Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Filling and Coconut Buttercream

Yum... these were good

Although I am unmarried myself, I do generally enjoy weddings. Some may not believe that as sometimes I complain about them (as they are a great reminder of my own single status) but honestly I do like them. But for me it isn’t about any particular detail or the fancy displays or anything, it is about the couple. I love seeing how they customized their wedding to match their personalities and who they are. And I love seeing the look on the groom’s face when the bride comes in!

I have a friend that is getting married in just over three weeks and what she and her soon-to-be husband decided to go with was an evening wedding followed up with desserts, appies and dancing. Although I do enjoy a good meal, I think this is a great idea for them! Neither of them are into the big fancy wedding and this style will be perfect for them. So since my friend knows how much I love baking and that I was taking decorating classes, she asked if I would be willing to make cupcakes for her wedding. Of course I obliged! What a fun opportunity! Of course I didn’t really think about the fact that I don’t really have a favourite chocolate cupcake recipe or that maybe she would want something that I hadn’t perfected already. This was really just an extra challenge though! So there is the reason behind having made 3 different chocolate cake/cupcake recipes recently!

When I finally got around to asking what she actually wanted a couple months back, she immediately said she wanted chocolate cupcakes with coconut icing. This is what she has apparently asked for as a birthday cake/cupcake since she was very young. And this actually made me really happy as I love coconut things but I know that a lot of people aren’t as thrilled by them as I am so I am always hesitant to make coconut things. My own addition to this was to add a chocolate ganache filling to the cupcake. Just a little boost of extra decadence in my mind!

I think this recipe is the one I am sticking with. When I made these cupcakes, the intention was to do a trial run of the cupcakes for a shower for her but I wasn’t positive the recipe would be the one I would use. Well it will be! Even though I liked the other recipes (the chocolate cake in the Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake or the Chocolate Cake with the Toasted Marshmallow Filling), this one seems richer, smoother and luxurious. I loved it. And I really LOVED the batter… it is so creamy and delicious. Oops, right, that wasn’t the part I was supposed to be inhaling! And then stuff it full of smooth chocolate ganache and top it with creamy white coconut icing… oh so good! Here’s the recipe:

Luxurious Chocolate Cupcakes (or cake!)

Creamy Delicious Batter

(aka Chocolate Buttermilk Cake from Good Housekeeping Best-Loved Desserts )

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cake pans or line cupcake pans with paper liners. I did a combo of 12 mini cupcakes, 12 regulars, and 1-9″ cake pan (lined with parchment paper). The idea is to make a 2-layer pan (they would be pretty deep though!)
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda & salt.
  3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla.
  4. After baking! It makes a good portion of batter

    In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until blended. Beat about 3 minutes on high until creamy.

  5. Reduce speed to low and add eggs one at a time.
  6. Beat in flour mixture alternatively with buttermilk/vanilla mixture. Start and end with the flour mix.
  7. Pour into prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. For mini cupcakes it was about 12-15 minutes, cupcakes 17-20 minutes and cake was about 25-28 minutes (I don’t actually remember perfectly! It could have been longer!)
  8. Cool in pans 15-20 minutes before removing to cool on racks.

Chocolate Ganache Filling

  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  1. Heat cream until it is just below boiling then remove and pour over chocolate (either broken up).
  2. After a couple of minutes. Stir well until smooth. Allow to cool. (I actually stirred in toasted coconut but I didn’t find it added anything to the taste.) (Don’t refridgerate).
  3. Inject into the centre of the cupcakes. Or if you don’t have the cupcake injector tip (as I call it), scoop out a  cylindrical chunk each cupcake and fill with ganache.

    Lovely!

Coconut Buttercream Icing

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cup icing sugar
  • 1-2 tsp coconut extract (or as much as needed! mine was a little weak!)
  1. Beat butter for about 2 minutes on its own until smooth and creamy and pretty looking!
  2. Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Add coconut extract to taste. You may need to add water to get the proper consistency if your coconut extract is potent!
  3. Top your cupcakes with the icing!
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake – my 30th birthday cake!

Me and my cake!

Birthdays are pretty special regardless but I think some are more special than others. 16 is a big deal as it brings about the freedom of a drivers licence, in BC (and most of Canada) 19 is important since it signifies what I am going to call “the new responsibilities that go along with being legal drinking age”, and then it is 30. There is no real reason that 30 should be special as nothing actually changes in life at that age but it seems that 30 is the end of the “younger years”. To me it has always been the age where you really start to ‘get’ life. You know who you are. You know what you want (and of course don’t want). You know what is important to you. You have the ability to say no to the things that aren’t. And you just really are ready for real life to “bring it!” That was me this past weekend. And just to be clear: I actually had been looking forward to my 30s for years! It even happened that my 30th birthday was on a Saturday!

So it may have rained... but it was still fun!

The day started early – by my choice. I wanted to run a race. Now I have run enough races that it wasn’t like I wanted to do something new and exciting on my 30th, I just wanted to start the year with something I loved and something that I find important in my life! So a 10km race in the rain! It was a blast. I had 3 friends join for the run and one that came as “support crew”. The beginning was a lot of fun as 3 of us chased each other and traded on the lead. And then it settled in to me following closely behind one friend for the rest of the race while the other two followed not far behind. I was hoping that I would have this burst of speed at the end and pass my friend but apparently he also had some kick for the end so I followed in behind 13 seconds after him at a decent race time of 53min35sec. A good start to the day!

The Chocolate Batter... it is SO delicious!

Anyways, this is a baking blog so I better cut to the chase! Of course I needed to make a cake. I understand that some may think it is taboo to make your own cake but I really wanted to make it! For me it was a special treat! I love making desserts for other people and I love to make perfect desserts for the tastes of the recipient (so mango cake for my mango loving friend, chocolate coconut cupcakes for my friend that has loves that flavour combo,  lemon for the lemon lovers, etc). So for me, it was extra special to make the cake that I would want! Instead of it being a hassle or extra work for me when I should be “enjoying”, it turned into being allowed to make MY perfect cake! What a treat!

The Peanut Butter Batter... also delicious!

My favourite flavour combination of all time isn’t very refined or very mature: it is the classic chocolate and peanut butter. I love it. It is simply the perfect balance! Of course this is what my cake had to be. I had made chocolate cupcakes (I’ll post those later this week) the previous weekend so I made the middle layer of the cake from that and froze it (I’ll add the link for that part of the cake once I write it). The other two layers – top and bottom – had to be peanut butter cake. And between the layers, well that was a mixture of several things. First, on the bottom was chocolate ganache (leftover from the cupcakes as well) and a peanut butter buttercream. Then, between the 2nd & 3rd layers was leftover chocolate marshmallow mousse (or that is what I am calling it). (Apparently I needed to use up some leftovers!) The cake was then covered in more peanut butter buttercream. And then came the home made chocolate fondant. I thought this was a good time to try making my own! That will be a post all on its own! (If you choose to make this recipe, it is not necessary to use the same fillings as I did! But if you want my opinion, I would go with the Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse filling.)

It turned out AMAZING! Although I don’t love the taste of fondant, I love how it seals in the moisture and makes for a more delicious cake! This fondant was also tastier and less gummy than most. We went for dinner at a fantastic restaurant that had prepared a 3 course meal especially for us (with a menu that had my name on it!) including dessert but everyone was still ok with eating a 2nd dessert and most finished it!! Those that didn’t (including myself) took home their leftovers! Although it was quite rich, I only heard rave reviews (unless they were just being nice to me because it was my birthday!)

Fondant'ed cake sans decorations

Now for the shape, I couldn’t just do a regular round or square cake – I wanted a giant Whoopie Pie cake! (Just in case someone missed it – I love making Whoopie Pies and you should check out my Whoopie Pie blog!) So I carved a little here and there, cut the top to a dome shape, carved the chocolate cake to be about an inch smaller in diameter and then shaped the fondant over the top. I also piped more peanut butter buttercream around the outside as the “filling” for the Whoopie Pie! It turned out almost identical to my vision in my head (except for the imperfections in the fondant).

On the top, well I couldn’t write “Happy Birthday Becky!” That seemed a little odd. So I went with a quote from a movie. Although I am not “13 Going on 30”, like I said before, I had been looking forward to 30 as I saw myself being “Flirty, 30 and Thriving”… uh oh, as I write this now I just realized it is supposed to be “30, Flirty and Thriving”. I don’t know why I got ‘flirty’ in my head first. Oh well, too late! The cake was made and eaten as a tribute “to being flirty, 30 and thriving!”

The Finished Cake!! It was SO delicious!

Decadent Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

Ok, so I am not putting the recipe here (this post is crazy long as is!), I am putting it on another post linked here. The recipe made enough for 1-9″ layer, 12 regular sized cupcakes and 12 mini cupcakes. If you want to just use it for this cake, you should likely only make 1/2 the recipe and make an additional 6-8 cupcakes (or make 2 layers and freeze one for use later).

Peanut Butter-cup Cake
(from Best-Loved Desserts by Good Housekeeping – an awesome cookbook!)

  • Mixing up the Peanut Butter-cup Cake

    2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vaninlla
  • 2/3 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease 2 9″ cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.
  3. With a stand mixer, beat butter and peanut butter a minute or so until creamy. Add both sugars and continue beating for a few more minutes. Add eggs one at a time and then the vanilla.
  4. Alternate between adding the flour and the milk, begin & end with the flour. Beat just until smooth.
  5. Split batter between the two pans and bake about 40-45 minutes.
  6. Cool cake in pan 15-20 min before removing it to cool completely on a rack.

Chocolate Ganache

Scald 1/2 cup of whipping cream but don’t let it boil (it should just start to have bubbles on the top.) Pour over 1/2 cup or 4 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate. Let sit 2 min then stir until smooth. Allow to cool before using.

Peanut Butter Buttercream

Oops, I should have payed more attention to what I did! I just made this up as I went and didn’t measure a single thing. Basically what it was was 1/2-3/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, 1 tsp vanilla and about 3-4 cups of icing sugar. Add cream/milk 1 tsp at a time until the icing is a good consistency for icing. Sorry I can’t say for sure what it was! (I actually used some leftover cream cheese icing and added peanut butter and more sugar to it so this is why I really don’t know!)

Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse Filling

See the filling here for the Whoopie Pies I previously made.

Chocolate Fondant

This recipe and process will get its own entire page! But you will have to wait a couple days!

Assembly:

Mmm... that was one good piece of cake!! YUM!!!

Of course you can use whatever filling you want but this is what I did!

  1. Start with a layer of the Peanut Butter Cake.
  2. Spread ganache over the top and then peanut butter buttercream over the cake layer.
  3. Cover with the chocolate cake layer.
  4. Spread the Chocolate Marshmallow Mousse on top of the chocolate cake.
  5. Top with the Peanut Butter Cake.
  6. Cover the whole thing with Peanut Butter Buttercream.
  7. Cover with rolled chocolate Fondant!


Cake from a Box… but done especially for my special family!

The mix

White Chocolate Cake from a Yellow Cake Mix

I almost never use a mix for baking. This time though, for $3 for a gluten-free (so my mom could enjoy it) mix, I figured it was worth it. And I “kicked-it-up” a bit by adding melted white chocolate! This added some delicious richness to what would have otherwise been just a white cake! I highly recommend this if you are looking for a quick baking experience with a little extra! Basically I just followed the recipe but stirred in 6 oz of melted white chocolate at the end. I also chopped up maybe 2 oz more to just be stirred in. It worked out great!

Now the real reason for this cake was actually for my darling niece’s 5th birthday. As is true for most 5 year olds girls, it had to be pink and purple and pretty! So here it is!

 

 

 

 


Amazingly Delicious Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you heard of such a thing as someone that hasn’t ever eaten cookie dough or cake batter? Seems like insanity to me but I recently found out that a friend, and a frequent baker, actually fell into this category. I could not believe it. I really couldn’t. How could someone bake regularly and never even taste the pre-baked goodness? Apparently her mother had told her that the raw eggs would make her sick “and she would die”. Now this seems fair to believe when you are a child, but as an adult? My mom had told me that it would give me worms… I never believed her as I saw her frequently dip into the bowl herself but that was the claim. I personally think that eating the batter/dough is one of my favourite parts of baking! So in comes these cookies…

The first time, I made them was for two reasons, oh actually three!  One was because I missed baking cookies! I have been making so many cakes/cupcakes/whoopie pies lately but it has been so long since I last made cookies and even longer since I made Chocolate Chip Cookies. The second was because I felt like my friend needed to try cookie dough and her birthday was coming (what better than cookie dough for a birthday gift??). And finally, I wanted to take these with me for my mom and I to share while at my brother’s place. I meant to actually share them with everyone at my brother’s but my mom and I may have gotten a little carried away with eating them…

These are the ones made with Spelt Flour - crispy but they still had their own appeal.

So I had to try these twice before proclaiming them amazing! The first time I made them was for the above reasons and since my mom has a wheat sensitivity, I made them with spelt flour. I had read about this recipe on two different blogs (one linked to the other) and every comment on there described them as “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” so I was disappointed when they came out crisp and crunchy. They were still delicious and chocolate-y and like I said, my mom and I still devoured them but they weren’t what I was looking for. (I also didn’t melt my butter the first time – I thought softened should be good enough but I won’t try that again!)

I had to try again! If everyone else thought they were so amazing, I figured that with regular flour, they must be better! And oh was I glad I made them again! I shared most of the batch but LOVED the ones I kept for myself. I added some Skor bits to the batter this time but there is no reason it is required! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did! I will be making these regularly!

Amazingly Delicious Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

How could someone not want to eat this deliciousness??

adapted from The Baker Chick and Annie’s Eats but originally from Baking Illustrated

  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Skor/Heath (optional – you could also add any nuts, coconut, peanut butter cups etc of your choice!)
  1. Preheat oven 325°.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & salt).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer (or by hand I suppose!), beat butter and sugars well. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat well.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat on low speed until combined. Stir in chocolate chips & any additional things you are adding! Eat some dough – it is definitely required! The cookies will fail otherwise!
  5. Scoop, or spoon if you are not fortunate enough to have a fabulous cookie scoop, cookies onto prepared sheets.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until the cookies look baked on the top. I find that they didn’t get very dark but the tops lost their “dough-like” appearance. It is better to underbake than overbake!
  7. Cool the cookies on the sheet about 5 minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely.
Enjoy these little bites of perfection!!

Perfection