Tag Archives: ganache

Cauldron Cakes, Cockroach Clusters, and Licorice Wands

14 Jul

Oh, bittersweet day. The last film of the Harry Potter series will be released at midnight, and I am both incredibly excited, but also sad that after I see the film… well, that’s it. No more movies, no more books. A character — no, an entire universe — that I grew up with will come to an end.

When I say that my generation grew up with Harry Potter, I mean my generation. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone was released in 1997, 2 months after my 11th birthday; within the first few chapters, Harry celebrates his 11th birthday. I am the HP generation.

In my humble opinion, I am intense about Harry Potter, but I’m not insane about Harry Potter. I attended one midnight book release party once with my cousins, I think maybe for the 6th book. I’ve never been to a midnight movie release, but I have always seen the movies within a week of their release, and I own all the so-far released DVDs. I was briefly addicted to two different HP computer games. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final installment of the series, was released, I read the entire book in two days, which was may attempt to pace myself and savor it. And I dragged the BF to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter a couple months after it opened at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. So… maybe a little crazy.

In honor of the end of an era, I have a few Harry Potter-themed recipes to share with you. I have planned entire HP-themed Halloween parties in the past, and trust me, if you need more HP recipes, there are plenty online. These three will get you started though. I’ll be taking these with me to an outdoor screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, which will set me up perfectly to see Part 2 in a few days. If you haven’t seen the Hogwarts Express tea trolley come by and you don’t have time to run over to Honeydukes, try out these recipes yourself. And if any Muggles ask you for the recipe, just tell them they were made with magic.

Cauldron Cakes

Chocolate cupcakes (cauldrons) filled with liquid chocolate are the simple concept behind these cakes. You can use whatever recipe you’d like, homemade or boxed. This recipe is for a basic chocolate cake. 

I started by preheating the oven to 350 F and lining a cupcake pan with papers. Then I whisked together 1 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt.

In another bowl, I beat 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter with my hand mixer on medium for about 30 seconds. Then I gradually added  1 1/4 cup sugar, scraping the sides of the bowl, mixing for 2-3 minutes. I added 2 eggs, one at a time, beating after each one. Then I beat in 1 tsp vanilla. To finish the batter, I alternated adding the flour mixture and 1 cup milk, beating until well incorporated. 

Cauldron Cake Batter

I filled cupcake tins not too full — I didn’t want a muffin top puffing out from the cupcakes. This batch made for about 20 cupcakes. I baked them for about 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through.

I used my magic wand to fill these evenly and perfectly.

I pulled the cupcakes out and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Then I removed them from the pan and let them cool completely. Now for the contents of the cauldron: chocolate ganache. My ganache recipe is a simple 2:1 ratio of chocolate to butter. So for this recipe, I melted 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter with my simple microwave technique: dump it in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave it on 20-second intervals, stirring well after each round, until it’s smooth.

I used a cupcake corer to scoop a hole out of the middle of each cupcake. I spooned some ganache in and let it cool. The butter will allow it to firm up without getting hard. Abracadabra! A chocolate cauldron filled to the brim with liquid dark chocolate.

You won't need a Vanishing Spell to clear out these Cauldron Cakes.


Cockroach Clusters

These are super easy and make a great addition to a Harry Potter or Halloween spread. Only 2 ingredients, and very few steps.

First start out by melting some chocolate — I used Ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips. Same process as for the ganache above: microwave on 20-second intervals, stirring well after each round, until it’s smooth.

Melting some chocolateOnce I had smooth chocolate, I mixed in a handful of dried chow mein noodles. (You can use wheat or rice, either works fine).

The ingredients.Don’t worry about specific measurements, just mix in what looks right. You want them to be sufficiently crunchy without any of the noodles sticking out too much. As I stirred them together, I used the spoon to crunch up some of the bigger pieces. Then I just scooped out spoonfuls and plopped them on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper and left them to harden. I had a tiny bit of chocolate left in the bottom of the bowl, so I added a few dollops to the clusters that looked like they could use some extra glue.

Cockroach Clusters

Licorice Wands

These are also super easy. With the same chocolate melting process, I melted some white chocolate chips: microwave on 20-second intervals, stirring well after each round, until it’s smooth. I seem to have more difficulty with white chocolate than regular chocolate, so make sure you’re doing shorter intervals and stirring a little more vigorously.

Then I coated one end of a piece of licorice, making sure it was quite thick so it would resemble a handle.

Licorice WandsObviously these would look more convincing with black licorice, but I can’t stand the stuff, so I went with Twizzlers instead.

Safety first! Keep those wands pointed away from grabbing hands.

Now enjoy your cakes and candies, grab your wand, and practice your spells!

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Cake

20 Feb

This is my favorite cake ever. It has 3 different kinds of chocolate. And it may have more, depending on the variation you choose to make — I’ve had up to 5 before! And this cake is always a crowd pleaser, so if I’m heading somewhere new and not sure what people will appreciate, this is my go-to recipe. I’m a little worried about posting this one because it’s actually only semi-homemade, and I don’t want people to think I’m a slacker. But oh well — all my secrets shall be revealed here sooner or later. The pictures for this one are awesome, so I’m including quite a few more than usual. Compliments to the BF/amateur photographer. So feast your eyes, and I’ll go feast my belly.

I start off by moving the rack to the middle of the oven, pre-heating it to 350 F, and buttering a bundt pan. I like using a bundt for this particular cake for a few reasons: One, because it looks fancier without any extra effort. Two, it has a drizzle instead of a full icing, and I think that looks nicer on a bundt. And three, it’s pretty rich, and it’s easier to cut a bundt cake into smaller, neater slices than it is a round or sheet cake.

So after the prep, I dump almost all the ingredients rather unceremoniously into a large mixing bowl: 1 box devils food cake, 1 package chocolate instant pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

Batter IngredientsI blend it with a hand-mixer on medium-low for 2-3 minutes. Then I fold in  1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, and once it’s well-mixed, pour it evenly into the bundt pan.

Mixing the BatterChips!Batter in the pan

I bake it for 45-50 minutes. The cake slightly pulls away from the sides of the pan, and it should pass the toothpick test. I let it cool it on a wire rack for about 20 minutes, and then remove it from the pan. If you don’t cool it long enough, it’s more likely to crack when you try to remove it. And if you’re having a hard time getting it to pop out of the pan, take a long wooden skewer and run it around the edge of the cake before flipping it over. This will loosen it up without cutting your cake or scratching your pan.

Plain cake
Once it’s completely cool, I add the ganache-y chocolate topping — the same one I put on top of the Banana Butterscotch-Chocolate Cake. The rule for this topping is a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to butter. So I melt about 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter in 30-second intervals, stirring well in between. While it’s still warm and runny, I drizzle in back and forth over top the cake. As it cools, it will firm up but not harden.

DrizzleChocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I just have to say it again: seriously, this is the best cake ever. The other reason I love this cake is because it’s sooo easy. There aren’t any silly rules about beating in eggs one at a time or anything like that. And aside from the sort-of long cooking time, it’s really quick and easy to throw together. Actually, I try to keep the ingredients for this on hand at all times in case I need a last-minute cake.

I also like that this cake is so versatile and easy to make your own. I’ve substituted the semisweet chips for milk chocolate chips. Once I did half semisweet and half white chocolate chips. You could get even more wild and crazy and use butterscotch or peanut butter chips, or maybe a caramel topping. I haven’t tried those yet, so if you do, let me know how it goes.

If you’re worried about it, it’s okay to swap light sour cream for regular sour cream. But if you’re honestly counting calories, that seems like a waste of time when it comes to this cake. I haven’t tried the whole swap your oil for applesauce thing, so I don’t know how that would work out with this particular recipe. If you try it, let me know!

Yum

Triple Chocolate Cake

Cake:

1 box devils foods cake mix
1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Topping:

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Add all the cake ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Blend with a hand-mixer on medium-low for 2-3 minutes. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and the sides spring away from the edges of the pan. Let cool for about 20 minutes before inverting onto a platter. Top with chocolate ganache topping.

For topping, place 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Chop butter into rough chunks and add to bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring well in between each interval. Do not over-cook. Once thoroughly melted without any chunks, pour over top the cooled bundt cake. Let cool.

 

Guest Post: Mini Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

3 Nov

Today’s post comes from my BFF Lauren, a.k.a. Betsy Bundt. She’s a whiz in the kitchen, and she loves a challenge. so she’s going to show you how she made these amazing mini mocha cupcakes. 

While Susie continued to work on the Halloween Cake Pops, my half of the mess was Mini Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze. It came from a Martha Stewart recipe I found online. The main cake recipe included a recipe for a coffee syrup, chocolate mousse, and chocolate glaze. Honestly, I didn’t use half the recipes, but instead took inspiration from them. I used a moist devil’s food cake mix because, let’s be honest, they are just as good as baking from scratch. I am of the opinion if you’re going to make something from scratch, like the mousse and glaze for this recipe, then you can cheat in other areas and it’s still practically homemade.

So I started with the cake mix, added the required eggs and liquids, poured into mini cupcake pans (yes, with an ice cream scoop), and popped them in the oven. While they were baking, I worked on the glaze, which was just a thin ganache (and by thin, I mean a thinner consistency than I would use for truffles) and the mousse. 

I was lazy and didn’t want to make the coffee syrup, plus in my experience, it can make the cake soggy, especially if you want them to last for a couple days. So you ask, “But Betsy, the syrup is where the coffee flavor comes from. Did you just make everything chocolate flavored?” No, I adjusted where the flavors came from slightly. I nixed the syrup and instead made the mousse mocha flavored. I added a packet of Starbucks Via instant coffee in extra bold Italian Roast. I added the powder to the cream before I whipped it, allowing it to dissolve as I was whipping. As the recipe continues, I added the melted chocolate and Voila: mocha mousse. It has a pretty strong coffee flavor, but the sweetness of the chocolate makes it really smooth. I popped that in the fridge to firm up a little and moved on to the glaze.

I followed the recipe which was for 92 mini cupcakes and I had about 48 or so because I was thinking, “Hey, you can never have too much ganache.” After the ganache was smooth, I set that aside to let it cool (I let it get close to room temperature).

Meanwhile the cupcakes were done baking and removed from the pans to cool.

After the cupcakes were cool, I cut the tops off to fill with mousse and dip in the glaze. I put the mousse in a pastry bag to easily fill each center. I filled with one hand and dipped the top with the other and assembled.

And the final product. Delicious and rich. I didn’t have any problem feeding them to people. Susie took some to a family function and I took some to work where they disappeared pretty quickly. I even got a compliment that I could take on a local bakery any day with this cupcake. Not too shabby.

Betsy Breaks It Down:

  • This was pretty time consuming, so make sure you have plenty of time when you begin this endeavor.
  • WAY WAY WAY TOO MUCH GANACHE. Even if I did have 92 cupcakes, it STILL would have been too much. Halve or quarter the recipe.
  • If you don’t like a strong coffee flavor, I would recommend a weaker instant coffee. The Italian Roast is really strong.
  • It’s ok to cheat on recipes and adjust for you. I used to have a compulsive need to follow the recipes, but I have loosened up my cooking style and try to experiment more.

Happy Baking!
BB