Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide–An Excerpt

Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

by Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

My second cookbook has just been released after months of testing various chocolate cupcake and brownie recipes. It was so much fun baking these sweet treats and learning more cupcake decorating techniques. For example, I tried the swirl method and was able to come up with this:

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Peppermint Swirl Cupcakes

I’ve also learned how to make my own sparkling sugar and the various ways to core cupcakes. So, if you love chocolate goodness, keep on reading!

Chapter 1 ~ About the Ingredients

Your cupcakes and brownies can look and taste better than any found in a bakery. What you put into your batch of cupcakes is up to you and your budget. Are fresh eggs and butter available to you? I’ve been able to use farm fresh eggs in many of my batches of cupcakes and brownies. Those hens are free ranging and while kept in a coop at night, during the day they amble around several acres of pasture and eat natural food from the ground as well as organic chicken feed.

Use whatever ingredients you have in your pantry, cupboards and refrigerator for your first batches of brownies and/or cupcakes. Don’t invest a lot of money in ingredients or equipment if you only plan to make the occasional dessert. But once you make brownies and cupcakes from scratch, get creative and try new brands of chocolate, butter, or any of the other ingredients to learn if you can taste a difference. Oftentimes you’ll find some sweet [I couldn’t resist that pun] deals on the ingredients at your grocery store so you’ll spend less money on finding out what you like to add to your chocolaty desserts. Baking isn’t just science–it’s also art.

As the recipes in this book are all about using the most natural ingredients, as well as the best tasting, virgin coconut oil is recommended. This tropical oil is easier to use in oil form rather than solid. Coconut oil is coconut butter at temperatures below 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the weather, I can let it sit in the sun to melt or if it’s hot enough then measuring it is always easier. Virgin coconut oil gives cupcakes natural moisture and you won’t taste the extra coconut.

Amazon Kindle: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Amazon Kindle UK: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

Paperback edition: Baking Chocolate Cupcakes and Brownies: A Beginner’s Guide

3DBakingcupcakes book&Phone

Easy Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownie Recipe

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2017

Here it is, a scrumptious fudgy brownie recipe that’s loaded with minty flavor and LOADS of walnuts. It’s easy to make, you don’t need a mixer, and it’s a wonderful dessert.

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Fudgy Mint Walnut Brownies

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup [113 grams] unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces [120 grams] mint chocolate, coarsely chopped

11/4 cups [250 grams] granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon  pure vanilla extract OR vanilla bean paste

2 large eggs, room temperature

½ cup cocoa powder [sift into flour]

1/2 cup [65 grams] all purpose flour [sift]

1/2 cup [65 grams] chopped raw walnuts

1 teaspoon peppermint extract OR approx. 20 drops of peppermint Essential Oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit [165 degrees Celsius] and place the rack in the center of the oven. The 8 or 9 inch square baking pan can be buttered [use the butter wrapper] or sprayed with a non stick cooking spray.

In a glass or stainless steel  bowl, placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat and whisk in the bowl containing the sugar. Pour in the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter will be smooth. Stir in the premixed and sifted cocoa powder and flour. Add the peppermint extract or essential oil. Lastly, add half the chopped walnuts. Pour the brownie batter evenly into the prepared pan. Add the rest of the walnuts on top.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Rotate pan midway through baking. The brownies will be done when they start to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownies will come out with a few wet crumbs. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

TIPS:

I suggest sifting the flour and cocoa powder together first. Presifted flour also makes your brownies a bit smoother and easier to mix.

If using pure peppermint essential oil, make sure it only contains mentha piperita. That’s the Latin name for the plant. Genuine peppermint essential oil is very concentrated that’s why you measure by drops, not grams or teaspoons. The brand I used in this video is the real deal and I bought it on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00V5C97LK

To watch my video, just go here:

French Macaron Baking Adventures, Part 5: More Chocolate Ganache Macarons

By Lisa Maliga, copyright 2016

My quest for baking the perfect chocolate macaron continued. They needed to have feet but also be smooth and shiny. By adding less cocoa powder, my second bath was easier to mix. The egg whites “aged” overnight, about 12 hours. But I slightly underwhipped them, which was a first. After the macaronnage, I added the batter to the piping bag and closed the top with a rubber band to avoid spillage. It worked, although by the time I piped the last shell, the remaining batter was threatening to ooze out of the top. 

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Just piped chocolate macarons

The macarons didn’t set up right away – I had to wait about 30 minutes. Later, I realized that both trays should have rested for at least 45 minutes.

This time, the oven temperature was lower, 300 degrees. I’e since learned that chocolate needs to bake around 350 degrees. Also, the baking time should’ve been longer. One tray was in the oven for 19 minutes and the other 20. Afterwards, I realized they could’ve baked another two minutes longer in both cases because I wasn’t able to easily remove them from the parchment paper. However, using 20/20 hindsight, chocolate macarons should bake for about 12 – 14 minutes at 350 degrees.

While both trays showed macarons with feet, they were in the small side and the shells were hollow. At first, the macs looked like they’d have smooth, glossy tops, but after they emerged from the oven they deflated a bit and had irregular shaped tops.

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Out of the oven — a bit underbaked

Unlike the first batch of chocolate macarons, the texture was lighter and airier – not like brownies or biscotti.

The chocolate ganache filling was easy to make. I chopped up a Valrhona bar [71% cacao content] trying not to eat any of it. Note: next time I’ll try the Valrhona 46% feves! For 50 seconds, the heavy cream went into the microwave and when poured over the chunks the melting began. I whisked it for a few strokes and then added the room temperature butter and vanilla extract. Soon it was successfully mixed and sampled. Way better than the first batch. Nothing like using a high quality chocolate bar, heavy cream and imported butter! Yes, I could taste the difference between this and the previous batch made with chocolate chips. The richness was so apparent.

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Chocolate macarons with ganache filling

Due to being underbaked, the shells stuck to the parchment and I used a spatula to remove them. Some of them were really cracked and messy looking but I managed to salvage them into sloppy and unphotographable macs. They tasted good when consumed that day. However, the next day and the day after that the macarons tasted much better.

NEXT WEEK: More adventures as I bake scrumptious French Vanilla Bean Macarons.

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