Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Chocolate Orange Cake

What a genius combination.

This recipe came about when I was deciding what cake to make for my Dad's birthday before I left for Uni. When I was on holiday in Nice in the summer I visited a charming little sweet and chocolate factory, famed for its crystallised flowers and candied fruits. It was incredible. You can see some of the footage I took below:

Florian was amazing. If you're ever in the area, it's well worth a visit. Even if it's just for the free samples. Of which there are tonnes. As I said Florian is famous for its candied fruits, and among them, probably most famous for its satsumas. They're dipped, whole, in a sugar syrup every day for 80 days and left to crystallise. The skin is left on and the pips are left inside. They're very sweet but have a really nice orange tang. I knew I had to buy some.

After sharing round the sweet oranges when I returned, I knew I wanted to do something creative and yummy with the rest (it was quite a large box!). Chocolate orange cake seemed like the only logical answer.

Imagine a rich, dark, chocolate cake filled with a sweet orange buttercream, topped with dark chocolate ganache, swirls of chocolate orange frosting, chocolate shavings, and pieces of candied orange. Heaven.

I appreciate that whole candied oranges are not that easy to come by, and most likely, you won't have some just lying around your house. However, I do know that candied orange peel, and even orange segments are widely available, so perhaps it's worth experimenting with those. Failing that, some orange extract will do nicely, as will a combination of fresh orange juice and zest. Or, if you want to keep it simple, melt a terry's chocolate orange and stir that into some plain buttercream. You may have to add more icing sugar if you do this, though, to compensate for the extra liquid.

The recipe for the chocolate cake, which is the same as the Bailey's chocolate cake recipe can be found here.

Recipe for Ganache is here.


Orange Buttercream
To fill a 8'' sandwich cake

200g butter, softened
450g icing sugar (you may need more or less, depending on how stiff you want your buttercream)
100g candied orange, finely chopped
freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 orange

1. Cream butter and icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Add in candied orange, zest, and a tiny splash of juice. Mix well. Add more icing sugar if buttercream is too thin, or more juice if it's too thick. You're looking for something that will hold stiff peaks easily, but is still pipable. Whipping or mixing for longer incorporates more air and make buttercream easier to pipe.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Also freezes well, just re-whip after defrosting.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

Recipe as above
4tbsp cocoa powder OR 50-70g dark chocolate, melted

1. Combine orange buttercream with cocoa powder or melted chocolate. Add more icing sugar if needed to stiffen.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Chocolate Ganache

Pic courtesy of Google

Ganache is nectar of the gods.
Chocolate and cream, melted. Wonderfully simple.
It's super easy to make. Just melt the ingredients together, and pour. Covering a cake in ganache will help keep it moist for a few extra days.Or leave to harden in the fridge and scoop spoonfuls of it into balls to make delightful truffles.
Use it to top cakes, ice cream, biscuits, cookies, sweets...spoons...anything. And everything.

Pic from: cakesbakesandcookies.com

Chocolate Ganache
To cover a two layer cake
250g chocolate, chopped into small chunks (works with milk, white or dark)
250ml double cream

1. Heat the cream until it's just starting to boil in a saucepan.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and glossy.
3. Pour over cake immediately, or leave to stand until cool and spreadable (it will reach a sort of nutella-like consistency), alternatively, put the ganache in the fridge until firm, then use to make truffles.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Vanilla and Chocolate Cake Truffles

Cake truffles. What an invention. Cake, buttercream and chocolate in a single mouthful. And a mouthful small enough not to feel too guilty about either. (Unless you make a batch for your brother then eat half of said batch with your friend.) What more could you want?

Technically these are just cake pops without sticks. Because who just has 30 cake pop sticks lying around? And since these weren't going anywhere fancy, I really didn't see the need to dress them up with anything except these darling mini cupcake cases (technically made for sweets, but imagine the teeny tiny cupcakes!!). These beauts came about through the piles of leftover trimmings from the two chocolate cakes I made recently, one being the Baileys cake and the other a chocolate orange cake, which will be my next post! I had some leftover buttercream from the cakes as well, so what better to do than mash it all together delicately, shape it into balls, and dip it in chocolate? Nothing.

These cake truffles are great as they are more fun to make than effort, and literally anyone could make them if they tried. They're quick and simple, and the payoff is great. They'd be especially good to make if you needed a dessert or treat but didn't feel comfortable trying to make or decorate your own cake. You could even *shudders* make these from a box cake mix and bought icing, which seems to be the way standard cake pops are made across the pond. Of course, though, I would never endorse using packet mixes unless absolutely vital...they don't even compare to homemade cakes.

I dipped my truffles in tempered white chocolate. If you don't know what temepered chocolate is, it's chocolate that has been melted, then mixed with unmelted chocolate a little at a time off the heat so that when you use it for coating and decorating, it sets at room temperature, and won't melt in your fingers. It's all quite sciency. Something to do with fat crystals or something, I believe. Google it for a better explanation if you want. It all sounds quite complicated, but basically you melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. When it's melted you take it off the heat, and stir in a square of unmelted chocolate into the melted choc. Stir until the chunk has melted, then add another, stirring until that chunk has melted. Continue to add squares and stir, one by one until the chocolate has cooled and no more squares will dissolve. Your chocolate is then ready for coating! Because the chocolate will have cooled considerably by this point, it also means that it won't play up as much when you dip fridge-cold cake balls in it, giving you a lot less stress. Tempering works for milk, dark or white chocolates. If you can't be bothered with tempering your own chocolate, I believe you can buy pre-temepered blocks or coins of chocolate. Alternatively, just use normal melted chocolate, and store your cake truffles in the fridge to and after they set.

my very high tech method of coating the truffles
You can use any combination of cakes and icings, but I'd recommend sticking to buttercream or something that's relatively stiff. The butter in the buttercream also hardens up in the fridge, helping the truffles keep their shape, something I'm not sure you'd get if you used a runnier icing. I think ganache would also work well, as the chocolate would also set in the fridge, helping to keep the truffles firm.

Vanilla and Chocolate Cake Truffles

cake of any kind, leftover or fresh, cooled (the amount you use will obviously influence the number of truffles you can make. I would say that 2 8'' layers of cake would make about 20-30 truffles.)
buttercream, any flavour
melted chocolate, tempered or untempered *see above*

1. Crumble your cake in a large bowl with your hands. You want to really break down the cake, and make it into crumbs, the finer the better.
2. Add buttercream. Just eye it. Add a few tablespoons to start, you can always add but it's hard to take away, unless you've got loads of spare cake crumbs to balance it out again. I didn't think so...
3. Mush with your hands. Mix well until combined. You want to add enough icing so that when you squeeze a handful of the mixture, all the cake crumbs stick together and could be rolled into balls, be careful not to add too much that you end up with a more-icing-than-cake paste.
4. Roll into balls, whatever size you want. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Refrigerate for at least half an hour so the butter firms up and the cake balls are hard.
5. Dip into melted chocolate. If you're only working with a small amount of chocolate (like I was),  put your chocolate into a tall container, like a glass or cup. This means you can just drop in the truffles without having to roll them around in the chocolate loads and dirty your chocolate with cake crumbs. I used a high tech method of dropping the truffle in, turning it over once or twice with a fork, then lifting it from underneath with the fork and tapping the fork hard on the side of the cup to remove any excess chocolate.
6. Place back onto the baking sheet or into sweet cases. Refrigerate if using untempered chocolate, tempered chocolate will dry at room temperature.

Store in the fridge. The cake truffles keep well for quite a while because the chocolate seals in their moisture!