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I bake quite a bit, and I am always on the look out for tips and tricks that will make the process easier… especially when it comes to baking for people with dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten intolerant, etc.). I’ve noticed many bakers regard specialty baking as overly complicated and unsatisfying, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nor should it be regarded as something you shouldn’t try unless you’re already a skilled baker. One of the best things I discovered while trying out gluten free baking was that my favorite brand of flour (King Arthur) had a whole line of gluten free products. Everything from all purpose baking mix to actual cake and cookie mixes, and you know what? They are pretty awesome. Most of my taste testers firmly assert that they can’t even tell the difference. So when my gluten intolerant friend requested something chocolate, with fudge and berries for her birthday I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
- King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
- 4 Eggs
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
Fudge Filling (adapted from this recipe):
- 5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 6 tbsp light corn syrup
- 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp water
- Pinch of salt
- 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 all purpose gluten free flour (I used King Arthur)
- 1 cup blackberry juice
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 sticks up butter cut into cubes
- Combine ingredients and bake according to the box’s instructions.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted and smooth. Whisk in the cocoa until dissolved, mixture with be very thick. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine together corn syrup, sugar, cream, water, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Remove from heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture slightly, about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly before using.
*Can be made up to three days in advance.
- Combine sugar, flour, cream and both juices in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk ingredients and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of a soft pudding (roughly 10-15 minutes).
- Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and beat on high until cooled (6-8 minutes).
- Once mixture has cooled, reduce mixer speed to medium and start adding the butter a couple of cubes at a time until all the butter has been incorporated. (This will take forever, just stand there and let the mixer do it’s thing)
- Switch mixer back to high and whip frosting for 1-2 minutes.
- Use a cupcake corer or knife to remove a shallow center section from each of the cupcakes.
- Put the fudge filling in a sealed sandwich bag and snip off one of the corners. Pipe filling into each cupcake.
- Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake being careful to cover the fudge filling so none is peaking through.
- Garnish however you please; I used chocolate sprinkles and Mini Dark Chocolate Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares.
*I have received no compensation for this post; the opinions expressed are 100% my own*
I have bought quite a few cookbooks over the last decade or so, but I hardly ever use them. I leaf through them every now and again and make mental notes of things I would like to make “soon”. Before you know it, the book is back on the shelf, and I’ve forgotten all about it. I made a pledge earlier this year to make a real effort to use these beautiful books for their intended purpose instead of using them as paperweights or coasters. On our recent trip to Disney, Andy bought me a copy of Baked Occasions, and I swore to myself that I would make at least one of the recipes before February was over. I’m cutting it a bit close, but I am proud to tell you that I have successfully made Very Vanilla cupcakes.
- As you can see from the photo, I decided to use this recipe for cupcakes instead of a layer cake (makes 30 cupcakes). The only problem is this recipe follows the low and slow methodology for baking that produces a nice level cake. Not what you want for cupcakes; you want them to be a little humped up in the center instead of flat across. I forgot to correct for this and had rows and rows of flat little cupcakes. Next time I’ll crank the baking temp to 350 and reduce the bake time to 20-25 minutes.
- This very vanilla frosting is my new favorite, non ganache frosting recipe. So much better than standard butter cream! It tastes a lot liked whipped cream, but you don’t have to worry about melting. While I am usually not much of a frosting girl, I caught myself absentmindedly sticking my finger is the bowl of left over frosting while I was cleaning up. I can’t wait to try this recipe out with some other flavor options.
- I have to admit I was a little intimidated by this recipe the first time I looked at it. The ingredient list is really long, there are so many different steps, and the idea of cooked frosting is still pretty new for me. Seeing it from the other side, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it was a bit more labor intensive than I usually go for. I am a big fan of one bowl mixes. As far as the cake recipe goes, I would use it again, but probably only for a special occasion.
I am excited to try more things from this book. I think it’s going to force me to stretch a bit as a baker, which is never a bad thing.
The last few months have been pretty crammed with baking as I scrambled to hit my 12 new cake recipes before the deadline on my 28 before 29 list. Now that I am in the clear, I’ve taken a baking break and have been reflecting on all the things I learned along the way. I’ve discovered that I really like baking with a friend or family member (mostly my mom and my friend Rachel); it helps me relax and enjoy the process since I know that there is someone double checking ingredient lists and recipe steps as we go along. I discovered that I am a frosting snob. Cake can vary on texture and flavor and be fine, but frosting!? If it isn’t right, I scrape it off and throw it away. Which makes me feel like a diva, but I can’t help it. It does, however, make me that much more excited when I find one that truly like. Whipped ganache or peanut butter frosting? Yes, please; I’ll bring my own spoon. I’ve also started thinking a lot more about presentation. Several of the later recipes I tried called for more precise assembly and the reaction from the taste testers was overwhelmingly positive. A swirl of fudge here, a carefully place berry there, and it made everyone feel like they were getting something extra fancy.
I am currently working on my 29 before 30 list, that I will be sharing with you next week, and I am definitely going to continue the trend of trying new recipes. I am hoping to expand my culinary comfort zone past cupcakes and start putting a little extra consideration into my presentation. To get inspired, I have once again turned to Pinterest for help and my Cake board is making me feel like it will soon be time to again pull out the mixer and don my apron. Here are a few of the recipes I am currently considering.
Another thing I want to work on is the quality of my food photos; we eat with our eyes too, right? And those pictures above? Gorgeous, and they make me very, very hungry.
All images are from the blogs linked in the titles and can also be found on my Cake Pinterest board.