Monday, July 16, 2012

Monkey Martini Cupcakes

Each year we have a year-end potluck for our interns and each year I try to create a new cupcake flavour combination, usually containing a bit of alcohol. In previous years, I have made Guinness chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's frosting, 'Cream-sicle' cupcakes containing Cointreau and Godiva white chocolate liqueur, and cookies and cream with Oreos and again, Godiva liqueur.

This year, as we are in the midst of moving, my husband has packed away quite a bit of our liquor cabinet. Apparently there was no rhyme or reason to what he packed away, with the exception of his bottles of scotch. Gone was my bottle of Bailey's and my bottle of Godiva liqueur. What I did find was a bottle of creme de banane, so I got the idea to make chocolate cupcakes with a creme de banane frosting.

A Monkey Martini is typically made with vodka, creme de cacao, and creme de banane. I have seen variations with the inclusion of Bailey's, however since that was packed away, it didn't make it into the cupcake. Creme de cacao is a colourless chocolate liqueur with a hint of vanilla. I did not have any of this but wanted to capture the flavour in the cupcake. I decided to make a white chocolate ganache to fill the chocolate cupcakes. The ganache filling was made with cream, Callebaut white chocolate callets, and a little vodka.

The frosting was flavoured with vanilla and creme de banane. It tasted like a banana popsicle. Yum!
I garnished each cupcake with a banana chip dipped in Callebaut bittersweet chocolate.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Pride Cake

Happy Pride! This weekend, between appliance shopping and finalizing the kitchen plans for our house renovations, I decided to make a rainbow cake. 

Back in April, I made this Care Bear cake for my nephew's birthday. I posted a preview of the uncovered cake and a friend exclaimed, "It is a cake for the gays!" As such, I promised to make another rainbow-themed cake for June. 

I wanted the cake to be simple so that the flower stood out i.e. no other decorations, and no border around the bottom. As such, it was really important to have a clean edge on the bottom of the cake. 
I decided to try something a bit different, and propped up my cake on a 6-inch styrofoam dummy so that I could cleanly cut away the excess fondant after covering it. This did not turn out very well. The fondant ended up stretching quite a bit due to the weight and because it was so thin, it was not going to be a smooth background for the flower. In retrospect, I should have covered the cake on a flat surface, trimmed away some of the excess, and then elevated it to cut the bottom edge cleanly with a paring knife. 

To fix the messy looking fondant, I actually rolled out another 2 pounds of fondant, brushed the already covered cake with cooled, boiled water and re-covered the cake. Yes, a bit of a pricey fix, but I really did not want a lumpy fondant job ruining the whole aesthetic of the cake. Besides, if I use up my fondant, it's one less thing I have to lug over to our new home. 

I have wanted to make a ruffled flower on a simple white cake for some time. This was the perfect opportunity to try this out in beautiful bright colours. It also gives a hint of what's to come upon cutting the cake. I tried a few different tools to ruffle the edges of strips cut from modelling paste. At first I tried a ball tool however I found that I would get too many areas that were too thin and I did not find the edges ruffled enough. By the second orange ruffle, I moved on to trying a cone tool. I thought that this produced a better ruffle but I felt that it made the edges of paste a bit rough and it was hard on the fingers. I went back to the ball tool for a bit and then I tried making the ruffles with a modelling stick. I think that the modelling stick was the easiest option.

This was an 8-inch cake filled with an orange cream swiss meringue buttercream. To get the 'orange cream' flavour, I used vanilla extract, Cointreau and orange flavouring. The flavour was great, however, as this cake involves a lot of buttercream to fill the 6 layers and crumb coat the cake (I used 8 cups!), a little goes a long way in terms of serving sizes!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Canada Day and Pride weekend!