2014 Chocolate Kings Cake With Crumble

A very traditional cake we usually do every Christmas in Greece & Cyprus with a chocolate twist! The King Cake (Vasilopita in Greek or galette des rois in French),  is a New Year’s Day cake which contains a hidden coin or trinket which gives good luck to the receiver. It is associated with Saint Basil’s day, January 1, in most of Greece, but in some regions, the traditions surrounding a cake with a hidden coin are attached to Epiphany or to Christmas.

On New Year’s Day families cut the vasilopita to bless the house and bring good luck for the new year. This is usually done at the midnight of New Year’s Eve. A coin is hidden in the cake by slipping it into the dough before baking. At midnight the sign of the cross is etched with a knife across the cake. A piece of cake is sliced for each member of the family and any visitors present at the time, by order of age from eldest to youngest. Slices are also cut for various symbolic people or groups, depending on local and family tradition.  In older times, the coin often was a valuable one, such as a gold sovereign. Nowadays there is often a prearranged gift, money, or otherwise, to be given to the coin recipient.

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INGREDIENTS:

VASILOPITA:

  • 250 g. dark chocolate 72% cocoa
  • 400 g. butter
  • 300 g. brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 bulb fresh ground nutmeg
  • 400 g. almond powder
  • 10 eggs
  • 175 g. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • Decorative nuts and bonbons

ALMOND CRUMBLE:

  • 125 g. butter
  • 150 g. brown sugar
  • 30 g. dark chocolate 72% cocoa
  • 125 g. flour
  • 50 g. almond powder

METHOD:

  1. Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in the microwave.
  2. In a bowl add the eggs and beat with a hand blender or whisk.
  3. In another pan , place the melted chocolate with the butter , add the brown sugar , cinnamon, cloves , nutmeg , the almond powder , beaten eggs , flour and lastly the baking powder.
  4. Mix well and pour the mixture into a 28cm diameter tin, with a built bottom foil.
  5. Bake in preheated oven at 170 degrees C for 30 minutes and at 160 degrees C for another 30 minutes.

FOR THE ALMOND CRUMBLE :

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave.
  2. In a bowl add the butter, brown sugar, almond powder and stir briefly with an electric mixer.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and flour, continuing to stir.
  4. Take it out of the bowl and roll it out into a thin sheet of thickness 3 mm with a roller pin and place it in the fridge.
  5. When frozen cut a disc diameter smaller than the hoop of the Kings Cake.
  6. Cover the surface of the almost cooked cake with the crumble and continue baking for 15 minutes until the crumble is cooked.
  7. Garnish with decorations of your choice .
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Coffee & Walnut cake

Coffee & walnut cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g pack softened butter, plus extra for the tins
  • 100ml strong black coffee (made with 2 tbsp coffee granules), cooled
  • 280g self-raising flour
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g walnuts, 2 tbsp roughly chopped, the rest finely chopped

For the filling

  • 100g icing sugar, sifted, plus a little extra for dusting
  • 150ml double cream
  • 100g mascarpone, at room temperature

METHOD:

  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter 2 x 20cm round cake tins and line with baking parchment. Set aside 1 tbsp of the coffee for the filling.
  2. Beat the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, vanilla and half the remaining coffee in a large bowl with an electric whisk until lump-free. Fold in the finely chopped walnuts, then divide between the tins and roughly spread. Scatter the roughly chopped walnuts over one of the cakes. Bake the cakes for 25-30 mins until golden and risen, and a skewer poked in comes out clean. Drizzle the plain cake with the remaining coffee. Cool the cakes in the tins.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: beat together the icing sugar, cream and mascarpone, then fold in the reserved 2 tbsp coffee. Spread over the plain cake, then cover with the walnut-topped cake and dust with a little icing sugar.

Chocolate beet root cake with kale chips and toasted almonds

INGREDIENTS:
makes one 9-inch bundt

for cake:

  • 2 small beets (200 g total)
  • 240 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 12 Tbspn butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup creme fraiche
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking tray. Roast for 30 minutes or until fork-tender. Remove from oven and let cool completely. When cool, cut off the tails, and peel the beets. Grate the beets and set aside.
  2. Prepare a bundt mold by greasing and flouring the inside. Keep the oven at 180 degrees C.
  3. In a bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
  4. Put the butter in a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. Cream until light, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. In two stages, add in the flour mixture, alternating with the creme fraiche and the whole milk. Mix well until combined but do not overmix. Pour in the hot coffee and mix. Fold in the grated beets.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack at least 20 minutes before unmolding from the pan. Let cool completely on the rack.

for ganache:

  • 9 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 7.5 oz heavy whipping cream
  • 3 Tbspn butter

METHOD:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the cream and butter just until simmering.
  3. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Remove from heat, and let sit for a minute or so.
  4. Stir the cream into the chocolate until smooth. Cool until tepid and slightly thickened, and pour/spread onto the cake.

for kale chips and almonds:

  • 1 bunch curly kale, stemmed
  • 1 Tbspn olive oil
  • flaked sea salt
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
  2. Chop the kale into medium-sized pieces. Toss with olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with flaked sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes, or until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, spread the sliced almonds out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, rotating once, until lightly golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  4. Either layer the kale chips and almonds on the cake, or smash into crumbs and sprinkle on the cake for a bit of savory bite.

Note: Use the kale chips shortly after they are made (or keep in an airtight container), and add them to the cake just before serving. The kale will soften if left to the open air and on the cake too long.

Banoffee Cupcakes

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INGREDIENTS:

Serves: 24

for the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking spice (can substitute cinnamon)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1⅓ cup white sugar
  • 4 large, overripe bananas, mashed well (approximately 14 ounces)

for the Filling:

  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter

for the Frosting:

  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional:

  • Toffee chocolate bar pieces for garnish (like Heath bar)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, baking spice, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, mix the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, and mashed bananas on medium speed until smooth. Gradually stir dry ingredients into banana mixture. Spoon into cupcake liners.
  4. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean. Do not overbake.
  5. To make the filling: combine the dark brown sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Do not stir! Boil for 3-5 minutes, or until mixture deepens in color. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and butter. Stir constantly for 3-5 minutes, or until mixture thickens ONLY sightly.
  6. To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream.
  7. To assemble. Use a knife to cut out the top of a cupcake in a cone shape. Spoon/pipe in toffee filling. Put frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a 1M tip. Frost. Garnish with toffee bar pieces, if desired.

Strawberry gin and tonic cake

INGREDIENTS:
makes sixteen 3.5-inch brioche molds, or two 6.5-inch brioche molds
for cakes:

  • 313 g (2½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2½ tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • zest of 2 limes
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 200 g (1 cup) sugar
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbspn lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • ½ cup tonic water (fresh, not flat)

for strawberries:

  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2 Tbspn gin
  • 2 Tbspn sugar

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour the insides of the molds. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a mortar and pestle, grind the juniper berries finely with the lime zest. Rub the berries and zest into the sugar with your fingers.
  4. In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until pale, about 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  5. Combine the lime juice and tonic water in a separate container. In three additions, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the tonic water and lime juice in between. Beat well, but do not overmix.
  6. Divide the batter between the molds. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes for small cakes and 45 to 50 minutes for large cakes. If baking large cakes, cover lightly with a piece of tin foil about 30 minutes into baking so that the tops don’t burn. Cakes are done with a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the cakes from the tins and let cool completely on the wire rack.
  8. About 20 minutes prior to serving, stem and quarter (or halve) the strawberries. Mix with the gin and sugar, and let sit for about 10 to 20 minutes. Serve with the cakes and, if desired, soft-whipped cream.

Strawberry Cream Layer Cake

INGREDIENTS:

For the strawberry puree:
  • 350g fresh ripe strawberries
METHOD:
  1. Wash and dry the berries. Remove the stems and place into a food processor or blender. Blend until it is as smooth as possible. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl to remove the seeds.
For the icing:
  • 250g marscarpone
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 80g strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Beat the marscarpone with a spoon in a medium sized bowl until smooth. Add the icing sugar and beat until combined. Add the strawberry puree in four batches, beating to combine between each addition. Put into the fridge to chill and set a bit while you make the sponges etc.
For the sponges:
  • 105g plain flour
  • 40g cornflour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 45ml cold water
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
METHOD:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Grease and line two 7″ tins (or 6″ – I used these the first time).
  3. Sift the flour, cornflour, baking powder and salt together three times.  Place the yolks and water in bowl of a stand mixer and whip on high for 1 minute.
  4. Add the sugar and whip for appox 5 minutes – until the mixture is pale, fluffy and leaves a trail when the whisk is lifted out.
  5. Add the vanilla and whip for a few seconds to combine. Transfer the mixture to another bowl (unless you have two stand mixer bowls) and wash the bowl up, drying it carefully. Whip the egg whites in the mixer to stiff peaks.
  6. Place the yolk mix bowl on a damp cloth to stop it moving. With your non-dominant hand sift the flour slowly over the yolk mix, while your dominant hand folds it in, using a whisk. Use a large metal spoon to add and then fold in 1/3 of the egg whites. Finally fold in the remaining 2/3 of the whites.
  7. Quickly transfer the mixture to the two tins and put in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes – a skewer should come out clean from the middle of the cake and it should spring back from a touch. Immediately slide a knife around the edge of each cake so that it shrinks evenly.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes then remove to the rack and peel off the paper.
For the vanilla syrup:
  • 75ml water
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
METHOD:
  1. While the sponges are baking, place the water and sugar into a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the pod and add both the seeds and pod to the pan. Heat over a medium heat until the sugar has fully dissolved. Leave to steep until needed.
To assemble:
  • 100ml double cream
  • 150g fresh strawberries
  • remaining strawberry puree
METHOD:
  1. Whip the double cream until it holds soft peaks. Split the cool sponges into two with a serrated knife. Cut the strawberries into thin slices of about 1/2 cm.
  2. Cover the serving plate with four strips of baking parchment and then set one sponge circle on top. Brush 1/4 of the syrup over the sponge.
  3. Spoon over about 2-3 tbsp of strawberry puree, spreading it out as you go. Spread a 1/3 of the whipped cream over the top, leaving a small space around the edge.  Arrange 1/3 of the strawberry slices over the cream in a single layer.
  4. Add the next sponge circle and press it down lightly. Repeat the syrup, puree, cream and strawberries for this circle and the next. F
  5. inally add the last layer and brush over the last 1/4 of the syrup. If you like, cut a wooden skewer to size and use as a dowel to keep everything in place. Use about 1/3 of the icing to create a crumb coat, concentrating on filling any gaps on the sides between layers.
  6. Chill for 30 minutes. Finally smooth over the rest of the icing and add any decoration – I piped whipped cream dots on the first, then wrote on the second with white chocolate.

(Serves 10-12)

Runeberg Cakes (Runebergintorttuja)

INGREDIENTS:
makes 8 3×3 round cakes
for cakes:

  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup finely ground ginger snaps
  • 3/4 cup finely ground almonds
  • (to grind almonds, put almonds and ginger snaps in food processor at the same time.)
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tspn freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tspn ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tspn almond extract
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbspn molasses
  • 3 eggs, at room temp
METHOD:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Oil and flour the 3×3 cake rings and set on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, ground ginger snaps, ground almonds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, orange zest, and cardamom. Whisk to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a measuring cup, stir and combine milk, orange juice, and almond extract. Set aside.
  4. Place butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Cream on medium low for about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add molasses to the butter mixture and cream until fully incorporated.  Make sure to scrap down the sides if necessary.
  6. Add eggs one at a time to the butter mixture, mixing thoroughly to incorporate each egg between each addition.
  7. Gradually add the dry ingredients (flour mix) and wet ingredients (milk mix) to the butter in three stages–dry followed by wet followed by dry followed by wet, etc.  Mix until thoroughly combined.
  8. Spoon batter into cake molds until about 3/4 of the way full, being careful not to touch the exposed sides with batter.  Tap the baking sheet lightly on the counter to get rid of any large air pockets.  Use a small spatula or a spoon to smooth the tops of the batter.
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes (shorter if you have smaller ring molds) until a toothpick removed from the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from molds. Then glaze with…

for rum syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbspn rum or cognac

METHOD:

  1. While the cakes are baking, make the syrup.  Place sugar and water in a heat-proof measuring glass.
  2. Heat the sugar and water in the microwave on high for a minute and a half.  Stir until sugar is dissolved. (or, Heat in a pot on the stovetop until sugar dissolves.)
  3. Add alcohol and stir into the syrup.
  4. When the cakes are unmolded, poke the tops with a few small holes.  Use a pastry brush to brush the syrup on the tops and sides of the cakes.

for raspberry topping:

  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 4 Tbspn sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tspn cornstarch, sifted

METHOD:

  1. In a nonreactive saucepan, saute raspberries on medium high until they begin to release their juices.
  2. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and sifted cornstarch, to the raspberries, making sure to whisk to combine the cornstarch.
  3. Stirring constantly, bring the contents to a boil and simmer until the raspberries have reduced and are slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let cool.  Set aside.

for icing:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 Tbpsn milk
  • 1/4 tspn almond extract

METHOD:

  1. Combine powdered sugar with milk and almond extract. Mix well until a thick icing forms.
  2. Spoon icing into a squeeze bottle or piping bag fitted with round tip.  Use immediately.

Assembly:

  1. Use a sharp knife and cut a shallow cone out of the top of each cake, like filling a cupcake, but make a very shallow cut, about a centimeter in from the edge.  Scoop out the cone piece.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush more syrup in the cut-out hole.
  3. Fill the hole with raspberry topping, about 2 tablespoons per hole.
  4. Use the prepared icing in the piping bag to pipe a generous circle of icing around the raspberry topping.