Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dark Cocoa Cupcakes With Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing





Ever since Prairie Girl Bakery opened in my neighbourhood, my life hasn't been the same.

I've never encountered a cupcake quite like a Prairie Girl cupcake, and so much of that has to do with the quality of their icing. Their chocolate icing is hands down the best in the city, nay, the country. It's creamy, not too sweet, and full of intense flavour. I basically orgasm in my mouth every time I take a bite.



So, when I read that Prairie Girl was coming out with their own cupcake cookbook, I immediately pre-ordered it and counted down the days until I could whip up a batch myself (and then die of cupcake overdose. What a sweet death that would be).

I don't make cupcakes that often, usually because my icing doesn't come out as great as I want it to, and, as I've mentioned before, I'm horrible at cake decoration. But, I had to try to perfect Prairie Girl's simple but beautiful piping to get as close to the real thing as possible. It got a bit messy but I think the results weren't so bad! (But I'll let you guys be the judge of that.)



I tried to stay true to the recipe as much as possible but I did make a couple substitutions, mostly because I couldn't find the brands at my No Frills. I don't think they should make that much of a difference in terms of taste and I've noted the changes I made below.

The result? I think I got pretty close to what the original Prairie Girl cupcakes taste like. The cupcake base is a rich chocolate and the icing is thick, creamy and definitely orgasm-worthy.

Make them for yourself and eat them all. This is a judgement-free zone.



Dark Cocoa Cupcakes

Adapted from The Prairie Girl Cupcake Cookbook

Yields two dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

- 2 cups white sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa (Note: I used Fry's premium cocoa)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.

2. Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Blend on low speed for 1 minute, or until well mixed. (Note: I found that I had to blend it a bit longer because the mix got caught in the whisk a lot.)

3. With the mixer stopped, add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla, then beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice during that time to scrape down the sides of the bowl. (Again, I mixed it for a minute longer because of the problem of the mix sticking inside the whisk attachment.)

4. With the mixer stopped again, pour in the boiling water. Blend at the lowest speed until combined, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. This batter is fairly thin.

5. Place cupcake liners into the cupcake pans. Using a large measuring cup with a pouring lid (and this is really important otherwise you will have batter going everywhere), pour the batter into the liners. Fill each liner three-quarters full.

6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 17-18 minutes (note: I had to bake mine for an extra two-three minutes and I used toothpicks to check if the batter was still liquidy). When done, the cupcakes will be rounded and the tops will spring back when lightly touched. If there is a raw circle in the centre, the cupcakes need a minute or two of additional baking time.

7. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes until they can be easily removed to a rack. (Note: I used a knife lightly around the edges of the cupcakes to get them out of the pans.) Cool the cupcakes completely on the rack before icing them.



Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients:

- 12 oz (one and a half 250 g packages) brick-style cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
- 4 oz 70% Belgian chocolate, melted and cooled (I used one 100 g bar of Lindt 70% chocolate. Hey, the Swiss make excellent chocolate, too!)
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Place the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer, and, using the whisk attachment, beat on low speed until combined, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the cocoa, melted chocolate, 1 cup of the icing sugar, and vanilla and mix again on low speed until blended.

3. With the mixer on medium speed, add the rest of the icing sugar, one cup at a time. Stop the mixer twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl, folding from the bottom until everything is blended together. This should take about 5 minutes total.

4. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the icing for an additional 4 minutes until fluffy. (Note: I added another minute to blend everything.)

5. Frost or pipe the icing (I used a 824 star-tip pipe) onto the cupcakes.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chocolate Silk Pie


 



The past week has been a busy one that's left me a bit emotionally exhausted. On Tuesday, Fashionmagazine.com posted a story I wrote for them about the Jian Ghomeshi trial, one that revealed my own experiences with sexual assault.

I, like a lot of Canadians, have been following the trial obsessively on Twitter, watching journalists' tweets flood my feed in real time as the trial proceeds. The result though has left me feeling drained and exhausted. And, as much as I feel it's important to follow the trial and have a public discussion on topics such as consent, reporting incidents of sexual assault and victim blaming, I definitely needed a break. So I logged off Twitter for a few hours to bake.



Sometimes baking makes me a bit stressed, especially if I'm making something for a friend or if I need to do some fancy icing work. (Which is why I basically never do fancy icing work.) But most of the time, baking relaxes me. It allows me to work with my hands, something that I don't get to do with my day job, and the thought that something tasty is waiting for me on the other side makes me happy. And, weirdly enough, I love staring at my stand mixer as it happily whips butter and sugar. It's almost meditative in a way. Who needs Reiki when you have a stand mixer, am I right? (Charlotte, if you're reading this, I love Reiki and I need to see you for a session STAT.)



I decided to make Smitten Kitchen's chocolate silk pie because god dammit I DESERVED to eat something decadent after a stressful and emotional week. #NoApologies.

I don't know which part of the pie is my favourite: the chocolate wafter crust (so crunchy!) or the whipped-until-you-die-and-go-to-heaven filling. It's the perfect answer to a tough day.

I mean, look at this crust:



Here we go!

Chocolate Silk Pie

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients

Chocolate crust:

- 1 1/2 cups (130 grams) chocolate-wafer crumbs
- 2 tbsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

- 12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 ounces (85 grams) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish:

- 1 cup heavy or whipping cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Chocolate curls shaved from a bittersweet bar with a peeler




1. Make the crust.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter until evenly dispersed. Press crumbs evenly across bottom and up sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then let cool completely (you can put in fridge to speed up this process) before using.

2. Make the filling.

In a large stand mixer, whip butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. While mixer is running, drizzle in melted chocolate. Add eggs one at a time, beating mixture at medium speed for five minutes after each addition, and scraping down the bowl. Add vanilla, and blend well. Spread chocolate filling in prepared crust, and smooth the top. Set pie in the fridge until fully chilled, at least six hours.

3. Top it all off.

Just before serving, beat cream with sugar until it just holds soft peaks. Spoon onto pie and garnish with bittersweet chocolate shavings.