February 22, 2015

Strawberry and White Chocolate Cupcakes

This is my second post in a row featuring strawberries, which might or might not be due to the abundance of these berries at the moment. I just love how they freshen up a baked good and add a slightly tart flavour to take away some of the sweetness. You might notice that I'm always trying to come up with a way to reduce the amount of sweetness in a dessert or baked treat - because, in reality, nobody likes sickly sweet food. In my early baking days, all of my sweets were either full of butter or sugar. Like this multi-coloured rainbow cake I made a few years ago. On a side note, it's my 3rd blogiversary! It's hard to believe that three years ago, I was once a 15 year old girl with a burning passion to bake and whip up desserts. I remember being successful at my first attempt at making macarons with my very first blog post back in 2012 and I've always been baking since. Had cherries been in season right now, I would've made some cherry chocolate cupcakes to celebrate. But there's always a next time right?

So, on to these cupcakes! I decided to use this recipe from the Cupcake Project for the vanilla cupcakes. Although I did get mostly vanilla-y, fluffy and moist cupcakes, I had a problem with some of the cupcakes shrinking from their cases. I dismissed the thought that it was the recipe and opted to blame the cupcake liners instead. Putting that aside, I made the cupcakes according to the recipe and mixed in chopped white chocolate and fresh strawberries to the finished batter. Viola! Mixing in white chocolate and strawberries makes ordinary vanilla cupcakes so much more special. 

For the frosting, I used my beloved swiss meringue buttercream for its silky texture and slight sweetness. And since baking is loads more fun with friends, I let my two best buddies decorate the cupcakes with swirls of icing and strawberry roses. Cupcakes to me, are truly the epitome of elegance and beauty. They are also small enough to not be guilty about the amount of sugar or fat eaten. With that being said, how can anyone reject a cupcake anyway?

And of course I would like to end this post with a smile from K and a peace sign. Peace out! 

February 7, 2015

Chocolate and Strawberry Pocky Cake

Chocolate and strawberries are a modern, yet classical combination. Especially in a cake - where the tartness of the strawberries helps balance out the richness of the chocolate, and the sweetness of the buttercream. It might sound cliché, but it is, I believe, a match made on Earth for those romantics out there (hahaha....nope?).
This cake captures the essence of the chocolate and strawberries - an idea presented to me by my adorable best friend and university buddy K, who I am proud to dedicate this cake and post to. After going through some of the toughest times in my life, K was there to listen, give advice and ultimately helped me get through it. Also, props to K for helping me assemble and decorate the cake!!
The strawberry pocky decoration was inspired by two of my favourite bloggers - Raspberri Cupcakes and Sprinkle Bakes. After seeing the cake on the blogs for the first time, I immediately added it to my long baking list that always seems to end up at the bottom of my cupboard. Going through the list was like uncovering buried treasure because it contained some recipes I even forgot that I added a few years back.
Since chocolate and strawberries were the theme for this cake, an idea popped in my head to have chocolate cake layers, filled with fresh cream and strawberries, covered in strawberry swiss meringue buttercream and encased in strawberry pocky sticks. What I love about this cake is that the strawberry pocky - I used 4 boxes - helps to cover the messy frosting underneath and removes the hours (okay - maybe minutes if you're pro) to smooth out the frosting.
I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe by Sweetapolita, which always results in a rich, moist, chocolatey cake. I love swiss meringue buttercream - the silky texture compliments the cake and its subtle sweetness avoids the whole cake from tasting sickly sweet. Although it can taste quite buttery due to the large amount of butter, I found that the strawberry puree helps cut the taste of butter and gives it a fresh tart flavour. You can find the recipe here. I'd like to believe that love = chocolate + strawberries....

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