Monday, October 25, 2010

Cute "Coffee Cup" tutorial

Hi everyone! I'm Jana and I blog about sewing and such over at 98 Red Balloons. I'm all about making gifts and in the past that has mostly meant baking. I made these little cakes this weekend to give to teachers who are writing me letters of recommendation, and I thought I would write a little tutorial for CCC while I was at it!

A cake is baked in each mug. Then they are covered in chocolate ganache to look like coffee and topped with homemade marshmallow. These are great because they don't need to be refrigerated as the marshmallow won't melt at room temperature like some icings will. I baked chocolate-coffee cake in half and pumpkin spice cake in the others. 

I use this pumpkin cupcake recipe from Joy of Baking. The only change I made was to use margarine. I'm all about butter when butter is necessary - don't skimp! - but this recipe already has a lot of pumpkin weighing it down and plenty of leavening, so you don't need to worry about having enough volume from the sugar/butter mixture. Margarine is so much cheaper out here, it's nice to use it when you can.

The chocolate-coffee cake recipe is my own, adapted from the famous Hershey's cake recipe. 
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 dram LorAnn coffee flavor or 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup strong hot coffee

Mix all dry ingredients together, including sugar, and wisk them thoroughly. Add the eggs, milk, oil, yogurt or sour cream, and flavorings. Wisk on high speed for about 2 minuets, until the batter begins to look smooth and silky. Add the hot coffee and stir slowly until incorporated. Bake on 350 for 20-30 minuets.  

So back to the mug tutorial! I just went to the second hand store, Goodwill, and bought some pretty mugs in good condition and gave them a good scrub. I particularly like wide-mouth mugs for this, they're so pretty! Do not grease or oil inside the mugs as this will discolor them as they bake. Just make sure they are very clean and dry, and fill them 1/2 full with batter. Bake and check after 15 minuets. 

And they'll look something like this! Perfectly domed and ready for a layer of ganache. 

I used a 1:1 ratio ganache for this which will set up after a few hours but won't be hard. That means equal amounts of heavy whipping cream and chocolate make this ganache. Put the heavy whipping cream on low heat until it just starts to steam. It should NOT boil. If it begins to bubble the cream has been overheated. 

Poor the heated cream over the chocolate and step away. The key to a perfectly smooth ganache is forming an emulsion between the fats in the chocolate and the cream. Leave for at least 2 minuets, and then stir with a wisk. The hot cream should have begun melting the chocolate. It will look piecey at first, but keep stiring and you will have a silky, beautiful ganache!

Yum! Poor the ganache over your baked cakes and let them sit for several hours. The ganache will take quite a while to soft-set, but it's delicious and very worth the wait. 

See those little bubbles? The air from the cake will escape for a few minuets after you poor the ganache, but the bubbles will go away on their own pretty quickly. As soon as the ganache has set, you are ready to pipe on fresh marshmallow!

 I love this marshmallow recipe from Food Network's Alton Brown. It's simple to make and incredibly tasty. Stop whipping your marshmallow just before it's done, so it will be easier to pipe. I used a disposable piping bag fitting with a coupler but no tip, just for big fluffy swirls on top of each "coffee"

I can do a tutorial for homemade marshmallow if anyone is interested. For now, have fun with the mug idea! They are very pretty wrapped in clear cellophane and make a very cost-effective gift for neighbors and such. 

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