After 8 months away from home, the moment when I looked out of the plane window and saw London blinking back at me pressed like relief against my chest.
But still. I don’t think it can quite compare to the feeling of being back in my Natural Habitat. I’m talking about being back in the kitchen (feminists, control the gag instincts). More specifically – the feeling of being reunited with my Oven.
Going 8 months without an oven has been cruel punishment indeed. It has meant no baking cakes and, more importantly, no eating cakes.
Dhaka really does not have Great Cake. It just does not. It has edible cake and ‘okay’ cake and ‘I-could-eat-this-I-guess’ cake. But not Great Cake. The only cake I have deemed worthy of eating, in all my cake-snoberyness, is CFC’s chocolate cake. Yes, only in Dhaka would the best chocolate cake find its home in California Fried Chicken.
Even then – there is a part of me that thinks – is this tasting better than it actually is because I have been deprived of Great Cake for so long? Has the lack of stimulation to my taste buds resulted in edible cake appearing to be Great Cake, like a frenzied mirage in a Desert of Great Cake-less-ness?
Let’s put aside the trauma and deprivation and talk about the happiness of reunion instead. The first bake that resulted from the reunion: chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache topped off with a chocolate ganache glaze and a fat dollop of vanilla buttercream. With fresh strawberries on top. Naturally.
Chocolate Cupcakes Stuffed with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and Vanilla Buttercream
Makes 8 cupcakes
I got this recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit. After much drooling over photos and recipes, this is the first recipe I have tried from the blog and I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out. My only regret is that I didn’t double the recipe! 8 cupcakes disappeared far too quickly!
This is also the first time I tried using duck eggs in baking! They are supposed to give a richer flavour than regular eggs. I haven’t tried this recipe with regular eggs, so can’t directly compare – but the cakes were definitely incredibly rich!
For the Chocolate Cupcakes:
1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Green & Blacks recommended)
1/4 cup full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg to the mixture and beat well until incorporated.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder. Use a hand whisk to mix the dry ingredients together.
5. In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla.
6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix together until incorporated. Then, add half of the milk and vanilla to the mixture and mix together until incorporated.
7. Add the second third of the dry ingredients and mix again. Add the second half of the milk and vanilla and mix yet again! Finally, add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix everything together until the batter is well incorporated.
8. Line a muffin tin with 8 muffin cases and fill each one no more than two thirds full.
9. Bake for 22-25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back after pressing them, and a skewer comes clean out of the middles.
For the Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Ganache Glaze:
128 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup strawberries, diced
1. Chop the chocolate (as finely as you have patience to do so) and place in a heatproof bowl.
2. Heat up the double cream until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.
3. Pour the cream onto the chocolate and leave to stand for a minute or so, before stirring together until the two combine into gooey chocolatey goodness. Mix in the vanilla and salt.
4. Divide the ganache into two portions. Stir the chopped strawberries into one portion and then place in the fridge to chill and thicken. This will be your strawberry chocolate ganache.
5. Leave the other half of the ganache on the counter to cool down and thicken. Voila! Chocolate ganache glaze!
For the Vanilla Buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups of icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon of full cream milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.
2. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract and mix together on a low speed until incorporated. Once incorporated, turn up to a high speed and mix until light and fluffy.
To Assemble the Cupcakes:
1. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using an apple corer, plunge through the middle of each cupcake and scoop out. Fill the hole with the strawberry chocolate ganache and then put the ‘scooped’ cake part back in the hole. (I wanted a generous amount of filling, so I plunged twice, creating a fatter hole for the filling).
2. Spread a generous helping of chocolate ganache glaze on top of each cupcake and then pipe or spread the vanilla buttercream on top.
3. Top each cupcake with a fresh strawberry. Not only does this look pretty, but the flavour of the fresh strawberry cuts through the sweetness of the buttercream and the richness of the cake perfectly.