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

EASTER CUPCAKES WHITE CHOCOLATE&PISTACHIO NUTS

Hello! Here we’re ready for Easter Sunday, and we’re preparing something sweet to celebrate! As usually, I’m really short in time, so I thought to make some cute cupcakes: this time I’ve taken inspiration from Laura of the beautiful blog Mondo Delizioso and her White Chocolate Cupcakes. Here my “revisited” recipe and the photos!Yum!

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INGREDIENTS:
– 80 gr butter (room-temperature)
– 150 gr sugar
– 2 eggs
– 200 gr flour 00
– 1 teaspoon baking powder for desserts
– 125 ml milk
– 70 gr white chocolate (in bits)
– fine chopped pistachios

FOR THE FROSTING MOUSSE
– 80 ml milk
– 5 gr food grade gelatine (food jelly)
– 120 gr white chocolate
– 250 ml cream to whip

FOR DECORATION
– sugar paste (green or other pastel colours)
– coloured Easter eggs

PREPARATION:

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First of all, let’s prepare the cupcakes: start whipping-up the butter together with the sugar; then, add one egg at a time, and every time you add an egg, you have to whip-up the mixture.
In the meanwhile, sift out the flour together with the baking powder; incorporate – time and time again – the flour together with the milk, little by little, to the mixture of butter and eggs; blend with a spoon till the ingredients are amalgamated. Finally, add the white chocolate in bits and blend again well with the spoon. Fill up the cupcake cases and put them in the oven  (160°/max 180°) for 20/25 minutes. When the cuppies are ready, let them cool down.

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From now on, you can start preparing the mousse: put one sheet of food jelly in the cold water for some minutes; at the same time, warm up the milk in a small pot – bring it just near to a boil, then turn off the cooker.
Chop up the white chocolate, then put it in the hot milk till it’s completely liquefied; add the food jelly – after you’ve squeezed it – to the mixture of milk and chocolate, then blend with a spoon for a while.

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Let the mixture cool down at room temperature, then add the whipped cream: incorporate it bottom up carefully with a spoon. Put the mousse in the fridge for some hours (according to the consistency you want to reach).
When the mousse is ready, you can finally make decorations: garnish the cupcakes with the mousse, using a “sac a poche”. Use the sugar paste to make a nest for the Easter eggs (or, if you find them, for the sugar chicks)

If you love white chocolate, this recipe is just for you, the flavour is really delicate. Sorry for the bad quality of the photos, hoping that they’ll not compromise the recipe… Happy Easter 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

CHRISTMAS TIPS/LES TRUFFES AU CHOCOLAT

Hello!I’m so busy during these days that i have no time to upload the blog!So many things both to do and to think about, i’m feeling like on a merry-go-round! Here Christmas’ mood has finally sprout, so in this period also on the blog, i’ll post some home decorations i usually make for Christmas, and also some Christmas recipe. I like this special atmosphere.Today i want to start with a winter classic recipe: Truffes au chocolat (in italy we call them “praline” or “tartufi” al cioccolato) The “truffes” are pralines made of chocolate flakes melted into milk cream. When the choco-cream is cooled and consolidated, you shape it in small irregular pralines, and after you roll them into cocoa powder, or some other ingredients.

In this recipe, i’ve covered the “tartufi” also with pistachio (chopped in small pieces), flakes of chocolate and coconut, or with simple icing sugar; but, if you wish, you can use many other ingredients, like minced hazelnuts and almonds.

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INGREDIENTS (for about 30 “tartufi”)
Fine Fondant (Extra Bitter) Chocolate: 150 gr
Fine Milk Chocolate: 100 gr
Fresh Milk Cream (or double cream): 150 ml

FOR COVERING:
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Chocolate Flakes
Pistachios
Icing sugar
Coconut Flakes

PREPARATION:
First, you mince finely the chocolate (both fondant and milk). Pour the milk cream in a small pot,  and  bring it to a boil. After, remove it from the cooker and add to the cream the two types of chocolate. Keep melting since all the chocolate liquefy: the result has to be a smooth, without lumps mixture. Melt till the chocolate became dense, then let the mixture cool down. When it will be cold, but still not completely solid, melt energetically one more time to obtain a lighter mixture. Put together small quantities of mixture helping you with hands, or with two teaspoons, to make small balls: put the “truffes” on a tray and put them in the fridge to make the “tartufi” become solids. (at least for 1 hour and 30 minutes) When pralines are solids, you can finally roll them in cocoa powder and in the other covering that you have already prepared. Preserve the “tartufi” in the fridge into a covered container till you’ll serve them.

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To make the presentation of the “tartufi” even better, you can use an old pralines’ box, putting each “tartufo” in a tiny coloured cupcakes’ wrapper. (in the first and last photos you can see one of the boxes i’ve prepared) For Christmas usually i use silver or white wrappers. You know, nobody can resist at these delicacies!Happy Christmas time! Cris

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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!

C IS FOR .. COOKIES! (OF COURSE!)

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Hello! For All Saints’ Day I made this simply recipe, (I had so few time that it was impossible to make some cute Halloween cookies…) that i found on Cakemania. (www.cakemania.it) These cookies are really fast to make and so good to eat, you have to try them! Here the recipe:

INGREDIENTS:
(FOR 10 COOKIES)
– 300gr flour
– 200gr cold butter
– 100gr granulated sugar
– 1 egg yolk
– 100gr apricot jam/100 gr nutella (but you can use every kind of jam or chocolate)

PREPARATION:
Put all the ingredients – except jam  in the mixer and activate it at low speed. You’ll obtain a consistent mixture. Knead the mixture till it’ll become compact. Make a circle with the mixture (two fingers height), roll it up in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least half-hour. In the meantime, switch up the oven at 180° C and cover a baking tray with a piece of paper. Take out the mixture of the fridge; cover in flour the working plan  and spread out the mixture till it joins a 5 mm height.
Cut the cookies with two round cookie cutter (the bigger 9-10 cm diameter; the smaller 3 cm diameter); every cookie is made by a “BELOW” part (on this part you’ll spread the nutella or the jam) and an “ABOVE” part. (which you’ll put on the top)

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Put the “ABOVE” and the “BELOW” parts in the oven and cook them till they become golden on the top. (about 10 minutes)
Let the mixture cool down and after, put together the two parts of the cookies spreading in the middle a teaspoon of nutella/apricot jam.

Buon Appetito!

SWEET (AND RAINY) MONDAY

Buon inizio settimana! Che ne dite di renderlo un po’ più dolce? Oggi vi propongo un classico delle torte “veloci” e che piacciono davvero a tutti:

TORTA DI RISO SOFFIATO E MARS

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INGREDIENTI:

– 1 scatola di riso soffiato “Rice Krispies” (375gr.)
– 8/9 barrette Mars
– 120gr. di burro

N.B.: dose per due tortiere piccole o una tortiera da 30-32 cm.

PREPARAZIONE:

Mettere i Mars e il burro in una pentola alta sul fuoco piccolo al minimo; fare sciogliere bene fino ad ottenere una specie di “nutella”.
Versateci dentro poco a poco, mescolando, l’intera busta di riso soffiato.
Continuare a mescolare, sempre a fuoco minimo, dal basso verso l’alto in modo da amalgamare bene il composto.

Versare ora in una tortiera (rotonda o rettangolare) e con il batticarne battere bene il composto, cominciando dai bordi. Il composto tenderà ad alzarsi nel centro: terminati i bordi, battere nel centro cercando anche di livellare la torta. Non abbiate timore di pressare troppo, più si pressa e più compatta sarà la torta.

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Una volta pressata bene mettere in frigo. Toglierla dal frigo circa 15-20 minuti prima di servire.

VARIANTI: per chi non ama particolarmente il caramello, è ottima anche la versione con cioccolato fondente e al latte. Basta sostituire le barrette di Mars con un’eguale dose dei due cioccolati.

Buon Appetito!

SOMETHING SWEET! (AGAIN)

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CLASSIC CUPCAKES – Dosi per circa 10-15 cupcakes

INGREDIENTI:

125 gr. di burro a temperatura ambiente
1 bustina di vanillina
165 gr. di zucchero semolato
150 gr. di farina
1 cucchiaino di lievito per dolci (se non si utilizza già una farina autolievitante)
3 uova
60 ml di latte
scorza di limone grattugiata (facoltativo)

PREPARAZIONE:

Preriscaldare il forno a 180°. Amalgamare bene tutti gli ingredienti con il mixer:  iniziare a mescolare zucchero e burro a temperatura ambiente, aggiungere la farina, la vanillina ed il lievito, completare con uova e latte. Continuare a mixare gli ingredienti finché  il composto non diventa una crema soffice e di color giallo pastello.
Dividere il composto e versarlo in una teglia per muffin o nei pirottini. Cuocere i cupcakes in forno per circa 20 minuti: una volta che sono dorati tiralli fuori, lasciarli raffreddare e decorarli a piacimento.

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Glassa al burro al cacao: con le fruste elettriche amalgamare 200 grammi di zucchero a velo setacciato con 100 grammi di burro a temperatura ambiente. Se si vuole ottenere una glassa aromatizzata aggiungere il cacao (come in questo caso) o, per le glasse colorate, il colorante alimentare. Amalgamare tutto con le fruste fin quando non si sarà formata una crema omogenea. Mettere la glassa all’interno di una tasca da pasticcere e decorare i cupcakes  (una volta raffreddati altrimenti la glassa si scioglie).