THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BUTTER CREAM CUPCAKES

Hello to you all! This week I receive a special request from Mons to translate one of the firsts recipe that I published on the blog. I was really honoured by this, so I decided to share with everybody the translation of my previous post. After all, yesterday started a brand new FiestaFriday party, isn’t it?

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INGREDIENTS: (10-12 cupcakes)

– 125 gr. butter (room temperature)
– 1 vanillin bag
– 165 gr. granulated sugar
– 150 gr. flour 00
– 3 eggs
– 1 teaspoon baking powder for desserts
– 60 ml milk
– grated lemon peel (optional)

FOR THE BUTTER CREAM

– 200 gr. powdered sugar
– 100 gr. butter
– 100-125 gr. milk chocolate

PREPARATION:

Preheat the oven at 180°C. Amalgamate well all the ingredients with the mixer: you start mixing the sugar and the butter together. After that, you add the flour, the vanillin and the baking powder. In the end, you add the eggs and two-three spoon of milk. Continue mixing the ingredients at maximum speed until the dough will turn into a soft and yellow cream.
Pour the mixture in a  muffin pan (every mould must be half-filled) or use directly the cupcake wrappers. Cook the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes till they become lightly golden on the surface: now let the sweets cool down before decorate them.

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For the chocolate butter cream: use the whisks to amalgamate well 200 gr. of powdered sugar – previously sifted – with 100 gr of butter at room temperature. Now you can flavour the cream: I added the liquefied milk chocolate. (molten at bain-marie) Amalgamate again with the whisks till the mixture will be uniform. Use a pastry piping bag to decorate the cupcakes with the chocolate butter cream. Add some coloured sugar flowers on the top.

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CHRISTMAS TIPS: FAKE GINGERBREAD MEN

Hello to you all! Ready to welcome the New Year? We’ll spent the New Years’ Eve eating at a friend house, all together. Today I wanna share with you the last recipe of the year! I would have posted it before, for Christmas, but I hadn’t time enough. As you can see, I tried to prepare some kind of “gingerbread men” – only for the shape, after all. –

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Basically, you must know that in Italy gingerbread isn’t so wide-spreaded like in America or other countries. For us, also the gingerbread men shape is something “imported”. We have a bunch of different type of cookies, but one of the most used dough for them is the so-called “pasta frolla”(shortcrust pastry).
This year I made the gingerbread men made by cocoa shortcrust pastry instead of gingerbread. I was in doubt for the result, but as you can see they are really pretty. I made decorations with white&red sugar paste, instead of using royal icing.
Here the recipe:

INGREDIENTS: (10-12 cookies)

– Flour 00: 300 gr
– Cocoa powder: 30 gr
– Butter: 150 g
– Powdered sugar: 130 gr
– Eggs (yolk): 3

PREPARATION:

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To make the shortcrust pastry, first of all sift the flour, the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar. Put all the ingredients in the mixer, together with the cold butter, chopped in cubes. Blend everything till you’ll obtain a sandy-like and floury mixture, then transfer it on a floury pastry board.
Make a well in the centre of the flour (in many blog i’ve read ” make a volcano with the flour” , or “make a whole in the center if the flour”: it’s the same, in Italy we say “fare una fontana”), then pour in the center the 3 egg yolks, and knead powerfully till you’ll have a compact and elastic dough.

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Shape a block and wrap it into the plastic wrap, then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it; pasta frolla is a simple preparation really good both for cookies and tarts. If you notice that the dough is a bit too dry, you could add a spoon of egg white, or better a spoon of milk/water.

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Use the gingerbread man mold to shape the cookies and put them on a baking tray. Cook them for maximum 10 minutes at 180 °C. Let them cool down before starting the decoration. I used sugar paste to make the eyes and the mouths, and the remaining butter cream of the cupcakes to make some buttons. I gifted the cookies to my relatives wrapped in transparent pastry bags.

That’s all! I wish you a wonderful Happy New Year 2015! And Happy Fiesta Friday to my talented blog-friends!Cris

THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Hello, good morning to all of you! I hope that you spent beautiful Christmas days! I’m late for Fiesta Friday this week, but I thought first to stay with my family and take a little break. Today I would like to share with you the recipe of the cuppies I made on Christmas’ Eve day. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS: (12 cupcakes)

– Flour 00: 120 gr
– Granulated Sugar: 120 gr
– Butter (room-temperature): 120 gr
– 2 Eggs (medium)
– Dark chocolate: 80 gr
– Baking powder: 1 teaspoon (4 gr)
– Cocoa powder: 20 gr

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PREPARATION:

To prepare the cupcakes, you start with melting in a bowl all the ingredients “in powder”: sift out the flour, then the cocoa powder, finally the baking powder.
Make the chocolate liquefy at bain-marie, and hold it by. In the meanwhile, whip the butter (already at room-temperature) together with the sugar – help yourself with an electric mixer – and after add the eggs, one after another. Continue whipping till you obtain a spumy and fixed mixture.
When you’re done with the butter and the sugar, you add to the mixture the dark chocolate. Mix a bit before adding the flour, the cocoa powder and the baking powder. The powders have to be added little by little with a spatula, making circular mouvements from the bottom to the top.
When the cupcakes mixture seems homogeneous – during this step you could add also other ingredients like chocolate chips, or chopped hazelnuts – transfer it in a sac-à-poche.
Lay down the cupcakes’ wraps into the muffins’ mold and fill them for 3/4 in height. Cook the cupcakes in the oven for 15- 20 minutes at 180 °C, watching the cooking with a toothpick. When the cupcakes are ready, let them cool down before starting with the decoration.

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DECORATING THE CUPCAKES: THE BUTTER CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

– Butter: 125 gr
– Powdered sugar: 250 gr
– one (or two) spoon of milk
– vanilla flavouring

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PREPARATION:

Chop the cold butter in cubes and put it in the mixer; work it at the maximum speed for 30-40 seconds; after that, you could start adding the powdered sugar, a little at a time: I added every time two spoons of sugar, always mixing at the maximum speed, often opening the mixer to remove the sugar stuck on the borders.
When you finish the sugar, you could finally add the milk and the vanilla flavour: mix again the last time for 30 seconds. Let the cream cool down in the fridge for a while, then use a baking syringe to decorate the cupcakes. If you wish, add also some decorations with coloured sugar paste.

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THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE

Hello!Last Friday I was really busy preparing this great cake for Davide’s birthday. I worked all the morning and also for half afternoon, but now I can say that the result payed my efforts. I took some shots during the preparation, it would be nice to hear your comments about it… Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

For the cake:
– 115 gr wheat flour;
– 100 gr sugar;
– 4 eggs;
– 100 gr butter;
– 175 gr dark chocolate;
– 10 gr baking powder for desserts;

FOR THE FILLING:
– 250 gr Nutella cream;
– 200 ml fresh cream to whip

For the butter cream:
– 250 gr powdered sugar
– 125 gr cold butter;
– 1-2 milk (or cream) teaspoon;
– vanilla (or almond) extract

Decoration:
– Sugar paste (yellow and orange) as needed;

PREPARATION:

First of all, put the chopped dark chocolate together with the butter in a bain-marie. Wait till the ingredients are completely liquefied. In the meanwhile, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites, sift the ingredients such as flour and sugar, then mix with a wooden spoon the egg yolks together with the sugar. Then add the liquefied chocolate and the butter and blend all the ingredient well.

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After that, add the flour with the baking powder, little by little, and blend the mixture every time you add a small quantities of flour; finally, whip up the egg whites and add them to the mixture. Mix always bottom up, till you’ll obtain a soft and compact dough. Warm up the oven and cook the cake at 200 °C for 30 minutes. I choosed to make two different round baking tray (diameter 18 cm) to make a cake with two layers – but you could also cook the mixture all in one baking tray. (diameter 26 cm)

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Until the cake is in the oven, you’ll start preparing the butter cream: this is the cream you’ll use to cover the cake. The preparation is really simple: cut the butter into cubes and put it in the mixer. Work the butter at maximum speed for 30 seconds. Then sift the powdered sugar (to avoid lumps) and add it to the butter, two spoon at a time, always using medium-high speed. From time to time, remove the sugar stucked on the borders of the mixer. When you have finished the sugar, you can add the vanilla extract. Work the mixture for a last time (5 minutes) till the cream will have a soft, light colour.

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The cake in the meanwhile is ready: take it out from the oven and let it cool down on a grid. It’s time to decide which cream you’ll use for the filling; I choosed a nutella cream and I prepared fresh whipped cream. I assembled the cake with the two layers of stuffing, then I started to cover it with the butter cream: during this last step, pay attention to spread equally on the cake surface the butter cream, using one or two spatula.

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Put the cake in the fridge for one hour, then take it out and start to decorate it with sugar paste and chocolate syrup as you prefere. When you finish, you can conserve the cake in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Happy Fiesta Friday and Happy Halloween to you all!Cris

SWEET VALENTINE

Hello!Did you spent a great Valentine’s Day? I did! And I put really much efforts in this cake (so many efforts that I want to show you the few shots I took of the preparation). The mixture is really simply to make, I had to put more attention in the cooking time, because this kind of mixture (similar to a “giant cupcake”)  “increases” really quickly, and growns up in the center, so after you have to flatten the surface of the cake … Anyway, I took a whole afternoon to make it!Davide really appreciated it. I’m so happy. Cake design is really a beautiful word, but you need so many patience (and the right tools) to have good results. (and this is not my case, I love to “extemporize” a lot!)

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The mixture is made with farina, eggs, sugar, butter, baking powder, vanilla extract, and a bit of grated lemon peel; the mixture is soft and rich, I added to it also some dark chocolate chips. I cooked it in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C. Then, when the cake cooled dowm, I covered it with nutella cream, and then with white sugar paste.

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Nutella is not exactly the perfect base for sugar paste, i know, but i put the cake quickly in the fridge, and i payed attention at the temperature of the sugar paste during the making. (if it’s a bit cold it’d better) And, afterall, Nutella is so good, is there anyone that dislikes it?

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What do you think of the result? For me it’s beautiful, just only cause I put so much effort and love in it! And you, did you make something with your hands for your sweethearts? Have a great week! Cris

INTRODUCTION TO CAKE DESIGN!

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Hello! How is going your week? Yesterday i was looking at some old photos and i found the photo of my fisrt Cake Design Experience, a course which i attended in April with teacher LallabyCakes to decorate cakes with sugar paste. I’m always been attracted by sugar paste cakes, they’re so coloured and beautiful, so many subjects to realize! Before taking part of this course, I was asking myself how was it possible to make such beautiful flowers and subjects with such a high precision .. In reality, i discovered (and i was really relieved!) that there are some tricks. Many tricks. And above all, there are a bunch of tools that you must have to make seriously cake design. (some item a bit expensive, i think) Let me show some basics that you can use to give a try!

NON-STICK BOARD, ROLLING PIN & SMOOTHER
They’re fundamental to “stretch out” the sugar paste in a uniform way. They make a trio with the smoother, used to make the sugar paste smooth and without imperfections.
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PLUNGER CUTTERS (stampo ad espulsione)
This is a really a great invention! There are different sizes of different flowers and subjects, so you’ll obtain perfect decorations in half of the time! I found pretty much of a variety of subjects (fashion, flowers, leaves, animals,  shells, stars, and so on) and i think it’s one on the simplest (and funny) way to start with decoration.
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ROLLER:
Second great invention! Before reading about the tools of the cake design, i always asked myself “How is it possible to make such perfect decorations, even elaborated laces all around the cakes? Now i have the answer: decorated rolling pins and, for wide surfaces, the decorated roller. The effect is guaranteed!
The surface of the roller is smooth, but you can insert, from both the sides, little “barbed” circles, which create regular patterns on the sugar paste.
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MODELING TOOLS
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These are some of the principal modeling tools that you’ll need to shape the sugar paste easily. Really fascinating, seems always to make a sculpture while using them!Here the main common tools (they’re in order, from left to right)

1) Bone tool: to smooth curves and flowers cavities in sugar paste;
2) Blade&Shell tool: to cut the paste and to realize small details like paws, decors and borders.
3) Ball tool: to smooth flowers’ petals and to create volants.
4) Scallop&Comb: the extremity Scallop cut the sugar paste to create laces or to make circular cuts in the paste; the extremity Comb help you to impress parallel lines or the “stitching effect” on the paste.
5)Serrated Tapered & Cone tool: the barbed tool impress a “star pattern” on the paste, instead of the smooth extremity that help you on modeling flowers.
6)Tapered Cones 5/6 Star tool: it’s usefull to impress a “star pattern” (like a stuffed stitching) on the paste or to modeling flowers and petals.
7)Bulbulous Cone tool: the cone extremity is perfect to create volants on stripes of sugar paste.
8)Hint tool: to model and create vains on petals, flowers, hairs and other details.

When you use these tools, be sure to make it on this soft sponge, which doesn’t ruin the shape of your decoration.
set-2-pz-spugne-modella-fondenteNow I’m ready for the second level course!I hope that our teacher will organize it soon! In my photo, the cake we decorated during the basic course, and my “participation certificate”! At the end of the course, (which was organized in a pastry shop of my town), the owner of the shop gave us a little present: some plunger cutters, a barbed pincers and a decorated ruler. I was so happy!