Monthly Archives: September 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes Surprise

Is there anything tastier than a chocolate cupcake? I love cupcakes. The icing/frosting to cake ratio seems so much more than on a large cake and who doesn’t love lots and lots of icing/frosting?

I used to be one to use cake or cupcake mixes all the time, but after a few tries they just don’t taste the same as from scratch cup cakes. Those in a mix always taste somewhat artificial. I do still love frosting in a can, but I think that’s because I haven’t yet found the perfect recipe.

What is the surprise? Lindt balls!! And caramel! In the middle of the cupcake! You’ll notice once baked they sink a little, but the icing the sprinkles cover it nicely.

Makes 12

Cupcakes

150g butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup buttermilk
6 Lindt balls
6 teaspoons caramel (I used Nestle Top ‘n’ Fill Caramel)

Icing

1 1/2 cups icing sugar mixture
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 to 3 tablespoons milk, warmed
sprinkles

Preheat oven to 180C. Line 12 cupcake cases into a cupcake tin.

Use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, cocoa powder and buttermilk until smooth.

Spoon two-thirds of the mixture evenly among the cupcake cases.

Use a teaspoon to make a small indent in the centre of each cupcake. Place either a Lindt ball or spoon 1 teaspoon of the caramel into the centre of each case. Top with the remaining cupcake mixture and smooth the surface.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Keep in mind the centre has a melted Lindt ball or Caramel in the middle so go in at an angle.

Set the cupcakes aside in the pans for 5 minutes to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spread the icing over the cupcakes and dip into a plate covered in sprinkles.

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Chocolate Mousse and Caramel Tart with Praline

This has got to be one of the most delicious things I’ve made yet! And also one of the most technically difficult. This isn’t a recipe for the faint-hearted but the length of time it takes to make is worth it. With this recipe I made 3 things I had never made before: caramel, chocolate mousse and praline. You know a tart is going to be decadent when you need to make 3 separate sugar syrups/caramels. The great thing about this recipe is that it gives you plenty of time between each stage to take your time and get it right. Each stage needs time in the fridge to set (at least an hour) so plenty of time to get the next bit of the recipe done.

Warning: Lots of photos to come!

First, the pastry:

Next, the caramel layer:

Then the chocolate mousse:

And finally, the praline:

Serves 8 to 12 depending on how greedy your guests are.

Pastry

250g plain flour
2 tbs almond meal
55g icing sugar
150g cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
pinch of salt

Caramel  Filling

110g caster sugar
100ml water
2 tbs double cream
40g butter, softened, chopped

Chocolate Mousse

300ml thickened/pouring cream
200g dark chocolate, chopped
3 egg yolks
1 egg
110g caster sugar
100ml water

Praline

45g slivered almonds
110g caster sugar
60ml water

Pastry

Process the flour, almond meal, icing sugar, a pinch of salt, and chopped butter (make sure it is really cold, I chopped mine and then put it in the freezer for another 5 minutes) in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until the mixture just comes together. Shape with your hands into a disc, making sure to get every bit into the disc, and wrap up in plastic. Put the pastry into the fridge for 2 hours.

Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of baking paper until 3mm thick, making sure it fits into a 24cm (3 cm deep) tart pan with removable base. Place the pastry inside using any extra pastry to patch up any holes.

Freeze for 20 minutes.

Line the tart shell with baking paper and fill with either rice, dried beans, or specialty pastry weights. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the sides are just brown (I let mine get too dark). Remove the weights, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the base is a light brown. Because my sides were already quite brown I covered them with foil for the rest of the baking.

Cool the tart completely.

Caramel

Place sugar and water in a small heavy-based saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil, without stirring, until a golden caramel colour. This took around 15 minutes for me, but you really need to watch it closely as when it starts going brown it doesn’t take long for it to go too far.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately add the cream, stirring with a whisk, then add in the butter, still whisking. Add in a pinch of sea salt. Let it cool for around 5 minutes and then pour into the tart shell making sure it covers the whole base. Put it in the fridge for an hour to set.

Mousse

Beat 200ml cream using either a whisk (for an arm workout), hand-held electric mixer, or large electric mixer until soft peaks are formed, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Put the chocolate and the rest of the cream (100ml) into a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure that the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and stir using a spatula until melted, smooth and combined. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set aside to cool.

Using the electic mixer (hand-held, or large) beat the egg yolks and egg in a bowl until thick, pale and a bit foamy.

To make a sugar syrup place the sugar and 100ml of water into a heavy based saucepan (the one used above for the caramel – cleaned of course) on a low heat until the sugar dissolves. You might need to give it a swirl or two. Increase the heat to high and once it starts bubbling use a sugar thermometer to measure when it reaches 121 degrees Celsius. If you don’t have a thermometer, this should take around 6 minutes. You don’t want it to start to get colour though.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and with the mixer on low  slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is thick and at room temperature (the sugar syrup would have raised the temperature).

Using a large metal or plastic spoon (not wood as it holds moisture), fold in one-third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture to loosen, then gentle fold in the remaining egg mixture until combined. Fold in one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate/egg mixture to loosen, and then gently fold in the remaining cream mixture.

Spoon the mousse over the caramel layer, making sure to smooth the top with an offset spatula or knife. Stick it in the fridge for an hour to set.

Praline

Bake the almonds in an oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 8 minutes or until golden. Watch them closely as when they start going golden they can get to burnt very quickly.

Place sugar and 60ml of water in the same saucepan as above (cleaned of course) on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to high and let it bubble away until a golden caramel.

Pour over the almonds and let it set until cool. Break it up into shards and give it a whiz in a food processor.

Scatter over the mousse layer. Refrigerate the whole thing for another hour and then serve with cream or ice cream.

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