A Passion for Chocolate

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Cake Truffles

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Today’s cake pop trend really has its roots on the rum ball family tree – for many, many years bakers have been using up their extra frostings and cake on these little dainties. When I used to do a lot of wedding cakes I did the same thing. I kept the extra ganache and buttercream, mixed it with cake trimmings, added some brandy and then gifted them to the serving staff when I delivered cakes. Call me a stick in the mud but I have a few beefs with the whole cake pop concept – one, things on a stick are cute but hard to eat gracefully and two, most of the recipes call for canned frosting. If you’re going to the trouble of turning a cake pop into a miniature frog or some-such, you might as well take an extra five minutes and make it taste way better.

I wanted to share a primer on these little treats, because they make very easy and chic mini-desserts or holiday gifts. Since these were for a group of ravenous teens, I’ve just covered them in ganache. But you can dip them in chocolate or roll them in nuts, cocoa, more crumbs, etc. They would be terrific as part of a holiday champagne bar.

Cake Truffle Recipe, Makes about 36

1 recipe Guinness cake, baked and crumbled (or just bake two 8″ layers of your choice)

1 recipe basic ganache

2 T. liqueur, rum or brandy if  desired

Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Pour the liquid ganache over the crumbs and mix until well-combined.

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Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to firm up. Form into balls (I just use my hands but a melon baller would work) and drop onto cookie sheets.

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Coat them as desired (see notes above). I’ll be doing a related post soon on chocolate dipping.

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Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Part I: Guinness Cake

Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Little House by the Dunes

So everyone has been talking about the whole Hostess bankruptcy thing lately, and feeling a little sad that at some point soon they’ll be buying their zingers on the black market. In the name of research, I bought one of the last packages of Ding-Dongs I could find to see if they were as good as I remembered. Sadly, they weren’t. The cake was dry and the filling was tasteless. The chocolate on the outside was the best part. Since so many people already have recipes to mimic the Hostess snacks, I challenged myself to go one better.

I created a light, soft chocolately cupcake made with Guinness Extra Stout. I should hedge this by saying I’m not a beer lover myself, but if you share your house with one as I do – you’ll both love this recipe. The stout keeps the cake from being overly sweet and adds an extra level of depth. Then for the filling I made a marshmallow fluff based on honey, to round out the stout flavor. I finished them off with a quick, dark ganache that pulls everything together. So rather than mourn the loss of dry cupcakes filled with preservatives and half your day’s allotment of saturated fats, bake these and celebrate having something even better! The stout will be noticeable the first day, but after that it will all mellow into a happy blend.

Guinness Cake Recipe (Makes 18 cupcakes)

1 stick butter

1-1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 c. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

3/4 c. Guinness Extra Stout

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well-combined. Beat in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.

Beat half of it into the creamed mixture until well-combined. Beat in 1/2 of the stout. Repeat with the remaining flour and stout.

Divide the batter between cupcake tins and bake 15-20 minutes, until the center springs back lightly. Cool on a rack. Stay tuned this week for the rest of the recipe!