Tag: cherries

Christmas cake but not as you know it.

mini-jack-daniels-christmas-cake-1

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cakes

Oooooh don’t you just love a mini Christmas cake? I made some last year as gifts and they went down really well. This time I decided to give them a touch of Jack Daniels and I have to say they are gooooood!

I made these ones for a local food bank on behalf of the charity I bake for Free Cakes For Kids. Lots of bakers have made lots of mini cakes so lots of families would have a special cake and it always feels great to be giving and baking for others at this time of year- don’t you think? If you want to join in the fun check out the FCFK website to find your local group. I’m yet to find a group of bakers who aren’t really friendly!

I made these cakes really last minute (meaning I didn’t start in October so I could ply the cake with alcohol) so I had few cheats. I soaked the fruit in the JD for a week before baking the cakes and once they were out of the oven I gave them another really good brush/soak with the good stuff. If you add the alcohol while the cake is still warm the liquid soaks right in. I think a Christmas cake still tastes great even if it hasn’t been drowned in alcohol for weeks or months before.

Once baked I decorated half the cakes with marzipan and white sugarpaste and the other half with just the sugarpaste so there were some nut free options – also so I could eat the marzipan that was left over.

How to decorate Christmas cakes the non traditional way.

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

I didn’t want to go for red or green decorations this year. My original plan was to have a little forrest of sugarpaste Christmas trees standing on top of the cakes but once I had decorated one I realised that they would be really difficult to transport to the food bank and for the families to take home too so I opted for a 2d version.

The Christmas tree decorations were made up a day ahead in pale blues, pink and white so that they could be layered up without drooping. The gingerbread men were also made up ahead of time. After 24 hours the faces were drawn on with a clever food dye pen in ‘liquorice’ black. The trees and gingerbread man were then stuck in place with a little royal icing.

To give the cakes a really professional finish I placed ribbon around the cake and wrapped them in cellophane. I was really happy with the end result. I hope the families will be too when they pick them up later this week.

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

Makes 6 x 4" cakes or 8 x 3" cakes

Mini Jack Daniels Christmas cake

  • 1000g mixed fruit (sultanas, raisins, candied mixed peel)
  • 200g dates cut into small pieces
  • 225ml Jack Daniels + extra for brushing
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 260g muscovado sugar
  • 5 medium eggs
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    Prepare the fruit
  1. Place all the fruit into an airtight container and cover with the Jack Daniels.
  2. Leave the fruit to infuse for as long as possible. 48 hours is best. Give the container a shake every now and again.
    To make the cake
  1. Line your cake tin with silicon paper. I have one that has dividers but some bakers have used cleaned out tuna and sweetcorn tins to bake in.
  2. Preheat the oven to 140C (120 fan)
  3. Mix the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs slowly then the vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl sieve all the dry ingredients. Add this to the butter and sugar mix until combined.
  5. Finally add the fruit and combine till covered.
  6. Spoon evenly into each cake tin and smooth down with the back of a spoon.
  7. Bake for 2-21/2 hours.
  8. Once out of the oven brush liberally with Jack Daniels and leave to cool for 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the tin and allow to cool completely ready to decorate.
http://www.cakesbakesandcookies.com/have-you-ever-made-christmas-cake-with-jack-daniels-once-you-try-it-you-wont-go-back/

Something you can do to help….

I wrote this post before I delivered the cakes to the food bank. I feel now looking back that I brushed over the food bank part. For me this was supposed to be about sharing my recipe for a Jack Daniels Christmas cake. It is in fact about a lot more than that. There are so many people in need in our country and right on our door steps. You may not even be aware that there is a food bank on your high street, in your church or by your community centre. These places are amazing. They’re run mostly by volunteers and the people who need them are often in dire situations.

When I delivered these cakes I met with a band of very jovial volunteers who are loving and caring and so, so knowledgable. There was a young mum who was there as I dropped off. She was collecting a couple of blankets from the centre. She had been housed in the hostel around the corner. The week before she had left a violent relationship with nothing but the clothes on her back and her teenage daughter. She had nothing. She was housed in a hostel so they were safe. The hostel is an amazing resource with a bedroom and some furniture and a kitchen along one wall but that’s it. It’s very, very basic. No bedding, no plates, no comforts. I’m sure she was grateful for a safe and warm roof over her head but having just spent a few hundred quid on presents for my two daughters to then see this young woman with so little but still with a grateful smile on her face was incredible humbling.

So I’m asking you to do something and not just now – for the foreseeable future. When you’re doing your food shopping pop an extra tin of something or a bottle of shampoo in your basket and leave it in the food bank bins which are always situated just behind the checkout. All the big supermarkets have collection bins and the extra pound or two probably won’t make much of a difference to you but it will make a massive difference if we all do it for others.

Thanks

EmmaMT x

www.CakesBakesAndCookies.com

Chocolate cupcakes recipe

Chocolate cupcake recipe - cherries on top

I wanted to make some cupcakes to take to a friends party last Saturday night and after a quick search (in that little box up on the top on the right hand side of the page)  I discovered that I have hardly posted any cupcake recipes here on CakesBakesAndCookies.com in the last three years! How strange is that? I mean I’ve made loads but they just never made it onto the blog.

I’ve always said that I’m not much of a cupcake sort of person. When I worked at Woman & Home and we got cupcakes sent in from PR’s I used to give the buttercream topping part to my deputy and she used to give me her cake (well kind of anyway) but what I mean is that I don’t like to gorge on a load of buttercream. So, when I make cupcakes that I am going to be eating and not giving away I tend to make the ones above with my new best ganache recipe. They’re more of a chocolate cup than a trad cupcake.

The cake part of the recipe is one I’ve been using for years but the ganache is from a blogger I met at Blogcamp a few weeks ago. I was looking for a gluten free cake recipe for a cake I am making in a few weeks time and the Free from Fairy told me about her great chocolate cake recipe but it was the ganache that is THE BEST I have ever tasted. It stays soft and firm all at the same time! (Thanks Vicki)

These cupcakes were – as Tim puts it – “a bit extra”. I am a bit extra but I have decided that I actually quite like being a bit extra and so when most people would probably just take a bottle of wine or two to a party we take a bottle of wine, a bottle of Shloer (so I look like I’m drinking wine!) and a dozen cupcakes. And whether they were extra or not they all disappeared pretty quickly!

Chocolate cupcake recipe

Chocolate cupcake recipe

(Makes 12-18)

The cakes

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 175g butter at room temperature
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

The chocolate ganache recipe

  • 100g chocolate
  • 50g butter
  • 100g sieved icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Cherries to decorate
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (160º Fan oven) and fill a cupcake tray with paper cases.
  2. To make the cakes start by melting the chocolate in a saucepan with the butter over a low heat. Stir continuously. Set aside to cool a little.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and add the sugar and vanilla essence then whisk again to incorporate as much air into the mix as possible – this keeps the cakes light and fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and butter and blend thoroughly.
  4. Add all the dry ingredients and fold in. Add the milk and combine.
  5. Fill the cupcake cases till they are half full. I like the ganache to sit on top of the whole cake so I make quite shallow cakes. If you want a deeper, bigger cake fill up the cases so they are ¾ full.
  6. Bake in the centre of your oven for 15 minutes or until the cake bounces back straight away when you press a finger lightly onto it. Avoid over baking as that’s what makes them dry.
  7. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

To make the ganache

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Again stir continuously and don’t let it burn.
  2. Pour the mixture onto the sieved icing sugar and whisk with a hand held whisk. Always start off slowly unless you want your kitchen to resemble a snowstorm!
  3. Add the milk to give a really smooth finish. If you want a softer ganache add a little more milk.
  4. Place in a piping bag and pipe over the cooled cupcakes. The mixture can be quite runny and will settle once left for a minute or two.
  5. Place a cherry on the top of each cake to finish and enjoy!

cupcakes - chocolate

EmmaMT

x

Cherry Clafoutis recipe.

I fell in love with Clafoutis a few months ago and vowed to create a recipe that matched the one I had in Norfolk. It’s a French dessert made with a custard (or batter mix to you and me) which is baked in a really hot oven until all puffed up.

There’s a lot of talk on-line about whether you should bake a traditional Clafoutis with fresh cherries that still have their stones in or whether the stones should be removed. I have tried it both ways and do think that it tastes better when the stones are left in. The cherries get so soft that they are easy to remove when you eat a slice.

It’s a really quick and easy dessert to make. Every recipe I tried said it is best served warm  straight from the oven. It does taste good then, but I had some the next day which I warmed through in the microwave for 20 seconds and it was even better.  Let me know what you think.

Cherry Clafoutis recipe

Clafoutis ingredients

50ml Kirsch

150g Fresh cherries (or tinned if they’re out of season)

300ml milk

55g caster sugar

3 eggs

1 tea spoon Vanilla essence

75g Plain flour

10g butter

icing sugar to dust

How to make Cherry Clafoutis

I used fresh cherries but you can use tinned ones or other fruits too. Soak the cherries overnight in the Kirsch. You can soak them for a couple of hours but the taste is so much better when they are really infused.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.  Mix the wet ingredients together then add the dry. Whisk it up so it’s light and fluffy. Add any Kirsch that hasn’t been absorbed into the cherries into the mix. You can blend the ingredients together in a food processor,  but I did it by hand. It only takes a couple of minutes and saves on the washing up.

Pop your empty pie dish in the oven for 10 minutes to warm it through then remove and add the butter. Coat the dish thoroughly with the melted butter. This stops the Clafoutis from sticking to the edges and adds to the flavour. The edges are my favorite bit. Pour in half the batter mixture and bake for 10 minutes. This is so that the cherries don’t sink to the bottom when being baked.

After 10 minutes remove the dish, add the cherries and the remaining batter. Put back into the oven and bake for a further 40 minutes. When it is done it will be all puffed up at the edges and lovely and brown.

Remove from the oven and sieve icing sugar all over the top. Slice up and serve warm with or without cream.  If you want to make this recipe even richer you can swap half the milk for double cream.

enjoy! 

p.s. I used the Madagascan vanilla extract and it was as I suspected. Deelish!

How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache

I made a really yummy chocolate and cherry cake last week and finally had a go at covering it with chocolate ganache. Up until now whenever I have made ganache it’s always been mixed in with buttercream for a cake filling or just as a really delicious layer of chocolatiness before a fresh cream filling but this time was different!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Chocolate ganache is basically dark chocolate mixed in with double cream and some butter. It’s rich and seriously best when licked straight from the mixing spoon…. I mean when added to a cake!
Anyway, here’s how I did it.

How to cover an 8″ cake in Chocolate ganache.

Ingredients

Buttercream Ingredients

  • 100g butter – at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
  • a drop of vanilla essence
  • 50g cocoa powder (add more if you want it really chocolatey)

 Chocolate Ganache ingredients

  • 75ml double cream
  • 125g Unsalted butter,
  • 250g plain chocolate  broken up into little pieces
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Start off with your baked cake. Mix up your buttercream by adding the sieved icing sugar and cocoa powder to the butter and whisking till light and fluffy. Add the vanilla essence and whisk again. If it’s a little too stiff you can add a few drops of milk to loosen it up a bit.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Use a pallet knife to spread a thin layer of the buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This will be your base layer so make it as flat as you can.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganacheI use an icing smoother to get the sides nice and even. (This is a great way to discuise a bumpy cake!) If you drag the smoother along the edge of the cake whist resting on a flat surface you’ll get a nice 90° edge.)Pop the cake in the fridge to firm up the buttercream. This will take around 20 minutes.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
While the cake is in the fridge make the ganache. You can melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water but I just heat up the double cream in a pan until just before it’s going to boil. Then take it off the heat and stir in the chopped up chocolate pieces until it’s all melted and combined. Add the butter till that’s melted and incorporated too and leave to cool a little.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once the buttercreamed cake is firm remove it from the fridge and place it on a wire rack which is over some greaseproof paper.
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Pour the ganache over the cake so that it fills up the whole top and flows over the sides. I found this strangely good fun. I always did love messy play! Use a spatula to create a soft ripple look if you want. This is my little trick which means that the top layer doesn’t need to be perfectly flat!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the cake till the ganache stops dripping. I added the cherries at this stage so they would sit firmly on the cake as it had to travel in the car later that day.
 How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Leave the ganache to set. Weather dependant this can take between 30 – 60 minutes. It will firm up quite a bit, but will remain soft so don’t be tepmted to stick a finger on it to see if it’s done. You’ll ruin the look!
How to cover a cake in chocolate ganache
Once set carefully transfere it onto your cake plate.
I was pretty happy with how this turned out. It’s really fun.  I made double the amount of ganache – just in case I had to start again! But you can scoop up the overspilled ganache and keep it in an airtight container for a week in the fridge if you need to. When you are ready to use it again just warm it through slowly in a pan but make sure it doesn’t boil or burn.  I pretty much spooned my leftovers – with some small people’s help, straight into my mouth. I couldn’t leave it alone!

enjoy!

Black Forrest Gateau recipe… Tim’s Ultimate cake!

Black Forrest Gateau cake recipeIt was Tim’s birthday last Monday and his favourite cake is a Black Forrest Gateau. I have made this for him a few times but never properly. Really I just made a chocolate cake with cherries and cream. He was not satisfied! So I decided this year I was going to do it properly, but as usual I decided this the day before and had to get some ingredients at the last minute, but not your normal ingredients, no, no I had to find Kirsch. Now I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but in my neck of the woods there’s plenty of off licences and plenty of wine and beer to buy, but Kirsch was not so easy to find!

Black Forrest Gateau cake recipe

The hunt was on!

Tim’s birthday just so happened to co-inside with my car having a rather lengthy stay in the garage. So my quest to find kirsch, cherry brandy and make the cake, all within the school day was a bit of a challenge. I tried all the shops within walking distance and got hold of the brandy no problem but the Kirsch was going to have to be a bike ride.

Now might be a good time to mention that I live in between two hills. The kind that you don’t notice when you’re pootling around in your car, but that make you seriously out of breath when you’re peddling your little legs off! So, when I leaned inside my local off licence – still on my bike- helmet on and asked for the Kirsch he said that the store across town would probably have some. So off I went with my rucksack on my back full of bubble wrap and padded envelopes to protect it from bumps and mefrom any accident. Sucess! They had. So I zoomed off home just in time to collect the girls from school.

I baked the sponges first thing in the morning after school drop off then set off on my quest. When the girls got home that afternoon we put the cake together. At first when I couldn’t find the kirsch I was going to do without it, I mean wouldn’t the cherry brandy make a good enough substitute? In a word. No. The Kirsch (as you will see in the recipe below) is used with the jam filling and has a much more alcoholly taste than the sweetness of the brandy which is soaked into the sponges.

The finished cake was popped into the fridge and when Tim got home from work we had dinner together with the cake planned as a big surprise. When he went to get milk out of the fridge to make tea he was met with a “”Noooooooooo!”” buy the three main ladies in his life! Poor thing jumped out of his skin.

Anyway, he loved the cake as I did and with all that alcohol surprisingly so did Beau!

So here’s what I made…

Black Forrest Gateau recipe

Cake Ingredients

225g butter, at room temperature

225g caster sugar

160g  self-raising flour

65g cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

4 medium eggs

Decoration and fillings

340g jar of morello cherry jam (any cherry jam will work)

1 tin cherries- drained

2–3 tbsp Kirsch (Yep all that effort for 2-3 tablespoons! But it was worth it)

75 ml oz cherry brandy (morello cherry brandy is best but beggars can’t be choosers!))

600ml  double cream

30g dark chocolate, grated

fresh cherries, to decorate the top

To make Black Forrest Gateau

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°CGas 5. Grease 3 x 8 inch round tins and line the base with baking paper. You can use two tins and cut the cake in half through the middle.
  2. Blend the butter and sugar together
  3. Add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and eggs and blend until smooth
  4. Divide the mix into the cake tins and smooth it flat.
  5. Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cakes start to come away from the sides.
  6. Leave them to cool for 5 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure you remove the baking paper so the cake doesn’t ‘sweat’

To make Black Forrest Gateau filling

  • Place the jam in a saucepan with the Kirsch until it melts. Add in the Cherries and simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
  • Whisk the cream until is forms soft peaks and set it to one side. I over whisked my cream. It doesn’t effect the taste but it spoils the look a bit.
  • Use a silicon pastry brush to soak the cakes with cherry brandy.
  • To assemble –  place one cake on a plate then spread it with the jam. Add cream to another cake. Sprinkle with grated chocolate then place them together.
  • Repeat with the next two cakes ending with a cream topping on the top of the cake.
  • I piped some cream onto the top and placed a fresh cherries all around the outside edge, but anything goes here! Sprinkle with the last of the chocolate and you’re ready to serve!
  • We placed our cake in the fridge for a few hours and it tasted great.
  • Although this cake will taste best on the day you make it we kept this one in the fridge and tried to pace ourselves and ate it for the next 4 days. Black Forrest Gateau cake recipe

Well, when I say we ate it, I actually mean me. Benefits of working from home!

enjoy!

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