Archive | December, 2010

Chocolate Vegan Cupcakes Put to the Test: Part I

16 Dec

Sorry, I have been a little MIA this week. I have been busy baking goodies to give away as Christmas pressies and organizing things for my trip to Canada. I am going home for the holidays and have organized many exciting CUPCAKE activities while I am there. Cupcake activities, you ask? I am excited to say that I have booked some lessons with some of the best cake designers in Canada! First stop: private lessons with Lori Hutchinson a.k.a. The Caketress. Next stop: Pickering, Ontario, to learn all about peonies, roses and orchids from Lisa Bugeja of Flour Confections and the last and final stop: Toronto, for a cupcake tour! I can’t wait to sample the works of fine Canadian bakeries all over T.O. Now I just have to plan a route! So look out for lots of my new sugarwork creations and cupcake gorging!

This week I tried a new chocolate cupcake recipe. In endeavouring to continue to extend my cupcake knowledge and trying to perfect my recipes, I went back to some good old fashioned cupcake testing. I trialed a new chocolate cupcake recipe, this week, alongside two new frostings, vanilla and chocolate.

This recipe comes from the very talented Chloe Coscarelli who competed on Cupcakes Wars (tv series in America where bakers/chefs compete to bake the best cupcake) and won with her vegan chocolate cupcake recipe. I have already written about the trend towards healthier cupcakes and so I decided to give cupcakes, ohne (without) eggs and dairy milk a whirl!  I have to say that they were awesome. They had the depth of a great chocolate recipe, the fluffiness of a true cupcake and a nice bonus of crunchy cupcake tops (but very moist and soft centres) which I rather enjoy and which are perfectly flat for decorating!

Cupcake Wars winning recipe in my kitchen.

Even as I eat these guys today (over 24 hours later) they are still wonderfully moist and full of flavour. Gotta love that in a recipe! So I would absolutely recommend this vegan cupcake recipe. No need to be scared of baking without the dairy products you are used to. Look mom, no eggs!

Now onto the new frostings. Both with a flour and milk base and so in complete contrast to my non-dairy chocolate cupcakes.

After you create a pudding-like mixture from flour and milk, you cool it and once it’s cooled you mix it with butter. The great part about this frosting recipe is that there is no powdered sugar (only gradulated sugar that gets melted) in it so you don’t get that granuley bite in the frosting. The frosting is smooth and silky and not overly sweet from powdered sugar. It has all the benefits of a swiss meringue buttercream but without the complications that come with egg whites which is pretty nice.

I found that the chocolate frosting was much smoother and easier to pipe. I loved the deep flavour it had from using cocoa powder. The chocolate frosting is real a winner in my books as it also stands up well all day long. No sinking; the swirls remain intact.

The vanilla frosting on the other hand, had a lot of bubbles and it was hard to pipe. It came out in fits and stops and so my swirls turned out pretty ugly. Oh well. I put little red flowers on and am hoping no one will notice. The frosting itself, is very delicious and also not too sweet. The first time I made this vanilla frosting last week, it turned out beautifully smooth and it was easy to pipe. The main difference between last week and this week was that I worked with it the same day, whereas with this one I waited until the morning so maybe that was the issue. If it was,then it definitely loses points for that.

Lots of air bubbles and ridges in the swirl. :(

The thing I am finding out about baking is that consistency is so important. Not only literally in terms of the frosting piping consistency itself, but consistency in re-creating time and time again the same beautiful frosting. It’s a real trick of the trade and the mark of a true professional in their trade when they had get those consistent results. I am not there yet but am hoping that with enough experimentation, practise and patience, I will make it. Make it in Frankfurt, baby.

Stay tuned for the cupcake tester responses! Eek! 5-page questionnaires are back!

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Christmas Cupcakes and Snowflake Tutorial

8 Dec

Are you starting to feel Christmasy yet?? What better way to celebrate than with cupcakes!

Santa face absolutely inspired (copied!) from Bakerella. Love her talent! The reindeers my idea.:)

I recently received an early Christmas gift, one which I bought for myself..well, it wasn’t really a gift, ok you caught me, I’ll make up any excuse to buy to any kind of cupcake paraphernalia. In fact I have a wide array of excuses for buying cupcake paraphernalia.

‘It’s my hobby.’
It’s my business.’
‘It’s an early Christmas present.’
‘I NEED red glitter on my cupcakes.’

You get the picture. But in the Christmas spirit of giving as well as in the spirit of dual-purpose excuses, I would like to share with you all how my new cupcake toy works with a little tutorial. Like I mentioned the other week, silicone is back! And it’s awesome. Multi-purpose, re-usable, and easy to use. What more could you want? Let me show you what you can do with this bad boy.

Snowflake silicone mould and fondant.

What you will need:
Fondant
Silicone mould

Using the mould for fondant

Step 1 (click on picture to enlarge):

Break off little balls of fondant and slowly fill up the cavities. The key here is to shape each ball like the cavity you are filling. What you don’t want to do, is to put too much in at a time otherwise you get a little border on the exterior of the shape out of the excess fondant.

Step 2:

Once you have filled the cavity, pop the snowflake out of the mould. Be careful not to flex the mould too much as you pop out the fondant shape as it might get misshapen...i.e. a little wide the sides.

Helpful Hint:

If you want to use other colours of fondant, use slightly less than you think you need for the area because when you press the other fondant overtop it spreads and if you put in more than you need of the contrasting colour, then it will spread into the area you don’t want it to be in. This great tip I got from my friend at Sweet Sentiments. This is especially applicable when doing centres for flowers.

A good example of where you would use two different colours of fondant for effect.

Back to the snowflake silicone mould…

Using the mould for chocolate

What you will need:
Melted chocolate
Silicone mould

Step 1:

Melt chocolate and pour it into the cavity. I use a small piping tip to guide the chocolate in the small crevices but a snipped tip on a bag should do the trick too.

Step 2:

Swipe the top of the moulds with the side of a palette knife or a regular knife to get a smooth surface. Now they are ready to go into the frezer for 10-15 minutes. These moulds are also great because they can handle a lot of different conditions. They are designed to withstand temperatures from freezing all the way up to 450 degrees.

Step 3:

Pop them snowflakes out and they are ready to use!

One problem I  found with these though, is that the snowflakes melted fast. Yes, ha ha, snowflakes are supposed to melt. But since these guys were out of chocolate, I thought they would last. But just as soon as I snapped no more than few pictures and wanted to take them off the plate, this is what happened…

I am pretty sure the reason for this is because they are so tiny. I think that if I had a bigger mould, with more chocolate surface, they would not be as super delicate. Perhaps the melting could also be due to the high humidity in my house. Let me know how they turn out if you attempt them!

So stick with the non-melting fondant snowflakes, bitte (please)!

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Now go out and get yourself some silicone or ask Santa for some!