Monday, October 27, 2014

Triple Chocolate Cake


I was debating in my mind whether to call this cake, 'chocolate chip cake' or 'triple chocolate cake'. 'Chocolate chip' because it is what the actual cake base is and 'triple chocolate' because aside from the chocolate chips, there's the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, and the chocolate ganache.  

After I had tasted the cake, I chose 'triple chocolate' because truly, it was chocolate overload in one slice!  It's a good thing I made this a one-layered cake because if there was an added filling, it would have been too much for me.  Don't get me wrong though!  I like chocolate.  I am just not used to eating ganache or any other heavy type of frosting.


I wish I could show you a cleaner slice to really highlight the tiny bits of chocolate within the chiffon cake.  But I kept the cake at room temperature and the buttercream was smudging each time I cut through it. :(  You get the general picture though, don't you?


As with the cookies and cream (version 2) cake, the idea for this cake came from a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake, the Double Chocolate Chip cake in particular.

Image credit: Baskin Robbins website


One alternative to make this cake less heavy on the chocolate taste is to use chocolate whipped cream instead of buttercream. I think I will try that next time.  Or you can try it for me!

By the way, I made this cake to commemorate my late mother's birthday today!  I know she is still guiding me even from the Heavens above and this is my small way of showing her that she will always be remembered and loved.  Happy birthday mommy!

TRIPLE CHOCOLATE CAKE

For the chiffon:

Ingredients:

{A}
1 1/8 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

{B}
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
1/3 cup water or milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

{C}
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

{D}
3/8 cup sugar

{E)
100 grams dark chocolate chips


Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2.  In a food processor, pulse the chocolate chips until some of them are finely grated and some are turned into small crumbs.


2.  In a large bowl, combine {A} well.  Add in {B}.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand until smooth and well blended.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat {C} on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add in {D} and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Gradually and gently fold in egg whites into egg yolk mixture. Lastly, fold in the processed chocolate chips.


4.  Pour batter into an ungreased 8" round, 3" high pan lined with parchment paper at the bottom.
5.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert pan into wire rack immediately and cool completely.
6.  To release, carefully run a thin knife around sides of pan.

For the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream:

3 eggwhites
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, very soft
a pinch of salt
113 grams dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder into the melted chocolate.  Set aside.

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the eggwhites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggwhite mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter has been added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the chocolate mixture gradually and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

For the dark chocolate ganache:

150g dark chocolate, chopped or chips
1/2 cup whipping or thickened cream

Place chocolate chips in a small bowl.

In a small saucepan, bring whipping cream to a boil.  Pour over the chocolate chips and let stand for 1-2 minutes without stirring.

Stir with a whisk until smooth and shiny.

NOTE: You will use this ganache in two stages.  First, while it is still in its pourable state and second, when it has thickened enough for piping.

To assemble:

**Make your buttercream first.  After you are done with the buttercream, make your ganache.  Set aside the ganache (at room temperature only) while you frost your cake with the buttercream.

1.  Invert the cake onto a cake board so that the original bottom is now at the top. Frost the entire cake with the chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.


2.  Use a 6" cake pan or a bowl to mark a guide on the cake top.


3.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip such as Wilton 1M, then pipe a shell border over the marked circle.


4.  By this time, your ganache would most likely have cooled to room temperature.  Pour some of it in the center of the cake.  Either tap the cake gently or push the cake board from side to side to help the ganache flow towards the piped border.


5.  Place the remaining ganache in the fridge for a few minutes and let it firm up just enough for its consistency to turn pipeable.

6.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a small star tip (#18 or #21) with the ganache then pipe a shell border along the bottom of the cake.



Enjoy!



PS. It's the end of the day now and the cake is all gone.  My family really liked it!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake version 2


I made the cake pictured above nearly a year ago, November 13th to be exact.  It was for my husband's birthday.  I never thought of posting this here since I had already shared a well-liked recipe of the strawberry shortcake a while back. I'd actually forgotten about it, until recently, when strawberries started to appear in abundance again in our local supermarkets.

The inspiration for this cake is a popular version in Baguio city.  Not surprising, as it is where Philippine strawberries come from!

Strawberry shortcake from Vizco's Restaurant in Baguio city (image credit: Aspire Pattisier)

Strawberry shortcake slice (image credit: Flickr)
The difference between this cake and the first version is simple and obvious - this has loads more strawberries!

To make sure I still knew how, I made a small 6" cake a few weeks ago.



Now I am ready to share.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE

For the chiffon:

Ingredients:

{A}
1 1/8 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

{B}
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
1/3 cup water or milk
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract
few drops of pink (or red) liquid food colouring

{C}
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

{D}
3/8 cup sugar


Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2.  In a large bowl, combine {A} well.  Add in {B}.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand until smooth and well blended.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat {C} on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add in {D} and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Gradually and gently fold in egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Pour batter into an ungreased 8" round, 3" high pan lined with parchment paper at the bottom. 
4.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert pan into wire rack immediately and cool completely.
5.  To release, carefully run a thin knife around sides of pan.

For the Strawberry-flavoured Whipped Cream frosting:

Ingredients:

2 cups whipping or thickened cream, very cold
1 bar (250g) of cream cheese, cold
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon strawberry extract
few drops of pink (or red) liquid food colouring

Procedure:

Cut up the cream cheese into small cubes.  In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Set aside.

In your chilled bowl and using clean beaters, beat the whipping cream, sugar, strawberry extract, and food colouring until the mixture is quite stiff. Gently fold in the cream cheese then beat again at high speed for about 45 seconds or until everything is well combined.  Be careful not to overbeat.

For the gelatine glaze:**

4 teaspoons unflavoured gelatine
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
2/3 cup water

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the gelatine and sugar melt. Do not boil. Let it cool until mixture is slightly thick but not yet starting to set.

**Make this just before arranging the strawberries on the cake top.

To assemble the cake:

You will also need:
500 grams of fresh strawberries, washed and leaves removed

Cut 200 grams of strawberries into small cubes for the filling.  The 300 grams left are for the topping, Cut them in half only, leaving one whole strawberry for the cake center.

Cut your cake horizontally in half.  Invert top layer onto your cake board.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with some of the whipped cream.  Pipe a dam around the cake edge then spread some whipped cream inside the dam.  Fill the center with the cubed strawberries. Spread more whipped cream until the cubed strawberries are fully covered.  Top with the other cake layer, cut side down.

Cover the whole cake with more whipped cream then using the same piping bag (with the star tip) you used to make the dam, pipe a border around the cake top. (To copy Vizco's look, pipe big "s" and reverse "s" alternately around the cake edge.)

To arrange the halved strawberries on the cake top, start from the outer edge, positioning each strawberry at an angle with pointy side up. Fill the whole cake top.  Use the whole strawberry for the center spot.


Brush cooled gelatine generously over the strawberries.  Refrigerate to set.

Hope you can all try this new version!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Matcha (Green Tea) and White Chocolate Cake

My youngest son, Matthew, turned 13 yesterday.  No party.  Just a simple dinner at home with the family plus my brother and his two kids.  Matthew didn't even request for special food for the day, except for one, cathedral windows.  I only make this occasionally so he misses it. With just one recipe,  I was able to fill two Tupperware jelly moulds and one loaf pan.  My little (big) boy was very happy!

I still wanted to make cake though.  I thought it wouldn't matter that much if Matthew didn't even like the cake flavour as he already had the jelly anyway.  I took this opportunity to try something new.

Unlike most of the cakes I've made in the past, this new creation was not imitated from an existing cake.  Rather, it was inspired by this...

Green tea Kit Kat! (Image Credit: this Japanese forum)

Green tea Kit Kats are hard to find in Australia.  Mostly sold in Asian groceries, buying them is definitely an indulgence as they are very expensive.  From where I get them, a packet of 12 minis cost $9.90!  Nothing really extraordinary with this confection - it is basically just matcha, white chocolate, and wafers combined.  Simple enough to translate into cake form, right?


I didn't want wafers on my cake.  As usual, I preferred a chiffon cake base.  More importantly, I wanted the green tea and white chocolate flavour combination to stand out.

Let me tell you one thing about this cake -  I     loved     it   !  S E R I O U S L Y.

Excuse the ugly disposable plate please!


I really didn't expect it, but after we sang "Happy Birthday", everyone lined up to get a slice.  Even Matthew! :))) My oldest son, who is health and exercise-conscious and avoids sweets at most times, took a second serving.  By the end of the night, we only had little cake left.  I honestly didn't foresee that!


Green tea probably isn't for everyone BUT I would highly recommend for you to try this cake.  Hope you will like it as I much as I did!

GREEN TEA and WHITE CHOCOLATE CAKE

For the chiffon:

Ingredients:

{A}
1 1/8 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons matcha (green tea) powder*

{B}
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oil
1/3 cup water or milk
a pinch or tiny drop of apple green food colouring (gel paste or powdered), optional**

{C}
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

{D}
3/8 cup sugar

* I buy mine in the Asian grocery.
**I noticed that different brands of matcha powder have slight differences in shades.  Some are more like olive green, some like apple green.  Adding a tiny bit of food colouring just adds more vibrancy, but it is not necessary.

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
2.  In a large bowl, combine {A} well.  Add in {B}.  Beat with electric mixer or by hand until smooth and well blended.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat {C} on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add in {D} and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Gradually and gently fold in egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Pour batter into an ungreased 8" round, 3" high pan lined with parchment paper at the bottom.
4.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert pan into wire rack immediately and cool completely.
5.  To release, carefully run a thin knife around sides of pan.

For the White Chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream:

4 eggwhites
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
300 g unsalted butter, very soft
a pinch of salt
150 grams white chocolate, melted and cooled

In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the eggwhites and sugar. Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.

Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the eggwhite mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature, and holds stiff peaks.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter has been added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the melted white chocolate gradually and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To assemble cake:

Cut your cake horizontally in half. Invert top layer onto your cake board. Spread a layer of buttercream over your cake half, then top with other cake layer, cut side down. Cover the whole cake with more buttercream.  To create the same look as the pictured cake, use the back of a spoon to make the swirls all over the cake.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (I used a Wilton 1M) and pipe big 'e''s around the cake edge to create a border.  Dust the cake top with matcha powder, if desired.



Monday, October 6, 2014

LeSportsac Kasey Bag Knock-off

Sorry to all you cake lovers out there, but I have been in sewing mode for the last week or so.  I may have awakened the other part of me that has been dormant for a long time now.  And I am so glad I did!  Sometimes I really long to break away from the kitchen and all that baking.

I really didn't believe I could do it but I did finish a new project just before the school holidays ended. I made a LeSportsac Kasey bag knock-off!



The Kasey bag costs $42-$56 and it's only 7.75 x 9.5 inches in size.  I really like it but I don't think I can ever spend that much money on such a small bag.


I love how my bag turned out. The only thing I regret is using laminated fabric. (I laminated the fabric myself with iron-on vinyl.  That paisley fabric is the same one I used for the mini messenger bag in my last post.) It got all wrinkly when I turned the bag over to its right side.  Maybe next time I will just use cotton fabric or maybe I'll try ripstop nylon.



There is an existing tutorial for a triple zip pouch but I had one look at it and found it too confusing and it's not exactly the same as this bag.  I just did it my way and tried to stay true to how the Kasey bag is constructed. 


I paid attention to all the details and really fussed about the zip ends.  I wanted it to look neat and perfect.


I wasn't in the beginning but I'm really confident now that I can make a pattern out of this.  Fingers-crossed, I will be able to do so in the next week or so.

In the meantime, I can assure my caking friends that I have not taken baking for granted.  It is my youngest son's birthday this coming Sunday and I already have a NEW chiffon cake planned for the day.  So watch out for that!

Have a good week!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Mini Messenger Bag Resurrected

Last night, I was going over some of my old blog posts (circa 2008).  One thing I clearly noticed was how different my writing style was back then.  It was much more interesting!  I think it's probably because I wrote about a variety of things - crafting, my kids, my family back in the Philippines, happy days, sad days, etc. These days, it's always about the cake recipes and nothing else.  Boring and repetitive.

The reason I was actually looking back was because I was planning to sew one of my most favourite creations ever - my mini messenger bag.  I had the sudden urge to make a bag because earlier in the day, I was browsing over the Lesportsac website and was drooling over gorgeous but ridiculously-priced bags!  At the same time, I had made a promise to myself to sew something this school holidays (apart from the USB flash drive case) but because life has been pretty chaotic around here (it's been a week now since my husband left to visit his family back home), I decided to just resurrect an old project rather than come up with a new one.

I cut all the fabric pieces before going to bed late last night then made the bag this morning while my younger kids were still asleep.  I was nearly done when they woke up. Before lunch, my bag was already finished!


I didn't buy a single item for this bag.  Everything came from my existing stash - fabric scraps, interfacing, magnetic snap, zippers, and the old strap that originally came from a Kathmandu satchel then later re-used in my other mini messenger bag.

My new bag has all the same great features of my previous bags...

The two front pockets -


The zip top closure - 


The zipper tab - 


Completely lined interior (using pre-quilted fabric here) - 


The adjustable straps -


With an all-new zippered back pocket!


I thought about this change at the last minute and I just love it! 


This bag is totally me.  I'm definitely the denim jeans kind of girl plus navy blue is my favourite colour.

Rarely do I give myself a pat on the back when I accomplish something beautiful but I think I deserve one right now.  Great job, me! :)))

(Just as I finished posting this, I received an email from Strandbags - they are having a sale on brand name bags.  No, thank you. I already have a bag!)


PS. My messenger bag tutorial is here.  Notes on mini messenger bag can be downloaded here.