Escape Into The Lush Black Forest (Cake)

Black Forest (5)

Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again.” – William Shakespeare

Ahem! That was a little much. In today’s world of futuristic technology, “Farewells & Goodbyes” are never forever. You pick up your snazzy ol’ phone and call your now “Long Distance” friend to update her on the latest gossip and it’s like she never left!!! Yup it’s that easy! So my good friend from college and colleague of almost eight months bid a teary goodbye to the Team to fulfill her career dream elsewhere. Although, I’m sure she’ll add to the awesomeness of the new company she is to join, I wish her all the good luck and success!

Smi, even though most our plans never really worked out due to the busy schedule, I will surely miss the gossiping and us, forever whingeing about the short breaks at work, crazy shopping and trying to keep under budget, the dinner/lunch outings that drained half our monthly pay and not to forget, the very first splurge on getting our hair straightened together. :P

Like they say “Life is not a destination but a journey.” You make many different friends along the way. Some stay, some don’t and some just fade away. I hope you stay, girl! It was fun knowing you as a colleague too! I hope you find success and some real good friends and that everything works out for you at the new place.

Now how about I stop being mushy and share a recipe? ;) Here’s the Black Forest Cake I whipped up for my work-family and also the one I made for my brother’s friend’s Birthday. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

2 Cups boiling water
1 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Cup butter
2 1/4 Cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180. Whisk water and cocoa together until smooth, then refrigerate until room temperature. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs one by one and mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and cocoa mixtures alternately, in fourths. When fully combined, pour the mixture into greased cake pans 3/4 full and bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Vanilla Butter-cream

Ingredients:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream (or Whip-Cream powder mixed with a little milk)

Directions:

Mix sugar and butter on low-speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

Assembling the cake

You Need:

1 baked chocolate cake

Vanilla Frosting

Berry crush (as required)

Directions:

Remove the cake from the pan and slice the cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife. On the bottom half  spread a generous layer of berry crush. Place the top half of the cake back on. Then spread the frosting on the  top gently. Decorate with chocolate shavings etc.

Choco-Caramel Tart/Life’s Simple Pleasures

Choco-CaramelTart

All our life, we’ve heard things like “Work hard for now. it’s gonna get a whole lot easier after this”, “Just this once… give it your all, you can enjoy later” and so on. Truth is, it never gets easier.

As a matter of fact life gets more demanding every passing day. You need to make choices along the way, which however right they might seem at the moment would make you kick yourself later, Or you would end up happy making them. Either way, Life just keeps you on your toes.

The best answer to life is to do the best you can and hang in there. You rarely get appreciation right away, But it does come to you sooner or later in ways you have never imagined. Just be the best possible version of yourself and take it from there.

I dedicate this post to thank everyone who’s played a part in my life. I wish you all peace and love. :)

This year impress all, at your Christmas table with this divine Chocolate Caramel Tart! Happy Holidays!!! Cheers!!! :)

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*adapted from Martha Stewart’s Chocolate caramel tart with my own adjustments and convenient substitutes.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Tart Dough:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 small egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/8 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Caramel Filling:

1/4 cup water
1 cups granulated sugar
1/8 cup light corn syrup or pancake syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream or 1/2 sachet whip cream powder
1 tablespoons creme fraiche (2 tablespoons if using whip cream powder)
a pinch of coarse salt

Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

1/4 cup heavy cream
50 gms extra-bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Method:

STEP 1

Make the tart dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Add egg yolk and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Sift in flour and cocoa powder, and beat on low speed until just combined. Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk; wrap well. Chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

STEP 2

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, roll the tart dough 3/16 inch thick. Using a floured rolling pin gently roll the dough over a 7 inch tart pan, trimming away any excess dough. Chill the tart shell in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

STEP 3

Line the tart shell with a piece of parchment paper, and fill with raw rice or dried lentils. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and its contents, and bake until the pastry looks dry and set, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shells can be made up to 8 hours ahead.)

STEP 4

Make the filling: Place 1/4 cup water in a large saucepan. Add sugar and corn syrup, and cook mixture over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it becomes a dark-amber caramel, about 10 minutes. Carefully whisk in butter, cream/whip cream powder, creme fraiche, and a pinch of salt (the mixture will bubble up), whisking until smooth. (The caramel can be made up to 5 days ahead and refrigerated in a covered container.) Carefully transfer caramel to a glass measuring cup. Pour caramel in the tart shell while still warm (or reheat caramel over low heat until it is pourable), and let stand until the caramel is set, at least 45 minutes.

STEP 5

Make the ganache glaze: Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and let stand for 2 minutes, then stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour the glaze over the tarts while still warm. Let the glaze set at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Fudge Sauce

There are days when you just wanna sit in the confines of your room in solitude and sulk… Such days creep up on me when I least expect them to. And my lovely mum knows how to snap me right out of it! By making something sweet for me! :D

Chocolate Brownies with Chocolate Fudge Sauce

These pictures right here show you just how much my mum knows me! Love you, Mummy!!! <3 :D
These melt-in-the-mouth chocolate brownies can put a smile on any grumpy face! Don’t you agree??? :D
Whip these up for your loved ones and cheer them up today!!! :D

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Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients:

180g Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Cocoa powder
3/4 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
3 Eggs
1 cup Sugar (ground)
1 tsp Vanilla essence
A handful of Walnuts dusted in flour

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 deg.
Melt the butter and mix the cocoa powder in it and set aside to cool.
Sieve the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside.
In a separate bowl beat the eggs till fluffy and mix in the ground sugar and vanilla gently.
Mix the butter-cocoa mixture with the eggs gently.
Fold in the flour little by little to get a thick batter. Then fold in the walnuts(Mum didn’t use the walnuts ‘coz I don’t like em).
Grease your baking tin with butter and sprinkle some flour so your brownies dont stick to the tin and are easy to unmould when baked Or just line your tin with parchment paper.
Pour the batter in the tin. Tap the tin to level the batter. Bake for 30 min at 180 deg.
Let cool completely in the tin, Unmould, cut into squares and garnish with Chocolate Fudge Sauce (recipe below).

*Loved these brownies even more when they were a day old. Store them in an airtight container in the fridge. :)

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Water
2 tbsp Sugar
4 tsp Cocoa powder
2 tsp Corn flour
1-2 tbsp Water
1 cup Chocolate chips
1 tbsp Unsalted Butter

Method:

Mix cocoa powder, corn flour and water in a small bowl. Make sure there are no lumps.
Bring the water to a gentle simmer in a pan. Pour the corn flour and cocoa mixture into the simmering water while stirring continuously.
Stir till it thickens a little. Take the pan off from the heat and toss in the chocolate chips and mix.
Put the butter in and mix to get silky chocolate fudge sauce!!!

CHOUX PASTRY/PROFITEROLES filled with CHOCOLATE CREAM and drizzled with CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Flapping my arms, walking in circles and making horrid throaty noises is something I often do when I’m absolutely jobless and dead bored!
Yeah! Laugh all you want! :/ :P
A while back when I was reading a few recipes online, I came across a very nice recipe for “Choux Pastry“. Though I had heard of choux
pastry before, reading out the word “choux pastry” aloud amused me! Don’t ask me why. ‘Coz i don’t know. :/ And there I went flapping my
arms, being all loopy and shrieking out the words “choux pastry” again and again and again! I could see that my absurdity was raising a few
eyebrows. My mum’s and my bro’s to be precise… And I knew it was time for me to shut up!
I fled the scene and got busy with picking out the ingredients from the pantry cupboard for the recipe. What tempted me to try this recipe out
was that it was sooo easy, and did not ask for many tricky, hard-to-find ingredients. Three simple steps and Voila! You are rewarded with
unbelievably cute blobs of yumminess! You could fill the profiteroles with vanilla custard or chocolate cream or anything you fancy! Give this recipe a go and I’m telling ya, you won’t regret it! Have fun!

Chocolate Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornflour, sifted
¼ teaspoon salt
7 (200g) ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature

Method:

To make the dark chocolate cream, heat the milk. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, cornflour and salt until thick and well blended. Without stopping whisking, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot milk, then add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat, and whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the melted chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. In the meantime, fill the sink about a quarter full with water and ice cubes. Whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the cream is smooth and silky.

Put the bowl into the ice filled sink, and stir occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled. Refrigerate with plastic pressed against the surface of the cream to avoid a skin forming.

Choux Pastry/Profiteroles 
(makes about 40)

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter
1 cup cold water
150g plain flour, sifted
4 eggs

Method:

1. To make the choux pastry, preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F) and line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Combine butter and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add flour and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

2. Add eggs to the mixture, beating vigorously to combine after each addition before adding the next. To make profiteroles, use either a piping bag or a spoon to make 3cm mounds on the baking tray.

3. Bake for 15 minutes. Prick pastries with a skewer or the tip of a small knife and bake for an additional 5 minutes until golden and dry. Cool profiteroles on a wire rack before filling with chocolate cream. Drizzle chocolate ganache(recipe below) on the profiteroles before serving.

NOTE: the profiteroles are hollow pastries. Poke a hole on one side and use piping bag to fill them with chocolate cream.

Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces of dark/semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method:

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium heat resistant bowl.

Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just reaches a boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Stir gently to make sure all of the chocolate is covered by the cream and allow it to sit for a minute. Stir well, until it is smooth and blended. Add the vanilla and mix it in thoroughly. Use immediately.

VEGAN CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Who would have thought you could bake an equally delicious cupcake without the very obvious ingredient “Egg”. At least I never did, until I came across this wonderful vegan chocolate cupcake recipe on allrecipes.com. These cuties fluff up so gorgeously in the oven; it is almost bewitching to look at. And the recipe is ever so simple. To get more of the chocolaty yumminess with every bite, I tossed in small chunks of milk chocolate in my batter! The result was splendid as you can see. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3 cups white sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup vegetable oil

3 cups water

3 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, soda and salt. Add sugar and mix together. Add oil, water and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into lined cupcake pans 3/4 full. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE

 I thought I should start with somethin’ Chocolate. A yummy moist Chocolate Cupcake maybe? I stumbled upon this wonderful recipe a few months back on a lazy Sunday afternoon while browsing online for some new recipes to try. I don’t remember which website it was! But Cheers to whoever the recipe belongs to! :D  The original recipe had butter cream to go with their chocolate cupcakes but I went with chocolate glaze for mine! And don’t they look just heavenly!!!  You need these in your life. I tell you.

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I made the vegan version of these Yummies  for the girls at a mini-potluck we organized in college recently… And they loved the cupcakes so much, bless them. How do I know? Compliments aside, I was left with an odd fallen crumb or two. And I’m not complaining, no.

The cupcakes turn out sooo good… there will surely be calls for an encore by family and friends! Beware! Hehe! Here’s the recipe for the cupcakes and the chocolate glaze. Happy Munching!! 

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

(makes 40)

Ingredients:

2 Cups boiling water

1 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 3/4 Cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 Cup butter

2 1/4 Cups white sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 180. Whisk water and cocoa together until smooth, then refrigerate until room temperature. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in eggs one by one and mix in the vanilla. Add the flour and cocoa mixtures alternately, in fourths. When fully combined, pour the mixture into lined cupcake pans 3/4 full and bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in middle. My cupcakes took 25 minutes to bake. . . Allow to cool to room temperature.

FOR THE GLAZE

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup milk, warmed

2 tsp vanilla extract

100 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 cup icing sugar

Directions:

Combine butter, milk, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the icing sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the cupcake tops immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

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