Friday, 19 April 2013

Double Chocolate Vanilla Bean & Chocolate Malt Frosted Mini Cupcakes


It's been a while since cupcakes graced the blog...and without cupcakes this blog just leaves me as crazy Gem! so that needed to be rectified! 


One of my favourite things about our time in Canada has been the kindness and friendliness of the people here! From the very first day we arrived, and we had no change for the bus but the driver let us on anyway to people lending you cars! Yes, that's right! The colleague I work with went to Mexico during spring break and knew that we don't have a car here so he offered to lend us his so that we wouldn't have to hire a car everytime we wanted to go somewhere! How kind is that! So thanks to him we were able to have crazy amounts of fun that you can check out here and here.



I knew that I wanted to bake something for him to show my appreciation and since I can't think of a tastier treat than cupcakes, I baked up some of my favourite chocolate buttermilk cupcakes and topped them with a generous amount of ganache and then finished them off with two frostings: vanilla bean and chocolate malt.  Can we just talk for a minute about how amazing ganache is? It's something I make very rarely...but I had so much fun making it that I can see it is going to pop up more frequently in the future! It is just SO versatile! and what's not to love about a giant bowl of thick fudgy chocolate blended with cream! I'm a convert that's for sure! and it took these cupcakes from being yummy little bite sized treats to being over the top indulgently delicious chocolate bombs!

Make them for people...and I guarantee their kindness will keep coming! Like tonight I just got home from that same colleague's house where he helped me fill out my first Canadian tax return, and he is lending us his car again next week when my mom and sister come to visit!!

I better start whipping him up another batch! 


Double Chocolate Vanilla Bean Mini Cupcakes:
Makes 32

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup salted butter, firm but not cold
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and bicarbonate of soda.  Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed, whip together butter and sugar until pale and fluffy for about 3-4 minutes.  Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until combined.  Measure out buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup and add vanilla extract to milk, then whisk to combine.  Working in 2 separate batches, add buttermilk mixture followed by flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing just unti combined after each addition (batter will be thick).  

Fill cupcake cases 2/3 full.  Bake in a preheated oven for 12-15 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of each cupcake comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in baking pan until transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganche:
Makes enough to frost the above, with plenty to spare...and you can eat the rest with a spoon! I did!

12 oz. dark/bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup double/whipping cream
1 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp corn syrup
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl.  
Combine the cream, sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Immediately pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and let it stand for 1 minute.  
Whisk until the mixture is smooth and blended, then add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until completely incorporated.  Let the mixture stand at room temperature to thicken before topping the cupcakes.  
Once cool, using a palette knife spread a generous amount of ganache on top of each cupcake.

Vanilla Bean Frosting:

2 cups/250g icing sugar
1 cup/225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp milk

Mix together the sugar and butter until they are blended and creamy.  Add vanilla bean paste and milk and continue to beat for another minute.  If desired, add more vanilla bean paste to taste, or more icing sugar if you require a stiffer consistency.

Chocolate Malt Frosting:

2 cups icing sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp Ovaltine powder
4 oz. Belgian chocolate, or other good quality chocolate
1/4 cup whipping/double cream

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine half the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for one minute.  While that is mixing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and set aside to cool. Add the rest of the icing sugar and butter to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed until completely combined (I do it in two stages so as not to completely cover my kitchen in icing sugar).
Add vanilla and Ovaltine, and beat on low speed until well combined.
Add the melted, cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add double cream and beat on high speed for one minute.

Once the ganache has sat on the cupcakes for around 10-15 minutes and become firmer, pipe little frosting swirls onto the cupcakes (alternating between the vanilla bean and chocolate malt frostings).  Finish off the chocolate malt topped cupcakes with a large Ghiradelli white chocolate chip, and a sprinkling of 3 Ghiradelli mini chocolate chips on the vanilla bean topped cupcakes.  

Eat and enjoy, or share with friends and sit back and watch the kindness emerge!

I'm also sending these over to What Kate Baked and Lavender and Lovage for their Tea Time Treats blogging challenge because the theme for April is Fairy Cakes, Cupcakes and Muffins.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Chocolate Malt Malteser Layer Cake


I made this cake for Valentine's Day! I think it's taken me so long to blog about it because it was such a stressful evening of baking! The moral of the story I learnt was when your husband tells you all he wants for Valentine's is cookies...then go with it! Rather than spend $40 on ingredients for a cake (because Vancouver clearly hates baking bloggers) only to have a fight about it with your significant other who you are making the cake for in the first place! whilst trying to clean up your whole house because the next day our family was arriving from England to stay for a week! 

Yeah...cookies would have been way easier! 

Easier...but probably not nearly as tasty as this sour cream chocolate cake, slathered with the best malt frosting in the world! I have been looking for an excuse to make this amazing frosting ever since I made it last year to frost my Malteser bunny cupcakes.  It comes from the queen of layer cakes, Sweetapolita, and I'm pretty sure one of these days I'm going to have to make the 6 layer toasted marshmallow campfire cake that she originally paired this frosting with because being the s'mores lover I am, it looks right up my street! 

Obviously, on the previously mentioned night of baking a 6 layer cake was never going to happen! In fact even my planned 3 layer cake got cut back into a 2 layer cake! and I couldn't wait long enough for the cake to cool down so I slathered on the frosting whilst it was still slightly warm, because it was approaching midnight and we were ready for bed but of course needed to taste a piece before bed and before Valentine's was over! 

Also, in my haste I picked up sour cream at the supermarket rather than buttermilk and so the actual chocolate cake recipe I was planning to use had to be abandoned...and after some last minute browsing I came across this sour cream cake via Hummingbird High and it saved the day...


and was completely moist and delicious even when we were enjoying it 3 days later in Whistler! 



Chocolate Malt Malteser Layer Cake:
Makes 2 8" layers
Adapted from Hummingbird High

3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup water, boiling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.  Grease 2 8"cake tins.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sour cream, cocoa powder, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla extract until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together cake flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar on low speed until just blended.

Add the butter and half of the wet cocoa mixture to the dry flour mixture and beat until the dry ingredients are moist.  Increase the mixer to medium speed and beat until smooth for 2 minutes.  Gradually add the remaining cocoa mixture, in 2 batches, beating well after each addition.  Add 1/2 cup boiling water and beat until smooth.

Divide the batter equally between the cake tins and smooth the tops with a spatula.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the tins for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Malted Belgian Chocolate Frosting:
Makes enough to frost the above with plenty leftover, and you're going to want the leftover - trust me!

4 cups icing sugar
2 cups unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup Ovaltine powder
8 oz. Belgian chocolate or other good quality chocolate
1/2 cup double cream

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine half the icing sugar and butter and beat on low speed for one minute.  While that is mixing, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and set aside to cool. Add the rest of the icing sugar and butter to the stand mixer and mix on medium speed until completely combined (I do it in two stages so as not to completely cover my kitchen in icing sugar).
Add vanilla and Ovaltine, and beat on low speed until well combined.
Add the melted, cooled chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add double cream and beat on high speed for one minute.

Once the cakes are cooled, sandwich them together with a very generous amount of the frosting.  Apply the same amount, if not more to the top of the cake.  I swished mine around with a palette knife but if you're not in a hurry you can pipe fancy swirls too!
Decorate with Maltesers/Whoppers...and if you're baking it for the one you love you can arrange them in a heart shape in the middle of the cake like I did!

Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Easter M&M Cookies 3 Ways: White Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Coconut!


Happy Easter! It's still Easter Monday here in Vancouver so I'm trying to sneak these Easter cookies through just in time! I went to America last week and bought tons of Easter candy, I was so excited to get baking and then Easter just crept up on me out of nowhere! Plus we went on an awesome kayaking and camping adventure up the Indian Arm fjord for the weekend and so there wasn't much time to bake! It has been an absolutely beautiful Easter weekend here, with bright blue skies and so much sunshine! and I just have to show off the beautiful cherry blossom trees that are blooming right outside my house! I love it! After the gloomy and rainy never ending winter we've had here though I feel it's deserved! 


So to make up for my lack of blogging recently, I'm giving you a triple whammy! 3 blog posts in one! They are all M&M Cookies - made with different M&M flavours.  None of these flavours are available in the UK so just swap out ones that are available, or splurge and buy these varieties in specialist American candy stores! 


I had spied these white chocolate M&M pudding cookies a few weeks ago, and immediately pinned the recipe knowing that I would be able to pick up these seasonal M&M's in America (because we don't get them in Canada either, boo hoo!) and I picked up the white chocolate pudding mix there too!

I love how pretty the pastel colours are - they make perfect Easter treats to give away or just scoff yourself! The white chocolate pudding mix gives a subtle white chocolate flavour throughout the cookies without making them too heavy, and you get bursts of real melted white chocolate coming through from the M&M's that tastes amazing! 


White Chocolate M&M Pudding Cookies:
Makes 18

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
3.4 oz package white chocolate instant pudding mix
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups white chocolate m&m's

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat non stick baking mat.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and white chocolate pudding mix (just the powder).   Set aside.

In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and both sugars.  Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix together.  Add the bowl of dry ingredients.  Beat together until just blended.  Stir in the M&M's with a wooden spoon.  

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out cookie dough and place 2 inches apart on baking sheet.

Bake for 10-13 minutes or until slightly golden.  Cool for a few minutes on the tray, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Eat and enjoy!


I also picked up some really delicious egg shaped M&M's that were filled with peanut butter! They were so delicious that my husband and I nearly ate the whole bag and so I didn't have quite as many as I needed to whip up this batch of cookies, so I subbed in some mixed peanut butter and milk chocolate chips as well as the remaining eggs! 

I was quite excited to make these cookies as they involved corn starch and corn starch cookies have got quite the rep these days! 

These were incredibly soft and crumbly and tasty! They had a really good peanut butter zing to them! and I just love the prettiness of the pastel eggs too!


Peanut Butter Egg M&M Cookies:
Makes 18
From Bakerita

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup peanut butter egg m&m's
1 cup milk choc and peanut butter chips

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, peanut butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat on medium speed until well creamed and fluffy, for about 5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, cornstarch, bicarbonate of soda and salt and mix until just combined for 1 minute.  
Fold the M&M's and chocolate chips in with a wooden spoon, do not use the mixer or else they will break.  

Using a medium 2 inch cookie scoop, scoop out the dough and place onto a pre prepared baking tray 2 inches apart.  Flatten cookie dough mounds slightly with your palm, cover the tray in cling film/plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours.  

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
Bake for 10-13 minutes, until just set.  Allow cookies to cool on baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  
Eat and enjoy! 


The final cookies I'm sharing with you I made way back in January.  I had picked up some Coconut M&M's (my fave!) in Seattle and I was keen to bake them into some cookies so I adapted Tracey's recipe slightly to make them more coconutty because everything is better once it's been coconut-ified in my opinion! Yes, I'm making up words all over the show today! 

I'm definitely a pudding cookie convert! It produces a softer than usual cookie, and I like it! For all my English followers, boxed instant pudding is not something you'll find on your supermarket shelves so if you want to give these a go you'll have to get some instant jello from a specialist store like The Stateside Candy Co.  I'm not really sure that we have a UK alternative but if anyone has a go with something else then let me know how it turns out!


Coconut M&M Pudding Cookies:
Makes 28

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 (3.4oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut m&m's
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper of silpat non stick baking mats.  

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt together.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the pudding mix (just the powder) until combined and then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined.  Use a rubber spatula to stir in the coconut m&m's, shredded coconut and chocolate chips.  

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the cookies 2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.  The edges of the cookies should be golden brown.  Leave the cookies to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Eat and enjoy!

Well that was an M&M overload! Hope you enjoyed...and get ready for more regular blog posts around here, my slacking time is over! 

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