Thursday, August 27, 2015

Muscovado Drizzle Cake with Pecan Nuts and Cream Cheese Frosting

I thought it was about time for another epic cake. There have been a few, this one, oooh and this one, and definitely this one

If I could, I would just create OMG cakes all day long, but then they wouldn't be special, right? And boy is this one special. See how many words are in the title? Life tip: when you see a cake with THAT many delicious things in it's name, you know it's going to be gooooooood. Just look at it... *moment of silence, please*

A cake this beautiful always has a muse and my muse for this one was real, proper Muscovado sugar. 

Dark Muscovado sugar has a more intense molasses flavour than it's Light counterpart
I've only recently discovered the world of proper unrefined sugar. Until now, I've kind of just thought that sugar is well, sugar; although it comes in different forms which can alter the texture of baked goodies it really just adds sweetness, not flavour. 
That was until I spotted a new Dark Muscovado sugar made in Mauritius by a brand called Natura Sugars. I brought it home, and ended up eating it straight out the bag, with a spoon. It is THAT good. Rich, dark, complex and dusky. 

Remember when you discovered proper dark chocolate for the first time? This is like that. The real friggin' deal. A total game-changer.

My general motto in life, is that if something tastes good on a spoon, it automatically tastes good in anything else. And this cake once again, proves my hypothesis (woah big word alert). The sugar takes it to a whole different level. 

FYI 'Muscovado' means 'unrefined' in Spanish - although in Spanish they say 'Mascabado' - and Muscovado sugar was first crafted in Latin America several centuries ago. 

 So, with my muse selected, I set out to create a cake to show off all the complex flavours of dark and light Muscovado sugar. Spices. Pecan nuts. Butter (always butter). A bit of cream cheese - okay, a lot of cream cheese,  and, of course, there had to be a Muscovado glaze; drippy cake glazes are, like, so in right now. 

Sorry, but it's hard to care about cake decorating trends when you know the cake is so delicious it's not going to last long enough to be Instagrammed! ;) 

Muscovado Cake with Pecans, Cream Cheese Frosting and Muscovado Glaze
Serves 8-10

4 large eggs
120ml buttermilk
120g butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
280g cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp salt
100g pecan nuts, finely chopped

Cream Cheese Frosting
100g butter, softened
250g full fat cream cheese*

Muscovado Glaze
50g Light Muscovado Sugar
50g Dark Muscovado Sugar
75g butter
125ml cream

To Serve
Crushed shortbread (I used chocolate-coated shortbread balls too)
Candied pecan nuts, crushed
Pecan praline shards (see Tip)

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celcius.
Grease and line 4 x 20cm sandwich cake tins (or use two and slice the cake in half)
In a stand mixer, whip the eggs and sugar until very light (almost white), thick and fluffy. 
In a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. 
Pour this mixture into the egg mixture.
Sift together the remaining dry ingredients and fold into the creamed mixture along with the chopped pecan nuts.
Divide the batter between the cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sponge is golden brown on top and bounces back when pressed lightly. 
Allow the cakes to cool completely, upside down, before unmoulding. 

For the frosting, cream the butter, Muscovado and Demerara Icing sugar until light and very fluffy. Add the cream cheese and whip until very fluffy. 

To make the glaze, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until dissolved. Then bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute then set aside and allow to cool. 

Assemble the cake by layering the cake with the cream cheese frosting. To make layering easier, freeze the layers for 20-30 minutes before you begin assembling, this will make the cake more rigid and keep the frosting in place. Frost the sides of the cake, drizzle with the glaze, then decorate with pecan nuts, shortbread and extra frosting piped on top.

TIP: If you'd like to create the pecan shards, place 1 cup of light Muscovado sugar in a saucepan with 1 tbsp water and simmer until melted and caramelized. Pour over a handful of pecan nuts scattered on a greased and lined baking tray. Allow to cool completely then break into shards. I also crushed some to toss onto the side of the cake. 

*This post has been sponsored by Natura Sugars who produce a range of really special sugars that are unrefined and made according to traditional Mauritian sugar-making techniques. The sugars are non-GM, non-irradiated and unbleached with no preservatives, colourants or syrups added which basically means they are pure, natural and packed with flavour! 
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies

You see that nibbled cookie there in the back? Now let me tell you something about food stylists, most of them would carefully break off a piece of said cookie to look like someone had taken a bite out of it, they would then meticulously arrange the crumbs with tweezers to look like they accidentally tumbled from the cookie. Er, yeah... that's totally what I did... JOKES! 

Are you kidding me?! The best way to make a cookie LOOK like it's had a big bite taken out of it is to TAKE A BITE OUT OF IT. And also, I ate a ton of these cookies while shooting them. The batch didn't make 9, I just ate so many that there were only 9 left...

 Oh you want to know about the cookie? Of course you do! Because you want to eat way too many like I did. That's why you're here!
This recipe is my twist on Christina Tosi's childhood chocolate chip cookie. 
Christina Tosi, incase you don't know, is the sweet genius behind Momofuko Milk Bar in the US. I haven't met her, but I just know we would be baking besties. 

For me, the perfect chocolate chip cookie has firstly, more chocolate chips than cookie and secondly, is crispy on the outside but chewy in the middle. This is ALL of those things!  Chris (my baking bestie) uses milk powder in her recipe, I swapped mine for Horlicks (because I basically keep them in business with my addiction) and I revved up the chocolate chips. And I really mean revved, because I used three kinds; white, caramel and milk chocolate. Good things always come in three's, people. 

Also, imagine Astro's or Smarties in these? Or Chuckles?

Now, go forth and bake cookies!

Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe inspired by Christina Tosi
Makes 24

225g butter, melted (still warm but not hot)
1 cup packed Natura Light Demerara Sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour
2 tbsp Horlicks (malted milk drink) or milk powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
360g chopped chocolate or chocolate chips*

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celcius. 
Mix together the butter and sugar for 1 minute or until well combined. 
Beat in the egg and vanilla for another minute. 
Mix in the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda until just combined. Add the chocolate bits and mix again. 
Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto lined baking sheets ad bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. 
I'm not going to even bother telling you how to store them because there won't be any left to store. 

*TIP: Chopped chocolate is much better than choc chips, in my opinion. We're looking for ooze here, and choc chips are way too stabilized. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Microwave Double Chocolate Lamingtons

This chocolate cake recipe is legendary in the Williams household. 
It was the first thing I learnt to bake, probably the only reason we owned a microwave and definitely one of the last things I want to eat on this earth.
 The sponge is light as a feather and has been layered into birthday cakes, baked into a bundt and glazed with chocolate icing for bible studies, and poured into slabs and topped with swirls of tinned caramel for school fundraisers. It can be a cupcake, a swiss roll - and now, a lamington!

Start to finish? These lamingtons will take you 30 minutes flat (if that). 
Or your money back. Jokes! But seriously, just chuck everything in a bowl. 
Whisk. Microwave. Dip. Roll. Eat. Repeat. (The eating part, that is)

The recipe is really so easy that I've memorised it. Which is pretty handy, you know for cake emergencies and all.

I've made mine pretty ('cos I love pretty things - yes, even my lamingtons) by baking them in heart-shaped silicone moulds which you can buy super-cheap nowadays but you can simply bake the batter in a silicone muffin tray, or a microwave-safe dish and then cut them out with cutters or keep them in blocks. 

These are the classic lamington flavour (chocolate and coconut) but I will mention that my intention was to give them a tart twist by stuffing the insides with a raspberry sauce.  But I was craving the classic and they tasted just too darn good on their own. You can be more creative than I was and sandwich the cake together with jam, or caramel(!) or flavour the dipping glaze with coffee or liqueuer. 

You know what the only problem is with making a recipe from memory though? There's a very real possibility of leaving an ingredient out, say for instance, the sugar. Which I totally did! And yes, I flop recipes too. All the bloody time. And on that bombshell... go make these! Now! Just make sure to add the sugar ;)

Microwave Chocolate Lamingtons
Makes 18-20

1 cup (250ml) cake flour
1 cup (250ml) caster sugar
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
4 tsp (20ml) baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup (250ml) hot water
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract

Chocolate glaze
60g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (60ml) cream
2 tbsp (30ml) golden syrup or honey
1/4 cup (60ml) hot water

Toasted desiccated coconut, for tossing

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. 

Divide the batter between silicone heart moulds (or whichever you desire) sprayed with cooking spray - don't fill more than halfway as the cake mix expands quite a bit. 
Now pop the moulds into the microwave and microwave on full power/high for 2-3 minutes or until the cake springs back when you touch it in. 
Remove from the microwave and allow to cool slightly before unmoulding. 
Continue with the rest of the batter. 

TIP If your silicone tray doesn't fit in your microwave (mine didn't), cut it in half - the cakes will cook more evenly too. 

While the cakes are cooling, make the glaze by placing all the ingredients in a small microwave safe bowl and heat gently until melted and glossy. Allow to cool. 

When the cakes and glaze are completely cool, use a pastry brush to paint the glaze onto the cakes then toss in the toasted coconut.