Just for Chloe…

If you remember, I did say just about everyone I know celebrates their birthday in March… and last night was no exception. This time we all gathered in honour of Chloe. I wanted to celebrate it with a dessert I knew would mean something to her.

Chloe went to Vienna for a law competition several years ago – and she, like the rest of us who visit Vienna, ended up trying the famous Sachertorte. This is a seriously dense chocolate torte – the richness cut by apricots. Chloe came home raving about the torte. So I went recipe hunting and was able to find one that I thought would hit the spot.

If you’re a chocolate lover – and want to satisfy a craving – this is the treat for you. It looks more complicated than it really is – but well worth the effort (and the early morning bake fest yesterday).

5 oz dark chocolate chips (10 tbsp)
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
5 eggs, separated
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. apricot jam

Preheat your oven to 325F and take out your 9-inch springform pan (you really should use a pan that has removable sides since you aren’t going to butter the pan).

Now, take that dark chocolate and melt it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.

With an electric hand mixer, beat the butter. Once creamed, add the sugar. Once fluffy, incorporate the egg yolks – 1 at a time, beating the whole time. Use a large rubber spatula and fold in the chocolate and the flour. Set aside.

With the mixer at high speed, and in a glass bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Fold the egg whites into the torte batter. Spoon the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 55 minutes – a toothpick should come out clean when inserted in the centre.

Remove the torte from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Now, remove the sides and allow the torte to cool completely. Once cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the torte in half horizontally. Place the bottom layer on your serving plate and cover with the apricot jam. Cover with the top layer. Now for the frosting…

Chocolate Espresso Frosting
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 oz milk dark chocolate chips (or chopped) (8 tbsp)
1/3 c. COLD prepared instant espresso (1 tsp of espresso powder in 1/3 c. boiling water – CHILLED)
2 c. icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a bowl over a pan of simmering water melt the butter and chocolate together. Stir in the coffee, icing sugar – gradually so that it doesn’t clump up – and vanilla. Allow to chill in the fridge so that it becomes more of a caramel topping.

Once chilled (I’d say an hour) – take it out and stir it up a bit. Using a metal blade, spoon the frosting on top of the torte and cover the entire thing (top and sides). Return to fridge and keep chilled until you are ready to serve.

Delish… and Rich! If you are aiming to impress… this is the recipe for you.

figs… a sweet little treat

Gigi celebrated her 29th birthday this week. I wanted to make her a special little birthday treat…

The very first time I went through my golden book of patisserie I found a fig, vanilla and honey cupcakes recipe… and thought “this is the one for Gigi!” So I’ve been saving this little recipe for a month.

A sweet and delightful treat… just like Gigi!

Gigi’s fig-a-licious cupcakes
1 c. self-rising flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c. clear honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract (heaping tsp)
zest of 1 small orange
1/2 c. finely chopped dried figs
1/4 c. finely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 325F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

In another bowl and with an electric hand-mixer – beat together the butter, honey, eggs, vanilla and orange zest. Once everything is blended – stir this mixture into the flour mixture. Add the figs and walnuts. Mix to just combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups. I got about 2 mini scoops per cupcake.

Bake for 25 minutes. The cupcakes will be golden brow and firm to the touch when they’re done.

Put on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. I took some liberties with this one… (again, I know those of you who have been reading my blog aren’t surprised eh?)….

Honey Frosting
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
2 tsp clear honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. icing sugar
*if you have fresh figs, use them to top the cupcakes. I had to use dried figs.

With your hand mixer – blend up your butter (this loosens it up nicely). Add the honey, 1 tsp to begin with, and the vanilla. Combine well. Then add the sugar. Start mixing. I added almost 2 more tsp of honey because I really wanted it to taste like honey. So taste as you mix – and adjust the amounts according to your own personal preferences. This made for REALLY sweet icing…so be careful when adding the honey…

Once everything is well combined and there aren’t any lumps – you’re frosting is done. You can either using a piping bag and pipe it onto the top of all the cupcakes – or just spread it on with a knife.

Top with the figs (either dried or fresh – depending on what you have available). Or do like we did – and simply top them all with candles! It was a birthday celebration after all!!

nutty eh? or just NUTELLA!

ok… so the title of my blog today is a little lame. But I wanted to include my homemade Nutella recipe. The last time I made this I used really dark cocoa – this time I stuck to a regular dutch cocoa… I think I prefer it this way. The result is just a bit sweeter – which is nice since the cupcake recipe I combine it with uses only bittersweet chocolate.

As long as you have a food processor – and don’t mind hearing it run for about 5 minutes (nonstop) then you’re good to go. And you’ll impress the pants off your friends and family. :0)

no name brand Nutella (ha ha ha)
1 c. hazelnuts, blanched
1/2 c. icing sugar
1/8 c. cocoa powder
1/8 c. canola oil (I used a safflower oil)

First – if, like me, you bought unroasted hazelnuts – then you’ll need to roast them… put them in a pan over medium heat and heat them up for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place on top of a tea towel. Fold the towel over the nuts and then start to rub. The skin will rub off – again, don’t worry if all the skins don’t come off.

So once you have your blanched/roasted hazelnuts, put them in your food processor and start it! Let it run while your hazelnuts get ground up – keep it running until they start to form a ball on their own (about 3-4 minutes).

Add the icing sugar and the cocoa powder. Combine well in the food processor – again, let it run for about 2 more minutes.

While the food processor is still running, slowly add the oil to the mix so that it loosens it all up a little and forms a spread.

That’s it. Pretty simple eh? Yep. The one thing you’ll likely do is scrape down the sides while the hazelnuts are being ground up and then again once you add the sugar and cocoa. Other than that, this pretty much makes itself. I heart my food processor :0)

Place in a tupperware container and store in your fridge. They say this should last 3 weeks… but really… as if Nutella EVER lasts that long.