My friends, I have returned! My trip to Berlin, Prague and Vienna was unbelievable and surpassed all my expectations. Time and time again, I was amazed by the history, sights, food and people of these three great cities. Berlin opened my eyes. Prague gave me goose bumps. And Vienna …
Vienna melted my Cream Puff heart!
Perhaps the best part was my unforgettable meeting with Angelika of The Flying Apple. My tour ended on Sunday but I very wisely added a few days to my trip. For this reason I was able to meet with Angelika for a lovely dinner. However sweet and dear she may seem through her blog, she is a thousand times more sweet and dear in person. And best of all, she told me the exciting news about the realization of a life-long dream of hers!
The only bad thing I can say about my trip is that jet lag sucks. It’s after 5:00 a.m. in Toronto as I write this (11:00 a.m. in Vienna). I’ve been wide awake since 2:30 a.m. and my body is wondering why I’m not sitting in a cafe sucking back cup after cup of glorious Viennese coffee and stuffing my face with pastries?
On second thought, why aren’t we all doing that???
Ah, well. I shall regale you with some of the stories and pictures of my trip during the lull (if you can call it that) between Christmas and New Year. In the meantime, I shall combat my jet lag by taking care of some serious business in the form of crowning a champion in the "Name That Cupcake" contest.
You have been very good little boys and girls while I was away. I’m impressed at how well you completed your homework assignment. In fact, I think you all deserve an A+!
Choosing was a very difficult task, however, I had to do it. In the end, I chose the very first name I received: Penguin Cakes. The name was submitted by Connie of Life Love Chocolate. I couldn’t resist Penguin Cakes because I really do think the cupcakes look like penguins and also because I have a soft spot for those adorable little creatures. I’ve seen March of the Penguins about ten times and generally find myself crying through it. Penguin Cakes, it is!
Congratulations to Connie! You will be receiving a brand new copy of Tish Boyle’s The Good Cookie. I’d like to thank everyone that submitted a name for making the first food-naming contest on my blog a huge success. There will be more to come!
Little Penguin Cakes
For the cake:
I’ve been making this chocolate cake for awhile. The original recipe is from www.epicurious.com and can be found here. Feel free to try the original recipe as printed the first time to get a feel for the cake. It’s very versatile and can be baked in different sized pans including mini-cupcake pans (that’s usually how I bake this cake). The main adaptation that I’ve made is that I use very dark chocolate instead of the semisweet chocolate. It’s the cake I turn to when I want my dark chocolate fix.
- 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces (I will use a 75% or 80% dark chocolate)
- 1 cup brewed hot coffee (should be strong coffee)
- 3 cups sugar (sounds like a lot but the dark chocolate balances the sweetness)
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1-1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1-3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 mini muffin trays with paper liners. (If you’re not using mini muffin or regular muffin trays, butter and flour whatever sized pan you’re using.) Place two racks in the oven, one in the centre and one close to the bottom of the oven. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a cup or a bowl, combine the chocolate pieces and the hot coffee. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the chocolate should be melted. Stir until the mixture is smooth and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until they are light in colour (3 to 4 minutes).
- Add the vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract and mix on low speed for a minute or so until combined.
- Add the chocolate/coffee mixture and mix on low speed for a minute or two until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients and continue mixing on low speed until everything is just combined, but don’t over mix.
- Spoon the batter into your paper-lined mini muffin tray. I am usually able to fill 2 24-cup capacity mini muffin trays with this recipe.
- Place the trays in the oven and set your timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the trays (bottom tray to centre and centre to bottom tray) and bake for another 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes are up, check the cupcakes for doneness by inserting a toothpick or cake tester into the centre of a few of the cupcakes. When the toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, the cupcakes are done. If the cupcakes are not done, continue baking, checking every 5 minutes for doneness. (In my oven, these little guys took about 35 minutes.)
- Once done, remove the cupcakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool, you can sprinkle them with icing sugar and serve or you can frost them.
For the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:
Because these mini cupcakes save me when I need a chocolate fix, I tend to eat them with just a bit of icing sugar sprinkled on. For the Name That Cupcake contest I decided to test a frosting recipe from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book. This frosting couldn’t be easier!
- 1 pound (2 8-ounce packages) cream cheese
- 3 ounces white chocolate
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- approximately 2 cups icing sugar
- In a double boiler, melt the white chocolate, being careful not to let it burn. Once melted, stir the chocolate and set aside for a minute or two to cool.
- While the chocolate is cooling, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Combine on high speed.
- When the chocolate has cooled a bit, add to the cream cheese and butter and mix on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix for another minute.
- Add the cream and vanilla extract and mix for a few more second.
- With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding the icing sugar a half cup at a time. Once the frosting reaches the desired thickness, stop adding icing sugar and use the frosting immediately. The original recipe calls for 1-2/3 cups of icing sugar and I found that I used about the same amount for this frosting.
- Either dollop the frosting onto the cupcakes or scoop it into a piping bag and pipe it on.
- Frosted cupcakes should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if not eaten right away).