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten and I bet a blind taste test would fool you.

In order to make the cake a little interesting, I chose to fill the center layer with blackberry jam and add spices to the frosting – there is nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves added to the frosting to bring in a little texture and round out the cocoa flavors.

Give it a try – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  🙂

For the cake :

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
A few shakes of cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.  Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, vinegar, sugar, oil, and vanilla. I know, it looks a little odd – vinegar and olive oil usually connote salad dressing – but I promise it works out in the end !

Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon until well combined.

Spoon or scrape the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake for 40 to 55 minutes.  You’ll know it’s done when you smell the cake and a fork comes out clean.

Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen before inverting the cake onto a wire rack (or if you are a lowly college student, on a plate dusted with confectioners’ sugar) to cool.

For the filling :

Blackberry jam – I used about 1/3 of a jar….but this part is entirely subjective – use as much or as little as you please.  Also, I think that raspberry jams would be DELICIOUS in place of blackberry.

For the frosting :

1/2 stick vegan butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (more or less depending on your love of bitterness)
1/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves

In a large bowl, whisk the vegan butter until it’s creamy.  Add the cocoa powder first, blending slowly until well incorporated (start slow simply to avoid cocoa powder explosions…that fine dust tends to make me sneeze when it clouds the air).  Add the vanilla and the powdered sugar, adding the soy milk when necessary to assure a good texture. Add the spices last.

Make sure to taste along the way to make sure everything is to your liking – I gave my ratios of spices BUT THEY ARE APPROXIMATE as I tend to make it up as I go, adding a dash of this and a dash of that until I find the taste I prefer.  It’s good to be spontaneous.  🙂

Assembly :

First, center one layer of the cake on a plate that has been dusted with powdered sugar.  This will be useful when the time come to cut the cake, as each slice will be easy to remove.

Using a flat metal spatula, (or a knife…again…I lack proper tools) spread a very thin layer of the frosting on the cake.  As we are going to add jam, this thin coating of frosting will keep the cake from going soggy on the inside.

Once evenly distributed, add the jam, spreading with the back of a spoon.  I love jam, so I was rather liberal with the amount I put on the inside…it is your call.

Prepare the second cake layer by spreading another thin layer of frosting on the side that will touch the jam.  Once ready, flip this layer onto the jam layer. It’s a process but it isn’t that difficult – if you miss, just pick the cake up and put it back on.  No harm done !

Cover the rest of the cake with the frosting.  Dust the top with a combination of the spices used in the frosting – it looks classy and tastes good, too.

We obviously decorated ours with candles….

Happy Birthday, Bailey & Ambika and bon appétit !

 

 

Categories: English | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lemon cupcakes with raspberry filling

I think the cupcake craze has finally hit me.  I know, it’s a litttttle late for that, but I’ve made three batches of cupcakes in the past…two weeks (?) and I’m having far too much fun in the kitchen.  Flour.  Everywhere.

Or in this case…lemon zest.

Being a slightly competitive person…I’m staging a mini-war with the fantastic Baked and Wired of Washington, D.C. in an effort to reduce the pain my wallet feels every time I crumble and purchase a cupcake.  My current favorite is a lemon cupcake with a raspberry filling and a lemon buttercream frosting.  After a few edits (lighter frosting, spicier filling, and a more lemony cupcake), here’s my new and improved version:

For the cake :

1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 3 lemons
1 cup buttermilk (can be made with milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice OR distilled vinegar)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line 2 muffin tins (24 cups total) with liners (or parchment paper).  In an electric mixer – or by hand – cream butter until smooth.  Add the sugar slowly until smooth, followed by the zest and lemon juice.  The batter will separate a bit – but when the flour is added, the it will stabilize.  Cream the mixture until light.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. In a bowl, mix the baking powder and the flour together.  Add the flour and the buttermilk at the same time, mixing until combined but not more to avoid a tough cake.  Pour into pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch.

For the filling :

1/2 cup raspberry jam
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp ground ginger

Combine all ingredients and boil until well blended and thickened – using a thermometer might be beneficial.  I boiled until the thread stage.  Chill.

For the frosting :

4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp cream of tartar (optional)

Combine the water, sugar, lemon juice and zest together in a medium pan.  Stir to help the sugar dissolve and then boil until 238F or until the mixture thickens slightly and forms a thin, continuous stream when poured from a spoon.  It’s good to taste this to make sure it’s lemony enough (or sweet enough) for your tastes (but be careful, as boiling sugar is HOT).

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whip the eggs whites and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks.

Once the sugar syrup is ready, turn the mixer on high and pour the hot syrup over the meringues, being careful to add it in a thin, continuous stream.  The egg whites will be billowy and light – almost like a foam.  I added a few drops of yellow food dye to give it a light yellow tint.

Assembly :

Using your finger (or a spoon), make a little divot in the center of each cupcake.  This will be filled with the raspberry syrup.  There is no need to remove the centers – the cake is quite moist, so compacting it works just fine. Using a teaspoon, pour raspberry syrup into the crevice until filled.


Once this is complete, they are ready to be frosted.  I used a piping bag to frost mine, but it isn’t necessary.  Once can easily use a spatula, a spoon, or a knife to top off these delicious little cakes.  Once iced, I sprinkled a little lemon zest on top (But you don’t have to…it just looks pretty !).  And there you have it !  Watch out, Baked and wired !

When it’s cut in half, you can really see the filling – it’s just like jam…but better.  🙂 Bon appétit !

Categories: English | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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