Black Forest Cake, Eyeball Cupcakes, and Lemon Meringue Pie (oh my) #WeekendCooking

Oh boy, this was a bit of a crazy baking week for me. More like a crazy baking Friday, I guess.

We had been invited to a small Halloween backyard party, complete with pizza and Halloween art. And I’ve been well trained by my mum, and knew that I couldn’t go empty-handed.

So, Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie it was. Since I had quite a few Meyer lemons (albeit tiny ones), from my dwarf Meyer lemon tree. Then I thought, maybe I ought to do something more Halloween-appropriate. I know Meyer lemon season is now really, but the bright lemony yellow fruit doesn’t exactly scream “Halloween!” does it?

Chocolate cupcakes? Decorate them to make them look like eyeballs? I could do that, I thought!

I had made lemon meringue pie a few months back, as I adore lemon meringue pie but had somehow never made it. I had then used the recipe from King Arthur Flour but had not quite cooked the lemon filling as properly as I should have, resulting in a slightly liquid-y filling, but it was delicious though…

I decided to stick with the crust part of that recipe (it is a simple crust using oil, no need to stick the dough in the fridge for hours). But went with the filling from this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction – her crust sounds delicious but required shortening which I didn’t have, and several hours’ refrigeration which I didn’t have time for. But since I was using Meyer lemons which are far less tart (and more like a mix of lemon and tangerine, in case you haven’t tried it), I reduced the sugar quite a bit, and added a lot more zest as Meyer lemons smell amazing.

The pie came out wonderfully. The filling held perfectly, and everyone enjoyed it!

Since I was already on the Sally’s Baking Addiction website, I used her chocolate cupcake recipe. The batter was surprisingly thin so I was a bit worried, but it turned out to be a really delicious, moist and chocolate-y cupcake.

(Someone else made apple, peanut butter, marshmallow teeth!)

I also used her Vanilla Buttercream recipe, just 3/4 of it, that is, as I just am not fond of a cupcake that is all buttercream – it looks pretty, but ugh just way too much for me. I went with the lower amount of icing sugar (she gives a range in the recipe), and upped the salt quite a bit, as I really didn’t want it to be too sweet.

Unfortunately, the only food colouring gel I had on hand were pastels, so I had to make do with pinkish bloodshot eyes. ūüėõ

And the final thing to do that day was to finish up the Black Forest cake for the husband’s birthday on Halloween. If you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while, you may know that I make a Black Forest cake every year for the past few years. Here’s the post I did in 2018, one in 2014, ¬†another in 2013¬†– I didn’t post about it every year, but I have apparently made it since 2013?

Anyway, I use the cake recipe from King Arthur Baking ¬†(and had made the cake layers a couple of days ago, and froze them), and usually I find the sour cherries from Trader Joe’s, but this time they didn’t have any! So I had to resort to frozen regular cherries and made the cherry preserve mixture from Life, Love and Sugar (it did make more than I needed though!) then a simple whipped cream using heavy cream and sugar and a touch of vanilla extract. And decorated with chocolate shavings.

Weekend Cooking was started by Beth Fish Reads and is now hosted by The Intrepid Reader and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Weekend Cooking: Black Forest Birthday Cake

I have had the fortune to be married to a sweet, kind, loving man for nearly six years now. It was his birthday on Friday (yup he was a Halloween baby. But this didn’t really mean anything in Singapore, at least not at that time).

Anyway, I’m a terrible gift-giver. I asked him to get himself a Lego set (ahem, so I could build it too!).

And so I made cake.

More specifically, Black Forest Cake. His favourite cake.

I kept dithering over this, trying to figure out if I had the time and the opportunity to actually set myself to the task. Plus I am horrible, absolutely horrible at decorating cakes. But I decided to just give it a go. Again.

So yeah, I made this last year, but the difference was my Mum was around! I had someone who could lend a hand, either with the baking or the kids.

But on Baking Black Forest Cake Day, the stars aligned and I had this big chunk of time when the 18-month-old decided to take a 2.5 hour nap!

So after picking up Wee Reader from preschool, and getting him to sit down and finish his lunch and eat some fruits, and plonking the younger one in the high chair so he could eat some grapes, I quickly got the cake batter going.

I grabbed this Double Chocolate Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen to make the cake layers. I wanted something moist and liked the sound of using buttermilk and the coffee. As well as chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. It sounded like a good cake. I did cut quite a bit of sugar, using only 450 g to the original 600 g, which sounded like way too much. Plus I figured with all my frosting/cherries, it would be sweet enough.

So while the cake was baking, about an hour, I played with the kids, read stories, put the younger one to nap. Then had Wee Reader play with his box of beans and construction toys. Then some Legos. Then when all else failed, let him watch the cake-making. And a promise to let him eat the whipped cream and cherries.

And it was onto making the other parts of the cake.

 

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With the Morello cherries, I set aside 12 cherries for decoration. Then added a couple of tablespoons of sugar (or however sweet you want it), added a bit of cornstarch to some cherry juice (from the jar) to form a paste. Then added the paste and a few tablespoons of cherry juice to the pot and heated it all, stirring until it thickened. Let cool.

By this time, the cake was done, I placed the layers on a rack to cool. When it was cooler, I sliced the cake. I had made one in a shorter round tin, the other in a springform tin (higher sides), so only sliced the one in the springform cake in half.

And made a chocolate ganache using 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate pieces. The Smitten Kitchen¬†recipe has a chocolate ganache recipe but I didn’t want to use corn syrup.

 

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I used the rest of the pint of whipping cream, adding some icing sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form.

 

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Making sure the cake was completely cool, it was time to assemble the cake. I spooned some cherry juice from the jar onto each layer first. Just as an extra way to keep it moist. I hope!

 

 

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First slather some chocolate ganache all over. Then add half the cherry mixture. Then top with the whipped cream.

 

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Then add second layer of cake and repeat.

 

 

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 Franken-Cake

I had three layers of cake.

I wasn’t really interested in slathering the whole cake with whipped cream. Well, plus there was the simple reason that I didn’t have any more heavy cream left to whip. So I topped it with the chocolate ganache and the cherries I had saved for ‘decorating’.

If you’re a better cake decorator than I am, buy more cream! Then do that magical thing where you slather it around the cake and up the sides and make it all gorgeous and perfect. Then add some chocolate curls or chocolate rice or chocolate shards around the sides. Oh perfection! (Like this beauty here).

 

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Weekend Cooking: Flourless chocolate cake

Open the fridge. Stare at it. Decide there’s nothing interesting to eat.

Open the pantry. Stare at it. Decide there’s nothing interesting to eat.

Turn on the laptop. Google ‘Flourless chocolate cake’. Browse several recipes. Decide on the always dependable King Arthur Flour’s recipe. Sounds simple enough. All the ingredients are at hand. Let’s go!

This very dedicated chocoholic has oddly never considered making flourless chocolate cake before. But now that I have I’m so going to make it again! It was quick and easy and made for such a delicious chocolate-y luxury.

They suggest using espresso powder to bring out the chocolate even more. I didn’t have espresso powder so gave it a try with some instant coffee powder. I’m not sure if that made a difference but it was a very chocolate-y cake.

The recipe did call for a chocolate glaze made with cream which I didn’t¬†have. So I found a chocolate ganache recipe that used milk and butter. And it was perfect!

Essentially, melt 50g of butter with 120 ml of milk (I used whole milk), and add 200g of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet). Depending on the sweetness of the chocolate you use, and the level of sweetness you want, you might want to add some sugar.

 

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Whichever ganache you use, or even if you choose not to slather anything on the cake, and serve it with vanilla bean ice-cream instead, this flourless chocolate cake is a beauty. Rich, chocolate-y, absolutely divine.

 

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Weekend cooking: Root beer cake and Freezer pie

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After Wee-er Reader’s first month party, we were stuck with a few opened bottles of drinks – ginger ale, Arnold Palmer, mango green tea and root beer. We managed to finish them (most were almost empty) but I had come across a recipe for Root Beer Float cake and was dying to give it a go. Plus it would make a nice cake for the husband’s Father’s Day cake!

Verdict? A yummy moist bundt cake which had just a faint hint of some hidden flavor. Perhaps if I used a more, erm is artisan the word?, root beer (craft root beer? I know there are craft beers but can you call it a craft root beer?) perhaps the root beer-iness might have come through more strongly. Still it was quite a tasty chocolate cake which the husband enjoyed as an early Father’s Day treat. Yum. Another slice please.

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Then in a bid to clear space in my too-stuffed freezer, I made what I’m calling Freezer pie – frozen pie crust and some frozen fruit. I’m not quite sure why I picked up that big bag of frozen mangoes, pineapples and peaches from Costco as I don’t have a blender and have yet to make a smoothie. It’s been taking up a big chunk of precious freezer space!

So I thawed the fruits (including some mixed frozen berries) with some sugar, drained the fruits and simmered the drained juices with some cornstarch to thicken it, adding some spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Meanwhile I blind-baked the pie crust and when that was ready, put the thawed fruits on top and poured the thickened juice over. It wasn’t very pretty (especially since the crust shrank) but it tasted quite good.

 

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Butter factory

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Saturday was about the buttery things to be baked for our guests for tea.

Butter cake. recipe here – although mine is adapted slightly.
Vanilla and oat shortbread. This recipe is from the Rachel Allen cookbook, which my mum gave to me, but I’ve also found the recipe here. I would reduce the sugar and add in some salt if I were you. The oats give it a nice texture!

But not everything was for the sweet tooth! There were vegetable samosas. Erm from the Costco freezer section but still very good (and all I had to do was bake them) and that coriander dip that comes with it! Mmmmm….

I did manage to read a little. Some pages of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. You know, I always thought it was a war novel. Guess I was taking the title too literally. Apparently Ford had originally titled it ‘The Saddest Story’, which is how it opens:

“This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”

I’m only about 10% through, according to the Kindle app. But am quite enjoying myself so far. Perhaps it’s because it’s a nice change from what else I’ve been reading. Of violence, of dystopia, of Noise, and oh such manipulation! I’ll tell you more when I get to actually writing a review. I’m done with book two, The Ask and the Answer but am hesitating to reach out and open book three, Monsters of Me . Do I not want it to end? Or am I afraid that it won’t live up to the first book?

Ness (his editor?) sure knows how to pick a title. I think I’ve been wanting to read these books because of said titles. I mean, The Knife of Never Letting Go? I didn’t even need to know what it was about to put it on my TBR list. But yeah that is me – I like to not really know the premise of a book. I’ll never be one of those readers who turn to the last page to find out what happens. I like to be surprised. I like to have my expectations blown sky high.

What about you? How much of a book’s plot do you like to know beforehand? Which books have surprised you recently?