Tag Archives: dessert

Chocolate Toffee Pudding with Warm Toffee Sauce and Fresh Cream (serves 6-8)

When I want to have friends over for a little dinner party my night of choice is Friday.  By the end of the week I am always itching to have a bit of fun and Friday is the beginning of my weekend so why not jump in feet first!

Our splendid dessert

Our splendid dessert

If I lived in a place where I could walk to a decent restaurant and sit with friends over some good food wine then that would also be part of my weekend agenda. Alas this is not the case, so I have learned to create an intimate restaurant atmosphere in my house and, sometimes that includes serving a luscious dessert that I imagine being brought to my table by some white-aproned waiter.

Small Friday night Dinner Party

Small Friday night Dinner Party

This past Friday was one such evening in my little pretend Chez Tess bistro and I made a dinner that allowed me to sit like one of my customers and enjoy the atmosphere along with everyone else. This dessert was something I could prep ahead of time and then pop in the oven while we were eating dinner. It is based on a great Jamie Oliver recipe but I did change some of the ingredients  both out of a desire to make it my own, as well as for some practical reasons: I didn’t want to tromp off to the supermarket to get self-rising flour for one!

Medjool dates

Medjool dates are prized for their sweet flavor and large size (also full of fiber!)

He also used ovaltine which is an instant sweet malted-milk powder and I didn’t have it, or care to use it so I went with unsweetened cocoa powder instead to give it a deeper chocolate taste (it would also curb the sweetness). The thing that would have been a sin to mess with was the addition of dates. He used fresh fruit but I had some unctuous dried Medjool dates that I knew would work the same if not better.

This was part of our main course - truly scrumptious

This was part of our main course – truly scrumptious

Dinner was amazing but the dessert is how I will remember this evening. Making the effort to create an intimate relaxing atmosphere and cooking dinner for my friends is worth mustering up that last ounce of energy I have left by Friday. I hope you are inspired.

🍷————🍷————🍷———–🍷————🍷———–🍷

You will need:

8 oz dry medjool dates (about 2 cups) – pitted

1 tsp baking soda

6 tbs unsalted butter – room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp pumpkin spice (found in spice aisle)

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbs plain yogurt or sour cream

for Toffee Sauce:

8 tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup soft light brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cram

Whipped Cream:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tsp confectioners sugar

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Put pitted dates in a bowl and sprinkle with baking soda and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 5 minutes and then drain. Pop into your food processor and blend until you have a nice puree. Set aside.

Pulverize in blender

Pulverize in blender

2 – Place dry ingredients in a small bowl (flour, spices, baking powder and cocoa powder) and mix together with a hand whisk. In large bowl cream the sugar and butter together until it is pale and smooth (about 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and whisk. Add the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until blended. Fold in the yogurt (or sour cream) and then the date puree. Place in a buttered oven proof dish (I used a loaf pan but any dish will do) and place in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

make batter

make batter

3 – Place on a wire rack to cool (remembering to serve while still warm!)

bake pudding

bake pudding

4 –  Make toffee sauce by placing the toffee ingredients into a small bowl and heating on low heat until everything is melted and smooth and has taken on a darker, richer color.

Make Toffee Sauce

Make Toffee Sauce

5 – Next add the heavy cream to a bowl and add 2 teaspoons of confectioners sugar and whip until nice and thick.

whip cream

whip cream

Place pudding on the bottom and spoon some toffee sauce over top and a dollop of whipped cream. I added a little flourish of grated chocolate to finish it off!

Chocolate Toffee Pudding with Freshly Whipped Cram and Toffee Sauce

Chocolate Toffee Pudding with Freshly Whipped Cream and Warm Toffee Sauce

Banoffi Pie – The Portmanteau of Desserts! (serves 8 – 10)

If you haven’t had Banoffi Pie you are missing out!

Banoffi Pie

Banoffi Pie

This pie was all the rage in Ireland and England a few years ago (around the same time as the Crème Brûlée craze and preceding the Tiramisu and Cupcake trend). It was on every dessert menu in the country,  similar to how french pastries have fallen back into vogue these days, especially the delicately scented macaron which comes in an array of colors that make rainbows look sad and dun! (I wrote about them HERE  if you are curious, and HERE!).

You need to leave room for this!

You need to leave room for this!

I will agree wholeheartedly that the name of this cake is a bit corny, like the words “spork” (for fork and spoon), and skort (a word I find utterly ridiculous – combines shorts and skirt, oh, and have you heard of  “jeggings”? – too idiotic to explain ) and even Brangelina! As a general rule the latest of these stuck-together words (called portmanteau if you are interested, although you probably already knew that!) are pretty silly. I need to go on a bit here: the word Traduken in the culinary world for example – nothing could be sillier. It is officially a chicken inserted into a duck which is then inserted into a turkey and cooked! It might be delicious and one day I might try making one, but only after I can get over the word itself. Some of these words are quite inventive and it is a fun word game to play, but the one that is near and dear to me is when my mother asked if I could make her a “pignet” ring? Really? “Yes”, she said, “it is a signet ring for your pinky finger” We laughed so much about this and it became a real word to us! It is such a trendy thing to do nowadays. I think the word for portmanteau in the food world is “fusion” Okay, I’m done!

key ingredient: Bananas, the cheapest fruit on the planet!

key ingredient: Bananas, the cheapest fruit on the planet!

So at this point you can guess the ingredients of this pie…BANana and tOFFI (EE)! It is a marvellous combination of sweet stuff and I would love you to give it a try. The toffee can of course be purchased in a pinch but the most fun you can have and an excellent magic trick to show your children is to make it by boiling a can or two of sweetened condensed milk until it turns into toffee right before your eyes. (instructions are in the recipe below).

There are all sorts of ways you can make this your own. I would use whatever sweet pastry crust that works for you (mine is below and is as easy…well you know). I have had it with slivered almonds on top but I made it here with whole almonds, or you can omit the nuts altogether for that matter. Also there is an option to drizzle the bananas with a concentrated instant coffee (it’s simply a mixture of instant coffee, water and sugar. It is called camp coffee, a throw-back from world war II when things were in short supply and us humans became ingenious at figuring out how our food could still feel “the same”). Well you could do that or sometimes I just add some vanilla extract to my whipping cream and that is delicious too (also small kids seem to like this subtle taste better). The last thing to say is that this whole dessert could be bought and assembled, from the pastry crust to whipped cream from a can, although the idea of cream from a can still repulses me so I would probably end up having to pull out my hand whisk! But if that is all it took to get something as decadent as this onto the table in a hurry I would be willing to do it.

Add almonds and serve!

 This is a very impressive dessert to carry to the table

A little of this goes a long way so just one pie can feed a crowd. It is a long weekend in these here United States so why not plan to make this one night to give the weekend a more festive air.

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You will need:

for the pastry:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick, 8 tbs)

1 large egg

pinch of salt

Equipment: I used an 11″ fluted pie pan with a removable bottom. this is very handy when dealing with fussy toppings as you can remove the pie without any bother.

For the filling:

1 cup blanched whole almonds

2 cans sweetened condensed milk (14oz each) or a jar of ready-made toffee

5 to 6 ripe bananas (faintly spotty ones)

1 tbs Camp Coffee (mix 1 tbs instant coffee with 1 tsp fine sugar and 2 tbs water) – optional.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

1 pastry pie crust (recipe below or ready-made)

How to make toffee magically:

This recipe can be used here or the cooked cans can be popped into the pantry (will keep for two months unopened) or the freezer (will keep for 6 months) to be whipped out anytime. There are all sorts of uses for this so boil up as many cans as you like!

et Voila

et Voila!

Put at least two can of Sweetened Condensed Milk into a big pot and add water until it comes up to the top of the cans. Place on stove top on high and allow to boil. Turn the heat down until the water comes to a constant “tremble” and boil for 4 hours, making sure to keep the water topped up as it boils off. Remove from water, let cans cool before opening and using.

Method for crust:

1 – Mix the flour, ground nuts and sugar in a bowl with a whisk.

Mix dry ingrediets for pastry crust

Mix dry ingredients for pastry crust

2 – Add the butter and mix it into the flour mixture using your fingertips. Add the egg and a pinch of salt and mix it together gently with a wooden spoon or your hands until it forms a ball.

add butter, then egg

Add butter, then egg

3 – Flatten into a thick disk and wrap it in cling film or some sort of plastic and place it in the fridge for about 20 or 30 minutes (you will be getting on with the rest of the recipe)

flatten into a disc adn refridgerate in plastic

Flatten into a disc and refrigerate in plastic

Preheat the oven to 350*

4 – Run the whole almonds until water until they are wet. place them on a tea towel and pat dry. Place them in a bowl with the confectioners (icing) sugar and stir until the nuts are coated in sugar. Spread out on a baking sheet and place in the oven until they are crispy looking. This will take anywhere from 12 to 18 or so minutes. Turn the almonds every five minutes so they cook with an even crispy-ness. Remove from the oven and let them cool.

Coat nuts with sugar and bake in the oven

Coat nuts with sugar and bake in the oven

Turn the oven up to 450*

5 – Take the pastry crust from the fridge and using a rolling-pin on wax paper roll the pastry out into a large disk (an 11 or 12 inch circle) and line your tart pan, trimming off the excess edges. Prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork and then place some wax paper or tin foil over the sides and bottom. Weigh the pastry down with dry beans (or pastry weights if you have them) and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove the beans and the foil and place back into the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to fill.

Line pastry crust into tart pan

Line pastry crust into tart pan

6 – While the pastry crust is cooling slice the bananas, whip the cream,(whip with or without vanilla extract), make camp coffee (if using), open cans of toffee.

Assemble pie

Spread toffee into pastry shell with spatula

Spread toffee into pastry shell with spatula

Top with sliced bananas

Top with sliced bananas and drizzle with camp coffee (if using)

Add whipped cream

Add whipped cream

Add almonds and serve!

Add almonds and serve!

Lemon Tart (serves 8)

I was invited to a “Pie Party” at my friend Tom’s house, and then I forgot about it until the day of the party. It is Summertime and the obvious choice for a pie around this time of year is one oozing berries and summer fruits of all sorts! Alas, I had not stocked up from the Farmer’s market and refused to go to the local supermarket for lack luster packaged fruit!

My Lemon Tart

My Lemon Tart

When my stubbornness took over I challenged myself to go with whatever I found in my fridge or in the fruit bowl on the dining room table. The fruit bowl had a couple of sad-looking apples but my fridge offered up 3 lemons: perfect!

Cut lots of lemons in half

This zingy fruit can be a life saver!

Fruit such as lemons or limes have so much flavor their juice alone can be the backbone of a cake or tart, and I took full advantage here in this unbelievable lemon tart adapted from a Mario Batali recipe. There are sweets I can wing, but when it comes to certain cakes I need the guiding hand of an expert (and that he certainly is when it comes to all things Italian!)

walnuts

I always turn to walnuts if I don’t have almonds to grind for pastry crust recipes (or indeed torte)

If you have a pastry crust recipe you use all the time, by all means use it here. Lots of these recipes call for ground almonds but if I don’t have almonds to grind (I never buy actual ground nuts – it’s too limiting and expensive. I always buy them whole as I can then do what I like with them) try using whatever you might have. I aways seem to have whole walnuts so I used those (I also make a great walnut pesto – check it out HERE).

Loaded fruit tart with marrcapone cheese

Another offering at the Pie Party: Loaded fruit tart with mascarpone cheese

I am far from a good baker and even though in general my crust is never the best, or I don’t get my egg whites to peak perfectly, my tarts and cakes never turn out badly. And this lemon tart was no exception and got rave reviews from lemon lovers at the party.

One of the host's, Tina, made another lemoney pie: Lemon Meringue (it was delicious by the way!)

One of the host’s, Tina, made another lemony pie: Lemon Meringue (it was delicious by the way!)

The pie party was in full swing when we got there (somehow we always manage to be late!) and there were pies galore to try – which I diligently did over the course of the evening!

_______________________________________________________

You will need:

for the crust:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts

1/2 cup sugar

4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick, 8 tbs)

1 large egg

pinch of salt

for the filling:

3 lemons

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

Equipment: Mr Batali used a 9″ pie pan for his recipe but I found that an 11″ pan worked better (I had leftover filling). *After you make this once you will know what works best for you*

Method:

Preheat oven 450*

1 – Mix the flour, ground nuts and sugar in a bowl with a whisk.

Mix dry ingrediets for pastry crust

Mix dry ingredients for pastry crust

2 – Add the butter and mix it into the flour mixture using your fingertips. Add the egg and a pinch of salt and mix it together gently with a wooden spoon or your hands until it forms a ball.

add butter, then egg

Add butter, then egg

3 – Flatten into a thick disk and wrap it in cling film or some sort of plastic and place it in the fridge for about 20 or 30 minutes (you will be getting on with the rest of the recipe)

flatten into a disc adn refridgerate in plastic

Flatten into a disc and refrigerate in plastic

4 – When it is time to form the crust simple roll it out into a large disk (an 11 or 12 inch circle) and line your tart pan, trimming off the excess edges. Prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork and then place some wax paper or tin foil over the sides and bottom. Weigh the pastry down with dry beans (or pastry weights if you have them) and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove the beans and the foil and place back into the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to fill. *Turn your oven down to 325*

When ready: roll to fit pan

When ready: roll to fit pan

5 – While crust is in the fridge zest 2 of the lemons and squeeze juice from all 3. You can mix the zest and lemon juice together and set aside.

zest two lemons and squeeze juice of thrree lemons

zest two lemons and squeeze juice of three lemons

6 – In a large bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale cream-colored. Then, beat in the zest and juice.

beat egg yolks adn sugar

beat egg yolks and sugar

7 – Place a saucepan of water on medium heat with about a cup of water and set your bowl into it (if you have a double-boiler, even better but this is a good substitute).

place in a double boiler

place in a double boiler (or my substitute for one in the form of a saucepan and mixing bowl)

8 – Maintain a low simmer and whisk the mixture constantly until it becomes thick. This can take up to 20 minutes so be patient. When done, remove from heat and set aside.

cook for 20 minutes

cook for 20 minutes

9 – Beat the egg whites until thick and peaking. Gently fold the egg whites into the warm egg and sugar mixture.

beat egg whites

beat egg whites

10 – Pour into your tart shell and place in the oven for about 15 minutes.

place filling in tart shell

place filling in tart shell

11 – Set aside to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from your tart pan.

bake

bake

Place on a cake or pie plate and dust generously with powdered (confectioner’s sugar) sugar.

dust with powdered sugar

dust with powdered sugar

Slice and eat!

Serve

Serve

Glorious Honey Sticks!

I can’t believe I want to write about these little novelty straws full of honey – but I simply have to!

I first spotted these vials of sweet yellow honey sticking upright in jars at my local Health food shop. You know how shops put sweets at the checkout luring you to buy something while you wait your turn? Apparently this marketing strategy has not been lost on the lady who also advises me on which tincture of  this or that I should buy for my immune system or which probiotic is essential for my general well-being.

Even in this little shop there can sometimes be a wait while people get engrossed in pumping anyone who will listen to them about their ailments and what can be done about them! This results in my kids, who are invariably by my side, having time to get fixated on something and then start begging for it (in the nicest possible begging voice I might add).

I give in when I’m in the mood and it is the Honey Stick that wins out over all else every time. I never saw the appeal or the harm in indulging them so I have been buying them the various varieties on offer at the counter for a number of years now.

kjyg

This company not only sell pure clover honey sticks but also lemon honey sticks, agave nectar sticks, cinnamon honey stick, even chai honey sticks!

A couple of weeks ago however I found a whole box of them, tucked away on a shelf I don’t usually have the patience to throughly investigate. I was actually looking for a jar of local honey for my new-found passion for chamomile tea when I spotted them.

They were lined in a neat row in a box and it surprised me. I don’t know why since the owner has probably been breaking up boxes and selling them individually for years! I felt like I had found a treasure and I couldn’t wait to show them to my kids. It is a silly thing really, but I never felt right about buying a whole bunch of them up at the counter, whereas buying a box of them seemed sensible.

kjyg

20 honey sticks for $4.95 (dessert for 3 weeks!)

I have to say that I am now in love with honey sticks. They are great to take the edge off a sweet tooth moment, and I pack them as “dessert” in the school lunch boxes. It is a very small treat ( not more than a baby teaspoonful and 15 calories) but my sweet innocent children think I am giving them special treatment.

I asked them why they liked honey from a plastic straw so much and the answer is simple if you are a child, “they are sweet and gooey and are fun to eat” There you have it, although I’ve now began to pop one or two in my bag, and anywhere I have chamomile tea and there is only sugar on offer, that little honey stick comes in handy! Yes I know I am sounding like some nerdy lady who carries absolutely every emergency in her bag but I swear I am not. I wish I were as there is no moment more triumphant than pulling something out of your purse when someone is in dire need. Have you every wanted a band-aid, a pencil (not a pen!), a cough drop or even a Q-tip and wished that nerdy woman was around to give it to you?

jhv

The box is also sweet

Now at least I have honey sticks – how many of you can say that!

Shortbread With Raspberries And Cream For St Valentine’s Day (2 dozen)

I am a woman who abstains from all things related to what I think of as garish exhibitions of love on St Valentines day save for a sweet love note, and this evening, one of these shortbread delights after dinner (a present to myself from myself).

Shortbread with Raspberries & Creme

Happy Valentine’s Day

The emphasis on love today was of course the perfect excuse for me to make something lovely for dessert. And if nothing else, you can fall in love your plate of shortbread and cream, a very satisfying substitute for the torment that sometimes is part and parcel of falling in love.

A plain stack of delicious shortbread

A plain stack of delicious shortbread

If you don’t feel like going that extra mile, you can omit the cream and fruit altogether and just enjoy these buttery morsels on their own.

Either way, I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s day!

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You will need:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup fine sugar (castor or fine granulated)

4 to 5 oz unsalted butter

1 tbs confectioners sugar (icing sugar), more for dusting

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 cups raspberries (you can also use blueberries, sliced strawberries or ripe sliced peaches or nectarines)

Method:

Preheat oven 350*

1 – Place flour and sugar in a bowl and combine with a manual whisk to incorporate. Add 4 tbs of butter and work into the flour with your fingers until it comes together in a ball. *If it is still very loose and floury, add another tbs of butter*

Make shortbread dough

Make shortbread dough

2 – Place on a lightly floured surface and pat down gently. Lightly flour a rolling-pin and roll gently until it is about 1/8-inch thick (3mm). Press out biscuits/cookies with any shape you like (heart-shaped for Valentine’s of course!) and remove to a big baking sheet with a spatula or fish slice.

Press out shortbread with biscuit/cookie cutter

Press out shortbread with biscuit/cookie cutter

3 – Prick all over with a fork and place in the oven for 11 minutes.

Prick with a fork

Prick with a fork

4 – Remove to a rack to cool using a fish slice or spatula.

cool on wire rack

Cool on wire rack

*If you are going to serve them plain (which are wonderful), sprinkle with a little fine granulated sugar right from the oven*

Assemble Shortbread with cream as follows:.

Add the 1 tablespoon of confectioner’s sugar to the cream and whisk until nice and thick

Place biscuit on bottom followed by a dollop of whipped cream. Top with raspberries.

top shortbread with cream, then raspberries

Top shortbread with cream, then raspberries

Finish with more cream and gently press another shortbread biscuit on top.

top with more cream adn another shortbread

Top with more cream and another shortbread

Dust with a flourish of confectioners sugar (I use a sieve for this) and serve.

Beautiful and simple dessert

This dessert is how I think love should be: pure and built with care.

Six-Minute Chocolate Cake – Yes Really!

 I must be on some sort of dessert making binge because I’ve just noticed this is the third post in a row that demands you to make cake! And, this one is especially novel.

Our six-minute Cake with little umbrellas (didn't have birthday candles!)

Our six-minute Cake with little umbrellas (didn’t have birthday candles!)

I am really not a baker but when it comes to cakes and desserts I have certain ones that I make time and time again, because they are sublimely good and always work. I love this cake because of the implication. A Six-Minute chocolate cake is not a challenge I could turn down and so have been whipping out this cake since I discovered it in my Moosewood Cooks At Home Cookbook in 1994.

Assembled ingrediets for a head start

Assembled ingredients for a head start

It is something that intrigued them too as they stole this recipe from a 1978 House & Garden Magazine.

It truly does come together in 6 minutes (or less!) and I know because I have put the timer on and raced the clock numerous times. It is also great, Moosewood touts, because it is so low in calories (237 per slice), and cholesterol.

I always have bitter-sweet chocolate chips in the pantry - highly necessary!

I always have bitter-sweet chocolate chips in the pantry – highly necessary!

I find it a fantastic cake for the young people in your house to try. It can be made by anyone from the age of about 8 up with no help whatsoever!

Another great thing is that this evening I made it as a last-ditch attempt to serve for my sister-in-law’s birthday which is today.

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You will need:

for the cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar (fine granulated)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup water or brewed coffee (my coffee was cold and leftover from breakfast)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs vinegar (i.e. distilled white vinegar)

for the glaze:

1/2 lb (1 cup if using chocolate chips) bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup hot water, milk, half & half or light cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment: one 9″ round baking tin

Method:

Preheat oven 375*

1 – Put the dry ingredients into a sieve and sift into the baking pan (first 5 ingredients). Mix together gently with a wooden spoon or small manual whisk.

Sieve dry ingredients

Sieve dry ingredients into baking pan

2 – Mix the oil, water (or coffee – I used coffee), and vanilla together in a small bowl or jug (last 4 cake ingredients) and mix into the dry ingredients.

mix wet ingredients

Mix wet ingredients

3 – Add the vinegar and mix until entire batter takes on a light brown color (do not over mix). Place in oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick or sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake)

Add vinegar

Add vinegar

Let cool on a wire rack, removing cake after about 5 minutes from the pan. You can also remove when it has cooled completely.

Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing or you can wait until it is cold like i did

Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing or you can wait until it is cold like I did

Make the glaze:

1 – On a low heat melt the chocolate and in a small pot heat the milk or water.

melt chocolate

Melt chocolate

2 – Turn off heat and add the hot liquid and vanilla to the chocolate. Mix well and set aside until cake has completely cooled.

mix in milk and vanilla

Mix in milk and vanilla

3 – Spread the glaze on top of the cake and place in the fridge for at least a 1/2 hour to let the glaze harden a little.

Spread glaze on top & refridgerate

Spread glaze on top & refrigerate

Serve as is!

The Best Chocolate Cupcakes I’ve ever Tasted (makes 12)

I have waiting too long to taste something this good1

I have waiting too long to taste something this good!

My daughter, The Young Baker of this blog decided to challenge herself last night and make something a little more adventurous than her usual sweet repertoire. She wanted to make cupcakes like the ones she has tasted from great bakeries like the Cupcake Cafe on the West Side of Manhattan: a challenge indeed.

The Young Baker managed to have time to give herself a harido right before her marathon baking session

The Young Baker made time to give herself a hairdo right before her marathon baking session

I told her I would help find a good recipe but that she could forget about any idea of trying to replicate their beautiful Buttercream Frosting flowers. She was fine with that. She just wanted to achieve that melt in your mouth gooey-ness without feeling like it was a glorified chocolate muffin that crumbled with every bite.

cupcake city

Cupcake city

The best place to look for a recipe was certainly in one of my American cookbooks. The cupcake to me is quintessentially American so no French or Italian influence would do. The best book for the job was going to be from my brand new giant Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook. What better place to find an authentic cupcake recipe than from the most recognized Test Kitchen in the country.

My lovely cookery bible

My lovely cookery bible

And sure enough, when I read to her what the Test Kitchen had to say about cupcakes, how their goal was to make a moist, tender cupcake that wasn’t crumbly, with deep chocolate flavor, and a frosting that was creamy with no sugary sweetness, she was excited to try it.

We happen to have nice cases for the job (note the chocolate-y hands!)

We happen to have nice cases for the job (note the chocolate-y hands!)

They were a bit of work for sure and she was confused at how many bowls she had on the counter at one time with the various chocolate mixtures, but the reward of being able to lick many different flavored spoons made up for all that. All I’ll say is “thank God for dishwashers!”

Quite pleased

Quite pleased

These were all she had hoped for, and at this point she is such the expert when it come to chocolate, her opinion is all that is needed to recommend the cupcake challenge to you!

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You will need:

* I used Ghirardelli Brand chocolate*

for Ganache:

2 oz bitter-sweet chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tbs confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar)

For cupcakes:

3 oz bittersweet chocolate

1/3 cup (1 oz) dutch-processed cocoa

3/4 cup brewed coffee, hot

3/4 cup (4  1/8 ozs all-purpose or bread flour

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ozs) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda (bicarbonate soda)

6 tbs vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 tsp white vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

for Frosting:

1/3 cup (2 1/2 ozs) granulated sugar

2 large egg whites

pinch of salt

12 tbs 6 ozs, 169 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

6 oz bittersweet chocolate

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Make ganache: melt ganache ingredients together very slowly in little pan on low heat until barely melted. Stir and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

make ganache

make ganache

Make Cupcakes:

preheat oven 350*

1 – Brew the coffee. Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl and add hot coffee. Let it sit covered for 5 minutes, then stir gently until melted. Cool completely in fridge (about 20 minutes)

add hot coffee to cocoa adn chocolate

Add hot coffee to cocoa and chocolate

Stir gently

Stir gently

2 – In the meantime add flour, sugar, salt and baking soda to medium bowl and whisk together to incorporated.

Whisk dry ingredients together

Whisk dry ingredients together

3 – In small bowl mix together eggs, oil, vinegar and vanilla.

mix eggs, vanilla, oil adn vinegar together

Mix eggs, vanilla, oil and vinegar together

4 – Whisk the egg mixture into the cooled chocolate and then mix in the flour mixture.

Finish cupcake batter

Finish cupcake batter

5 – Place muffin liners into muffin tray and divide the batter between the 12 cups. Place a dollop (good-sized teaspoon) of the ganache in the center of each filled cup. Place in center of oven for about 18 to 20 minutes.

fill muffin cups

Fill muffin cups

7 – Remove from oven and sit tray on cooling rack for about 10 minutes before removing to let cool completely.

Cool cupcakes completely

Cool cupcakes completely

Make Frosting:

1 – Melt the chocolate on low heat in small pot, then set aside to cool.

Melt chocolate

Melt chocolate

2 – Place a cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Using a bowl that will fit into the pot (one that sits on the edges, not touching the water) add the egg whites, sugar and salt. Whisk at low-speed for about 2 minutes (the mixture will take on a silky creamy look).

Whisk eggs whites with sugar & salt

Whisk eggs whites with sugar & salt

3 – While continuing to whisk, add the soft butter one tablespoon at a time.

add butter

Add butter

4 – Then add the melted chocolate and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.

add chocolate & vanilla

Add chocolate & vanilla

If the frosting appears thin (ours did), place it in the fridge for about 10 minutes. It will thicken up and get it ready for the next step.

Frost Cupcakes:

Spread a thick layer of frosting on each cupcake with a butter or palate knife.

spead with tons of frosting

Spread with tons of frosting

If you don’t devour them all in one sitting, they can be stored in a big plastic container and left at room temperature. They can also be stored in the fridge, but take them out at least a half hour before serving.

The best cupcakes ever!

The best cupcakes ever!