Monday, 20 February 2012

Chocolate Eclairs and Valentine Cupcakes

I have had a long weekend this week with an extra day off from work, although I have been very busy dealing with buttercream of another nature. I decided to paint my dining room and part of my living room and the colour I chose was called buttercream, proving that definitely almost every part of my thinking is ruled by baking.

but today after all that painting I have been making chocolate eclairs, I first made these a few days ago and they tasted fine however were a little smaller than I wanted and I didn't wait for the chocolate icing to set a little before topping (well I was hungry) so they didn't look as neat as todays lot, they also didn't last long enough for me to take a picture (oops) so today I used that as a good excuse to make some more, of course it just wasn't that I wanted to eat more it was definitely all the name of getting a picture (hehe).

Any way, they are really yummy and the pastry cream is very moorish, i usually always bake cake rather than pastry but i will definitely be making these more for friends and family (or maybe just me!) here they are:

And filled with yummy pastry cream,

and here's how they are made:

Chocolate Eclairs

For the choux pastry:

150ml Water
70g Butter, diced
100g Plain Flour, sifted
2 eggs

For the pastry cream:

2 Eggs
4tbsp Caster Sugar
2tbsp Cornflour
300ml Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract

For the icing:

2tbsp Butter
1tbsp Milk
1tbsp Cocoa
55g Icing Sugar

Pre heat oven to 200degC and lightly grease a couple of baking trays.
Place the water in a saucepan with the butter and heat gently until the butter melts, bring to a rolling boil. remove the saucepan from the heat and add the flour all at once beating well until the mixture leave the sides of the saucepan and forms a ball. Leave to cool slightly, then gradually beat in the eggs until you have a smooth, glossy mixture. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle, I found a disposable piping bag with the end cut off worked fine.

Sprinkle the baking trays with a little water and pipe the eclairs well spaced apart with room to rise. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until crisp and golden in colour. Make a small slit in the side of each eclair then cool on a wire rack.

For the pastry cream. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar until thick and creamy then whisk in the cornflour. Heat the milk until almost boiling and pour onto the egg mixture whilst beating. Transfer these to a saucepan and cook over a low heat stirring until thick. (This part is really important as the first time i stopped stirring and turned my back for a second and the mixture had thickened, so for a smooth mixture, stick with stirring) Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Leave to cool.

To make the icing, melt the butter with the milk, remove from the heat and then stir in the sugar and cocoa. Leave to chill and set slightly.

Split the eclairs lengthways and pipe in the cooled cream. Spread the icing over the top of the eclairs. This time I made the icing in advance and waited until it had almost set and piped on top in ribbons.

The eclairs can then be decorated with a mix of icing sugar and water piped on (as I have here) or some melted white chocolate drizzled over.

and that's it!

Also as last week was valentines I also had some orders for valentines cupcakes, some were decorated with rolos (last rolos) and sprayed with edible silver and the others with cream cheese frosting and sugar hearts, and they were very well received. here they are:

Well that's all for today, now to plan what to bake next... after I eat this last eclair. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mocha Cake and After Eight Cupcakes

One of my best friends is on  what she calls the wedding dress diet so when me and a few others were visiting her house last week and bringing all sorts of treats to eat round I couldn't leave her out but wanted to give her a lower fat option so she didn't feel to guilty when having a treat.

Of course I couldn't possibly bring myself to only make and eat low fat cake so I also made some sinful cupcakes too to make up for all that light airy but not so guilty baking.

For the lower fat cake I used my trusty good food cakes app on my Ipod touch as I knew they had a specific section for low fat cakes. I'd already decided (as I had most of the ingredients) that it was going to involve chocolate in some way so I decided on the Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mocha Cake. It's only 180kcal a slice with only 3g of saturated fat per slice, mainly due to the lack of butter and oil. and here it is:

My cake is a little thinner as I didn't have the right size tin and I have to admit the cake in their picture looked far darker in colour, I have a sneaky suspicion they cheated and added more cocoa (or maybe it's just their photography)I was also meant to take a picture of the cake once cut but I forgot as I often to when there's cake to be eaten.

The base of the cake itself is made in a way I have never tried before (you need a table top mixer or an electric hand whisk) and it does indeed make the cake very airy and light, It's not intensely chocolaty and the filling and topping is made using fat free Greek yogurt, I'd say it's not a very indulgent cake but hey, what do you want for low fat, and considering the amount of calories per slice it's definitely worth a go if you want a treat but are trying to be good.

Any way, here's how it's made:

Light and Fluffy Chocolate Mocha Cake, via Good food cake app. 

For the cake 

3 Large Eggs
85g Caster Sugar
70g Plain Flour
1tbsp Cornflour
2tbsp Cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the Icing / Filling

25g Dark Chocolate chopped (Don't use 75% or the icing will be to bitter)
1tbsp Strong Black Coffee
100g Light Soft Cheese
100g 0% Greek Yogurt
2tbsp Icing Sugar

To decorate

15g Dark Chocolate chopped

Pre heat the oven to 180dgC. Lightly butter 2 x18cm Sandwich tins and then line the bases with baking paper.
Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 mins in a tabletop mixer of 10 mins with an electric hand whisk. The mix will have increased greatly in volume and be thick enough to leave a trail and the surface when the blades are lifted. 
Sift the flour, cornflour, cocoa and baking powder over the surface of the egg mix and fold in gently using a large metal spoon. Divide between the tins, gentry spreading to the edges, then bake for 15-20 mins until the cakes are well risen, have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tins and spring back when gently pressed. Leave to cool in the tins for 5 mins then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, microwave the chocolate and coffee together for about 20-30 seconds until the chocolate has melted. Gently stir until smooth, then cool slightly. Beat the soft cheese with the yogurt and and icing sugar until smooth, spoon half this mixture into a bowl stir in the melted chocolate and set aside.
Place one cake on a serving plate and spread with the yogurt mixture, cover with the other cake, then spread the chocolate yogurt mixture on top.

To finish, melt the 15g of chocolate, stir until smooth, cool slightly then drizzle over the cake. 

And that's it!

As I said before I also made some full fat chocolate cakes too, I made a batch of After eight cupcakes. A chocolate peppermint cupcake topped with mint frosting and a mint chocolate. Here they are:

The recipe is the same as my Mint chocolate candy cane recipe except using a bit of Green food colour in the icing and topping with a mint chocolate instead of crushed candy cane. I preferred these far more than the low fat cake, but they do come with an extra serving of guilt. Oh well if I have both that evens it out right?

Any way that's all for today, I'm off to eat a failed batch of macaroons all in one go and pretend they never existed.

Bye for now

Cupcake Kris