Sunday, May 19, 2013

Red Velvet Mini-Cakes with Sugared Pansies and White Chocolate Ganache

Gosh, I can't even tell you how hectic this week has been, or how hectic next week will be. I'm producing a student production at my high school and opening night is this Thursday. To say I've been busy would be an incredible understatement, but gosh, it is the best kind of busy. It's all the little things that are my guilty pleasure - organizing mundane things, keeping track of minute details, talking to businesses like I'm some kind of important person who deserves their time and money... All the things that attract me to the business world. I've been enjoying it. I like the stress. But honestly, when Saturday rolled around and it was time for me to resume my normal, low-key life, gosh was I the happiest little munchkin. I sat down thinking of something new to bake, and my mind raced with ideas! Baking has always been my stress relief and I suppose THIS was my body's way of telling me it was about time. 

Spoiler! Today's recipe will produce this.
I wanted to do something cute, a little spin-off of an old classic. As a cupcake fanatic, I decided they would be my base. I wanted to use the cupcake tins to make flat-topped cupcakes without wrappers so they looked  like miniature cakes and treat them like mini-cakes rather than just frost the top like cupcakes. Using red velvet seemed like a good choice, because red velvet is notorious for being denser than most cakes, which seemed like a good base for something without a cupcake wrapper.

Oven Temp: 350 F
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Decorating Time: 15 miuntes
Ready-In: 1 hour

1 1/4 cup sifted cake flour  
pinch of salt
2 tbls cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 milk with 1 tsp lemon juice)
1 tablespoons liquid red food coloring
1/2 tsp white distilled vinegar
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F and place rack in center of oven. Carefully butter each cupcake pocket in a cupcake tin. Flour the butter pockets and set aside.

 In a mixing bowl sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Beat the butter until smooth and soft. Add the sugar and mix until fluffy. Add the egg beating well after each addition, then mix in the vanilla and beat until combined.
I always find it rather cumbersome to go out and buy buttermilk, so I usually just make it myself by mixing a teaspoon of lemon juice into 1/2 of milk. 

It has to sit for 5 minutes before use. When ready, whisk the red food dye into the buttermilk. 

Slowly, alternately, add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter mixture.

In a separate cup or bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda. Allow the mixture to bubble to its heart's content and then quickly fold gently into batter.
Working quickly, divide the batter evenly between the twelve muffin cups. As this is a dense recipe, make sure to smooth the tops off.  

 Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let the cakes cool completely. This will give them enough time to shrink down so they should be easy to pop out. Before you proceed to frosting/decorating them, they need to me completely cooled so the frosting will stick better.

As the cakes were baking, I prepared my sugared pansies. These are very pretty and very easy to do. Gently wash your flowers (cut as close as possible to the bud) by dipping them in cool water and blotting them dry. 

Gently drying

Next, whisk an egg white until gently bubbly, with no clumps. Delicately paint the flowers with a q-tip or a small paintbrush. Coat in superfine sugar. Place on wax paper to dry.


While the cakes are cooling, begin making the frosting. I wanted to pair them with a white chocolate ganache, because I wanted the smooth look of a fondant on a cake. The traditional choice, of course, would be a cream cheese frosting.
Here's a helpful ganache how-to that I found the first time I made ganache.

Ganache is really easy. It's just equal parts cream and chocolate.
Start by warming the cream until it's just boiling. Pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for several minutes. Slowly begin stirring to incorporate the chocolate into the cream. It will take several minutes for them to mix together. You know it's mixed when the chocolate is entirely melted and small air bubbles are visible. You don't want to over mix though!
If the cream isn't warm enough for everything to melt, either microwave briefly, or make a double boiler. Allow to sit overnight. 
Allow to cool for a few minutes to thicken up. I found that when melted, the white chocolate was semi-transparent, but I didn't want to pour it over the cakes until it started to looking pretty white. If you pour when it's too warm, it will just glide off. I chose my least appealing cake to be my experimental one.  
As the ganache is cooling, decorate with anything you want to have held in place. 

Lots of little things to go here and there, but the finished project is quite pretty!


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