Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dreams in Chocolate

Ever since lent started my need for chocolate has increased. As you can guess I haven’t been successful in my attempt to give it up. I have been dying for an excuse to make devil’s food cake cupcakes ever since I got my magnolia bakery recipe books. The idea of a rich chocolate cake smothered in caramel icing makes my mouth water.

My younger brother is one of my biggest supporters as he benefits directly from my baking addiction. This year he has also started playing rugby, and he is constantly asking me to bake something for him to bring to his matches. And… I found my excuse. I knocked out 72 Devil’s food cupcakes one evening last week.


·         2 cups plain flour

1 cup of good quality cocoa powder

1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda

½ teaspoon of salt

¾ cup of butter (unsalted)

1 ½ cups of tightly packed brown sugar

½ cup of sugar

3 large room temperature eggs

1 ½ cups of buttermilk

2 tsp of vanilla extract (or more if you are a vanilla monster like me)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius

Line three 12 cup cupcake tins (yes this makes a lot of cupcakes) with pretty cases, (I really don’t like the plain white ones). Sift all of the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl and set to the side for a while.

Cream the butter until smooth, (this can take about 5 minutes, it should be pale and creamy). Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add each egg, one at a time and make sure they are well combined. You can’t really over beat the mixture at this stage so make sure they are well combined.  

I would always mix the wet ingredients together ie: the buttermilk and the vanilla. The next step is to add the dry ingredients in three parts alternating with the wet ingredients. I recommend taking the extra time to divide it into three parts because when all dumped in at once you risk over beating to get them well combined. Mix until combined and then no longer because an over mixed batter equal hard cupcakes!!

Spoon the mixture in to the cases and bake for about 25-28 minutes depending on your oven. Test the center of the cakes, a skewer should come out clean!! Cool on a wire rack before icing!

·         Caramel buttercream icing

·         1 cup of unsalted butter

·         Numerous bags of icing sugar. (depends on the consistency you want)

·         1-2 tins of Caramel. (you can make this yourself, or boil condensed milk. I personally love the carnation pre-made caramel, it ‘s perfect for when you’re feeling a bit lazy!)

·         ½ cup of milk (milk is optional)

Note: I am sure there is a very scientific method to making frosting. I however do not follow it. I judge by eye and consistency, and I use an electric beater on a low speed to make sure it is as creamy as possible.

Par-melt the butter, cream until very soft and creamy. Add some icing sugar until you get a good semi-stiff mixture. Next add 1 or 2 tins of caramel depending on the intensity of the flavour you want. I recommend doing this in small bit and alternating it with icing sugar to ensure it is well combined. You can add milk if your mixture gets to stiff too fast and you need more icing. If you decide to add the milk do so in small bits.

Spread or pipe icing in whatever fashion please over the fully cooled chocolate cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Or if you are like me, and can’t wait dollop a spoonful on a still warm cupcake amd enjoy the melt in the mouth experience!


Monday, January 16, 2012

P is for Peanut butter swirl Brownies

It is my firm belief that there is always a need for brownies!! A simple brownie will solve many an emotional ailment, it will satisfy any sweet tooth craving and almost every girl in the world would happily have a brownie as their last meal.

Can you best a devilishly chocolaty brownie, the answer is probably no but it’s a well known fact that girls will strive for perfection, so I experiment. I have a lazy Tuesday afternoon to thank for this recipe; it was my day off and I was sprawled on the couch watching the food network, as usual, barefoot Contessa was on. Ina Garten you are a goddess. Peanut butter swirl brownies…..what…..yes you heard me correctly….peanut butter swirl brownies. As if brownies weren’t sinful enough. Of course I had to try them, lucky thing I had Wednesday off also!

So below is a list of the ingredients you need, with regards to the chocolate feel free to use what ever brand or strength chocolate you like, this should be to your taste. Just a note though, these brownies are very rich and so I find with these and brownies in general a darker chocolate is preferable.

  • 1 pound/454 grams of unsalted butter
  • 454 grams of semisweet chocolate, I used bournville chocolate
  • 340 grams of semisweet chocolate chips
  • 170 grams of unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra-large organic eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules (this is optional, I didn’t use it and they were yummy)
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract ( and a little extra, I’m a firm believer of never too much vanilla)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter  (less or more depending on how rich you want the flavour)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius

Grease a 12 by 18 inch brownie pan. You can generally tell once you start to pour in the batter if it’s going to be big enough; this is where having a kitchenware fetish comes in handy, because you may need 2 pans.

So the recipe calls for a bain marie, I remember the first time I saw that in a recipe I was completely baffled, little did I know that it was just a bowl over a pot of simmering water. I generally never use this to melt chocolate and butter together, I just melt the butter and then pop the chocolate in afterwards on a very low heat. Caution though, a very low heat is needed you don’t want to burn the chocolate. So you melt (in whatever fashion you prefer) the all the butter and the unsweetened choc plus 454 grams of the semisweet chocolate together.

In a very large bowl stir together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. The recipe specifies that it should not be beaten. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled you can pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and mix well. You should allow this to cool to room temperature.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In another bowl, sift together 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, add the dry ingredients. Now the next step is interesting and I have to say a large thank you to the genius Ina Garten for enlightening me. You toss the chocolate chips in the flour. This stops the chips from sinking to the bottom of the mixture during cooking. I don’t know about you but I hate when that happens as they tend to burn. Make sure they are mixed in well.

Pour the batter into the pan or two it should only come up about ¾ of the way. Now the fun part, spoon big dollops of peanut butter on top of the batter. Now take a knife or a cake skewer and swirl the peanut butter through the mixture making sure to leave big chunks of it everywhere. Bake for 20mins then bang the pan against the oven shelf to let the air out from between the pan and the dough (nifty trick). Bake for a further 10-15mins!

Trust me it is better to underbake the brownies rather than over bake, you want them to be nice and gooey. Once they have cooled cut them into squares, big or small depending on the size you want (tehehehe, bigger the better in my opinion). Now the next step is VERY IMPORTANT, ok, you’ll need a big glass of milk and a very comfortable chair, you see where I am going with this I hope….



Sunday, January 15, 2012

Everything must have a beginning...

So….why did I start a food blog, aside from the obvious reason (which believe me is quite obvious when you look at me) that I love food, it is because food is what I am passionate about. It’s been a struggle to come to this conclusion and if asked when I was younger did I ever want to make a career out of food, my answer would’ve been a resounding no. After all we have all seen how some of the chefs are treated on the TV.
But here I am, 1 degree abandoned, almost bald from tearing my hair out and my sanity somewhat questionable after the long and very difficult struggle to figure out the ultimate question; what am I going to do with my life!!! I am going to endeavour to pursue a career as a pastry chef. Whatever road I end up taking please remember and some on please god remind me if I forget along the way that my ultimate goal was to become a pastry chef and someday open my own artisan bakery here in Dublin.
So where am I now, you might ask. I am working in a Pharmacy having just completed a degree in Pharmacology. Not at all the type of person you would ever associate with wanting to pursue a career as a chef but here I go.
What is the purpose of this blog you might ask... why are you rambling into cyber space? Well I would like to share with you both my journey, my recipes and just about everything that I find awesome in general (which you will notice is always cake themed).
I hope you will stay with me as I go. Learn with me and taste what I taste. I would love some feedback on my recipes and any body that has gone or is going through the same please feel free to email me.