Halloween Mini Ombre Cake

Have you noticed ombre stuff lately? It’s on T-shirts, in people’s hair, and baked goods. Ombre cake + the upcoming holiday = Halloween Mini Ombre Cakes!

A recipe I posted recently (Raspberry Mousse Cake) had a lovely white cake for layers. That is the base here, as it was easy to color varying shades. I think in the future I’d go even more heavy-handed on the coloring to get a more pronounced contrast. Continue reading “Halloween Mini Ombre Cake”

Baking Fail – Brazilian Carrot Cupcakes

I suppose these weren’t terrible cupcakes, but none of us were really a fan. My bake challenge was a very difficult Brazil this week, hence the Brazilian carrot cupcakes.

I had high hopes for these! Original recipe stated self-rising flour, which I completely ignored. It did have baking powder in them, but not enough apparently to get a good rise. The glaze also never set up for some reason. Glaze was still tasty, BTW, just drippy!

There’s one thing I did enjoy about cupcakes – the carrots are pureed. If you aren’t an enormous carrot cake fan because of the texture, see if you can find a recipe with pureed carrots. Carrot flavor and beautiful orange color minus the shreds πŸ˜‰

Maybe you’ll have better luck then myself! Original recipe here.

 

Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse

My bake challenge from WEEKS AGO (that’s how behind I am!) was Bastille Day. I know very little nothing about this holiday other than it is French, which brings me to this extremely rich hazelnut dacquoise with chocolate mousse!

Day-who?

A dacquoise sounds really fancy, doesn’t it? Pronounced like “day-kwaz,” it’s French, apparently meaning “of Dax,” a French town. I printed out a recipe from Fine Cooking and about choked on my coffee when SIX PAGES spit out of my printer. Then began my foot-dragging on baking said daquoise; I knew it would be a production to make. Continue reading “Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousse”

Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Happy belated Memorial Day! My bake challenge was using royal icing, so I tried a flooding technique to make these patriotic chocolate sugar cookies.

I ALMOST put this into a baking fail category. What you don’t see in that fabulous picture above are the unattractive ones πŸ™ But some turned out okay, so here we are!

the technique and what not to do

Flooding with royal icing involves getting just the right consistency to pipe an outline on a cookie, then making a runnier icing to “flood” the inside with. Being the reasonable person I am, I went and outlined them all at once, then flooded them all at once.

HOWEVER – royal icing dries very, very quickly. Like within minutes. I wanted a neat zig-zag look, but it started to dry so fast that I wasn’t able to decorate all 30 or so cookies quick enough before it started to harden.

Another FYI – royal icing is sickeningly sweet. I loved the cookie recipe here more than the icing; in the future I may add some almond extract to the icing for an almond/chocolate combo.

Do you like the American flag cookie? My fabulous 12-year-old daughter did that one πŸ™‚

The recipe is from Joy of Baking and can be found here.

Chocolate Babka

Chocolate + bread = why didn’t I bake this before??

I’ve been looking forward to making this since I printed it out. Besides sounding delicious, the beautiful photos of swirly babka bread I found online are drool-worthy.

Side note – Can I just say how much fun baking bread is?? I keep renewing over and over again my Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book from the library (review here!). Something about the fact that yeast is ALIVE and you add stuff to make it grow and then enjoy what you’ve made is so awesome to me.

back to babka

This recipe had been sitting for a while in my to-bake pile, but when the Reddit bake challenge of Poland came up, I decided babka it is…and it must be chocolate babka!

As I’m typing this, I realize I have no idea if chocolate babka is authentically Polish, but either way it was delish!

If you’ve tried your hand at homemade cinnamon rolls, you’ll find these start off similarly – make your dough, let is rise, punch it down, roll it out and spread stuff on it, then roll it into a log. Babka differs in that you aren’t cutting the log into small circles, but instead cutting along the length of it and braiding together.

This recipe make 2 loaves, and practice apparently makes *improved* because my second loaf definitely looked more attractive than the first. I must make 10 more loaves of this bread to nail an appropriate swirl πŸ™‚

It is so hard to wait for warm bread to cool before eating! It really was tastier after cooling. If we had a lot left, I’m pretty sure I would’ve cut it into slices and made French toast out of it πŸ˜‰

Thank you to the recipe developers at King Arthur Flour – this one is yet another winner! Recipe here.

 

Copycat Hostess Cupcakes

I was never actually into the Hostess cupcakes that much as a kid. I was definitely more of a Nutty Buddy type. Wafers plus peanut butter plus fake chocolate tasted fabulous!

Now I prefer to bake stuff from scratch when I can, mainly because I like to know what’s in the food I’m eating and it’s weird that something can last for years on a shelf. Time for a copycat version that’s homemade!

This week’s Reddit bake challenge was childhood favorites. Hostess Cupcakes have been around quite a while and look really monochromatic and cool. My husband fondly remembers eating the rubbery chocolate layer off them first as a kid, so I’m going to assume these count as a childhood favorite πŸ™‚

The Basics

Your cupcake base is a FABULOUS chocolate cake recipe simply in cupcake form. I actually use this particular recipe for all my chocolate cakes because it’s so good. Don’t be afraid of the instant espresso; you won’t taste it and it just intensifies the chocolate flavor.

Each little cake is filled with a simple 7-minute frosting, cooked over the stove and whipped. The recipe for that is here. Save your leftovers after filling them, cuz you’ll need it to pipe the little swirly on the top to decorate. They aren’t the real deal without the swirl πŸ˜‰

They are all topped off with a 2-ingredient ganache. I used bittersweet chocolate chips, but I bet you’ll get an even more “authentic” flavor if you use semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips instead. Let them sit in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up the ganache, and pipe your curly-cues on top for the finishing touch with the leftover frosting.

(Weird measurements in the recipe are from scaling it for exactly 12 cupcakes; we definitely didn’t need 24 of these sitting around πŸ™‚

The finished product really does taste amazing, and we had exactly none leftover from the dozen we made. There’s something SO satisfying about whipping up something that’s typically made in a factory πŸ™‚

Enjoy!

 

 

Print Recipe
Copycat Hostess Cupcakes
A homemade twist on the classic childhood favorite!
copycat hostess chocolate cupcakes
Course Desserts
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Chocolate Cupcakes
Ganache Topping
Course Desserts
Servings
cupcakes
Ingredients
Chocolate Cupcakes
Ganache Topping
copycat hostess chocolate cupcakes
Instructions
Chocolate Cupcake Recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine the milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and 1 egg.
  4. Using a mixer, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.
  5. Bring the 1/2 cup water to boil and add the espresso to it. Immediately add this to the batter and mix until combined. It will be thin and watery.
  6. Fill each cupcake liner with about 1/4 cup of batter.
  7. Bake about 18 minutes, until toothpick stuck in the center is mostly clean. Let cool in tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a rack.
  8. When your cupcakes are cooled, get started on the 7-minute frosting. Recipe I used is up above in instructions, but any basic 7-minute frosting would be fine.
  9. If your cupcakes have a dome, use a serrated knife to shave a bit of the top off and level them. Now core out each cupcake for the filling. I just use a small metal veggie peeler and carve out of a little rough circle shape from the center of the cupcake. Fill with frosting.
Ganache Topping
  1. Place your chocolate in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Bring your heavy cream just barely to a simmer and take off the heat.
  3. Pour heavy cream over chocolate and cover the small bowl with a lid. Set aside for 3 minutes to soften the chocolate.
  4. Using a whisk, gently mix the cream and chocolate together in one direction, not vigorously. It will eventually come together in a smooth, glossy, beautiful ganache.
  5. Let cool for a few minutes until firmed up just a bit for spreading over cupcakes. I used an offset spatula to spread it just to the edges; dunking the whole cupcake upside down in the ganache resulted in a mess, so I would avoid that way with this recipe πŸ™‚
  6. Put the ganache-covered cupcakes in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up the ganache. Make the swirl on top using the leftover white frosting.
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Mint Chocolate Cream Pie

Fun fact about myself – I’m too cheap to buy cookbooks and only get them from the library. After dog-earring everything that looks fabulous, I’ll make copies to be placed in my TO-BAKE file.

This mint chocolate cream pie came into the world the same way! Being a big fan of Sally’s Baking Addiction blog, I was stoked to check out her book, Sally’s Candy Addiction. Candy recipes galore and even non-candy things like this pie. Right up my alley, as I *ahem* apparently have both a candy and a baking addiction.

This pie has a silky smooth chocolate filling with a crunchy, buttery crust. It also came together quickly and easily; just make sure you leave time for firming up in the fridge. The only bake time is the for Oreo crust, and I even bought mint Oreos to boost the mint flavor. However, this pie had a perfect amount of mint in it. Not at all overwhelming, but you definitely knew it was there.

A few things I did differently: The recipe calls for chopped semi-sweet chocolate added to the custard; I used chocolate chips and they worked just fine. I also prefer to strain my pudding, even though this recipe didn’t call for it. I’m glad I did it anyway because I prevented a whole bunch of little clumpy bits from messing up my smooth pudding.

In the future I’m going to attempt this minus the mint. I think it would make an awesome basic chocolate cream pie.

Check out the book here – or your library πŸ˜‰

 

 

Some links above may be through an affiliate. If you buy something through one of those links, I will get a small commission to help support Weird Little French Cookie. Thank you πŸ™‚

 

Baking Fail – Chocolate Pecan Torte

This was one of those desserts that look beautiful on the outside, yet manage to be quite disappointing on the inside πŸ™

My bake challenge this week was decorating with chocolate. I actually ripped this torte recipe out of a magazine – it looked AWESOME! Covered in shiny dark chocolate and studded with pecans…I couldn’t wait to give this one a whirl.

Result:Β  If you enjoy a mouthful of crumbly, chocolate-flavored sawdust, this bake is for you! It’s actually not as bad as that, but is pretty dry inside. Flavor was okay and nothing that spectacular, either. Even though I’d never made a torte before and had nothing to compare it to, it was pretty apparent I baked this too long and got a less than ideal result.

I’m going to blame it on the recipe πŸ˜‰ It stated the center should come out clean with no crumbs; I checked 5 minutes before and had a few crumbs clinging, so left it in for the extra 5. IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN. My gut told me it was done, as did the smell, but I ignored it and went with the written recipe. Oh how many times I’ve done that with bakes and regretted it!

Moral of the story – avoid baking a torte at all costs. Or at least don’t leave it in the oven too long.

Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Horns

I LOVE MARZIPAN!

There…I said it. And I think it’s woefully under-represented here in the US. Sure, you can find the very hard colorful “fruits” around the holidays pretty easily, but the real deal is so much better πŸ™‚

As someone who has used store-bought marzipan and homemade, definitely go with homemade when you can. It tastes fresher, and is actually far cheaper to make. A very easy recipe is below. Really – I’m talking about 5 minutes and lasts for a long time in the fridge.

Why the obsession with marzipan this week? Week 6 baking challengeΒ was tiny treats. These chocolate-dipped horns aren’t that tiny, but I figured you can eat them in a few bites, so they count!

This cookie is chewy and full of almond flavor – fair warning if you want something light and airy instead πŸ˜‰

The marzipan recipe below also works beautifully for rolling out in a sheet for covering a cake (I made a Battenberg last year with it!) or just breaking off chunks and molding into cute edible shapes, or dipping in chocolate and eating plain.

Both the marzipan and the chocolate-dipped horns came from the same place – the Daring Gourmet. I LOVE this blog! She has some unusual, not run-of-the-mill recipes, including many ethnic ones.

 

Marzipan RecipeΒ 

Chocolate-Dipped Marzipan Horns Recipe

Enjoy!

Chocolate Hand Pies

This recipe CALLED to me, so I had to make it. Alas, I cannot take credit for these delicious tiny chocolate pies. The brain behind this recipe is Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction – click here for the deets. You will notice much more attractive hand pies when you follow that link πŸ™ I NEED that heart cookie cutter!

Consider this dough more challenging to work with than your standard pie dough. Mine was pretty crumbly and just.wasn’t.coming.together. I ended up adding an additional 3 tbsp of heavy cream to get a workable chocolate dough. Crumbly or not, it was delish even before baking πŸ˜‰

In the future I would definitely go a little heavier on the chocolate and peanut butter filling. I was scared of seepage during baking, but they would’ve been more gooey if I had been more generous. Gooey = more mouth-watering.

Enjoy!