Ice cream cones

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RECIPE: I’m a bit short on time this week so I wanted to make something quick that still tested me. I settled on making ice cream cones for dessert, and this recipe was perfect. It’s another recipe with US measurements, but thankfully the author has also provided weights in grams, which makes the whole process much easier. It was very easy to follow, with good results. I made a half quantity for four cones and it still worked fine. I added melted chocolate to the bottoms to stop the ice cream melting out the bottom.

COMPONENTS: I used a stand mixer to combine the egg whites, sugar etc. I stirred in the flour and melted butter by hand, and it all worked as described in the recipe. I found that I had to let the pan cool for a few minutes in between cones so that the batter didn’t set before I was able to roll the pan to spread the batter thinly. In a hot pan you end up with a thicker cone, which is trickier to roll. I melted about 40g of dark chocolate in the microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring until it was a good consistency.

ASSEMBLY: Don’t try this recipe if your fingers are super-sensitive to heat, because you have to roll the cone straight out of the pan – there is no time to wait. They roll easily, and then you hold it to the bench for a minute to seal the edge. I dropped a dollop of melted chocolate down the cone on the inside, and then dipped the outside of the bottom in the chocolate and smoothed it around the tip to get a good seal.

IMPRESSION: I love this! It was so easy and quick and a nice little treat to have after dinner!

Recipe from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking

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Chocolate Overload Cupcakes

DSC_2280aRECIPE: This is the second time I’ve made this recipe, and I was keen to experiment with the method to see if I could improve it. The first time I made it I followed the recipe and the cake turned out a bit grainy and dry. I didn’t adjust the quantities of ingredients this time, but instead of mixing all the dry then adding all the wet in one go, I used the more traditional method of creaming the butter and sugar first. I then added the egg and vanilla and the remaining wet ingredients before blending in the dry. I didn’t cream it for long, as I didn’t want to incorporate too much air and end up with a cake that was too fluffy and unable to carry the weight of the frosting. The outcome was a much better textured cake. I always use patty pan cake tins rather than muffin tins because in my experience a smaller cake is much more appealing to people. In the smaller size you will get 24 cupcakes. The recipe has US measurements that I had to convert to grams.

COMPONENTS: I adjusted the method for the cake, but didn’t change anything else. The ganache is straightforward but you are likely to have some left over. Either halve the recipe, or save spare ganache for other recipes (there’s lots of ways to use it) or as a chocolate topping for ice cream that sets in a firm shell. You will note that the chocolate frosting uses shortening as well as butter. I noted this as a benefit in a previous post about gingerbread cupcakes as it helps to stabilise the frosting. You’ll also have spare frosting, unless you like to pile it as high as your cake. I prefer more cake than frosting, and don’t forget there’s ganache as well, so it’s already quite sweet!

ASSEMBLY: I cooled the cakes to room temperature, cut out their tops then added a teaspoonful of warm ganache to each. I put them in a fridge to set the ganache before adding the frosting, which would melt otherwise. The other time I made these cupcakes, I added a malteser to the frosting as a topper, which added a nice bit of crunch. Chocolate sprinkles or some form of tempered chocolate would be good too.

IMPRESSION: Great recipe, especially with the more traditional method for the cake that I described above. Went down a treat at work!

Recipe from Life Love and Sugar by Lindsay

L’Opera

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RECIPE: I had some chocolate ganache left over from another recipe, so L’Opera seemed like a good option. Opera Cake is joconde sponge painted with coffee syrup and layered with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache, and topped with a chocolate glaze. While you might expect this cake to be a sugar-overload, it had a light coffee flavour that worked well with the light sponge. It’s kind of a French version of Tiramisu. I halved the recipe, and still had a LOT of cake. If you’re halving a recipe, it’s not a bad idea to write the halved amount in pencil on your recipe, so you don’t forget halfway through…

COMPONENTS: I was pleasantly surprised that all the components of this cake were easy to prepare. Having your butter at ‘room temperature’ for buttercream means about 20 degrees (not the temperature of my kitchen, which is often 30 degrees!). In the process of halving the recipe, I added the full amount of sugar to the egg whites. I discovered that it’s not possible to bring additional egg whites to a soft peak and add them to a meringue – the air went out of the whole lot very quickly, so I had to start the eggs again, made the full recipe for the cake component and ended up with some spare joconde for the freezer.

ASSEMBLY: To get an even sponge layer, flip the sponge onto a flat surface lined with baking paper so that both sides are flattened. To get a much sharper finish than I achieved, place the top layer of sponge on the cake upside down so the flattest side is up. Use a palette knife to flatten a thick layer of buttercream, then cool before adding the glaze.

IMPRESSION: I loved this surprisingly easy cake for the light coffee flavour and light texture, didn’t find it difficult and would definitely try it again, and it even freezes well.

Recipe from Patisserie by Christophe Felder.

Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes

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RECIPE: I wanted to try these teacakes after seeing them in a technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off Series 3, set by Paul Hollywood. The recipe is for 7.5cm domes, which I thought was too big so I made a smaller 4cm version. They were fiddly to make, but used ingredients most bakers have in stock all the time. There was way too much marshmallow for my teacakes, so I piped the leftover on top of some gingerbread biscuits and the combination was to die for.

COMPONENTS: The biscuit had a good flavour and great snap without being too tough to bite through. The recipe doesn’t recommend this but if you want a nice shiny finish you should temper your chocolate – I obviously didn’t do this and therefore have cloudy chocolate domes. I liked the thickness of my chocolate dome. It was sturdy enough to hold together when I removed the teacakes from the moulds, but not so thick that you needed a hatchet to break through to the marshmallow. My marshmallow was delicious and held it’s shape, although it was softer than I expected.

ASSEMBLY: Assembly went quite well except for the biscuits being a few millimetres too big to fit inside the mould, but that just meant I got more marshmallow into each one! I think to get a nice neat finish, fitting it inside is important.

IMPRESSION: The flavour didn’t excite me enough to try baking them again, but I’m curious about what they’d be like with a little salted caramel added just before you put the chocolate coated biscuit into the mould…

I used this recipe: Paul Hollywood’s Chocolate Marshmallow Teacakes