Rum & Raisin Dark Chocolate Truffles

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INGREDIENTS:

Makes about 20 truffles

  • 200g of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) – broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup raisins – chopped
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
  • 1 tsp of strong espresso or instant coffee granules (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder

Coatings:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Finely chopped nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans or almonds)
  • Shredded coconut
  • Spices like cinnamoncayenne pepper, orange zest, etc

METHOD:

  1. In a bowl, soak the raisins in rum for one hour (at room temperature).
  2. In a saucepan, over low heat, bring the cream to a simmer. Then add the butter and stir with a plastic spatula until melted.
  3. Next, add the chopped chocolate, and when it begins to melt, turn the fire off and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted (be careful not to burn the chocolate).
  4. Then mix in the cocoa powder, vanilla paste, and espresso, and stir until smooth. Finally, stir in the raisin rum mixture, and transfer to a bowl.
  5. Once the chocolate ganache has cooled on the counter, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge. Chill for an hour until the ganache is firm.
  6. Lay out a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Prepare coatings in separate bowls. With your palms or a small spoon, form the chocolate into balls, then roll each one in the coating and place them on the baking paper. Transfer the truffles, along with the baking paper, to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  7. Truffles can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or for a few months in the freezer. Before serving, let the truffles sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Tips on making truffles: 
– It’s important to keep the ganache mixture cool after it is removed from the refrigerator, so it doesn’t melt too much when you are forming the balls and coating them. Try placing the small bowl of ganache on top of a bigger bowl layered with ice. (Also, coat your hands with some cocoa powder to prevent your warm fingers from melting the chocolate)
– If the ganache gets too soft for shaping, just pop the ganache back in the freezer for five minutes. If you are making a bigger batch, divide the ganache into separate containers.

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Olallieberry Extra Dark Mocha Cupcakes with Candied Cacao Nibs

INGREDIENTS:
makes ~15-18 regular-sized cupcakes

for extra dark mocha cupcakes:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 Tbspn black cocoa powder (you may substitute Dutch-processed cocoa powder here)
  • 1/3 cup (5 Tbpsn) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbspn espresso powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 heaping Tbspn instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
METHOD:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line the cupcake molds with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine sugar, flour, black and Dutch-processed cocoa powders, espresso powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
  4. Combine the boiling water and the instant coffee. Pour the hot coffee into the cake batter and mix on medium low until smooth, making sure to occasionally scrape the bottom of the bowl.
  5. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes. When a toothpick inserted at the center of the cupcake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

for olallieberry buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup olallieberry puree, from about 3/4 – 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen berries
  • 1 Tbspn creme de cassis
  • 1 tspn freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 11 oz. sugar (~310 grams)
  • 5 oz. water (~140 grams)
  • 150 grams egg whites (~5 egg whites)
  • pinch of cream of tartar, optional
  • 50 grams sugar
  • 4 sticks (1 lb) butter, at room temperature

METHOD:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together the olallieberry puree, creme de cassis, and lemon juice. Set aside.
  2. Combine water and 11 oz (310 gr) sugar in a small pot over medium-high heat. Without stirring, bring to a boil and let cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment, begin whisking the egg whites when the syrup begins to bubble on the stove. Start whisking on medium low until the whites begin to foam all over, then increase speed to high and gradually add the remainder of the sugar. Whip until soft peaks form and stop.
  4. Once the syrup has reached 240 degrees F (soft ball stage) and the whites have been whipped to soft peaks, gradually pour the syrup in a small stream into the egg whites, whisking on medium high continuously. Be careful not to allow the sugar syrup to fall on the beaters.
  5. Continue whisking until the bowl of the mixer is at body temperature and not warm to the touch anymore.
  6. Slowly begin to add the butter, about a half tablespoon at a time.
  7. Once all of the butter is incorporated, continue whisking while adding the olallieberry puree. Beat until incorporated. Use to pipe immediately.

for candied cacao nibs:

  • 3 Tbspn sugar
  • 3 heaping Tbspn cacao nibs

METHOD:

  1. Prepare a baking tray lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, melt the sugar.
  3. Once the sugar has completely melted, quickly add the cacao nibs. Stir and cook until the sugar turns a deep golden color (there might be a little bit of smoking–don’t be alarmed!). Remove from heat immediately before the sugar burns and let the cacao nibs cool completely on the silpat, trying to separate them out as best as you can.
  4. Once cool, crush the candied cacao nibs into small pieces. Use to top the cupcakes.

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups almond milk (or soya milk)
  • 2 tspn apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tspn vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine the almond milk and vinegar with a few strokes.  Allow them to sit for a few minutes until curdled.  Then add the sugar, oil, and vanilla.  Beat until frothy.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two stages, beating thoroughly in between.  After last addition, beat until smooth but do not overmix.
  5. Fill cupcake molds (greased or with cupcake paper) until about 3/4 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes and then remove from oven and cool for 10.

Vegan Pumpkin ‘Buttercream’

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (i.e. Earth Balance)
  • 8oz. canned pumpkin
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • clove, to taste
  • powdered ginger, to taste
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 3-4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

METHOD:

  1. Sift the powdered sugar. The easiest way I’ve found to do this is in a food processor, since I go through vast amounts of the stuff.
  2. Combine shortening and margarine in a mixer bowl.  Beat until creamy.
  3. Add the pumpkin to the shortening and margarine and beat until combined.
  4. Add spices to taste and add the vanilla.  Mix.
  5. Slowly begin to mix in the powdered sugar, beating all the while, until the desired consistency is achieved.  If the buttercream gets too stiff, you can stir in a bit of almond milk.

After frosting the cupcakes, decorate as desired or with sifted cocoa powder.

 

Double chocolate (espresso) Cupcakes with Rose-scented cream cheese frosting

INGREDIENTS:
adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible
makes 6-7 large cupcakes, more if using regular-sized cupcake liners

  • 2 Tbspn Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbspn + 1 1/2 tspn black cocoa powder (or substitute with Dutch-processed cocoa)
  • 1 tspn instant coffee powder or espresso powder
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (125 gr) AP flour
  • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbspn (175 gr) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tspn baking powder
  • 1/4 tspn salt
  • 13 Tbspn (184 gr) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Whisk to combine the cocoa powders, coffee powder, and boiling water. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture is cool, whisk in the vanilla and eggs until combined and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine.
  5. Add half of the chocolate mixture and the softened butter to the flour. Mix on low until the flour is moistened and then increase speed to medium and beat for one minute to aerate.
  6. Add the remaining chocolate mixture to the batter in two additions, beating for twenty seconds after each addition. Finally, beat in the chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter amongst the paper cupcake molds, filling each about 3/4 of the way.
  8. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Rose-scented cream cheese frosting
adapted from Magnolia Bakery

  • 1/2 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tspn rosewater
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cold
  • 1 drop pink gel food coloring

METHOD:

  1. Beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and rosewater and mix until combined.
  3. Beat in the sifted powdered sugar.
  4. Gradually add small chunks of the cold cream cheese, beating well after each addition. Mix in the food coloring at the end.
  5. Use to pipe onto cupcakes immediately.  Top with shaved dark chocolate.

Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:
makes 12 – 14 cupcakesfor cake:

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • 1 cup (140 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (46 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1/2 tspn baking powder
  • 1/2 tspn baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee

for frosting:

  • 6 teabags of Earl Grey
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbspn heavy cream
  • 5 oz (142 g) unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 Tbspn butter
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • flaked finishing salt

METHOD:

  1. for cake. Preheat oven to 180° C. Prepare 12 – 14 cupcake tins with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten egg, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix.
  4. With the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
  5. Pour the hot coffee into the batter gradually and mix on medium low until smooth.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners about three-quarters full. Bake for 20 – 30 minutes. When a toothpick inserted at the center of the cupcake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from oven, remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. for frosting. Place the Earl Grey teabags, condensed milk, and heavy cream in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a simmer, remove from heat, cover tightly, and let steep for at least one hour.
  8. Meanwhile, finely chop the chocolate and cut the butter into pieces. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
  9. Remove the teabags from the milk mixture, making sure to squeeze as much liquid from the teabags as possible before discarding.
  10. Add the sugar to the milk mixture, return to the stove, and bring to a simmer.
  11. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate and butter. Let sit for two minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let cool completely to room temperature.
  12. Once cool, transfer the ganache to the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment. Whip on medium until light-colored and fluffy. Use immediately to spread or pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. The whipped ganache will firm up more once spread or piped.
  13. Top with a sprinkle of finishing salt.

Salted Black Cocoa Brownies & a Parfait

INGREDIENTS:
Salted Black Cocoa Brownies
makes one 9 x 13″ brownie or two 8″ brownies

  • salted butter, for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup black cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tspn baking powder
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract
  • coarse sea salt

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Using the salted butter, grease the bottom and sides of the pan(s).  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powders, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Combine the wet ingredients with the prepared dry ingredients, folding until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Batter will be very thick and difficult to stir.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.  Sprinkle liberally with coarse sea salt.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes if using a 9 x 13″ pan and for 25-30 minutes if using two 8″ pans.  Be careful not to over-bake.
  7. Remove the brownies from the oven and let cool completely before removing from pans and cutting.  (This part is the most difficult–resisting until they are all cool!)

the Parfait
I don’t have exact amounts here because it’s basically layering however much skyr, strawberries, and brownie you want.  🙂

  • strawberries, hulled and chopped
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • vanilla sugar (recipe here)
  • plain skyr / or plain greek yoghurt
  • half-and-half (or milk or cream)
  • salted black cocoa brownies, chopped into small pieces

METHOD:

  1. Combine and toss together gently the strawberries, a sprinkling of lemon juice, and vanilla sugar to taste.  Let sit while you prepare the skyr.
  2. Pour a small amount of half-and-half into the skyr and stir together, until the skyr’s consistency resembles thick yogurt.
  3. Layer between and top skyr with chopped brownies and macerated strawberries.

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS:
For the icing:

  • 275ml double cream
  • 250g granulated sugar
  • 130g 99% unsweetened dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cake:

  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 200g plain flour
  • 85g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 275ml milk
  • 135ml canola oil/another oil with no flavour
  • 275ml boiling water

METHOD:

  1. Start with the icing. Combine the cream and sugar in a large saucepan. Put over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once it starts to properly bubble, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 6 minutes. It foams up a lot. Take off the heat and leave to cool for one minute then add the butter and chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth then transfer to another bowl and stir in the vanilla. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Butter, line and flour two 8″ cake tins (not ones with removable bases, the batter is too liquid).
  3. Place the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attached. Stir on the lowest setting until a uniform brown colour.
  4. Add the beaten eggs, milk and canola oil then turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Boil the kettle while it beats then turn off and pour in the water. Mix it on low until smooth – it is very soupy.
  5. Divide between the two tins – I think mine were 650g each. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer can be removed from the centre cleanly (mine took 40). Leave to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes in the tins then turn out and remove the paper.
  6. By the time the cakes are totally cool, the icing should be thick enough to ice – it should hold its own weight.
  7. Place one of the cakes onto a serving plate lined with paper strips. Spoon some of the icing into the middle and spread it out. Add the top layer then spoon about half the rest of the icing onto the top. Drag down and over the sides and smooth over. Add the rest as you need it, working fairly quickly. Use a palette knife dipped in a jug of hot water then dried with a towel to get a shiny finish. Watch out as you move it – the layers can slide a little until it sets up.
  8. Add any decorations, final flourishes and candles then slice and enjoy.
Version 2
INGREDIENTS: 
makes one 3-layer 8″ cake

for frosting:

  • 1 3/4 cups (350 gr) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 7.5 oz (213 gr) unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 12 Tbspn unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 tspn vanilla extract

METHOD:

  1. In a saucepan, bring the sugar and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cream and sugar for six minutes. Be careful not to let the saucepan overflow.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and butter until they have completely melted.
  4. Stir in the vanilla extract.
  5. Let the frosting cool completely, whisking every now and then during cooling.  (You can do this step in the refrigerator to speed up the process)  Once completely cool at room temperature, the frosting will be spreadable.

for cake:

  • 3 cups (600 gr) sugar
  • scant 3 cups (425 gr) AP flour
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbspn (135 gr) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tspn salt
  • 2 1/4 tspn baking powder
  • 2 1/4 tspn baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup hot coffee

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of three 8″ round cake pans. If desired, wrap the cake pans with bake-even strips.
  2. In a mixer bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
  4. Pour the hot coffee into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth. The batter will be soupy.
  5. Divide the batter between the cake pans.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  7. Level the cakes (this is easier if they’ve sat in the freezer for at least one hour beforehand).
  8. Stack the cakes, spreading a layer of frosting in between each cake layer. Frost the outside of the cake–for a smoother finish, use a hot knife.

Note: this recipe also works for a 3-layer 9″ cake, with slightly shorter layers.