Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses
I love the things that can be done with fondant, but although nobody seems to acknowledge it, the stuff doesn’t really taste very good. Years ago I saw the recipe for white chocolate (which I adore) plastic but had forgotten about it until I saw it again recently and thought I’d give it a try. It still isn’t quite as good as plain white chocolate but it is much better than fondant. After I did these, I got a suggestion that I tried on a new batch which made them even better. Being artistically challenged, I was having trouble with the petals drooping unless I kept them pretty thick (as you can see in the pictures the cupcakes are thicker and the how-to pictures are thinner) and she recommended keeping a cup of ice water handy and dipping them in. That worked much better and faster than trying to refrigerate them after each step since my hot little hands were making the chocolate too soft. The quick dip in the ice water helped them to keep their shape. I loved these cupcake papers and with the roses, they looked quite special for the birthday girls.
For the cupcakes I used the recipe Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes, from More From Magnolia but for each cupcake I put two maraschino cherries in the middle of the batter and added a little of the maraschino cherry juice to a swiss buttercream. I know the recipe is on a wedding site but the recipe is great and even has a video to go with it. For the last step, I added about 1/4 cup of the maraschino cherry juice to give it a touch of flavor and a nice pink color.
Printable Version for Making White Chocolate Roses
Now for the roses:
First a day ahead, make the white chocolate plastic which is basically white chocolate and corn syrup melted together. When you’re ready to begin you’ll need plastic wrap, small pastry roller or rolling-pin (you can use your fingers if you don’t have one but this works faster) and a medium to large size bowl filled with ice water. If you want to color the white chocolate, you can knead in some food coloring (paste works best) or as I did, use a food color spray and some cake glitter after they are assembled. Keep the white chocolate plastic wrapped in plastic except the portion you are using or it will dry out.
Cover a cutting board or table with a large piece of plastic wrap and have another piece the same size set aside. For each rose, pull off a very small piece of the chocolate and roll it into a cone shape. Roll about twenty very small (between 1/4 and 1/2 inch at the most) balls making some really small, some just a little larger and some a little larger placing them about 2 inches apart on the plastic. You don’t have to be precise, flowers are never exact anyway and they will look more natural that way (in case you can’t tell, as well as being artistically challenged I’m not a perfectionist but if it suits you, go for it and make them all consistent – I’m hoping to improve both speed and accuracy with practice). You can make more or less petals (for buds) and larger or smaller cones and petals for different size roses.
Roll into balls
The next step is to cover them with another layer of plastic wrap then flatten the balls (not the cone) using the pastry roller. I gave them a little dent in the middle, then pushed out each side. Again it’s up to you how perfect you want your petals to be. I did find that using the ice water later allowed me to make them much thinner which I thought made them more realistic although the thick ones did hold up a little better. Refrigerate them while making the next batch.
Making White Chocolate Roses
After the petals and cones have firmed up, take the cone and starting at the top gently wrap a petal around it. Add petals overlapping each one until you have the size and shape you want. If the petals start to droop dip them into the ice water for a second or two and they will firm up. When you’ve finished again place them in the refrigerator so they will keep their shape.
White Chocolate Plastic Rose put together
The next step (if you didn’t already color the white chocolate) is to either spray or use a brush to paint color on. I used the spray and when that was dry, a little cake glitter.
White Chocolate rose finished
Here’s how it looked. I also made a few red ones. The spray did tend to make some “dots” but I kind of liked it. If you don’t just spray a little lighter or use a paintbrush if you want to just do the tips of the petals. I plan on trying lots of different flowers, it was quite fun and they came out pretty well considering my lack of talent.
Red White Chocolate Roses
Here’s some other pictures.
Chocolate Maraschino Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses
Chocolate Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes with White Chocolate Roses
Char Sui (BBQ Pork)
Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Char Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Char Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!
This challenge was a resounding success receiving the highest award from the taste testers at each step of the way. First the BBQ Pork was served straight, then made into the filling for the buns. I followed the recipe they provided (Here) for both, the only change I made is instead of the pork loin I had some boneless pork ribs that worked wonderfully and of course I had to add some garlic to the marinade – what can I say I put garlic in everything.
As you can see, I got a little carried away with the red coloring but it did seem fitting for the holiday spirit.
Pork with marinade
Pork with marinade evenly distributed
I chose to do the sear and bake method but probably should have done a little better on the “sear” part. I was too impatient (it really smelled delicious and I was hungry.)
Seared and ready for the oven
After the baking it was served with rice and vegetables for the first meal. It was incredibly moist and flavorful.
The next meal was equally delicious. I chose to make the baked buns and they also got the family seal of approval.
Char Sui Bao (BBQ Pork Buns)
Cook's Illustrated Chicken Canzanese
This weekend’s episode was Chicken Canzanese and it looked so good I had to give it a try. I was not disappointed nor was the family! The chicken skin was crisp, the interior was moist and the sauce was fantastic. This is a chicken meal that you could definitely serve to company and was perfect for a nice Sunday dinner. It isn’t really a mid-week meal as it took too long, but it was well worth it if you have the time. Of course, since I could easily live on just mashed potatoes and gravy (well except for pizza and maybe some desserts) of course I had to make some mashed potatoes to go with it, and for the almost healthy vegetable, some brown sugar glazed carrots. (Did I mention the sauce was phenomenal – potatoes and gravy for lunch anyone?) The recipe for Cook’s Illustrated Chicken Canzanese is here. It uses simple, fresh ingredients and instructions that were easy to follow. I did make a double batch and used bacon because I didn’t have prosciutto but otherwise did exactly what the recipe called for. I give it a full five stars and according to the family ratings – once a week, once a month, once a year and please, please never again – it rated a once a week!
Raspberry/Blueberry Chocolate Cream Cake
This month’s challenge was just made for me, what could be better than a strawberry cream cake? I did have one slight problem and I need to make sure I remember next time; if you want to keep the kids from eating the strawberries (that you know are their favorite) make sure you tell them they are reserved! Therefore, when it came time to finish the cake, it became a framboise/bluet-r (love my French – straight from the translator) because the fraise were history. No matter, it was still delicious.
Jana of Cherry Tea Cakes was our July Daring Bakers’ host and she challenges us to make Fresh Frasiers inspired by recipes written by Elisabeth M. Prueitt and Chad Robertson in the beautiful cookbook Tartine.
I followed her recipes here using the chocolate version of the cake. I did vary (besides the fruit) in that I made my own almond paste using honey and brown sugar. It wasn’t the most photogenic, but tasted great and was very simple.
Ingredients for Almond Paste:
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup hone
1/3 cup water
3 cups blanched, whole almonds
1/4 cup butter
In a heatproof bowl microwave sugar, honey and water to a strong boil. While the mixture is heating, pulse the almonds until coarsely ground. Pour the honey mixture over the almonds and blend until smooth which may take 10 minutes or more. If the mixture is too thick add a small amount of water.
Grind the almonds, honey and brown sugar
Just before use, knead in the butter to make a smooth consistency.
Knead with butter, then roll thin layer for the top of the cake
After making the chocolate cake and cream filling per the recipe, I assembled the cake pretty much as directed but using the raspberries and blueberries instead of the already devoured strawberries. I also didn’t seem to have enough cream left for the top layer so instead I made a quick chocolate ganache (1/2 cream and 1/2 chocolate). Next time I would leave more space between the berries as I would have liked the cream to show through more but all in all it was still pretty and very delicious!