Category Archives: Chocolate

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes

I know I know I know I know I know I know I know I know — long time no see, huh? Man, I really am the worst. A entire season and a half went by and I didn’t update this blog ONCE. I’m sure you’ve all been refreshing this page every day, in the vain hope that a new delicious treat would be posted. “Why won’t she update her blog????” you would cry to the heavens. “DOESN’T SHE KNOW THIS IS ALL I HAVE TO LIVE FOR???????????”

Well, I’m very sorry. Really. I’ve just been way, way too busy to bake. Or, at least, bake something new and take pictures of it and blabber about it on the Internet. So, yes, I have been baking, but not very often, and nothing I haven’t posted about already.

BUT! It’s Christmas! And I decided, you know, it’s time for something new. It’s time to dust off Jackie Ruins the Cake and place a cupcake on the… desk… that is this website… that I’ve just dusted… um?

Anyway, on to the important part: the cupcakes!

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And what would a Jackie Ruins the Cake post be without me fucking things up in some fashion? I’m pretty rusty, especially when it comes to meringue buttercreams, and so while the cupcakes themselves came out rather tasty (how could they not? It’s coffee and chocolate and mint, three great and perfect things), even though I forgot the brown sugar. However, the buttercream…

Okay, so I was attempting to make Swiss Meringue Buttercream — something I have already made — but something happened, and no matter how much I mixed and mixed, the goddamn meringue would not form stiff peaks. I added the butter anyway in hopes that it would form anyway, aaaaaaand it didn’t. It was just soupy and liquidy and curdled and ugh. Some yolk must have gotten in the egg whites somehow. So, on the verge of tears once again because of frosting, I dumped it the useless frosting down the toilet and ventured out into the cold to buy two cans of storemade frosting.

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I felt like a dismal failure, but was determined to finish these cupcakes anyway, so I put the one can of plain buttercream in the pastry bag, and the other can I dyed red (well, I tried to dye it red, but it came out pink) and added a random amount of mint extract. Then I placed that on top of the plain buttercream already in the pastry bag, and mixed it all up as best as I could, in order to get a stripe effect.

It didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to, but they still looked pretty cool anyway.

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(yeah, they look a lot pinker in this photo than they do in real life for some reason?)

I brought them into work today, and was told they were awesome and that I should open my own bakery, so at least they were liked!

I’m going to try to update this blog more often in 2013. I won’t be posting once a week like I did when I first opened this site, but I’ll try to post something at least once every month or two.

Try being the operative word here.

Peppermint Mocha Cupcakes (from Annie’s Eats)

Cupcakes

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2-3 tsp. espresso powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 tsp. peppermint extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

Frosting

6 large egg whites
1¾ plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tsp. peppermint extract
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line cupcake pan with liner. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking powder and soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl, and the milk, coffee, and extract in another bowl. Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy, then blend in the eggs one at a time. Alternatively add the dry and wet ingredients until all have been incorporated, ending with the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 18-20 minutes.

For the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl over simmering water until the sugar has dissolved and it reaches a temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk frequently. Then remove the bowl off of the stove and using a stand mixer (preferably, unless you only have a hand mixer, in which case be prepared to stand there mixing for a whiiile) with a whisk attachment, beat at a medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Then lower the speed to medium and add the butter two tablespoons at a time. Stir in the extracts and beat until incorporated.

Layered Mocha Mousse

It’s difficult to remember that practice really does make perfect.

I’m one of those people that needs to be perfect — or, if not perfect, at least really good — at something the first thing they try it, and if that’s not the case, then to just give up and hate themselves. It’s not always an option to give up, though. And when you try and you practice because you have to, and then you get better? And then you eventually get to the point where you’re good at it? That’s a pretty great feeling.

It’s also something I forget to keep in mind when I’m trying new things. I wasn’t so great at baking when I first started. I’m still not perfect now, especially because lately I’ve been so busy I just haven’t had the time or the inclination to bake things. But I learn something new every time. And when I first started working at the bakery, I was incredibly awful at writing messages on the cakes. I couldn’t make the words fit, and my writing was sloppy and childish. Now, though, I am frequently complimented on my frosting penmanship, although once in a while I’ll slip up and wind up with frosting bursting out of the bag.

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Lately I’ve been trying to write stories again. I used to write constantly and, as such, got better and better the more I did it. I read stuff now from when I was in high school and am just amazed at how good of a writer I was — not to toot my own horn or anything. But now, when I’m trying to write a fanfic or a screenplay or what have you, I wind up so frustrated with myself because it doesn’t always just pour out of me like it used to. I know this is because there were several years where I didn’t write much of anything at all and I need to practice again. But it’s so much easier to just close out of Open Office and give up entirely.

This entry isn’t about a baking failure. The mousse turned out quite delicious, actually, even though I’m still not entirely sure this was a mousse because the recipe was sort of confusing. But I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few weeks because I’ve lost confidence in myself and my ability to write something engaging and interesting. Who the hell cares about anything I have to say? But people do care. Not a lot of people, granted, but there are a few of you out there who genuinely enjoy this blog and the things I write about.

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OH MY GOD LOOK AT THAT GANACHE I WANT IT GIVE IT TO ME

I mean, what was I saying?

For everyone who’s like me — all of you who give up easily, who don’t believe in themselves, who want to be the best at everything they try when they know it’s impossible — I know it’s hard to believe, but even if you’re not the greatest at something, there are people who will love what you do and will love you for doing it. Even when it seems like no one on Earth cares or gives a shit, at least one person out there does. And you have to keep doing what you’re doing, and do it for them. And even if, somehow, absolutely no one on the planet thinks you’re doing anything worthwhile? Fuck the world. Do it for yourself.

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And when you’re crying in front of your computer screen because you can’t think of an ending for your novel, make yourself this Layered Mocha Mousse because it is super delicious and is perfect for this ridiculously hot weather we’ve been having lately.

Trust me. I’m a professional. Except I’m not, but let’s just forget that little detail, shall we?

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Make sure you refrigerate this extremely quickly, though, as it melts surprisingly fast.

Layered Mocha Mousse
(from The Essential Chocolate Chip Book)

6 tablespoons cold heavy cream, plus 2 cups

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup of chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder

In a medium saucepan, heat the 6 tablespoons of heavy cream and the butter over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter melts. If you wish, you can measure the temperature to 175 degrees, but I didn’t do that and it turned out fine. The mixture should form tiny bubbles, and don’t let it boil or it might form a skin on top. If that happens, just scrape it off.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips. Let it sit for thirty seconds, then whisk until the chocolate has melted and is smooth. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Transfer 3/4 cup of the sauce into a large bowl and leave the rest for topping the mousse, and let cool to room temperature.

Have ready six stemmed glasses or goblets.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups of cream, the powdered sugar, instant coffee, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the whipped cream into the cooled truffle sauce in the bowl, then fold the remaining whipped cream into the… mousse? (This is what the recipe says in the book but there was no mention of a mousse earlier in this recipe, so I just ignored that part)

Spoon the mousse and the whipped cream in layers into each glass. You can top with some whipped cream in a can like I did, or just leave it the way it is. Use a spoon to drizzle the remaining truffle sauce on top. You might have to re-heat it again a little in order to make it pourable.

Cover and refrigerate until cold and set, about two hours, or even overnight.Or you can put it in the freezer and it’ll be ready in about an hour. Your call. Serve cold and om nom nom to your heart’s content.

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Peanut Butter Fudge Cheesecake

I was at work when I got a text message from my mom.

“Do you have a Hershey’s lookbook?”

Lookbook? Oh, cookbook. I texted her back no, then received another message informing me that she was looking at one in a bookstore right that moment and everything in it looked delicious and awesome and that she was going to get it for me. Hey, who am I to turn down a free recipe book?

And she was right. Oh god, was she ever right. I want to eat everything in this book, even the stuff I don’t think I would actually enjoy, like the black forest cake (or anything with cherries in it, really). If only there was a way to make stuff in books appear in the real world. I’d probably gain a hundred pounds.

But, such devices do not exist, and so I must make the baked goods myself. I decided on the Peanut Butter Fudge Cheesecake for a couple of reasons. 1) It looked amazingly tasty, 2) Because I’ve never made cheesecake before and it was about time I made one, and 3) Did I mention it looked really, really good?

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The recipe wanted me to use vanilla wafers for the crust, but I eschewed that in favor of graham crackers because I don’t play by the rules, man. As I was crushing the graham crackers with my rolling pin (instead of a hammer), I grew more and more worried. Given my track record recently, it seemed inevitable that I fuck this up in one way or another. The cheesecake would probably crack. Oh God, it was definitely going to crack. It was going to look awful. What if it tasted awful, too? What if it was just a lumpy and disgusting mess and a waste of cream cheese? WHAT IF THE WORLD ENDED BECAUSE OF THIS CHEESECAKE???

While the crust was cooking I hurriedly researched on the internet about how to prevent cheesecakes from cracking and the best ways to bake them. I grew more and more freaked out as I looked at the long lists of instructions and warnings. Cheesecakes are temperamental little buggers, apparently! Just the slightest thing could make them fall apart entirely, according to the things I read. I started losing more and more confidence, but I had already started making it, so I couldn’t stop now.

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And wouldn’t you know, one of the things I feared would happen came true — the cream cheese would not get soft and was still cold, therefore causing lumps in the batter. I actually started mixing it together a bit with my hands in an effort to warm the cold cream cheese and cause it to meld into the batter. It worked a little, but not really. Baking things in winter is impossible. Or maybe my microwave is doing it wrong.

Anyway, I kept going, melting the peanut butter chips and the chocolate.

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In hindsight, I probably should’ve used more peanut butter. The taste of peanut butter wasn’t as strong as I would’ve liked. I seperated the batter, and poured the melted chocolate chips into one, peanut butter chips into the other. Chocolate layer first, peanut butter layer second. The batter was still lumpy and didn’t spread across the pan quite correctly. The videos all had silky smooth batter that didn’t require spreading with a spatula. But, oh well.

Using a few of the tips I’d gotten from the Intertubes, I wrapped my springform pan with foil, filled a baking pan with water, placed the springform pan into that (it’s called a water bath, for those of you not ~in the know~), and put it in the oven, crossing my fingers. Not literally, but metaphorically.

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So sure was I that the top would be cracked once it was finished that, when I finally took it out of the oven some time later, I was astonished to find…

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NO CRACKS. NONE. ZERO. I was amazed and proud and confused. I kept feeling like, because it didn’t crack, I did something wrong. But nope! It was delicious! Everyone loved it and sang my praises over it! Parades were held in my honor! I was given a large, expensive medal!

Though, as you can see, I…uh… forgot to spray the pan. Again. Because I’m an idiot. I really need to remember to do that.

In any case, I’m really pleased that my first attempt at cheesecake went so well. It didn’t go off without a hitch, but you know, that’s to be expected. I have to remember I can’t be perfect at everything. Or anything, really, because most people aren’t, no matter how much it appears that they are.

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I’ll add the recipe here later, but I need to go to work soon.

 

Chocolate Cake/Cupcakes with Ganache Topping

What I’ve made for this post is nothing extraordinary — nothing, in fact, that I haven’t already made before. But after the disappointment of last time, stepping out of my comfort zone wasn’t really something I was prepared to do. Perhaps another day I’ll attempt a full-blown layer cake, but today is not that day.

I really wanted to make something for Valentine’s Day. This is the first Valentine’s Day I’ve been in possession of a boyfriend, and while I know it isn’t really that big of a deal, it was nice to finally feel smug after all those years of glaring at the girls in high school who carried balloons around with them all day and received dozens of chocolate roses from boyfriends and secret admirers. Finally, I’m one of them! IN. YO. FACE.

Of course, the day itself was pretty much just like any other day, except with more chocolate and cookies. And also these cupcakes I managed to whip together.

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(this isn’t the chocolate I used; I just like the picture)

For the cake itself, I used the same one I used for the Cupcake Cones I made a while back, but instead of using a spoon or a mixer, I used a whisk. Why? I don’t know. I just felt like it. This, however, served to make the cake very light and fluffy, due to the air molecules and blah blah blah science.

I forgot, however, to account for the fluffiness when I filled my cute, pink paper baking cups.

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Ahahaha. Oops.

All was well, though. I didn’t have a breakdown. I didn’t start crying. Instead I pulled the excess off and was left with mildly soggy baking cups and yummy chocolate cupcakes.

I’d wanted to make a coffee buttercream for these, but Rob was going to come over soon at this point, so instead I just topped it with the ganache I was going to use to fill it with. It looked kind of boring, though — just a thin layer of chocolate on top of more chocolate — so I took some Lindt truffles my mom got me and placed them on top as decoration.

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There, much better!

Rob seemed to like them, although the baking cups were difficult to tear away from the cake. It kept seeming like we were gonna have to wind up eating the paper as well, but thankfully we did not.

I only had five baking cups, so I had lots of batter and ganache left over. I stuck them both in the fridge to worry about some other time, and after several days of meaning to, I finally got around to using them today. I didn’t want to make more cupcakes for fear the Volcano Cupcake Disaster would happen again.

So I took a deep breath and poured the remaining batter in a 9-inch cake pan.

And waited.

And worried.

And then…

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IT’S PERFECT. LOOK AT IT. A PERFECT CAKE.

I was so damn happy I didn’t fuck it up and blow up the oven in an explosion of cake batter that I immediately shoved the cake in the fridge after dumping it on a plate and began merrily melting the leftover ganache in the microwave. Again, I made no buttercream, becaaaaaause I’m lazy. And also I had enough ganache to cover the whole cake anyway, so what would the point be?

Well, I did just that, and decided that, again, the cake looked boring. I had no more truffles, but we had some mini-chocolate chips in the fridge, so I did a little decorating with those.

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Overall, not too bad! It’s not a perfectly smooth coating, and there are still chunks of ganache that didn’t totally melt, but I don’t really care at this point. I only wish I could add a splash of color to this, but other than that it looks good enough to me.

And pretty tasty, too! You can’t go wrong with having EVERYTHING EVER BE CHOCOLATE.

Here are links to the cake and ganache recipes I used.

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake
Joy of Baking’s Ganache

Brownie Pops

I’ve been doing so many recipes from that Golden Book of Chocolate recently I almost feel like I’m doing a challenge wherein I’m trying to do all of the recipes in there, a la Julie & Julia. But I was flipping through its pages, and came across these absolutely delicious-looking brownies, and knew I had to try them.

Everything was going pretty well, at first. I chopped up the chocolate, melted it with the butter, mixed all of the ingredients together… eagerly looking forward to having what the book termed “Rich Chocolate Brownies”.

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I poured the finished mixture in the pan, popped it in the oven, and then remembered, half-way through baking, that I had forgotten to spray the pan. AGAIN.

This exact same thing had happened a few months ago when I was making brownies from a mix for my mom, and instead of learning from my mistakes I promptly made the exact same mistake again.

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AAARGH.

I was really, really pissed off. All of that work, and for fucking nothing. Just a crumbly, albeit tasty, mess. I couldn’t bring this to work. I couldn’t give anyone this garbage. Who would eat it? No one. Why can’t I ever make anything that looks pretty? Why does everything I bake have to look like it was slapped together by a drooling two-year-old? I should just give up.

But my usual defeatist attitude wasn’t going to win that day. I tried to think of something I could make with scraps of brownies.

And then I thought of cake pops.

I’ve had a bad relationship with cake balls and pops in the past. Mine just… never come out looking good. The last time I attempted cake pops was Halloween a year ago, when the melted orange candy kept burning and the cake balls kept falling off the sticks and it was all just so annoying and frustrating that I vowed to never make the goddamn things ever again.

What else to do with the brownie scraps, though? I bought some chocolate frosting, mushed it all together, and threw it in the fridge, where it sat for several days because work and Skyrim have eaten up a lot of my time recently. But I finally got around to melting some chocolate, rolling the brownies into balls, poking a stick in them, dipping them, rolling them in festive sprinkles, aaaaand —

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Wow! Not too bad! They don’t look super amazing and pretty, but they don’t look like a falling-apart mess, either. Maybe I can do this cake pop stuff after all. Probably not like Bakerella does, but still, it’s nice to know I can do the basics if I stop whining. And also if I refrigerate everything for ages. That’s probably the trick.

People loved these when I brought them to work, including my boyfriend, who had three. I still have a lot of brownies left over so I will probably make more for everyone for the holidays (that is, if they haven’t gone bad by now). This wound up being more interesting than just plain old brownies, anyway, so I guess it’s good I forgot to spray the pan after all.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

Ah, Nutella. My old friend. Nutella is the sensation that is sweeping the nation/world/Internet/universe, and while I do enjoy its chocolate-y hazelnut-ness, I’m not as big of a fan of it as everyone else seems to be. I can never have more than a spoonful of it at a time, and I don’t like it spread on my toast or on anything else.

Which brought me to a dilemma. I had purchased a can of Nutella a few months ago, and after eating small amounts for about a week, I lost interest, and it sat in the cupboard, alone, unwanted, and suffering ever since. I know. It’s practically a war crime, you say. So I had to come up with something to use it for.

As it happened, my friend Beth’s birthday was coming up, and I usually bake her something for such occasions. After asking her if she enjoys Nutella (she does), I decided to bake her a thing with Nutella in it, so I could hopefully use up the rest of the can and finally get rid of it.

Flipping through the chocolate recipes book Sophie got me, I came across a cupcake recipe that required no special frosting to be made — you would just frost it with Nutella. And I knew I’d found The One.

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And best of all, I wouldn’t need to buy any ingredients except sour cream.

For those of you not familiar with making cakes, you might be wondering what the hell sour cream is doing in a cupcake recipe. Believe me, I thought that myself the first time I came across a cake recipe that included sour cream. I mean, you wouldn’t smell and look at sour cream and immediately think, “Oh boy, I should put this in some pastry!” But the fact of the matter is, a little sour cream will make your cake nice and moist and delicious. It adds a special kind of flavor as well.

This recipe was simple enough, although it required bittersweet chocolate and all I had on hand was unsweetened. I could’ve just bought some bittersweet chocolate, but I’d been trying to get rid of this unsweetened chocolate for ages, just like the Nutella. So, when I melted the chocolate in the microwave, I added some powdered sugar to make it sweeter. Unfortunately, this made the chocolate thick like a frosting (yeah, I know, obvious), so I tried melting it a little more to make it thinner. It… worked a little.

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Doesn’t that look appetizing? But don’t worry, it’ll look less like an oil spill after it’s been mixed in.

I added my dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, until —

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Ta-da!

I always seems to have problems with the lighting when taking these photos, though. I keep having to change it in order to make the photos look decent. But I guess that’s what happens when you don’t really know what you’re doing…

Anyway, the dough was very sticky, so it was difficult getting it into the cupcake liners, but it all turned out alright in the end.

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OMNOMNOMNOM. Don’t they look delicious? And they were. I think the unsweetened chocolate gave it more of a kick than the bittersweet chocolate would have, since it wasn’t a lot to begin with anyway.

I was torn between putting the Nutella in a pastry bag and making it all fancy, and just spreading it on with a knife. So I made a compromise and the cupcakes that were for Beth were frosted fancifully, and the leftover ones I just slapped it on. Except, um, I accidentally used a smaller star tip than I’d intended, but it gave it a more interesting look, I think.

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The Nutella doesn’t really overpower these, which is good for people like me who like Nutella but not in excess. And it works pretty perfectly as a frosting, although it’s a fucking pain in the ass to clean. But on the way to Manhattan for Beth’s party, I accidentally flipped the container over and the Nutella stuck to the top and ruined the prettiness of the cupcakes. But I’m sure it still tasted good.

Happy 22nd Birthday, Beth! I hope you liked the cupcakes and the playlist.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Hazelnut Topping (from The Golden Book of Chocolate)

The Cupcakes

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup of butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sour cream

The Topping

1 cup of Nutella, or another hazelnut spread (but why would you use anything besides Nutella, what is wrong with you)

Toasted walnuts for decoration, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, then set aside. Melt the chocolate (whether in the microwave or in a double boiler) and let it cool while you beat the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in an electric mixer at high speed. Mix until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla, and with the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry mixture, alternating with the sour cream. Divide the batter into muffins tins with liner, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool, then frost with the Nutella.

 

Rich Chocolate Cake

IT’S THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF JACKIE RUINS THE CAKE!

I’ve learned a lot about baking since opening this blog a year ago. I’m not ruining cakes as much as I used to! I still have slip-ups and screw-ups in the kitchen sometimes, but I’m at a much better place than I was September 2010. I understand so much more about so many things — like how to make meringues, the science of baking powder, the process of baking cakes and how to mix properly and cream butter and sugar — and, what I learned with this recipe, how stiff egg whites will lighten your batter and thus, your cake!

I knew I had to make something awesome for the one year anniversary of my baking blog. Something epic. Something cool-looking. Something delicious. And when my best friend Sophie of Clumsy Kitchen gave me this TOTALLY EXCELLENT AND FANCY AND BEAUTIFUL book full of amazingly decadent chocolate recipes, I knew I had to pick something from there.

Of course I had to go with a cake. This is Jackie Ruins The Cake, is it not?

Problem was, all of the layered cakes in the book wanted shit like apricot preserves as fillings and almond extracts in the batter and crap like that. I don’t like almonds, and I don’t like fruit anywhere in or near my cakes. Plus I’m on a budget. So I decided to go with the Rich Chocolate Cake.

Oh, and did I mention my sweet new camera that I got for my birthday from my dad? Yeah. This thing is awesome. Expect much more quality photos from now on.

This recipe called for me to separate two eggs, and to use the two egg yolks in the batter. What this particular cake seemed to be was a combination of a sponge cake, with the stiff egg whites folded into the batter, and a regular cake, with butter and sugar creamed together.

I didn’t figure this out until later, though, so when my dough came out looking like this, after having kneaded all of the ingredients together with my hands instead of a mixer because I didn’t want to have to clean up yet another thing, I was a little worried. It looked more like cookie dough than cake batter.

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(okay, I know this photo doesn’t look very good, but the rest will, I promise!)

But then I added this:

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(see, told you)

And voila!

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(man I love this new camera)

Now, the recipe told me to use an 8-inch springform pan, but I used a 9-inch one for the following reasons:

  • I couldn’t find any 8-inch springform pans at my store
  • When the fuck am I going to use an 8-inch springform pan again? Never, that’s when.
  • I’m cheap and on a budget and 9-inch springform pan is just fine probably.

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I should probably learn how to spread batter properly at some point.

I’m gonna say that it was proooobably because I used a 9-inch pan that the cake finished baking fifteen minutes after I put it in the oven rather than the 40-45 minutes stated in the book. I was not expecting it to be done anywhere even close to that early, so it was lucky I looked in the oven when I did, otherwise I would  have — ruined the cake! *ba-dum-tish*

Because it was in the oven slightly too long the cake turned out a little dryer than it should have been, but it was still good.

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Okay, so the cake looks ugly. Who cares? I’m just going to cover it in cocoa powder and frosting anyway!

Speaking of the frosting…

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Who knew a little sweetened condensed milk, a little butter, and a bunch of chocolate would make such a delicious frosting? Man! I was a tad concerned that I was melting all of the ingredients in a saucepan sitting on top of a smaller saucepan filled with simmering water, but all was well.

Sophie also got me a boss set of decorating tips and a re-usable pastry bag, so I decided to put it to use for this cake. First, though, I sifted the unsweetened cocoa powder on top. I’m not a fan of sifting. Shit gets caught in those things like you wouldn’t believe. I had to use almost my entire thing of cocoa powder to cover the whole thing and the spots I kept missing somehow.

After that, I started piping the edges. I started out trying to do this fancy piping job, but then I got bored with that and just started doing crazy squiggles. It still looked good. Then I frosted the tiny sides, since I only used a 9-inch pan and therefore the cake wasn’t tall. I slapped some shaved chocolate I stole procured from work on said sides, sprinkled extras in the middle to hide some weird wet spots from my dripping wet hands earlier, aaaaaand —

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YEAH, MAN! This cake looks fancy as hell, dudes! And it tasted okay, too! The unsweetened cocoa powder definitely was a minus, though. It added a lot of bitterness unless you brushed it off. But the frosting! Oh man, the frosting was great!

I shall leave the recipe here for your baking pleasure. Enjoy, my friends! Celebrate the art of baking and the deliciousness of chocolate with me! I feel so bad posting a cake on 9/11.

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Rich Chocolate Cake (adapted from The Golden Book of Chocolate)

Cake

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup of superfine sugar (I just used regular sugar and it turned out fine)

2 large eggs, separated

Pinch of salt

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup butter

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

The Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour (or spray with a copious amount of cooking spray) an 8-inch springform pan (or a 9-inch one). Mix the flour, cocoa powder, and baking salt in a large bowl, then beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the egg yolks from your separated eggs one at a time, beating until just blended after each addition. Gradually beat in dry ingredients with mixer at low speed, if you’re using one.

With a mixer at high speed (you do kind of need a mixer for this next bit), beat the egg whites and salt until stiff peaks form. Fold them gently into the batter. Spoon and spread the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This will take 40-45 minutes if you use an 8-inch pan, and 10-15 minutes if you use a 9-inch one.

Cool the cake in the pan for five minutes, then loosen the cake by running around the edge with a knife. Remove the pan sides and invert the cake on a rack or a plate and let cool completely. Dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder (a sifter will make it look nicer).

The Frosting

Melt the chocolate, condensed milk, and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water, or a saucepan placed on top of a smaller saucepan with simmering water. Let cool, then spoon the frosting into a pastry bag and pipe a design around the edges of the cake. Decorate the sides of the cake with flaked chocolate if desired.

5 Minute Chocolate Mousse

What if I told you that all you needed to make a delicious mousse was chocolate, ice, and water?

I bet you wouldn’t believe me.

Well, you better believe it, because I just fucking did it ten minutes ago.

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This technique was created by French chemist Hervé This, who also famously unboiled an egg. Clearly the man was a genius. He somehow managed to figure out how to thicken chocolate using just water. And chocolate and water are usually not a good combination so that makes this even more amazing.

All you do is melt some chocolate in water, put the melted chocolate on top of water and ice, whisk it vigorously for a few minutes, and voila! Chocolate mousse!

But I still managed to fuck it up a little bit, of course. You know me by now.

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The first thing I did wrong was to not add water to the chocolate as I was melting it. My eyes just kind of skimmed over the recipe and I missed the bit where I was supposed to add a cup of water. But it didn’t really seem to matter, though, because my mousse still came out great.

I poured the melted chocolate into a medium mixing bowl placed atop a slightly smaller bowl filled with ice and water, and whisked and whisked and whisked and… nothing was happening.

The problem was, I think, that I was whisking it in a circular motion, because when I started doing it up and down…

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Wow! It actually worked! Look at this shit! All just using water and ice and stirring!

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SCIENCE!

I used Ghirdaelli 72% cacao baking chips because it was all I had on hand, but you can use any kind of chocolate you want for this. You can even add extra stuff too, if you want, like a liqueur or what have you. Experiment! Have fun! I know I’ll probably be making this a lot, just because it’s so easy and quick.

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I just have to figure out how to get mousse in fancy cups so it doesn’t look like a sloppy mess. Oh, well. I might someday. Probably not, though.

Hervé This’s 5 Minute Chocolate Mousse (from Cafe Fernando)

9.35 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate (60% or more)

1 cup of water

4 tbsp of sugar (optional, if you feel your chocolate is too rich by itself)

Ice

Place a medium mixing bowl on top of a slightly smaller one that is filled with ice and water. The bottom of the medium mixing bowl should touch the ice. Melt the water and chocolate, plus any other ingredients you may want to add, then pour into the mixing bowl on top. Stir vigorously in an up-and-down motion with a whisk until thick. Watch the texture! If you whisk too much and it becomes grainy, reheat until half is melted, then pour it back into the mixing bowl and start over.

Divide into four cups and serve immediately.

Cupcake Cones

For many people, summertime is the time for ice cream. Personally, I think all of the time is ice cream time, but I will admit it is a very awesome treat when it’s hot out and you’re sitting at home or walking around your neighborhood. And the ice cream trucks! There’s something special about ice cream from the truck. Even if it’s the kind of you can just buy at the store and keep in your freezer, it somehow tastes better after chasing down the ice cream man for blocks and blocks.

I recently came across a picture of what appeared to be ice cream, but was actually a cupcake in a cone with buttercream frosting on top, designed to look like an ice cream cone. “Holy shit, that’s really cool!” I thought to myself, and hunted down a recipe. I was sure it was going to be complicated, but every recipe I found was your basic “use a cake mix and put it in the cones and put the cones in the oven and yay you’re done!”.

Surely it couldn’t be that simple, though! Wouldn’t the cones tip over, or break, or burn? Wouldn’t the cupcake burst forth through the fragile sugar cone like the Hulk?

Surprisingly… no!

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All of the recipes for Cupcake Cones said to use a cake mix, but I decided to actually make it from scratch this time! This recipe used boiling water, which made the batter more… well, water-y, as opposed to your usual thick cake batter.

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A good tip that someone posted on a website was to put the batter into a Ziploc bag and pipe it into the cones. This worked very well, even though it was still a bit messy. Just… expect mess. A lot of mess. Chocolate everywhere.

I was still very nervous about the cones falling over, even as I gingerly placed the first batch into the oven. I checked them every few minutes or so, expecting to see broken cones and cupcake splattered everywhere, but it never happened. The cupcakes came out great, actually! They had nice little domes and it was really cool to eat through the cone to reveal more cake.

I used Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the icing, and it came out pretty good, although I realized after I had already piped the frosting on that I had forgotten to add the vanilla extract. But it still tasted okay.

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Also, for some reason my stand mixer wasn’t turning the bowl, so I had to stand there and twirl the bowl around so it wasn’t just mixing the same spot over and over. Then, randomly it started working again, so I was like, “Okay”, but then when I came back a minute later it had stopped again. What the hell, man. What the hell.

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Doesn’t it look nifty?! As you can see, the frosting has a slight pink tinge to it, because I finally used that Wilton Color Mist I got for my birthday last year. Be careful with those things, if you ever use them, because the spray gets everywhere. Cover everything in your surroundings if you don’t want to be wiping pink off of your toaster oven days later.

I didn’t have time to add more decorations, but I suggest going crazy with these things! You can add sprinkles, dip the top in chocolate, anything you want to make it look more like ice cream. These are super cute and really fun to eat and look at.

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The only problem is transporting them. If you have to bring these somewhere besides your house you might run into some problems. I’m lucky enough to work in a bakery so I took a cake board and a plastic container from work and stuck the cones onto the board with frosting, but even then they tipped over a couple times on the way. I would recommend making these wherever it is you plan to serve them. A lot easier.

Cupcake Cones

For the cake: Use this chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s.

Place the cones on a baking sheet or in a muffin tray. Pour the cake batter into a pastry or Ziploc bag and fill the cones a little more than half-way full. Carefully place inside the oven and let cook for about twenty minutes. Let cool.

For the frosting: Use the swiss buttercream recipe from Annie’s Eats.

Put the frosting into a pastry bag and, using a star tip, swirl onto the cupcakes so it looks like soft-serve ice cream. Decorate as you wish, and enjoy!

Dinner Parties: Slow-Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken & Chocolate Cloud Cake

Wait! What’s this? A non-pastry item on a site called Jackie Ruins the Cake?! What is this madness?

Well, it’s a nice little story.

In my travels across these great internets, I came upon a website called cookstr, which has all kinds of recipes imaginable. This coupled with the fact that I was watching the Food Network at the time meant that I suddenly wanted to make meals. Whole meals. Like pasta or chicken or something. Not to mention the site has all kinds of fancy dessert ideas. It gave me the idea to have some kind of adult dinner party with me and my friends. Problem is, I don’t really have a “dining room”. Or a “kitchen table”, even. It’s just a counter and two stools. So there was nowhere to have this dinner party and I had a sad.

However! My best friend Sophie (who has just started a food blog called Clumsy Kitchen, where she has her own post written up) liked my idea, and we decided to co-host the event at her house, which has an outdoor table and more cooking ingredients and supplies and everything awesome. Sophie would be making the appetizer and side-dish, and I would be making the main course and dessert.

I decided on Slow-Roasted Lemon Garlic Chicken and Chocolate Cloud Cake (as you can probably guess from the title of this post!). The Chocolate Cloud Cake is flourless, and having had a small cake with no flour in it I was curious to see what a large one would taste like. And the slow roasted chicken! Chicken is my favorite food and the recipe looked absolutely delicious and pretty easy.

Sophie, after some deliberation, chose scallion pancakes as the appetizer and a cold pasta as the side-dish to my chicken.

I made the cake the day before, since the chicken needed two and a half hours to cook, and the cake could be made ahead of time. I made my boyfriend buy the ingredients and the 9-inch springform pan I needed (which, now that I own, expect me to make cheesecake at some point).

The recipe involved separating six eggs, since there was no flour, and for once this did not end in disaster and discarded eggs! Oh my God! It’s a goddamn fucking miracle!

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(we still had to use the egg separator, but ssshhh)

I can’t remember if I mentioned this on here already — I probably haven’t — but in addition to that stand mixer I got for Christmas, I also got this nifty chocolate melter. No more melting chocolate in microwaves for me! Mwahahahahahahahaha! Yeah.

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We melted the chocolate and butter in the pot, then beat the whole eggs and the egg yolks with the sugar, and poured the chocolate mixture in.

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Very chocolate-y and whatnot. Then, it was time to beat the egg whites.

I’m still not entirely sure that I did this right — I mean, the cake turned out decently so I guess I did? But the recipe said to beat with the sugar until it was firm but not too stiff, which I think I did. I think.

In any case, what I was supposed to do next was put a dollop of the egg whites in the chocolate mixture and then fold in the rest of the egg whites. Instead I just dumped it all in there at once because I’m cool like that.

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It seemed fine, though.

Rob lined the pan with parchment paper, only not just the bottom, but along the sides too. This caused the cake, when it came out of the oven a while later, to have this odd ridged edge, like a pie. The cake also wasn’t very tall, so it really looked like a pie after I made the whipped cream later that night and poured it on.

Please excuse the bad photo, by the way. I forgot to take a picture with my proper camera after I had sprinkled the cocoa powder on top, and so this picture I took on my phone to send to Rob is all I have of the finished product. Tears.

Anyway, so that was done, and the following day was the dinner party! Rob drove us to Sophie’s house, where she and I began assembling the chicken.

I had tried this recipe already several weeks ago just to see how it came out, and I already knew it was going to be delicious. I had also pretty much memorized the recipe, so it was nice not having to look over at a computer monitor or a book every two seconds to see if I was doing everything right.

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Although, there was a mishap with the lemons. As I was chopping them up, I accidentally cut my finger and didn’t notice until I was done, so my blood got all over half of the lemons. But we just rinsed them and didn’t tell anyone, so ssshhh, it’s our little secret!

(I don’t have any diseases so it’s okay, don’t worry)

We were left with some chicken left over and no more garlic, though, so we used a spare lemon Sophie had to in the fridge, sprinkled on some paprika and rosemary, and voila! Some Lemon… Rosemary… Paprika Chicken! Yay!

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If you notice that these pictures look nicer than the one I usually take, it’s because I’d forgotten my own camera, and so I had to use Sophie’s better, more expensive one. It’s a hard life I lead.

Anyways, we covered the two roasting pans in foil and had them sit in the oven at 310 degrees for two hours. While that was going on, Sophie started her pasta and I went and bothered Rob, who was sitting in the living room watching The X-Files.

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After that was done, she did the scallion pancakes, which I can suddenly kind of smell from my memories.

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You can read more about the pasta and scallion pancakes on her entry here.

After the two hours, I snatched the aluminum foil off of the pans and cranked the temperature up to 450 degrees. The chicken smelled fucking delicious. The scent of lemon, garlic, thyme, and meat was permeating the kitchen, and it was making my stomach rumble.

Finally around 4, when the guests were set to arrive, the chicken was done and I arranged it “artfully” on a platter.

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Beth was the first to arrive at around 4:20, and after we had all sat outside Bonner came at 4:30 or so. We sat and ate the scallion pancakes, which were tasty, and the juice Sophie had made, which was very refreshing. The chicken was brought out, wine was drunk, laughs were had, stories were shared, and Rob played games on his iPod. All in all, it was a lovely day spent cooking and eating delicious food and having fun with friends. It’s something we’re definitely going to have to do again.

I don’t have time at the moment to type up both of the recipes, so I will instead direct you to the links at cookstr, which is a fantastic website you should give a look-see.

Chocolate Cloud Cake (I actually wasn’t particularly a fan of the texture of this cake, but some might like it.)

Slow-Roasted Garlic and Lemon Chicken (This. Is. So. Fucking. Good. You will not regret making this, trust me. And it’s super easy. You don’t even need to cut a chicken if you don’t want and it’ll still be amazing. I will definitely be making this again sometime.)