Monday, October 11, 2010

A sad story about Cake Balls

Ugh, I've just put on OPI Russian Navy and I wish I hadn't bothered. It's so pretty when it's wet, with little red and purple sparkles, but when it dries it just turns into a flat inky colour. It's a little like MAC Naughty Nautical but ugly and it was horrible to apply, all streaky and messy. Hopefully I can save it by sticking a little glitter over it or something. 

Until today I had on China Glaze Agent Lavender. It was quite nice but I felt like it made my fingers look dirty or something, I think it was too cool toned for me. That one wasn't great to apply either, it was quite streaky and went flaky and weird around the edges. I was wearing it for only a few hours when it started to chip.

A friend of mine got a new puppy last week, she's so tiny! 

Isn't she cute? It's weird because my friend has a load of cats and I'm so used to them that everytime the puppy was sitting on my lap I kept expecting her to start purring. 

Last week I was in TK Maxx and I saw an icing piping bag that was cheap so I bought it. That evening I made cupcakes and had my first icing piping attempt. I sucked at first and I was just getting the hang of it when I ran out of frosting. Typical. 

I want to get another piping bag now, with bigger nozzles. The one I got is quite small and basic.

These were supposed to be chocolate orange cupcakes but I was low on oranges so I made them chocolate, orange and almond cupcakes. The recipe is vegan, so it's handy to have if you're low on butter or eggs. Or if you're vegan, obviously. 

Vegan Chocolate, Orange and Almond cupcakes

Makes 12
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp almond extract 

1. Preheat oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4. Line a bun tin with paper cases.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa power, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl
3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vegetable oil and almond 
4. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
5. Spoon batter evenly into cases, fill around 3/4 way full.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack. 

I made up the frosting as I went along, so these measurments aren't exact

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
8 squares plain/dark chocolate (I used the big Dairyfine bar from Aldi, the dark one)
2+ tbsp Icing sugar
2+ tbsp Cocoa Powder
2 tbsp butter

1. Chop/break up the chocolate, place in a bowl and microwave in short blasts until melted. Allow to cool for a few minutes
2. To the chocolate add the butter and two tbsp each of the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Beat with a fork until combined. Keep adding cocoa powder and/or icing sugar according to taste and the consistincy you want. For a more chocolate taste add more cocoa powder or for a sweeter taste add more icing sugar. As I was piping the icing I wanted it very stiff to hold it's shape so I used around 4 tbsp of icing sugar and around 2 tbsp of cocoa power altogether. The result will still be quite runny so place it, covered, in the fridge for 10 minutes.
3. Remove from fridge, beat to loosen it a little and pipe or spread onto cupcakes. 

I also made some Almond cupcakes. They were originally going to be vanilla but I was out of vanilla and had a full bottle of almond extract so I used that. They were a nice alternative but I'm not sure they can take over from my love of vanilla cupcakes.

Almond Cupcakes
Makes 12
1 cup Plain flour 
Scant 3/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup Milk
1 Egg 
1 teaspoon almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 180C or Gas Mark 4. Line a bun tin with paper cases. 
2. Using a stand mixer or hand held beater mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter on low until it looks sandy and is all combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and mix until the milk is just incorporated.  
3. In a seperate bowl whisk the egg, almond and remaining milk, then pour it into the flour mix and keep beating until everything is just incorporated, scraping the bowl as needed. Mix until just smooth, do not overmix.
5. Spoon batter evenly into cases, fill around 3/4 way full.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack.

 I made a caramel buttercream frosting to go with these ones. Again this is improvised, so everything is approximate.

Caramel Buttercream Frosting
2 tbsp caramel. I used homemade, you could use a tin of dulce de leche if you like
3 tbsp butter
2+ tbsp icing sugar

1. Melt the caramel in the microwave. Allow to cool.
2. Beat in the butter and 2tbsp icing sugar with a fork. Add more icing sugar if needed, but bear in mind the frosting will already be very sweet with the caramel.
3. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or longer. 
4. Remove from fridge, beat til it's fluffly then pipe or spread on cupcakes. 

The next day there were some of the Almond cupcakes left so I decided to make them into Cake Balls, inspired by Bakerella. The Cake Balls were so good, the almond and caramel worked really well with the chocolate. I was saving the most perfect looking one to photograph but unfortunately someone ate it. No one will own up to eating it too, it's really annoying me! Cake Balls are a really good way to use up cupcakes/cake when you've made too many and you're afraid they'll go stale.

Cake Balls
3 Frosted Cupcakes
8 Squares Dark Chocolate
75ml cream

1. In a bowl break up the cupcakes into crumbs and mix into the frosting. My mix was a little dry so I added and extra spoon of caramel. Form this mix into small balls and place on greaseproof paper. 
2. Place the cake balls in the freezer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the coating. 
3. You can just use melted chocolate for the coating, but since I had only 8 squares of chocolate left I made a ganache to make it go further. For this you need to heat up the cream in a saucepan or in the microwave, until it's hot but not boiling. Pour the warm cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy. Allow to cool slightly. Try to resist eating the whole bowl. 
4. Remove the Cake Balls from the freezer and using a spoon dip one at a time into the ganache, tapping the spoon to get rid of excess before laying down on greaseproof paper. Allow the Cake Balls to harden in the fridge. As these are made with ganache, they'll remain a little melty. You could also roll them in chopped nuts or sprinkles.
5. Nom.

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