Monthly Archives: April 2011

Cocoa Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


You know who’s really gorgeous and makes me want to put on falsies, lush pink lipstick and wish I could turn into a wide-eyed beauty?

Her voice wraps you in a soulful, sincere hug.

You just need to listen to this.

Don’t you just want to pull on a shimmery dress and click your heels? Red heels.


Well, we may have red shoes but we certainly don’t have red cake. I wanted a red velvet cake. I had it all pictured in my head. It was lustrous and moist, offset by stark white cream cheese frosting. So what if I had pink food colouring instead of red; fine, we’d have pink cake. But when you run out of plain milk and only have chocolate milk left, it’s pretty much brown cake for you!

But it isn’t the brownest of browns, it border on brown suede shoes sort of brown. And since while we’re at it, we might as well add in some dark chocolate chips, so it can be like a chocolate chip cookie. It’s really such a fun cake to eat on so many levels; sweet cream cheese, moist sponge and a 80% chance of melty chocolate in your mouth. Now that’s an entertaining cake!


Cocoa Velvet Cake (inspired by this recipe)

3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup rice flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sorghum flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp tapioca starch
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup chocolate rice milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two 5-inch round cake tins with baking paper.

2) Mix the apple cider vinegar with the rice milk and allow to sit while you mix up the rest of the things.

3) In a large bowl, sift the flours, cocoa powder, baking soda together.

4) In the bowl of a KitchenAid, whisk the oil and the sugar together. Add in the egg and whisk on medium for 30 seconds. Add in the flour mix and the soured milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

5) Divide the batter evenly between the two cake tins. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the batter and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from tins and allowing to cool completely.


Cream Cheese Frosting

200g cream cheese, softened
60g butter, softened
1.5-2 cups icing sugar, sifted

1) In a bowl of a KitchenAid fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cheese and the butter together. Add in 1 cup of icing sugar, mix well, before adding in another 1/2 cup. Keep adding until the desired sweetness is achieved. The cake isn’t very sweet so bear that in mind.

To Assemble

Place one cake layer on a plate and spread about 4 heaping tablespoons of frosting on it. Place the next cake layer on top and pile on the remaining frosting, spreading over the top and sides. Allow to ‘set’ for 1-2 hours in the fridge before serving.

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Filed under Cakes, Chocolate, Frostings, Recipes

Salted Caramel Brownies

I have a terrible sense of estimation. It’s almost as if guess work just isn’t my thing. I’m good at Guess Who; well, either my sister or I will win. But estimation requires this bit of calculated guess work and that, my friend, is the difficult part. You couldn’t even reduce it to luck, because it mostly isn’t. And quite possibly, I’d have to attribute part of this senseless estimation to my mother. Ever since I can remember, my mother has been a fan of over ordering, over estimating, over budgeting just to ensure we’d never have to go without or not have enough food to go around. And that’s the brilliance of this household, you can bet your knee-high socks we’ll never let you go hungry.

But the problem is… some days we’re left with half a jar of salted caramel sauce plus half a tub of cream cheese frosting with no cake to frost. It’s not really a bad problem to have, just one that requires a bit of baking to fix. I know right- bake more to use up the leftovers… pretty ironic. But then you take this magical salted caramel filled brownie to the office and remind them that it’s finally Wednesday and everyone will instantly cheer up. And that’s where the real magic lies!

This brownie comes from Baked NYC of which I will soon be visiting no doubt in about three weeks time. I AM SO EXCITED!

Sweet and Salty Brownies (Adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

Caramel Filling

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup sour cream

Brownie

1 1/4 cups GF flour blend
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces (311g) good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To Prepare Filling

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup water, stirring them together carefully so you don’t splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 175 C, or until the mixture is dark amber in colour, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream (it will bubble up and splatter) and then the salt. Whisk in the sour cream. Set aside to cool.

To Prepare the Brownie

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light coloured metal 9 x 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.

Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature.

Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not over beat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will not be fudgey.

Tip the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is a just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.

To Assemble

Pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern,try to ensure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your  spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.

Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs (when it’s completely clean it will be dry)

Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or fleur de sel) and 1 teaspoon coarse sugar.

Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving. I love mine straight from the fridge, totally fudgey and cold.

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Filed under Caramel, Chocolate, Recipes

Zucchini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

My friends came over for tea yesterday; a ritual I’ve termed ‘tea party for no reason’; and that’s a mighty good reason to have it almost monthly. And you know how I could tell my guests were pleased? When A said “This is a great tea party, there are no veggies on the table.”

“But there’s a zucchini cupcake!’ I chimed

“Ah, but it’s yummy”

And so it was to be, that I had convinced her to overlook the vegetable and see it for what it really is; a really tasty cupcake. In fact, if there was ever a kid in class you teased your whole life only to see them 10 years down the road, happy, confident and a whole lot of pizazz, this is quite like it. But I’m sure you’re all nice folk out there and no kid ever got teased by you…right?

And the cream cheese; strong enough to hold it’s own and not begging to melt on a balmy day. I’ll say we have ourselves a mainstay. I suppose it’s even a good way of saying you’re getting a dose of vegetables and milk…if you need anymore convincing, that is.

Happy Easter and make like a rabbit and eat your veggies ;)

Zucchini Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 cups GF flour mix (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 zucchini (10 ounces), coarsely grated (1 1/2 cups)*
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.      Preheat oven to 175°C. Line cups of a mini muffin tin with paper, foil liners or grease it well. Set aside.

2.      In a medium bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Mix in nuts.

3.      In another bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs, and vanilla; add to flour mixture, and mix just until combined.

4.      Divide batter evenly among the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean, 12-15 minutes.

5.      Cool in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes; turn cupcakes out, right side up, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make frosting. With a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle, pipe the frosting on. The frosted cupcakes are best eaten within 1 day.

*I squeezed the zucchini to remove about 2 tablespoons of juice from it before using.

Cream Cheese Frosting by Sweets by Vicky

  • 125g cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 40g butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2-2.5 cups of icing sugar, sifted

1.       In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add in the sifted icing sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fully incorporated.

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Vegan Coconut Cupcakes

I caved. I let myself sink my teeth into warm cranberry scones slathered with mascarpone and apricot jam. And look what’s happened now- fuzzy head, my judgement’s all furry and not to mention the slightly ballooning tummy. Silly, silly and silly. What a good slap on the head to remind myself why I avoid it in the first place. Want proof? I knocked over a whole glass of water during dinner, shocking both the unsuspecting waitress and me, mid-chew.

My brain’s all over the place, my mind is as scattered as mad skittles falling to the ground. It’s like a crazy little hurricane building inside of me. I thought I might come online to rant but who’s really free to listen to someone else’s burden? You’ve probably got a pile of laundry that needs to be washed; the train never comes on time and everytime you’re late for work the boss always has something to say; the sandwich you paid good money for is cold and dry; the dress of your dreams never comes in your size; your new shoes are giving you blisters; you spilled wine down the front of your new shirt; your phone runs out of battery halfway through the day; the lady in front of you takes forever to decide what to order…you get the drift.

Let’s start a ‘Be Thankful Day’. I’m tired of listing all the rubbish we go through and feel each day. And listing all the things I want to do and achieve makes me feel mildly depressed. So I’ll write about the things I already have. You should grab a pen too, we’ll do it together alright?

1) I’m going to see Rachel Allen in less than a month.
2) My hair has finally almost grown past my shoulders… :)
3) Next week’s a 4 day work week!
4) A super sweet friend all the way in Melbourne sent me a notebook and a card just to put a smile on my face
5) I’m going to have coconut cupcakes for breakfast tomorrow and they’re gluten, egg, dairy and refined sugar free.

It’s not the biggest list, but it’s a start and I feel better already. Actually, I think I might have a cookie to cheer me up.

If your day looks like grey skies ahead, these cupcakes have a great fluffy texture and the aroma from the natural sweeteners and toasted coconut will take you somewhere else, away from crazy town. If you’re not dairy intolerant, a gorgeous swish of cream cheese would work like a charm.

April also marks the Springtime Brunches edition of Go Ahead Honey It’s Gluten Free! hosted by Maggie at She Let Me Eat Cake. It’s going to be a good one, I know it; Easter’s in the air and brunch is the perfect meal for having the best of both worlds (pancakes for lunch…SWEET!). You need to check out her round up.

Vegan Coconut Cupcakes (adapted from The Flying Apron Bakery Book), makes 33 cupcakes

4 cups brown rice flour (I only had white rice flour on hand)
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/3 cups canola oil (seems like alot but the cupcakes are generously sized)
3 cups water
1 tsp apple cider
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups palm sugar, (comes in a block; grate roughly and melt in a saucepan, measure)
1 cup agave syrup
3 cups shredded, toasted coconut

1) Preheat oven to 175°C. Line 33 muffin holes (if you don’t have that many, I suggest halving the recipe or putting the batter in the fridge while the rest bake).

2) In a large bowl, mix the flours, salt and baking soda together.

3) In another large bowl, whisk the syrup, palm sugar, water, vanilla extract and oil together. Add in the flour mix in 3 turns, whisking well after each addition. Add in the toasted coconut, mix well and divide evenly into the muffin holes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes and remove from tin to cool completely.

To Finish:

Grate another 100g of palm sugar and melt with 2 tbsp of water. Use that as a glaze to allow mounds of shredded, toasted coconut to stick.Add a drizzle of dark chocolate for a cupcake akin to a bounty chocolate bar. :)

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Filed under Books, Breakfast, Cupcakes, Fruit

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Hong Kong makes my legs hurt. Hong Kong causes a temporary inability to feel tired and for that matter, angry, upset, lonely and aimless. Hong Kong is bustling with so many people that it’s just impossible to feel that way. And the shopping, oh how it makes my mind whirl filled with giddy excitement. I didn’t buy much (read: tiny sizes, even for shoes!) but the sheer assortment to look at is filling enough.

And then we come to the food. I can only sum it up in so many ways…let’s just say you will never ever find yourself starved in HK.

Which also leads me to an important announcement; I’m cutting prawns, chicken, eggs and refined sugar from my diet (or as much as I can manage it). My eczema has gone mad and my skin’s as dry as the Sahara Desert.YUCK. So based on a couple of sources, chicken, eggs, prawns and sugar has the tendency to wreck all sorts of havoc on a person’s skin. So, let’s try this for a month and hopefully it’ll clear some. Expect a range of vegan recipes coming your way in the next few weeks but don’t be surprised if you see a butter attack midway through.

Luckily vegan chocolate fudge cookies don’t contain any of the barred substances so I can dunk them quite freely in ice cold almond milk. And this is bliss.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Cookies (from The Allergen-Free Baker’s Handbook by Cybele Pascal)

1 1/4 cup GF flour blend
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp xantham gum
2/3 cup refined sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup rice milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, cream of tartar and xantham gum together.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the oil and milk on high for 30 seconds. Add in the sugar and vanilla and mix well. Add in the flour and blend. Pour in the chocolate chips, mix well. It will look as if the chips aren’t ‘sticking’ to the dough, just press them into the cookies later on.

3) Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto the baking tray and press down with your palms. Bake for 15 minutes. Do not overbake or it’ll be dry and not fudgey anymore.

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Cake Truffles

You know those cake pops that’s got everyone’s mind in a whirl? I thought I hated them. It’s such a bizarre concept to hate such an adorable thing, but I did.

It started like any other love story; a love at first sight thing. And I figured they had to take yummy because they looked it and everyone was gaga over them. So a yellow cake and some frosting later, I had my ‘cake pop’ mixture ready to be turned into lovely, squishy gobs on a stick. It was a no brainer…until the cake pops started sliding down, down, down the lollipop stick until it eventually made it’s way to the bottom. Upside down pop? More like a massive hole in my squishy gobs. That’s it, we were through. I never laid eyes on a cake pop ever again.

But a recent turn of events, kicked started by a highly successful vanilla cupcake recipe meant I had a new found confidence instilled in me, raring to take on all the things I had failed to conquer in the past (gluten free choux pastry- you better watch out!). And so the chocolate loaf cake half that was sitting so patiently in the fridge along with some leftover ganache were married together. And I lined a baking tray, formed my little truffle-like balls and left them in the fridge to set. And today, I dipped them in melted couverture chocolate and voila! No sticks but definitely tastier than loser cake pops.

This recipe is a rough guideline. I think that the amount of frosting needed to form the pops depends largely on the type of cake you’re using and the moisture levels in them. My chocolate loaf was fairly dense and moist so I only added 4 tbsp of ganache for half a cake. The mixture should come together easily but still have a couple of bits which you can slowly meld into one to form pops that won’t slide; even better, they’re cake truffles. Say it with me…cake truffles. I bet you could even use softened Nutella as your ‘glue’ and cover them with nuts. Ferrero Rocher truffles.

Tomorrow I shall find myself in a land entirely different from my own. For one, I will find myself rendered quite useless at communicating effectively. If I were to do as the locals do, I would be having milk tea for breakfast alongside a huge fluffy bun filled with lashings of butter which cafe owners will oblige with wild abandonment. Lunch will roll around at any time of the day; so long as my stomach begs for it. Dinner? It doesn’t exist. They will simply all be clustered into a category called ‘meals’. It’s silly to keep track really. Hong Kong makes me hungry.

I will be back soon, til then, go make some cake truffles!

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Filed under Chocolate, Inspired, Recipes

Sour Cherry Cupcakes

In order to stop myself from eating a third cupcake, I am resorting to munching an apple along with a low fat hot chocolate drink. Pathetic I know.

You see, up until now, I am pretty sure I have never searched, researched and failed at a recipe so many times like I have at baking a gluten free vanilla cupcake. How everyone so gracefully succeeds at this basic cupcake is beyond me. Instead this is how the scene is. Quivering, worried, quite certain I’m about to fail…again.

I remember once, I was so desperate for a vanilla cupcake for my uncle’s 50th and all I had was batch after batch sadly finding home in the rubbish bin. Not ideal.And I might have some close to succeeding, but it felt more like me ‘settling’ rather than being overjoyed with finding the right one. So like finding the perfect boy, this was a mission not to be taken lightly. After yet another really crap attempt yesterday with Hummingbird Bakery’s vanilla cupcake recipe (which I should’ve guessed would’ve turned out wrong when it started to…split!), I woke up this morning armed with a mission. Magnolia Bakery vs Primrose Bakery. Two bakeries, one cupcake, one highly frantic baker.

Great.

It was a stupid test I thought, since I’ve actually baked from these two books and wasn’t successful thus far. But everyone’s favourite cupcake recipe couldn’t fail me…right? And I’ve been to Primrose…it was good…HOW BAD COULD IT BE?! (tension building, nerves going mad, and I was kinda hungry)

TURNED OUT SUPER ACTUALLY! :) Guess who won?

PRIMROSE!!!

Fluffy, super fluffy, none of that gummy business, and it grew up tall, rounded, really handsome and tanned. Perfect. (the cupcake, not the man)


Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Primrose Bakery)

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
180g caster sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups minus 2 tbsp GF flour blend
1.5 tsp baking powder
120ml whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1) Preheat oven to 170°C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

3) In another bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together. Add the flour into the egg mixture alternating with the milk and vanilla. Beat until mixed through and pour into the prepared tins.

4) Bake for 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Let cool in tin for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sour Cherry Filling

1.5 cups frozen cherries, thawed
4 tbsp granulated sugar
2 heaping tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water

1) In a medium saucepan, add the cherries and the sugar and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

2) Mix the cornstarch and the water into a slurry and slowly add it into the cherry mixture, swirling as you go. It will thicken up almost immediately into a jammy consistency. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Buttercream

110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2-4 tbsp milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
400-500g icing sugar, sifted

1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and 400g of the icing sugar on low until mixed through.

2) Add in 2 tbsp of milk and the vanilla. Mix to combine. If frosting is too liquid, add in the remaining icing sugar. If it’s too stiff, add in the remaining milk, 1 tbsp at a time.

3) Use immediately or keep in an airtight container in the fridge. To use, bring to room temperature.

To Assemble

1) Cut out a ‘cone’ shape from each of the cupcakes. Fill the hole with 3 cherries. Cover the ‘lid’ back on.

2) Pipe a swirl of buttercream over the cupcake and allow to set slightly before topping each cupcake with 1-2 cherries.

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Filed under Cupcakes, Frostings, Fruit, Recipes