Salted caramel chocolate cake with brandy ganache


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Salted caramel chocolate cake with brandy ganache – wow this sounds complicated! Trust me this is an easy cake, done in 2 hours. I don’t normally believe in ‘one-pan’ cakes but this turned out to be the most amazing cake I have done in a while (those who got to eat it loved it).

The cake is adapted from Annabell White’s Chocolate Buttermilk Cake.

The batter is baked separately in two identical pans – reason is being an extremely moist cake, I would have a hard time splitting it in half without it breaking up all over my hands.

It also helped when it comes to adding the salted caramel layer – I could easily spread it on while the cake is warm, without needing to over handle it.

A silky smooth and glossy chocolate ganache is then poured over with much abandon,  letting the ganache glide freely over the cake and sides.

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Quite an indulgent experience especially when the cake’s left overnight so the cake, salted caramel and chocolate ganache got a chance to mix and mingle, producing one moist cake with a real depth of flavour.

Given how quickly I got this done, it is definitely a weeknight cake too if you should ever have any cake emergency!

Cake recipe:
Ingredients
115g butter
125 g dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
1 tsp Princess cake and cookie baking emulsion from Lorann oils or vanilla paste
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
3 eggs
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Salted caramel
See my recipe from the Salted Caramel Macaron post.

Ganache Recipe:
140g dark chocolate tabs
125ml fresh cream
20g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon whiskey or brandy (optional)

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Cake directions
1. Heat oven to 180 deg C. Grease two 22cm tin and line with baking paper.
2. Heat butter and chocolate carefully in a saucepan stirring on medium temperature. Do not over heat. Take off heat, add sugar and baking emulsion or vanilla straight away while the mixture is hot.
3. Whisk in buttermilk and eggs. Add dry ingredients, whisking gently till just smooth. Pour batter into tins.
4. Bake for 28 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Turn out on a wire rack to cool.
5. Spread 4 tbsps of salted caramel onto the top of one cake. Place the other cake on top.
6. Make chocolate icing. Put chocolate and butter into a bowl. Heat cream in a saucepan till just boiling and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Add brandy or whiskey or any liqueur of your choice. Pour over cooled cake and using a palette knife, spread the icing around, allowing the ganache to dribble over the edge randomly.
7. Smooth tops (and sides if you wish). Let the cake sit overnight and it will taste even better the next day.
8. Garnish with chocolate shards, freeze-dried raspberries or freshly whipped cream.
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Beef and truffle pie


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Inspired by the Taste magazine’s “Cook the Cover” feature in June for a Beef and Cheddar pie, I made another with tender beef and truffle cream – I have a fond memory of a simple but elegant fettuccine with truffles at Ortolana and wanted to replicate that flavour.

A few weeks ago at Sabato I came across a “Creama Tartufata” sauce – a blend of champignon mushrooms and black truffles. Perfect match I think for this pie.

The ingredients were enough for me to make a 28cm round pie and a smaller 24cm rectangular pie.

The recipe is modified slightly to suit (whatever I had in the pantry at the time), stock was Simon Gault’s and pastry was pre-made frozen sheets. I find that the sheets fit rectangular dishes best and way easier to defrost than the blocks.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg beef, cross-cut blade*, cut into 2cm strips
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 tbsp Crema Tartufata
  • 250ml  dry white wine
  • 500ml beef stock (Simon Gault’s)
  • 3 tbsp cornflour + 1/4 cup water
  • 4 sheets frozen flaky pastry sheets

Instructions:

  1. Season beef with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in the pan to brown the beef in several batches.
  3. Brown onion until it softens.
  4. Add wine to deglaze the pan.
  5. Return all the beef to the pan and bring to the boil. Cover and bake in the preheated oven for 2 hours (or you can use a pressure cooker like I did and it’s all done in 45 minutes!)
  6. When cooked, remove beef and flake meat off with a fork.
  7. Thicken the stock with cornflour liquid.
  8. Mix the Crema Tartufata in with the thickened stock.
  9. Line your pie dishes with pastry. Prick with a fork. Fill to three-quarters full. Top with another layer of pastry. Pinch edges with fork to seal.
  10. Brush the tops with egg wash.
  11. Fanbake in the hot oven (190C) until golden and crisp, approximately 20-30 minutes.

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*Note: I prefer to cook with cross-cut blade when making stews, casseroles and curries as the texture of the meat helps create this irresistible gelatinous goo that binds everything together. Yum!!
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(this is a photo of the beef and cheddar pie I made for the “Cook the cover” competition. Didn’t win but my consolation was that my photo was featured in the magazine’s email out to subscribers, so in a way it is a dream come true, to have my photo ‘published’ in my favourite magazine!)

J said “the flavour bursts into my mouth and it is so delicious!” She even had a third helping!

Vanilla Bean Macarons with buttercream


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I have been making all sorts of crazy flavours lately and my colleague requested her favourite flavour – vanilla.  A good vanilla dessert calls for good quality vanilla bean, not any of the imitation stuff. I’ve used seeds from vanilla bean to flavour the shells and then a Heilala vanilla paste to flavour the buttercream. The result was a gorgeously balanced vanilla flavour that reminds me of vanilla milkshakes. Sometimes the simplest is the best!
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Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.
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I paired these with a Vanilla Bean buttercream.

Filling Ingredients:
100g butter, room temperature
100g icing sugar
1 tbsp good quality vanilla bean paste (I used Heilala)
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Instructions:
Beat butter until soft in a mixer. Add icing sugar and mix well. Add vanilla bean paste and mix. Fill a piping bag and pipe a small dollop of buttercream on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells.

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Salted Caramel Macarons


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It happened to be my work’s third birthday a few weeks ago and in celebration I made these aqua blue macarons and paired them with my all time favourite – salted caramel filling.

I might have to make a salted caramel cake next, such is my addition to the salty sweet caramelly  flavours. Watch this space!

Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
a few drops of blue gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.

I paired these with a salted caramel filling.

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Filling Ingredients:
200g castor sugar
125ml fresh cream
50g butter, cubed
5g good quality salt flakes
A few drops of vanilla essence

Instructions:

Heat the sugar in a wide saucepan until it is melted.
Be really careful and wait for it to turn amber/ golden and slightly smoke.
Carefully add the cream in slowly, continuing to whisk but be aware of the resulting vigorous bubbling.
Add the butter in gradually until it is melted and combined.
Add in salt flakes and vanilla essence.
Cool in the fridge for a few hours.

Fill half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.
If your salted caramel isn’t thick enough, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar until it is thick enough to spread.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze really well (up to 3 months). Turns out they are even better after freezing as the gooey salted caramel hardens up a bit more!

Black Forrest Macarons with freeze-dried plum powder


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I wanted to introduce a secondary crunchy element to my macarons and was toying with the idea when I came across some Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate. It had jelly and biscuit pieces in the block – perfect!

As mentioned in an earlier post I love adding freeze dried powders to macarons. I added plum powder to these for a change.

Macarons shell ingredients
150 g icing sugar
150 g almond meal
110 g egg whites, split into 2 bowls of 55g each
150 g caster sugar
38 ml water
1 g meringue powder
a few drops of violet gel colouring

Follow my basic recipe to make the shells.

I paired these with a Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate ganache.

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Filling Ingredients:
150g Cadbury Berry Forrest chocolate
120ml full cream

Instructions:
Break up chocolate into small chunks. Bring cream up to a boil in a pan, and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stirring. Let it cool and thicken in the fridge. Spread or pipe a teaspoon of ganache on half of your shells and top them with the remaining half of your shells.

Dust with freeze dried plum powder.

The filled macarons need to be kept in the fridge for 24 hours for the filling to flavour the shells. These freeze well (up to 3 months).

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A blog about my kitchen adventures, photography, family and experiences

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