Sunday 7 December 2014

Sunday Baking: Chocolate Overload

I have a couple of baking blogs in my Feedly reader. One of them is Bakerella, who I think seems to have invented cake pops. She does a lot of cake pop recipes. I am not the cake pop kind. I can't be doing with the sugar paste modelling. Just dip that sucker in melted chocolate and let's eat.

A couple of weeks back, though, she shared this recipe which I just had to make. WOW. It's like you take a chocolate cupcake and then think of everything you can do to it to make it more fattening. Not just chocolate buttercream, not just a caramel filling, but an added drizzle of chocolate ganache, and a topping of toffee popcorn, and then more caramel just in case you were not already in a diabetic coma. I decided I had to give it a go.

It's a long process. It has a lot of steps. But the end result is pretty spectacular. I even broke out my Pampered Chef icing gun thing which I bought 15 months ago and have never used. Here's the recipe - adapted just a little, because I have my favourite go-to caramel recipe.

1-2/3 cup plain flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. bicarb
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup hot water

125g butter
125g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
Half a tin of condensed milk

Chocolate Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup butter
175g dark chocolate

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2-1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1-3 tsp. milk (I had chocolate coconut milk in the fridge so I used this)
Toffee popcorn

To make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 180˚C and line cupcake tray. Place dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the paddle until combined. With mixer on low, add eggs one at a time, mixing until just combined - fun! It looks like crumble. Add milk, oil, and vanilla, mixing until combined. Slowly add hot water and mix until combined. Look doubtfully at the extremely wet batter and become convinced this isn't going to go well. Pour batter into cupcake liners until about 2/3 full and bake for 15-18 minutes. Marvel at the alchemy of baking.

To make caramel: Heat the ingredients until the butter and sugar have melted, then bring to the boil and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The caramel will start to pull away from the sides of the suacepan when it's done. Remove from the heat and whisk for a couple of minutes until it turns pale. This is my go-to caramel recipe for everything; I cooked it for a bit less than normal so it wouldn't go too solid in the cakes.

To make ganache: Heat cream and butter until just before boiling. Remove from heat and beat in the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then stir together until completely incorporated and smooth.

To make frosting: Sift sugar and cocoa together in a medium bowl and set aside. Using a mixer, cream the butter. Slowly add sugar in intervals on low speed, mixing until combined. The recipe calls for a whole extra cup of icing sugar but there's absolutely no way I could have got that much into the mixture without it becoming a brick-like entity. Add vanilla, salt, and 1 teaspoon of milk and beat 1-2 minutes. Add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until creamy.

To assemble: Core cooled cupcakes and fill center well with caramel filling. Replace removed cupcake section to cover opening. Pipe chocolate buttercream frosting on top. Top with cooled chocolate ganache. Place popcorn on top of ganache (I used a mixture of Butterkist and that Cadbury chocolate coated popcorn) and then drizzle with more caramel.

Overall, I'm quite pleased. They are a lot more effort than I'd usually go to, but I am planning on sharing a few with my GCSE class on Tuesday (who will be extremely depleted thanks to trips and exams) so I wanted to wow them. I think my buttercream could have been a bit stiffer - I went a bit overboard with the milk because it was so stiff to begin with. Also, I need to practise my piping. Project for the new year, maybe.

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