Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Let Them Eat Cake!
This past week has been an eventful one in my house. My daughter turned sixteen on Saturday and my son turned nine on Sunday! Yes, that means that my children are seven years and one day apart. I almost wish they were born on the same day so we could just have one joint cake but knowing my children, that wouldn't work out anyway as they have very different tastes. This year my son had a sleepover for his birthday so that meant another cake. Yes, between Friday and Sunday we made and ate three cakes. Oh my.
For Friday's sleepover I thought cupcakes would be just perfect so we decided on chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. And may I recommend, if you are going to be eating cake for three days straight, do not choose a cake recipe that makes thirty-six cupcakes. Luckily, we found people willing to take some of the cakes off our hands. I have to tell you this cupcake recipe that I found makes one of the best chocolate cakes I have every eaten. The cakes were light and moist and stayed tender for three days. I almost wish they went staler sooner so I wouldn't have been still eating them three days after the party.
The cake recipe I used came from http://www.injennieskitchen.com/2010/02/devils-food-cupcakes-chocolate-ganache-frosting.html
and I can't recommend it enough. It was so good. The frosting recipe I used was my own. Basically a stick of butter, cup full of peanut butter, couple of cups of powdered sugar and then enough half and half to give it a super creamy and fluffy consistency. I think I ended up using about a quarter of a cup. The frosting was perfect. Creamy, light and very peanut buttery.
My daughter requested Boston Cream Cupcakes from Cook's Illustrated's Family Baking Book. They are a family favorite and I've made them many times.
Really, how could you could you go wrong with a tender, buttery cupcake that gets hollowed out (the absolute best method for filled cupcakes) and stuffed with vanilla bean flecked pastry cream? And then to gild the lily, they are topped with silky bittersweet chocolate ganache.
I could have taken a spoon and eaten that pastry cream like pudding.
By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around I was getting tired of cake. And tired period, for that matter. That was a lot of activity for one weekend. Still, there was a sweet boy's birthday to celebrate so I valiantly pressed on. The third and final cake was the one I was the most excited about. I always ask my kids what they want and I always hope that at least one of them will tell me to make what ever I want. I got lucky this year. The final birthday cake was an experiment all the way. I used a white cake recipe as a template and turned it into a coconut cake by replacing the milk with coconut milk and the vanilla extract with coconut flavoring. And I got to try out my new cake leveler which cuts perfectly even cake layers. I'm not a fan of uni-taskers but I have had to piece together many a cake that I tried to cut myself.
The cake was filled with a passionfruit curd which was also an experiment. I had bought six passionfruits not realizing how little juice they release. Six passionfruits gave me one quarter cup of juice.
After running around madly trying to find more passionfruits, I had to substitute passionfruit juice for the other quarter cup. I couldn't find straight passionfruit juice or passionfruit juice that didn't have HFCS so I bought one that was a mixture of pear and passionfruit but luckily the juice just tasted of passionfruit.
The curd recipe was my own. I used seven egg yolks, two whole eggs, half a cup of passionfruit puree, half a stick of butter and one and one half cups of sugar. I added two tablespoons of cornstarch to the mixture because I wanted to make sure the final curd would be stiff enough to work in a three layer cake. I mixed everything together and cooked it over medium high heat until it thickened. When I tasted it I felt that the sugar dulled the tartness of the passionfruit so I ended up squeezing the juice of one large lemon into the curd. Then it was perfect.
The cake was iced with a seven minute meringue frosting which I made on a rainy day so there were some setting issues with it. It was a bit runny but I solved that by storing the cake in the refrigerator until serving time.
It was a successful and delicious birthday experiment.