Friday, June 3, 2011

They say it's your birthday ...

Okay, so I made some awesome stuff the other day because it was my birthday and that required, you know, CAKE. Not just cake, but copious amounts of it. Thus, CAKE.

Anyway, these are adapted from recipes I use all the time and would be easy to figure out on your own, but they turned out so nicely I thought I'd share them in their entirety just in case you didn't feel like branching out and doing the experimentation on your own.

Aaaaand away we go!

First, I made a couple of lemon berry poundcakes. One was lemon raspberry, and one was lemon blueberry. They were both ridiculous. And by ridiculous I mean nomsome to the extreme. I started with my favorite base poundcake recipe and just added a couple of things from there. GENIUS, people. It was absolutely genius.

Lemon Berry Poundcake


2/3 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 eggs
2 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 c sour cream or vanilla yogurt
zest of 5 small or 3 large lemons

6 oz of a large fresh berry of your choice (like raspberries or blackberries) or 8 or 9 oz of a smaller-ish fresh berry of your choice (like blueberries)

For the glaze:

½ c sugar

¼ c coconut rum


1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Lightly butter 9 x 13-in. baking pan.
2. Cream butter. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 to 7 min. (Or, you know, do it by hand until it's creamy and fluffy.) Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. Add lemon zest and vanilla extract; stir until incorporated.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt, and add alternately with the yogurt or sour cream to the creamed sugar mixture. Beat on low until just blended.
4. Add in berries; stir gently until just mixed in. Don't overdo it, though! Otherwise, your poundcake will be all weirdly rubbery and dense in a not-good way.
5. Pour into pan and bake for 1 hr and 15 min or until cake tests done. (You can also make muffins, round cakes, or whatever. Baking time will vary, though.)

6. Just when you pull the cake out of the oven and put it on a wire rack to start cooling, dump the sugar and coconut rum into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk briskly until the mixture begins to boil and goes clear (about 5 minutes). Pour it over the cake, making sure to coat the whole top. I usually use a large spoon to pour puddles of glaze over the cake and then stroke the glaze into the cake with the back of the spoon.

7. You can let the cake cool in the pan if you like before cutting, which is what I do, or you can pop it out of the pan after 15 minutes, let it cool completely, and then do the glaze. But the glaze won't soak in at all the way it does when the cake is hot, and the soaking in is part of what makes this cake so amazing. The top doesn't get sticky or soggy if you glaze it while it's still piping hot—it just gets delicious.

Okay, the second (third? Do the two lemon berry cakes count as one total, or one each? Meh, who cares? They were delicious) thing I made was a ganache-filled chocolate cupcake. And they were total amazeballs, okay? Okay?! So that completely justifies another chocolate ganache cupcake recipe so soon after my other one. NO. REALLY. IT DOES! So stop looking at me like that, will you? Just ... go bake something!

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cupcakes

The Chocolate Raspberry Ganache


4 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (60-72% recommended), in pieces (I used Ghirardelli semisweet chips because they were handy)
1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c raspberry preserves
2 Tbs confectioners' sugar


1. Drop the chocolate, cream, raspberry preserves, and powdered sugar in a small glass bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth after you've stirred it a bit.
2. Set aside in the fridge to cool (unlike the other ganache I've made for cupcakes, this one is really soft. So I recommend making it 2 hours before you make the batter. Seriously). When the cake batter is poured, drop about 1 tsp of ganache on the top of each cupcake before baking and—this is important—push it down so the top of the ganache dollop is even with the top of the batter. If you don't, the ganache will just run over the top of the cupcake, not sink to the center. Actually, since this ganache is so light and soft, it doesn't really sink at all. That's why you have to refrigerate it and push it down to have it end up in the middle of the baked cupcakes.
4. If there's any ganache left over, eat it up with a spoon. NOM!

The Cupcakes


3/4 c boiling water
3/4 c high-quality dark cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli for these, and they turned out great)
1 c buttermilk or heavy cream; I used heavy cream this time
2 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350* F.
2. Pour boiling water over cocoa to dissolve; whisk until smooth. Stir in buttermilk and set aside to cool.
3. Stir together the dry ingredients (minus the sugar, of course), and set aside. Note: You can leave out the cinnamon, if you like, or drop it down to 1/4 tsp if you want a subtler hint of it in the cupcakes. I really like the way the cinnamon plays off the chocolate cake and the rich raspberry ganache centers, though, so I do recommend it.
4. Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. (You can use an electric mixer, but I usually do this by hand. It seems to work just fine.) Stir in vanilla.
4. Beat dry ingredients into butter mixture, alternating with the chocolate mixture.
5. Pour into paper cup-lined muffin pans (leave a bit of space at the top, but to tell the truth, these won't rise too much), drop 1 tsp. of ganache onto the top of each and push the ganache down a bit, and then bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 30 cupcakes, depending.

The Ganache Frosting


8 oz. high-quality dark chocolate (60-72% is good)
1/2 plus 2 Tbs heavy cream (you can go up to 3/4 c heavy cream if you want a much softer frosting, but remember that it won't hold up as well at room temperature)


1. Melt the chocolate and cream in a microwave in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth after you've stirred it a bit.
2. Dip the top of each cupcake in the ganache and swirl around a bit to completely coat each one with the ganache frosting. Set aside to cool a bit and let the frosting begin to harden a little, then store in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to eat. Rejoice in the awesomeness of your endeavor.

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