Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chocolate-Raspberry Mini Cakes

Things did not start off well this morning with these cakes (though, in my humble opinion, they ended pretty well). I started with my great-grandmother's recipe for Wacky Cake (I have no idea what's "wacky" about it). It happens to be vegan, so you could easily make vegan frosting for it.

Wacky Cake
makes one 9" square cake

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. white sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1 t. baking soda
1/3 c. oil
1 t. vanilla
1 t. apple cider vinegar
1 c. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; spray and dust pan with flour, or use baking cups for cupcakes
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together
  3. Mke a well in the middle and pour in the wet ingredients; stir
  4. Bake for 35 minutes (if making a 9" square), or 16-18 minutes if making cupcakes

The batter is much thinner than most cake batters, but that's how it's supposed to be. Mine might have been a little too thin actually because I can't measure dry ingredients very precisely. You see, I don't have any dry measuring cups. That's right, I'm trying to become an expert baker with no dry measuring cups. Oh well, I just never seem to get around to buying them. Anyway...

Since I was making cupcakes (the mini cakes are just upside down cupcakes with no liners), I kind of just guessed how long to cook them. I filled each well in the cupcake pan about halfway because I wanted them to be pretty flat on the bottom when I turned them over, and then I cooked them for 16 minutes at somewhere between 325-350 degrees (you never know with my oven).

My first problem was that the cupcakes got sort of stuck in the pan even though I sprayed it, so I had to piece them back together a bit. No big deal since they were to be covered in ganache. Next problem: the cupcakes were so deliciously moist that they were too moist -- they were kind of tacky on the top, so as they settled onto the cooling rack, they got stuck to it (not to mention I dumped them out after they were out of the oven only 1 minute, which was probably not the right thing to do). I was feeling pretty discouraged by this point, but I wasn't about to waste them (waste=eat them all myself), so I kept going anyway.

I looked up various recipes for ganache and ended up with these amounts:

1 c. heavy cream
8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Boil the heavy cream (watch out, it will foam over quickly!), then pour it over the chocolate and mix with a whisk until it's smooth and glossy.

This made way more ganache than I needed for the dozen cupcakes and single layer 6" cake I made with the batter. I'd probably cut it in half next time for the amount of cake I had. To make it easy to pour, I put the ganache in a measuring cup, poured it on the cakes, and then spread it a little with a knife to get it to flow over the edge. It hid the crumbly mess underneath nicely.

Also, I had originally intended to add raspberry extract, but, wary from my experience with "Hazelnut Type Flavor," I decided to sniff it first. Good thing I did. It smelled awful and nothing like raspberries. The first ingredient was grain alcohol, and it smelled like it. So the raspberry part came in with the swirl of buttercream on the top. I used:

2 c. powdered sugar
approx. 5 T. butter
approx. 1/8 c. frozen raspberries, thawed and drained.

There's no need to add any liquid because the raspberries are wet enough. I also didn't need to add any food dye to get it that pretty pink color because the raspberries did it themselves. The frosting is nice and sweet and complements the dark chocolate-y taste of the cakes and ganache.

Things weren't looking good for a while, and I was pleasantly surprised that they turned out so well. Next time I'll try adding a bit more flour or less water or something to see it they get less sticky. Or maybe I need to cook them a little longer. Or maybe I need dry measuring cups. Ugh. I guess this will take a lot of trial and error (and will probably be heavy on the error).


  1. those look amazing. i hope you and nick left some for the rest of us...

  2. We did! And you know they're coming with me to ANTM tomorrow...