Monthly Archives: May 2010

Mother’s Day red velvet cake

Red velvet cake was the request of the day for Mother’s Day and I was more than happy to oblige. It made a bit of a change from the giant-mountain-of-doughnuts cake my 6-year-old niece had requested for her birthday party (although I didn’t personally have the honour of attempting to create such a beast).

The recipe used was this tried and tested one, but for the icing I whipped the butter and cream cheese together, added 1 tsp of vanilla paste then added brown sugar to taste, so the icing wasn’t sweet but the edge was taken off the sourness of the cream cheese. The brown sugar makes for an icing that tastes slightly coffee-ish, slightly caramel-ish. Very nice.

Peach tea velvet cakes

Another variation on the red velvet theme, because as wonderful as red velvet is, it is something one can tire of a bit, as difficult as that might be to believe. The recipe is identical to this previous one I did, except that the grenadine and the cherries are left out of the cake, only 2 eggs are used instead of 3, an extra 1/3 of a cup of flour is used, and when the buttermilk is about to be added, I whisked 1/2 cup of Bickford’s peach tea cordial into the buttermilk. (If you can’t get peach tea cordial, just buy or make about a cup of normal peach tea, add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, then boil it down until it’s a bit thicker and the flavour is a bit more concentrated.) Not that this is at all necessary, but I also used peach-coloured food dye paste instead of the usual red. For the icing, I made that according to the same previous recipe as well, but excluded the grenadine obviously and replaced with with the same amount of the peach tea cordial.

Of course, any other cordial that you like and think might go with red velvet could be substituted in if you don’t want or can’t find the peach tea cordial, although you might have to play with the volumes a bit depending on the cordial to make sure the flavour isn’t too strong or weak.

Cocoa nib biscuits with vodka-soaked cranberries

Still going with the cocoa nibs I got at L.A. Burdick when I was in New York (since they’re kind of difficult to get here in Australia, alas!), because they’re pretty amazing and I want to find the perfect way to showcase them. My experiments so far have shown that they’re best with something that isn’t too sweet (I put them in custard biscuits which are very similar to melting moments biscuits, and wasn’t overjoyed with the results because the sweetness really took away from the nibs) or something that isn’t too chocolately (I put them in chocolate biscuits and it was kind of pointless because then you only really get the typical sweet chocolate taste and it overwhelms the more savoury chocolate flavour of the nibs, which in retrospect seems kind of obvious).

So next on the list for experimenting with were oat biscuits and they have been by far the best for showcasing the nibs, with the right amount of sweetness and a flavour that complements the nibs perfectly. I also decided to add dried cranberries so that their tartness offset the sweetness a little bit further, and then I thought the whole thing seemed kind of rustic, so I soaked the cranberries in vodka as if these biscuits were some sort of Polish peasant recipe (ideally I would have used dried cherries to make it a bit more believable but alas, I didn’t have any, and I don’t know what Polish peasants are doing with cocoa nibs anyway but let’s just pretend).

For the recipe, I just used this oat biscuit recipe but when adding the flour, I also added a tablespoon of sifted Dutch processed cocoa powder. I replaced the glacé cherries and raisins with cranberries (100g dried cranberries which were soaked overnight in vodka, then pressed in a sieve to remove the excess liquid, which is worth reclaiming since you’ll get about 90% of it back and it’ll be a bright pinkish-red and good for use in other recipes) and replaced the chocolate with 100g of cocoa nibs. Nice.