Chocolate cake with blackberry frosting – ‘dinosaurs’ world’

This is my son’s birthday cake for his 4. birthday and he wished ‘dinosaurs’ world’. I did not want to use sugar fondant on the top and for decorations because it is very sweet product and without any nutrition values. I made all decorations of shortbread cookies and small angular shaped candies which pretend to be ‘stones’. I baked dinosaurs and bones shaped cookies to create the Jurassic scene and added some real plants which emphasise the prehistoric mood. The cake is a classic chocolate sponge frosted with mascarpone based frosting. Three layers of very chocolate-y (and very dark) sponge are layered with yummy blackberry frosting. The sponge is tasty, moist and velvety. The frosting is light, fruit-y and fresh. The chocolate blackberry combo is one of my favourite flavour pairs and is really yummy. Enjoy!

 

3 sandwich pans ø 8 inch

 

Sponges ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa* powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 115 ml plant oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¾  cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup strong brewed coffee (hot)

Frosting:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese
  • 350 g blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 9 tablespoons icing sugar

Cookies:

  • ½  cup softened butter
  • 5 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon flour

 Decorations:

  • 20-30 pcs small angular shaped truffles or candies
  • small pieces of real shrubs

 * I used very dark (alkalized) cocoa powder. You may use ordinary baking cocoa powder – the colour of sponge will be yet brown not black and the taste will be less bitter.

 

Cookies (you may bake them day or two ahead and store in an airtight container): in the bowl of a stand mixer place the softened butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla, mix together. Gradually add flour still mixing on medium speed until the dough forms a ball (the sides of the bowl should be almost clean). The amount of flour you need could vary because of flour type. If the dough is still very soft and does not shape a ball add more flour, one tablespoon at the time. When is ready, remove it from the bowl, wrap in a cling film and let cool in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place the cooled pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll out into 1/5 inch thick circle pan. Cut out  with cookie cutter dinosaurs and bones. Place them on a lined baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes (small shapes shorter, bigger shapes longer) until golden beige with darker edges. Cool after baking.

Chocolate cake: preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease and line pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat oil and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and egg yolk  – one at a time and beat well after each addition. With last yolk add vanilla and almond extract.. In a separated bowl mix together flour, cocoa powder, soda, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to oil mixture in three batches alternate with sour cream, starting and ending with flour. When all ingredients are well incorporated add hot brewed coffee and mix shortly just until incorporated. Divide dough evenly among prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes (until a tooth pick inserted in to the center comes out clean). Leave cakes for 10 minutes in pans then transfer onto a wire rack to cool completely.  

Frosting: blend blackberries until puree. If they are frozen heat in a saucepan for few minutes until soft. Drain before blending. Whip the cream until stiff. Beat in mascarpone cheese with icing sugar. Add blackberry puree, mix until combined.

Place the first sponge on a serving plate. Spread over 1/3 mascarpone frosting. Cover with second sponge and repeat spreading. Cover with third sponge. Spread the rest of mascarpone frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Place into the fridge to set.

Before serving make decorations: cover the sides with cookie bones (the frosting will glue them). Add some ‘stones’. On the top arrange knolls and walles of ‘stones’ i place dinosaurs in between. Add a little plants.

 

 

 

Category: Layered.

Tags: blackberry, chocolate, cocoa, mascarpone.

Chocolate cheesecake with strawberry panna cotta

I made this cheesecake for my daughter’s birthday instead of traditional birthday cake. Chocolate and strawberry flavours chosen by her are popular combo but still very successful and tasty. The texture of this cheesecake is subtle, creamy and light. The chocolate taste is intensive but not overpowering and perfectly harmonizes with strawberry panna cotta. Fresh strawberries on the top complement nicely the whole dessert. Enjoy!

 

You should make this cheesecake a day before because it must spend the night in the fridge to become proper structure.

round spring pan 8 inch

 

 Base:

  • 170 g tea biscuits
  • ¼ cup butter, melted

Cheesecake:

  • 500 g cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 125 g dark chocolate

Panna cotta:

  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberries (powder)
  • 2.5 teaspoons gelatine

 

Make the base: process biscuits in the food processor until very fine (sand texture). Add melted butter and mix until well incorporated. Line the bottom of a spring pan with parchment paper. Spoon the mixture evenly pressing lightly with a spoon. Let it cool in the fridge.

Make cheesecake: heat the cream until boiling. Remove from the heat, add chocolate broken into pieces and set aside for 5 minutes. Then mix until smooth. Cool slightly.

In a bowl of a stand mixer beat remaining ingredients until smooth mixture form. Add chocolate cream, mix shortly. Cheesecake will be baked in water bath (bain-marie) so wrap the spring pan filled with biscuit base  in two pieces of aluminium foil and place in a bigger pan filled with hot water to the half-way of spring pan sides. Pour the cheese mixture over the biscuit base. Place both pans together in hot oven (325°F) and bake for 1 hour. The cheesecake have to be set on its whole surface, if is not bake it longer. Once is baked remove from bigger water pan, waste the aluminium foil and place cheesecake in pan to the fridge for overnight.

When the cheesecake is in the oven make panna cotta: place gelatine in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 5 minutes to bloom. Heat milk with cream in a saucepan until hot. Remove from the heat, add strawberry powder and sugar and mix until dissolved. Heat gelatine gently in a double boiler or microwave until dissolves, not boil. Stir liquid gelatine in prepared mixture. Pour the mixture into silicon mould shaped of your choice (I made spiral circle and few small butterflies) and place to the fridge for overnight. Before removing from mould freeze for 30 minutes in freezer.

Next day remove cheesecake from the pan and place on a cake stand. Remove frozen panna cotta from the mould and place on the top of cheesecake. Decorate with fresh strawberries. Store in fridge.

 

 

 Category: Cheesecakes.

Tags: chocolate, strawberry.

Glutenfree pistachio rose financiers

Financiers are small French cookies usually baked in rectangular or oval shape. Crucial for the dough is browned butter and using only egg whites without yolks. The cookies are soft, slightly crunchy outside and slightly chewy inside. The flavour is of choice, classic are vanilla almond but we may want to experiment. I choose pistachios as nut base and combined them with rose because this is a really good pair. Cookies are incredible tasty. Enjoy!

 

24 cookies (but it depends on moulds size)

 

 Ingredients:

  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut syrup (or other plant syrup)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cup finely ground pistachios
  • ¼ cup buckwheat flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 1 teaspoon rose extract

Icing:

  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose petals
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoon pistachio crumbles

 

 

 

Grease moulds (I recommend steel) with butter, place on the baking sheet and put into the freezer.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Melt butter in a saucepan and cook for further 10 minutes until changes the colour to brown and starts to smell ‘nutty’. Remove from the heat, stir in coconut syrup and set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl combine sugar, pistachios, salt and flour. Add egg whites and rose extract, mix with a spoon. Slowly add butter with syrup and mix until combined.

Fill moulds to the ¾ capacity. Place with baking sheet to the oven, reduce the temperature to 375°F and bake for 15 minutes (until tooth pick inserted into center comes out clean). Remove from the oven, unmould and cool on a wire rack.

Make icing: grind rose petals to powder. Combine the powder with icing sugar, stir in water and mix until smooth, thick but still liquid mixture. Pour over the top of each cookie and sprinkle with pistachio crumbles.

 

 

Category: Cookies.

Tags: glutenfree, pistachio, rose.

Spinach pistachio sweet rolls

Another version of bicolour sweet rolls. Spring and green. The dough is coloured with spinach and the filling made of pistachios. The spinach flavour is very subtle, slightly detectable (for some people maybe not at all) and the dough looks interesting. The pistachio filling is intensive and tasty. Summarising they are yummy, soft, pistachio sweet rolls. Enjoy!

 

12 buns

 

 Dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried yeast
  • ¾  cup lukewarm milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼  cup minus 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons freeze-dried spinach (powder)

Filling:

  • 100 g pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2-3 tablespoons icing sugar

 

Make dough: in a medium bowl mix together yeast, half of milk and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand for 15 until frothy. Add butter to the rest of milk in the saucepan and heat gently until butter melted but the mixture could not be hot. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add yeast mixture, egg, vanilla extract and milk with butter. Mix on medium speed until dough is smooth (8-10 minutes) and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If dough does not pull away from the bowl, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the mixture remains too dry and crumbly, add lukewarm water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the dough is ready divide it into half. Add spinach powder to one half and kneed by hand until incorporated. Place both dough in oiled bowls, cover and let stand in a warm place for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size.

Make filling: process pistachios until pistachio butter. Add sugar and coconut oil, mix until incorporated. If the mixture is too stiff add more oil.

Place dough on a floured surface and roll out each one into a 16 x 8 inch rectangular. Spread the filling evenly onto the white dough and cover with the green dough. Spread the filling over green dough. Cut prepared two layers dough into 12 strips 8 inch long each. Roll each strip shaping a snail. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place six rolls on each tray arranged them as a circle when each bun touches two other buns by sides (see pictures). Let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes to rest and double in size while preheating oven to 350°F. You can also place trays in the fridge for overnight and bake buns the next in the morning. Remove them from the fridge 15 minutes before baking.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the dough is not more sticky and sounds hollow by taping the base. You may cover the top with aluminium foil after first 10 minutes to save bright colours. Serve warm or cooled.

 

 

Category: Yeast cakes.

Tags: pistachio, spinach, yeast.

Cocoa and coffee canneles

Canneles come from French patisserie and they stem from Bordeaux region. They are small treat shaped as grooved cylinders. They have crunchy caramelized skin outsider and soft custard like inside. The core ingredient is rum, dark the best. Preparing of the dough is not complicated but we have to remember that it needs incubate time 24-36 hours. Second important thing is special mould. I use steel pan and I recommend that kind of pan. On the market are available silicon moulds but firstly the silicon smell goes on the cake and second cookies do not form the classic crunchy skin outside. The taste of this treat is great and they are really worth to be baked. Enjoy!

 

12 canneles

 

 Ingredients:

  • 2 x ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 x ¼ cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee (powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum

 

 

 

Place milk, butter and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. In a bowl bet egg and egg yolk, add salt, warm milk with butter and rum and mix until combined. Divide mixture into half. Gradually add to each part sugar and flour mixing to avoid clumps. Add coffee to one batch and cocoa to the second. Mix. Cover both bowls and place to the fridge for 24 to 36 hours.

Grease the metal pan with melted butter (every cylinder on all surfaces) and place to the freezer. If you have separated cylinders place them all on a baking tray.

After pre-scripted time fill cylinders with the dough to ¾ capacity. Place to the oven heated to 425°F. Rotate pan after 10 minutes. After the next 10 minutes rotate pan again and lower the temperature to 400°F. Bake for the further 20 minutes rotating the pan last time in half time. When time is over do not check cookies with a skewer and remove pan from the oven. Leave for 5 minutes in the pan then unmould and cool on a wire rack.

 

 

Category: Cookies.

Tags: cocoa, coffee, rum.